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Thread: Not enjoying my nanny job

  1. #1

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    Not enjoying my nanny job

    Hi,

    I’m hoping for some advice as I’m really at a loss with the child I look after. I started a job about four months ago with a three year old boy and I knew he had a baby sister on the way. The mother is home with us on mat leave and I usually take him out in the mornings and come back in to the house in the afternoons. when we’re back in the house with the mother the problems start with the child. I will get there in the mornings and he’ll tell me to ‘go away’ or ‘get out of my house’ and runs away from me when I try to get him dressed. Even if I just try to play with him he tells me to ‘go away’. He repeatedly kicks and hits me (sometimes in my face) while I try to get him dressed. This has just become really awkward as I’m supposed to be helping the mother out since she has a two week old baby. No matter how firm I am with him he just won’t listen when we’re around his mother. As soon as I’m out the door with him he listens to me and stops fussing. i have experience with this in other Nanny jobs where children are complete angels with the Nanny and change as soon as the parent is there but it usually gets easier after a few weeks. He woke up from his nap one day and when I asked him if he was ready to get up, he screamed at the top of his lungs ‘get out’ and took LEGO from the bed and threw several pieces at me one-by-one. His mum did intervene and took him out of the room to talk to him about how that is not acceptable. I know he wouldn’t behave like this if I was on my own with him. All I have to do is threaten once with discipline (us leaving the park etc.) and he will comply. His mother doesn’t believe in time-outs which I think work wonders especially when children are repeatedly breaking rules. In previous jobs I would hardly ever have to discipline as the kids would just listen as soon as I gave them a warning, therefore I would barely end up using the naughty step or any other form of time-outs.

    There’s nothing to warn this child about as there’s no consequences. The mother is a believer in gentle discipline which I think is great but it doesn’t work with him. The only discipline I’ve seen her offer was her leaving the room when he’s misbehaving but then he just has a tantrum and follows her, leaving me feeling helpless while he clings to his mother. I’m usually quite good with discipline but am finding it hard to do that around the mother as it’s a little awkward. If she had a set of rules laid out and consequences for breaking them, I would feel more comfortable dishing out discipline. Since the naughty behaviour is usually directed at me (e.g. throwing things at me or speaking rudely to me) I don’t want to seem like I’m taking things personally and I think I will if I’m disciplining him for it. It’s funny as the first couple of weeks with him were OK. I could tell he was ‘spirited’ and more tantrum prone than the average kid but it’s gotten worse. I think once he realised I wasn’t going anywhere he turned. I understand that having new Nanny and new sister in the house is strange for him however by what his mother says, his behaviour was the same beforehand. When we are alone together he doesn’t have bad as I’m good at controlling tantrums. When they start I get down to his level and speak firmly about the consequences of his actions. I also acknowledge his feelings and explains why his behaviour is wrong. I wouldn’t say he’s a complete delight when we’re alone either, he’ll often say rude things like ‘I don’t want to play with you.’ I try to play with him and do things he likes such as chasing, splashing in puddles, hide and seek which works some of the time but the mood changes as soon as he’s not getting his way. I do loads of fun things like bring him to museums, zoos, nice parks but he is extremely miserable a lot of the time. I actually went to bed thinking of all the horrible things he said to me yesterday and woke up thinking about him in the morning. He’ll say really weird things like ‘I’m going to cut you’ or ‘you can’t be in this house’ which just sort of make me feel depleted if I’m honest. I’m losing my enthusiasm to try bond with him. I have spoken to his mother and we were thinking of some strategies for discipline so hopefully it changes. Honestly this child is making me feel miserable and I can’t believe I’m even admitting that.

  2. #2
    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
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    It sounds like you're not cut out for this line of work. Why not search for something else and then hand in your notice.

  3. #3
    Forum Supporter ~Seraphim ~'s Avatar
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    Ok, the problem is not the three year old . It is mom. She doesn’t believe in boundaries. She lets him act any ole way he wants. You are not going to win this one because the parents are not on board. I would search for a position where the parents have the same boundary style as you.

  4. #4
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    Yep - he's pushing and pushing, which is par for the course for a three year old. This is fine, as long as there's something firm for him to push against, but his mother doesn't supply the necessary boundaries and therefore you can't either. This leaves him feeling insecure, and he'll continue to push. He's also in all likelihood feeling excluded because his mother's focused on the new baby and doesn't have as much room for him as she has in the past; this is going to come to the fore when you're there with the mum, and perhaps he equates you being there with this sister whose birth has dethroned him.

    There's no way you're going to win this one, as you're coming up against a dysfunctional family system over which you have no control. I can understand why you don't want to admit that a three year old can make your life miserable, but let yourself know that he is just expressing the emotions for the whole family - and that it's the parenting which is the problem, not the kid himself.

    If I were you I'd cut my losses and find another job.

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  6. #5
    Forum Supporter ~Seraphim ~'s Avatar
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    Originally Posted by nutbrownhare
    Yep - he's pushing and pushing, which is par for the course for a three year old. This is fine, as long as there's something firm for him to push against, but his mother doesn't supply the necessary boundaries and therefore you can't either. This leaves him feeling insecure, and he'll continue to push. He's also in all likelihood feeling excluded because his mother's focused on the new baby and doesn't have as much room for him as she has in the past; this is going to come to the fore when you're there with the mum, and perhaps he equates you being there with this sister whose birth has dethroned him.

    There's no way you're going to win this one, as you're coming up against a dysfunctional family system over which you have no control. I can understand why you don't want to admit that a three year old can make your life miserable, but let yourself know that he is just expressing the emotions for the whole family - and that it's the parenting which is the problem, not the kid himself.

    If I were you I'd cut my losses and find another job.
    Yes, 3 year olds push push push. They are big ole button pushers. And he was “ dethroned and replaced” in his eyes . Then mom’s boundary style is “ oh little Johnny you stop that..... “ in other words please parent yourself because I am ineffectual.

    You won’t win this one.

  7. #6
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    If it helps, what he's going through is akin to seeing an ex partner who you're still in love with, being with a new partner. It's the same feeling of being replaced, but he can't articulate or rationalise that and is acting out in other ways. Also three year olds have extremely acute intuition and will know instinctively what to do to get mum's attention - negative in this case, but attention nevertheless.

    They are probably going to have major problems with this kid in the future if they don't adopt a different approach, but don't let that be your problem.

  8. #7
    Platinum Member Annia's Avatar
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    I know a couple who has a 8 year old who is very rude thanks to lack of parenting boundaries and she always have to be the centre of attention or she'll throw things or take things from people's hands. The mother is now pregnant with a baby and is very worried how she'll feel when the baby is born. He might be acting out because of the newborn being now the centre of attention and the mother not enforcing boundaries.

  9. #8
    Platinum Member DancingFool's Avatar
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    My advice is get out of there before something bad happens and you get blamed for it.
    Realize that this 3 year old is very much a reflection of the adults in the house and you aren't going to step in and fix that.
    You are obviously good at what you do, but take those skills to a saner environment. You have taken on high risk clients and it's a risk never worth taking.

  10. #9
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    Gentle discipline done right is not meant to be passive or "gentle" in the sense of no boundaries -this mother is using it as an excuse to not have proper structure and boundaries. And no I don't do all "gentle discipline" (meaning, yes I do time outs-I even give myself time outs LOL) and I have known of situations where the nanny certainly can do time outs even if the parents don't - and sure of course the parents should be clear on "no spanking/no physical discipline" -the extreme stuff -but honestly when I send my child to school I support the teacher's discipline methods as much as possible because kids have to get used to different styles of discipline including with teachers/instructors/nannies. Yes if that is her rule "no time outs" honestly I don't know if I'd survive with a job like that.

    Also -this child needs to treat you with respect -relative to his age/capabilities/communication skills. He cannot throw things at you for example. So you are entitled to give consequences (again within reason -not saying you can spank him!) if a child intentionally hurts you. When my son was three, if he threw something I'd hold his hands together with light pressure and say "no throw" in a firm and calm tone. Rinse repeat. For example. And then we'd stop playing/leave the park, whatever was necessary to show him that the behavior was unacceptable and to avoid any safety risks.

    I was a nanny in the early 1980s -live in for one summer. 2 year old and 5 year old. 2 year old was awesome. 5 year old - he said things to me that were unacceptable -that I was his servant/slave, I couldn't use "his bathroom" and obnoxious things like that. She mostly backed me up and also I had free rein in disciplinary techniques (meaning time out/removal of privileges etc). I had other issues with her as a boss but no I would not have survived if she had to step in at those times because I was not allowed to show the child I would not tolerate that kind of disrespect. I wouldn't have lasted longer than that summer (I was 17 years old so that was a factor too -I didn't know how to deal with a boss like her). Just sharing to say I relate.

    Find a situation where you discuss in advance how you approach discipline, make sure you match up and I'd look for a situation where the parents respect you and give you sufficient decision making authority so that you can actually do your job. She's not doing gentle discipline -she's relying on that label like a crutch so she can let him run wild. I agree with Seraphim and the others and I'm sorry you are in this situation!

  11. #10
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    Originally Posted by Batya33
    Gentle discipline done right is not meant to be passive or "gentle" in the sense of no boundaries -this mother is using it as an excuse to not have proper structure and boundaries. And no I don't do all "gentle discipline" (meaning, yes I do time outs-I even give myself time outs LOL) and I have known of situations where the nanny certainly can do time outs even if the parents don't - and sure of course the parents should be clear on "no spanking/no physical discipline" -the extreme stuff -but honestly when I send my child to school I support the teacher's discipline methods as much as possible because kids have to get used to different styles of discipline including with teachers/instructors/nannies. Yes if that is her rule "no time outs" honestly I don't know if I'd survive with a job like that.

    Also -this child needs to treat you with respect -relative to his age/capabilities/communication skills. He cannot throw things at you for example. So you are entitled to give consequences (again within reason -not saying you can spank him!) if a child intentionally hurts you. When my son was three, if he threw something I'd hold his hands together with light pressure and say "no throw" in a firm and calm tone. Rinse repeat. For example. And then we'd stop playing/leave the park, whatever was necessary to show him that the behavior was unacceptable and to avoid any safety risks.

    I was a nanny in the early 1980s -live in for one summer. 2 year old and 5 year old. 2 year old was awesome. 5 year old - he said things to me that were unacceptable -that I was his servant/slave, I couldn't use "his bathroom" and obnoxious things like that. She mostly backed me up and also I had free rein in disciplinary techniques (meaning time out/removal of privileges etc). I had other issues with her as a boss but no I would not have survived if she had to step in at those times because I was not allowed to show the child I would not tolerate that kind of disrespect. I wouldn't have lasted longer than that summer (I was 17 years old so that was a factor too -I didn't know how to deal with a boss like her). Just sharing to say I relate.

    Find a situation where you discuss in advance how you approach discipline, make sure you match up and I'd look for a situation where the parents respect you and give you sufficient decision making authority so that you can actually do your job. She's not doing gentle discipline -she's relying on that label like a crutch so she can let him run wild. I agree with Seraphim and the others and I'm sorry you are in this situation!
    I agree. Time outs work well. A 3 year old entered my daycare 5 months ago she would have screaming epic tantrums because she couldn’t watch Dora. Her mom even admitted she had used TV as an evening babysitter. Little one learned pretty quick her tantrums were going to get her nowhere. If one is kind but firm and consistent most children respond and start to respect people and boundaries. Now all I have to do is mention timeout and she stops unacceptable behaviour.

    But if mom is not on board forget it.

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