Tired & Frustrated Parents Turn to Spanking..

Received Thursday, March 6, 2008- Perspective & Opinion
I need advice!

I am a nanny for twin almost 3 year old girls. They have been potty training for almost a year now, and have been doing great. Unfortunately for the potty training, the parents decided to have another baby, and due to complications the mom was in the hospital for almost a month. The baby is home now and the girls are adjusting, except with potty training. They FREAK-OUT everytime I suggest using the potty now where as before they would either say no or go sit down. I come to find out this week that the parents have been spanking the girls everytime the have an accident for the past week and I am assuming this is why they are freaking out.

My question is, how do I confront the parents about this? Or, do I even confront them?

I am a Child Development major and have been a nanny 7 years and KNOW this is unhealthy and will ultimately prolong the process. I believe the only reason they are spanking them is because they are tired and frustrated, and this isn't likely to change for a while, because of the new baby. I talked to the dad and grandparents before the baby was born about regression in potty training, and how it's very common and something to keep in mind, but it seems they haven't.

I am clueless on what to do.....

Can you please give me advice?


Anonymous said...

Way to traumatize the kids, mom and dad.
Poor things.

I'm not sure how you would confront them. Are you close with them? Could you casually bring up, without accusations, that it's probably hard on them (the girls) with the new baby and you noticed a few things that fit text book regression patterns...
Maybe you could have a good open dialogue about what you should ALL do about the potty training problems. That's your chance to give them your suggestions, which would include taking it slow and not getting frustrated when they have an accident. You can find a way to discuss this without being specific and suggesting that what the parents are doing is LESS THAN beneficial.
Find a way to give your two cents without offering parenting advice, ya know?

LindaLou said...

what complete jackholes. i'd never be able to work for people like that. :::gags:::

sorry, i know that's not really advice.

erics mom said...

suggest they hire extra hands if they can. Maybe, a postpartum doula

§mpp§ said...

I'm not sure frustrated, impatient, over-tired parents are going to like hearing much from you in the way of advice, but you seriously NEED to step in. This is disgusting.

You sound educated, and you probably even know exactly what to say ... so you don't need our advice there. I believe your looking for a way to approach these parents, and all I can suggest is ... do it very casually (as hard as that may be), and don't be accusatory. They're not going to like feeling they are making a monumental mistake (which they are) ... but please do it soon, before much more damage to the little girls is done.

(Let me just say that I held back ... I am REALLY pissed that these parents don't know any better!)

Anonymous said...

I'm anti-spanking in general, but OMG, of all the things *not* to spank for...I have an almost-3-yo who is potty training and it makes me SICK to think someone is spanking a child for potty accidents. New baby or no new baby.

I'm sorry for the OP because this puts her in a terrible position. Wish I knew what advice to give. I'd be stumped myself in that situation.

Anonymous said...

why are these kids potty training so late? is that normal? everyone in my family was potty trained by the age of 2.

Anonymous said...

3:56, by the age of 2? that's pretty early. Not abnormally early, but early nonetheless. The general age for potty training seems to be between 2 and 3.
She said these girls have been potty training for a year now though, which seems like a long time. How tedious.

When I worked in daycare we started potty training between 2 and a half and 3 and a half, unless the parents requested otherwise.
The little girl I watch now just turned 2 and I started potty training her a few weeks ago.

So I guess it just depends on the parents, ya know? Unless you're trying to potty train a 6 month old or allowing a five year old to wear diapers, nothing in between is really EARLY or LATE.

Anonymous said...

How about saying something like "can we discuss
potty training so that I can have an attitude consistent with yours?" The idea is to make them talk about how they handle potty training. If they advocate spanking to you, which I am not at all sure they will, you could then voice your concerns, making it sound like you are trying to understand "so you think that physical punishment will help?" Playing dumb never hurts. Now, the girls could really be freaking out more on account of the new baby than on account of the spanking (definitely not a good idea in any case).
Good luck to you and thanks for caring

Kate in CO said...

I'm still trying to understand why potty training has gone on for a year! WTH!???

LindaLou said...

i think it goes on for too long when parents start too early. yeah, all my kids were 3 plus a few monthes, but they all trained in a few days and that was that. no biggy.

Anonymous said...

you are 100% correct. i was told by my kid's Dr. the average age was 3, maybe even longer for a boy.
why the hell someone would rush something like this is beyond me. i'm not saying it's ok to have a kid in diapers at 4 ... it isn't. but around 2 1/2 to 3 is the appropriate age. and most of the time, they are done with it inside of a wk. or two.
great post lindalou.

Anonymous said...

It is really hard to potty train when a new baby is about to come into the family. My first started potty training about 2 1/2 and was fine except for wearing a pull up at night within a month. It took quite a bit longer before she gave up the pull up at night, but she was fully trained and wearing underwear at night be the time she turned 3. My middle child was following the same pattern, and was at the pullup at night only stage for about two months when I had my third. She went back to not using the potty at all, insisting she needs a diaper too. It was not until she was 3 1/2 before she went back to no pull up during the day and she is still wearing a pull up at night now at 4(actually a Good Night because the pull ups don't hold). It has been a prolonged process, and I really wish she would give them up, but it is not worth making her feel bad about herself--she gets sooo upset when she wets her bed. I'm sure she'll get the night time control down before she has to graduate to Depends.

mimi said...

Potty Training for a YEAR!! are you serious? A team on three..nanny, mom and dad and you can't get the mission done??? WTH!!! I have THREE...thats right THREE almost 2 year olds (one turns two in April and 2 turn 2 in June) it took two weeks for 2 of them and 3 for the other! ONE YEAR!!! dear god the twins are probably over it! Maybe the parents are over the edge because it's taking so long..NANNY are you really following thru? Are the parents following thru? Where's the break in the cycle thats not allowing them to get it???

Lindsey said...

Potty training is different for every child. Girl's almost always potty train before boys. I tryed at 2.5 to train my oldest after a month I gave up as he just didn't want to do it. When about 4 months before his 4th birthday he said Mommy I want to be a big boy now, so I put him in a pair of underwear and litterally from that day on he has not had an accident (except when he gets sick and has diahrrea. My middle will be 3 next month and has shown no interest in going. I let them give me the cue when to try it. If you do it to early you will just end up driving your self nuts.

As for spanking for an accident that is just beyond me. Now they are going to go hide and shit in a corner because they are scared. A friend of mine made her son clean his own underwear when he had an accident. It worked only a week later he said he didn't want to clean anymore poo! There are lots of different techniques, but spanking and yelling are not any of them.

Tread lightly, but do step in. Good luck.

~Lindsey, SAHM in California~

Anonymous said...

This is the OP:

Let me clarify. I was the nanny to this family over 2years ago when the twins were first born. Once the twins were 9 months old, the mom said she didn't need help anymore. I left but remained in contact with the family for special occasions.

I started back almost 2 months ago, right before the mom went into the hospital. I was not around for the start of potty training, and I believe they started too young. When I started, the girls were having accidents only about once a month at the most. Then, their lives completely change and they started to regress. So, I guess I used a poor choice of words saying they have been potty training for a year, because in no way did I mean ACTIVELY. Also, I am a full time student and only work 15 hours a week for the family. The girls have only had 1 accident a peice with me, so no, I am not the problem. I have potty trained over 9 kids now, and usually within a couple of days if I have full access to the child.

But, the twins have proven to be much harder. I "innocently" printed out a couple of articles and left them on the counter about potty training, and told the mom I just came across some interesting stuff that I thought she might like to read. However, yesterday it was still in the same place I left it on Monday. I am become frusterated with the situation and would like some real help.

Please, if you have any suggestions please let me know. Parents, what would be the best way someone could approach you about this? I don't want to sound like I am dissing their parenting skills, but come on, spanking a child for an accident is insane!

Anonymous said...

OP, how about approaching the parents by stating the obvious to them..."I can see the girls have lost some ground in potty-training. I know how frustrating this must be for you, but I'm sure we can turn it around by using positive reinforcement".

Have a plan ready to present to the parents. You could set up a reward system: each child gets her own poster-board calendar(allow some space for each girl to help you color/draw/decorate with stickers her own calendar). Figure out some do-able, appropriate, coveted rewards that each child can earn for X-number of dry days in a row (they can be very simple, activity-related things, or the priveledge of choosing a rented movie... you get the idea, yes?... and larger rewards for, say, a week of successful potty training. The key is having the plan already organized, so all the parents have to do is follow through.

If they choose, instead, to continue punishing (spanking) rather than rewarding...I don't know what power you have to change that, given the limited number of hours (15 per week) you are working for this family. I'm sorry for you, to be in this position...knowing what's RIGHT, and not able to change the parent's attitude or approach. I wish you luck, and hope you will let us know what you decide to do, and how it turns out. Let us know!

§marypoppin'pills§ said...

I'm not sure what you're looking for because there have been several posters telling you what they've been through ... and I guess you're saying that's not the advice you need.

Let me take a stab at it again.

I know when I was a new Mom, I did kind of take it personally at first when someone would "step-in" to help ... I got a little defensive because I took it as they thought I wasn't doing it right.

Here, you have Parents that are on their 3rd child so they may not be as sensitive as a new Parent would. The article was a good idea, but obviously, they can't take a hint. I don't know if you're close enough with the Mom that you can actually sit down with her and discuss it ... but that's exactly what needs to be done.

Nanny: "I know I've spoken with you about the possiblity of the twins regressing because of the new baby" ...
Mom: "Yes" ...
Nanny: "Well, I was wondering if maybe you wouldn't mind if I switched to some kind of reward system, or possibly a sticker chart?"
Mom: "Gee, that's a grand idea" ... (wishful thinking)
Nanny: "I think if we sit the twins down and explain the new game plan with them, they might get excited enough to try it" ...
Mom: "O.k., let's do it ... wow but you're the best Nanny in the world!"

Anyway, my point is to keep it light (even though between you and me we know this is serious) ...

My son potty trained much like 'Lindsey/6:51' - he up and quit in the middle of it at 2 1/2 and didn't show anymore interest until almost a year later. He just came up one day and said, "I want big boy underwear" (music to my ears!) ... he regressed a bit because I think I tried too early and he wasn't ready. But the sticker chart/reward gimmick worked like a charm. All I can say is offer the idea to the Parents and try it.

Good luck

§marypoppin'pills§ said...

Sorry, I was busy with my comment and didn't see when you posted yours ... but I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one who believes this system works.

Anonymous said...

mmp: anon 9:53 here, really has worked for all my "reluctant" potty-trainees! OP: the reward system for being "helpers" with the new baby is a great way to reduce competition for parents/nannys attention too!

§mpp§ said...


Oooo, good one! Great advice ... hopefully it will work for OP and the twins.
I only had the one, so I don't know about all of this other stuff! My son never had to compete with other siblings ... he got all the hugs & kisses to himself! ☺

Sue Doe-Nim said...

This article could magically appear in the mailbox???

I don't know what it's like to feel that overwhelmed (knocking on wood) but I imagine that level of frustration wouldn't leave me wanting advice from a nanny.

Not because that's the right thing, but because it sounds perilous at that home.

I'm sorry that I don't have more encouraging words for you.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like the parents are overwhelmed and desperate. While it was nice of you to print some articles for them, based on their situation and how you describe their mental states, I doubt they will read them in the next few months. New baby, regressing twins, ten minutes free...articles?

I agree with PP about sticker charts working well. I used them with "my" own twins and personalized them, which was important to them and emphasized the individual responsibility of potty training. We had different prizes (cheap things - bubbles, chalk, bouncy ball, coloring book) along the way, after each x many stickers. You probably won't get compensated for the time or materials, but I think it would be really NICE of you and you'd probably get a much better reply from the parents if you said something along the lines of, "I've had really good luck with potty charts. Do you mind if I make some to use with the girls, so we can try this method for awhile? I'm happy to take care of it over the weekend and bring them with me on Monday."

While not productive, spanking is easy; give them an easier option. Like PP suggested, if the "accidents" are about power/attention, a more appropriate consequence would be clean up (or help clean up) the mess.

Anonymous said...

This is the OP:

Thanks for all of your suggestions.

I showed up to work today with the chart and stickers in hand, which the girls and the parents LOVED! The girls showed no hesitations on using the potty and neither had an accident for the first time in over a week. I also brought some coloring paper with the letters of the girls' name to help them learn to spell and write their names. So, I made it sound sort of like I had all these things I wanted to help them with. So, the parents were very receptive, and even agreed that we would try using just rewards to see how it goes. I didn't have the guts to bring up the spanking thing, instead I just said let's just try rewarding them with the stickers and prizes and see how it goes. So, we stopped using the chocolate chips and hopefully the spankings. =o)

Thanks again for all the suggestions.

Anonymous said...

OP, thanks for the update! You sound very positive about the situation,and empowered to have found an alternative strategy. Best of luck to you, and the twins!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much OP. I hope everything works out for you ... you're awesome because you care!

Anonymous said...

Awesome OP! I think I may actually try the sticker idea with my charge.

Good work :-)
I hope the family knows how lucky they are to have you.

Anonymous said...

Those children are so lucky, the parents are CLUELESS, many children even fully trained regress when siblings come. Bless you, dear.

Anonymous said...

I am a mother of 7 and I have to say with all my children I have spanked them for having accidents after they were potty trained it was always just 1 little pop on the bottom never anything more than that but that is how I was raised my mother did it to me and all my aunts did it to their children if they are beating the child then something needs to be done but if this is how the parents choose to deal with their child then that is their choice in the long run it is their child. I believe that if a child is punished then they will know this is bad not to do it. I would not confront them if my childrens nanny ever tried to tell me how to "PARENT" that would be the last day she worked for me

Anonymous said...

no matter how close you are with the parents . You need to tell them , not as confronting them just let them know what you observed and that you think spanking causes them to freak out. it is not about confronting anybody it is about communication , your observation as and should be as important as theirs. So for sake of those kids let parents know what you see is happening.
Long time nanny

Waycross48 said...

This is a potentially serious problem!! First, you need to do what's best for the children. Approach the parents carefully - at the right time. They are probably frustrated and very tired. Tell them that you have noticed the regression the children have been experiencing with potty training and that this is normal. Suggest, that to ease the stress on them and the children that the potty training be shelved for a few weeks, just long enough to allow the children to adjust to the new baby. Then - start fresh with NO spankings for accidents. Buy inexpensive gifts for you and the parents to give each child when they tell you they need to potty. Try to initiate an all positive training approach. Tell the parents that you know how stressful this time is for them and that you will do anything you can to help with the problem. Hopefully they will realize that spanking is not the way to go.

Anonymous said...

Could OP please post back with what happened??
We really care and want to know!

Anonymous said...

I mean, did the spankings stop?

Anonymous said...

OP here:

The sticker chart has worked miracles with the twins! In less than two weeks, the girls went from having accidents daily, to being dry for over a week, and still have yet to have an accident, even with the parents. The girls now wear PJ pants, at my request, when home so it is easy for them to pull them up and down with the underwear on their own. Now, they don't even tell us they need to go, they just do it by themselves and then show us, so we can put on the stickers. So far it has only cost me $5 to potty train these girls with the sticker chart/reward system. I HIGHLY reccomend this system to ANYONE who is needing some help!

§mpp§ said...

How wonderful! It seems to have worked almost TOO smoothly, but I'm sure the Parents aren't complaining.

They should give you a bonus for relieving them of so much stress!

Noturavgmom said...

I would find it sad to spank or pop children on the bottom for piddling in their pants when trying to potty train.

OP did a wonderful job in her methodology and it's something for me to keep in mind. Great post, I loved the responses.

My children, when they spent the night, I put them in pull ups and explained to them that it doesn't mean that they're babies or any less of a child for wearing them but that accidents happen and it's okay and I wouldn't tell anyone.

Then as an alternative, I got mattress covers to protect the matress where they slept so they wouldn't have to use the pull ups. Blankets can be washed.

If they had "accidents", I would just smile and say okay, let's go get changed.

Some children develop later than others and just can't help their little bladders.

It seems to me that it's already degrading enough that they weren't able to get to the bathroom as they know is expected of them, but traumatizing and hurtful to the feelings to be punished because they had an accident even if it is a pop on the bottom.

Love the sticker idea mpp! Great advice! Where were you when my kids were potty training?