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What would you do if you heard your neighbor's young child crying with her babysitter many mornings?
Each morning I take my beagle for a walk and we usually take the same route. There have been several mornings now when I have heard a neighbor's young girl (probably about 3 years-old) crying as her babysitter brings her out of the house to put her in the car. I don't know these neighbors at all as both parents are doctors and are never home. I think the little girl may be just sort of whiny. But, this morning she was crying really bad saying, "I want my mommy. I want my daddy." And it made me worry that maybe the babysitter is being mean to her. What would you do?
It's really hard to say if you don't know the child at all. I've nannied for kids who really can only have a good day if they get a little crying out of their system first thing! Remember that kids have no concept of suppressing their emotions - they have to get them out, and sometimes they do so in the extremes. Especially for kids who don't get to see their parents enough because they work a lot, it's actually pretty healthy to allow them to express their sadness about their parents leaving for work.
I think an important thing to try and notice, if you can, is how the sitter responds to her. Is she trying to comfort her? Is she getting frustrated, yelling, or snapping at the child? If the sitter seems like she's staying calm when the child cries, is trying to redirect her thoughts toward something else, or is trying to soothe the child in some way, these are all good signs. If she looks tense, distant, or overly aggravated, then I'd worry.
If you feel like you want to intervene in some way, I think it would only be a good idea if you have a better sense of what's going on and what the dynamic is between the child and the sitter. Maybe next time you see them and the kid *isn't* crying, wave and say hi or good morning. Do this for a few days and maybe then see if you can stop and strike up a conversation. If you get to know them a little you might be able to get a better feel for the situation. Who knows, you might even make a friend in the process!
-Call the police without giving your identity if you notice anything unacceptable.
-Causally strike a conversation with the babysitter and directly ask her if she needed any help with the 3yo (show her you're on her side to get her to talk or she would be defensive)...that would also give you an opportunity to observe 3yo closely.
-Find out the telephone/cell number of the neighbours and give them a call at a different time to share what you have been noticing about the little girl.
I really feel for both the little girl and the babysitter. Kids that age tend to get cranky and throw tantrums for the smallest things. They are in a constant need for adult attention due to their new found independence. The babysitter might be having other things to do as well around the house, so she may not have got much chance to gel with this 3yo. If thats the case then the babysitter is probably ignoring the 3yo, when she should have stopped the rant by giving the girl a simple hug (unless the child is still cranky despite 'good' attention from the babysitter! My 3yo is such a darling herself, but throws tantrums at really sad times, thus making it difficult for me sometimes.
Whatever you do, its a good idea to get additional help, like your partner, another neighbour etc into it before you do anything - just to be on the safe side.
Hoping that this is nothing major.
It is pretty normal for kids around that age to have separation anxiety when there parents aren't home. I agree with Kate, how the babysitter is reacting is very important. If she seems at all abusive, you should call someone. You might also try to strike up a conversation with the babysitter to see how she reacts. It is every person's duty to protect children who can't protect themselves but it may be that the child is just a bit whiny as you said.
You have absolutely no facts to base this on, other than hearing her cry/whine very often.
Some children just want their parents and no one else around. Some children are just whiny.
If you really have a genuine concern, address the parents and tell them you noticed this, because you thought they should know.
I would go over and talk to the parents. Just let them know that your concerned. If it were me, I'd appreciate a neighbor telling me. If they're not around they need to know what's happening with their child. (Maybe bring cookies with you so you have something nice to start the conversation with:)
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