Case Study Example: Intimacy

This is an example of how the cycle of reflection can be applied.

Cycle of Reflection Tool [pdf]

Louise – key person
Layla- child aged 2years 7months

What was the experience?
Layla approached Louise for a cuddle. Louise picked her up and within 5 seconds Layla pulled out Louise’s T shirt out and looked down her top. Louise immediately clutched the top of her T shirt together. Layla moved her attention to Louise’s T. shirt buttons. Louise playfully told Layla not to do that with her buttons and then proceeded to point to the buttons on Layla’s coat and said: ‘Don’t undo my buttons. You’ve got your own buttons’ both are laughing and continue to engage in conversation.

Where did it take place?
Outside free play with large group of children playing in the presence of other practitioners.

Why was your attention drawn to this experience?
I was watching Louise who is a senior practitioner interact with the children during garden play and noticed how comfortable and at ease she was with Layla, her key child, particularly when Layla had approached Louise, for a cuddle.

Louise is Layla’s key person and she knows Layla very well. They seem to enjoy a strong, close and loving reciprocal relationship. Louise did look a bit surprised when Layla looked down Louise’s T-shirt but by clutching her T shirt together and deflecting the conversation Louise signalled to Layla that pulling out her T shirt was not appropriate within their relationship. However, the continued dialogue and reassurance that Louise gave to Layla provided her with clear, loving and appropriate boundaries about the level of intimacy which is acceptable within their relationships without disrupting their close and affectionate bond.

What was your immediate response?
I felt pleased that Layla could seek out comfort from Louise when she needed a cuddle. It was lovely to witness the close and affectionate bond between Louise and Layla. I wasn’t sure why Layla had looked down Louise’s t-shirt and I thought I might ask Louise about it during our next team meeting. The way Louise had responded to Layla did not seem to upset the child and I thought Louise handled the situation very sensitively. It made me think about how I might react if this had happened to me with one of my key children.

Implications for practice
After discussing the experience with the nursery manager during a routine supervision meeting, she explained to me that Layla had been a breast fed as a baby. The manager explained even though she is older now, it is not unusual for Layla to seek comfort from her mother by reaching for the breast. Louise has been preparing Layla for transition to the next room. Layla’s mother and Louise concluded that Layla may be feeling nervous about the imminent transition which had resulted in her heightened need for comfort. Louise, Layla’s mother and the nursery manager are in regular dialogue and are observing Layla closely for signs of changes in her behaviour which may indicate an increased anxiety.