Wednesday

Misbehaving 6-Year-Old Wants Nanny Fired!

Received Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Perspective and Opinion on ISYN I need some advice. I have been a nanny for this family for 7 months now. I watch three kids full time and am a live out nanny. It is a tough job at times, but very rewarding as well. The parents and I get along well and have not had any major issues since I have been here. I am concerned, however, about one thing. Their 6 year old does not like to listen, clean up, or do anything that she does not want to do. She whines, complains, cries, you name it--she tries it. She is not violent in any way, but can be really mean to her siblings and to me as well. She likes to say mean things on purpose to get a reaction and does it at least once a week. If she does not get a reaction, she continues to do it until she does. I have talked to her parents about it and the dad just says, "Oh, that's just what she does. I know that happens, but that's her for you." The mom is usually better saying, "I've noticed that, I'm not sure why, but yes, she does do that." I know that they tell her that it's not nice to say those things and such, but it doesn't seem to work. I have tried time-outs, sending her to her room, taking away toys/privileges, and nothing seems to work. Yesterday, I put her in time-out because she wouldn't listen, was not picking up when asked multiple times, and was doing things to make things worse for her sister when she was trying to clean up.

I came into work this morning and the oldest girl tells me that last night the 6 year old told her mom that she wants her to tell me that I am not allowed to put her into time-out and that she wants her to fire me! She has told me repeatedly that she does not like me and wants a new nanny and has said that to her parents as well. This usually happens after she is to clean up and she does not want to or if she gets a time-out. I asked the oldest what her mom said and she said that her mom asked her and the youngest child what they think and they both said that they like me and want me to stay! The mom responded with, "Well, 2 against 1." It concerns me because I don't know how to get these things to stop and I am not sure if this continues, will it affect what the parents think of me? I do a great job and have never had any complaints, but I know how it can be if one of the kids is saying they don't like the nanny, it can make the parents second guess. I've talked it over with the parents before, but they don't try to stop the behavior and she likes the attention. What should I do and think about this?

49 comments:

mom said...

Sounds to me like they know their daughter has a bit of a problem, which can only work in your favor.

I would also not get too freaked out about the mom asking the other chldren what they thought of you. That's the responsible thing to do when one of your children claims there is a problem, no matter what. It's what I would do. I would want to know if the issue was more of my "problem" child being a problem again, or whether the nanny was less friendly overall in my absence, and my children were generally unhappy...which we hear about happening often here. When you start asking questions of three children, they will speak up if there is an across the board problem. A parent needs to ask these questions from time to time anyway.

It sounds like the other kids confirmed for mom that you are a good nanny and that they are happy having you there. Her "two against one" comment was most likely said to stop the problem girl from harping about letting you go...sort of a "case closed," but for kids.

Hopefully they are rational enough to recognize that their one daughter has an issue getting along with people and see the situation for what it is. I have seen this go both ways. Sadly, most often I have seen the horrible child enabled by the parents...which, IMO, is how they get that way in a lot of cases (although not all. Some kids are just truly difficult no matter how good the parents are.)

Just continue being the best nanny you can, don't tiptoe around the girl, and know that if it doesn't work out in the end, it's their problem entirely and has nothing to do with you.

Psyber Chica said...

OP,

I would set aside some time to talk with the parents about a solution. Obviously time out is not working.

There is an excellent book called "Have a New Kid by Friday" by Kevin Leman. You read a chapter a day and finish the main part of the book in 5 days. The rest of the book gives advice on how to handle specific problems.

ohwhynot said...

I would not have pumped the older child for information. It was inappropriate for you to ask her what her mother's response was, imo.

I think you are doing a fine job as a nanny, otherwise, and should keep it up. You can't change how you act in order to appease this one kid, and it doesn't sound like the parents want you to, either.

cali mom said...

IMO, all 3 of the adults are giving the child WAY too much response to her very successful attempts at manipulations and starting trouble, confirming for her that saying mean things to people will get her what she wants.

Next time she says things like she doesn't like you or wants a new nanny because you make her clean up/follow the rules/brush her teeth, whatever, just say matter of factly that it's nannies' and parents' job to help kids learn to be responsible for themselves/stay safe/stay healthy, whatever applies, and that you are doing YOUR job the same way that ANY other nanny would. Then don't react any further to her attempts to get a rise out of you. If she says she doesn't like you, just say that she doesn't have to, but she *does* has to clean up, listen to you, etc.

lovesthegirls said...

Hey Op!

Did the child, by chance, have another nanny that left in which she was particularly attached to? Not that it excuses her behavior... but that could give me more insight. Try reading "Love and Logic." It is a great book with many useful tools.

mom said...

I like Cali mom's way of handling your discussions with the child.

Do not speak emotionally to her. be kind and firm at the same time, but keep it "matter if fact." (This might also be the best approach to take with the parents. Don't seem frazzled or shaken about the girls' behavior when you speak to them. Instead, report briefly and factually what has happened if you have a particularly horrific day, "just to keep them up to speed on what you are working on with her in regards to her social issues." Put it all on the child and present yourself as the professional person working to HELP the child learn to better interact with others, for her own long term social development and overall good.
Don't report on her bad behavior daily, or the parents will eventually come to feel that you may be in over your head and unable to get a grip on the situation...which they may well feel is a part of your job.

Christine said...

Like lovesthegirls said, read "love and logic." It is a great book! I know lots of other nannies who recommend that book. Also, "siblings without rivalry" would be a good one for you. Another thing to try is validating her feelings. She really needs to know that you are hearing what she is saying and that you care about how she feels. Even if it is for something like not wanting to clean up. She may not like you because she may think that you do not like her. I had this with a charge that age in the past. She thought that I did not care therefor did not like her. Once I started validating her feelings she saw that I really did care. It also helped her do what I was asking her to do. You could say something like "You really don't want to clean up you toys." Don't ask, just tell her that she doesn't want to. She will get that you understand how she is feeling. Let her respond and then say something like "but you need to clean up your toys so they don't get lost/broken" or whatever other reason you want to put in there.

fox in socks said...

I think Christine makes some very good points.

When reading your post, you talk all about the negative things that you do to respond to the girl's behavior. I understand that you are trying to get her to do something and when she doesn't do it you feel she needs punishment.

This, however, does near nothing to truly change a child's behavior. Psychologists wholeheartedly agree, and research has unequivocally shown, that the best and most efficient way to change and improve a child's behavior is by using positive reinforcement, not negative punishment. Negative punishment does not effect change anywhere near positive reinforcement.

So, give up on anything that is even remotely punishing. Save time outs for when things are absolutely terrible, and there is no other alternative. For now, set time outs aside unless things are truly horrendous (such as serious violence against a sibling).

Instead, be sure to catch this child doing something good. Even if it's just neutral and is barely even remarkable, (such as playing nicely with siblings) start praising her and pointing out the good things that she does do. Tell her how much you appreciate what she's doing. Praise her sincerely and properly.

I also think it would be a good idea to try to have one on one time with this girl. Try to find the other siblings playdates so that you can focus only on her for 1 hour a day, and have special time where you put all your loving attention on her. This will give you both a new appreciation for one another, and will help to repair things.

The girl will surely benefit from this, and you will too.

Good luck.

knows the feeling said...

I was in a situation that was exactly the same, except mine started being physical. She had told me on 3 occasions to shut up and had kicked me on several occasions. One day at the park she was on a time out (for pushing her sister so hard that she landed on her wrist really hard and I was afraid it was broken) but she told me her "life was miserable because of me" she proceeded to tell me that its my fault her parents weren't around and that I hit her little sister, which was completely false and she was punished by her mom because everyone knew it wasn't true but that just crossed the line. She could have gotten me arrested if the people at the playground didn't know us and know that I would never hit a child. Her mom talked to her and then let her come back down to play and while we were talking privately she said "I'm not excusing her behavior but" and the minute an adult excuses that type of behavior by saying but and offering up excuses then your no longer going to get back up. Its sad because every situation is different but the 6 year olds behavior could start affecting how you feel everyday and it will probably start rubbing off on the other kids in the house because they see her acting out and getting attention from it. Its a hard situation but if talking to the parents doesn't work then you might want to look for something else. My experience with the family mentioned was good but became harder and harder as the behavior got worse and I never got any back up. Hopefully your situation will turn out for the best. Good luck!

Just a Suggestion said...

You could have been my nanny a few months ago. My oldest is a difficult child around the same age. She does not adjust well to any changes and was not happy about having a new nanny. Time outs weren't working and honestly I really hated having to spend my little free time with her in the evening talking to her about the list of bad behavior I was presented with every time I got home. To turn the tide, we went back to an oldy but a goody approach--the good behavior chart. The nanny gave each child a "grade" at the end of each day and snyone who had a clean record by the end of the week got a prize. (nothing big, anything from a small book to a movie or lunch out). We even gave "bonuses" for going above and beyond. Our nanny would hand out the prizes as often as we would so that it was clear she had as much authority as we did to judge her behavior. The positive reinforcement worked and it made all of us happier to go from punishing her several times a day and talking about bad behavior to rewarding her and talking about good behavior.

world's best nanny said...

Get in her face and tell her if she keeps up this behavior you will never leave! You will be her nanny til she is 18!

OP said...

Thank you for all of the responses. I know it sounds as though I have only used negative reinforcement, but I have also implemented two different reward systems at the house. They work for a few days and when the excitment has worn off, the kids don't care anymore. Also, I have tried to make a game out of it, but she does not want to play it. She complains that she's tired or dizzy. I have even offered for her to take a short rest to feel better, but it doesn't work either.

Thank you again for all of the advice!

Bloomfield Babysitter said...

It is also possiblew that there is a personality conflict between you and this child. It can and does happen from time to to time. I recently left an otherwise wonderful position because i simply did not gel with the one of the children. We were constantly butting heads and nothing I tried worked. After 8 months I realized that this child and i were never going to be friends and that was that. I sat down with the parents and explained the situation to them. They were upset at first, because they had spent so much time on the inteview process. But when I explained to them that their child simply was not happy they understood. I remained with them until they found another nanny. In gratitude, I got a glowing reference and nice bonus.

Wicker Park Nanny said...

this is why i love infants and toddlers. :)

another nanny said...

Positive reinforcement. When she users her manners tell her how much you appreciate it. When she is behaving tell her how much you appreciate her good behavior. When she is saying mean things to her siblings tell her, "We do not say those things. if you want to continue to talk that way you may do so in the bathroom with the door closed. If she refuses tell her she may walk there on her own or you can hold her hand and walk with her. She will lose interest in saying those things if she doesn't have an audience. If you ask her to pick up and she ignores you and carries on playing with a different toy take the toy away and tell her she may have it back when she is done cleaning up. If you later happen to notice something on the ground that she didn't pick up say "Oops, you forgot this toy over here." Make is no big deal that she forgot. If she still absolutely refuses to put away her toys I would take them away. I would calmly say "Okay, I am going to put it out in the garage. We'll try cleaning up another day." And then do not give a second chance and do not discuss it further. I often say "You know why. I have already told you." If the child persists I simply say "I'm sorry, I'm not discussing this." Of course she should be informed a head of time what the consequences are for certain actions.
Of course I would discuss this with the parents first.

Also, you might try reading a book called Positive Discipline. I found it very helpful.

another nanny again said...

The only reward for good behavior should be to positive attention, not stickers or treats. What the child wants is attention, good or bad. Unfortunately she has learned that bad behavior gets a reaction every time.

Annabelle said...

i would like to offer my advice to you through one of my past experiences with a difficult girl who was 6. i found that it worked wonders when i told her that i decided i wanted to be her friend. by being her friend, she didn't look at me as her boss. therefore, she did not act up like she used to. this is the only solution that i can offer to your problem as i know it can work.

once you are 'friends', you will have to treat her like a friend, sounds kind of weird but bring her a gift. talk to her about a problem you have but make sure it is rated g and ask her advice. then the next day tell her you took her advice and everything is great!

spend one on one time with her. draw pictures, ask her what her favorite thing in the whole world is. girls this age are dreamers and want everything. she's probably acting up the way she does because of lack of structure or boredom. it's up to you to make her world better. that is your job as her nanny, when you are there that is.

MinuteMuggle said...

annabelle,
I am sure the op has tried being friendly. Also, I don't think children's parents or nannies should be their "friend." The child has friends. They don't need us to be their friends. Do they need us to be caring and loving and attentive? of course they do. But not their friend. This especially goes for school age children. The child must clean up their toys and be respectful to adults. They need to know that adults will set limits.

The idea of asking the child for advice on a problem, rated G or otherwise, is sort of ridiculous. unless of course the problem is: "you are not behaving well and I would like to work with you on some solutions that you think will make you behave better."

mom said...

Another nanny has great suggestions. I agree 100% with what she says here.

Minute Muggle also has a good point. I like the idea of enlisting the child's help to work out solutions to problems, but ONLY as far as those situations that relate directly to the child, NOT the nanny's personal problems (whether they are made up or real, big or small.) I think it is very important to keep a distinction between child and nanny, just as it is for parents and children. Especially with a child who is already defiant, you don't want to give her the impression that the relationship is on an even keel as far as who has the bottom line authority. You can be her nanny and be sweet, just as her mom can be both her mom and be sweet...but she has the whole rest of the world to make friends with.

fox in socks said...

Another nanny makes great suggestions. I disagree about the stickers/ small treats though; these can be great temporary rewards for good behavior until it becomes habit, whereupon the good behavior and happiness is the reward in itself, and the child knows he has advanced to a point beyond a sticker chart for those behaviors.

OP, in your most recent post you say, "I have also implemented two different reward systems at the house. They work for a few days and when the excitment has worn off, the kids don't care anymore." And you mention other difficulties when you try to make things fun.

With a sticker chart type of reward system, as soon as the child has gotten the hang of whatever it is in a very solid way, then you change it up a bit, so that there are more things to accomplish to earn the sticker (BUT of course be ABSOLUTELY sure that these things are easily mastered so that frustration doesn't creep in and it doesn't become too hard for the child.)

You may want to try a rule where as soon as the child earns 5 stickers, for example, they can get a small toy, or whatever the case may be. Buy a bunch of tiny things, tattos, little rubber balls, etc., whatever they might find appealing. Keep them all in a box or bag and with each 5 stickers earned they get to pick something. You can keep them wrapped so each item is a surprise if you think that's best. It depends on the child.

Good luck and I'm glad you came back on to post again.

BLAAAAH! said...

"Well, 2 against 1"??? what kind of crappy mother is that? Instead of putting that little brat in her place (because that's what she is, a brat, since her parents apparently know nothing about discipline), she just shrugs it off. Ridiculous.

world's best nanny said...

Back in the late 90's I was nannying for 2 kids ages 3 (M) and 18 months (F)
At 18 months, the little girl was quite mailable, of course and she gave me no problems. Her brother on the other hand was a piece of work. Even at the age of 3, little gifts, stickers, one on one time, trying to be his friend didn't work. He did not seek nor did he care about getting adult approval. He HATED me and wished for me to be fired. He rarely smiled, preferred to play alone, in fact he would soon become frustrated with playmates and go off on them. He hit his sister, pulled her hair and pushed her down the stairs numerous times. He once dropped a plastic aircraft carrier on to my head from the upstairs landing. Believe it or not I stayed on with them for nearly 4 years. I needed the money and they needed childcare because this boy had been thrown out of 4 or 5 day cares. Some kids will never be won over. The parents of this boy did acknowledge he had a problem, to the point that even time outs didn't work. He'd throw the chair he was supposed to be sitting in or he'd get up and do the same damn thing that got him into time out in the first place. He showed no signs of empathy for other children, animals, or adults. He parents put him on meds when he began school. He is now 14. I dread in another 3 years he'll be driving and come and find me. LOL!

monkeyshines said...

Infants rule! I can't tell you guys how many nanny jobs I bailed on because of nasty kids! I am sorry I don't get paid enough to be some kids shrink and figure out all there behavioral problems because of the stupid, uncaring nanny who was there before me! some children do have mental issues and do need pro help

mom said...

wbn,
Um, the child you cared for almost certainly has a psychiatric issue...possibly some form of autism. Not every child who misbahaves is simply bad.

scramspammer said...

spammer! get'em!

p.s. where's clwtf?

Anabelle said...

To minute muggle, why do you attack my post? i simply was stating exactly what i did in my experience with a difficult 6 year old girl. it worked and that is the bottom line. stop attacking people. i see you do this on other postings as well. i don't appreciate it. i find my advice to be extremely helpful. kids at that age like to know that their nanny is not just their boss but someone to have fun with. i'd LOVE to see you as a nanny! the kids would be treated like crap. you obviously don't have the experience that i have with nannying. i know what i am doing. when i said tell them a problem you are having that is rated g, i meant for example (for someone like you who can't comprehend) "I don't know what to do. I want to go outside but there are bugs." Perhaps the 6 year old would then say "why don't you use bug repellant". this would then show the child that she helped her nanny, bonding their relationship! What is so wrong with that? JEEZ!!!

Annabelle reply to MinuteMuggle said...

also some children need help in learning how to clean up toys. you cannot just order them to do it. a 6 year old needs someone who will do half and she does half. this allows her to learn different ways of cleaning up from her nanny. She also will not feel overwhelmed. I was simply being very specific in my example of "being friendly" toward the 6 year old when I named the idea of being a friend. That is very different than just "being friendly".

mom said...

Annabelle,
The clarification your follow up post provides sheds a whole new light on things. I too misunderstood your suggestion about inviting the child to help you solve a problem. But the bug spray example is great. Those kinds of "problems" are perfect for helping the child feel that you are a team and that you value her suggestions.

I love enlisting my daughter's help to choose a pair of shoes to wear to a party, for example. She acts so very official and devotes serious thought to the question most times. Then she looks so proud when I agree with her selection and thank her for helping me make the right choice. I do agree that having some positive experiences stored up "in the bank" where you have been able to enlist the child's help and compliment their decisions goes a long way when it comes to those times when you must disagree, say no, and play the "authority" card.

Try this for a child who feels overwhelmed by cleaning: Give them specific tasks, one at a time, such as, "put all of the legos into the box." Then have them come for the next task. Try to do the biggest part of the mess first, and go in descending order. That way the child sees the mess disappearing at a fast rate with the "game" and the project seems less daunting early on in the process.

mom said...

Oops, forgot the most important part. Be sure to profusely compliment their work after every category of toys is cleaned up. You might add in an incentive like, for example, "If you keep cleaning this fast, I might just have to read you a book before I start dinner!"

Marypoppin'pills said...

CL-WTF is being put together right now. Sorry for being late!

cali mom said...

Cool, I was wondering. Thanks MPP :)

MinuteMuggle said...

annabelle,

you are really off base. I did not attack your post I merely expressed my opinion. are you 12 years old? because that is what you sound like. you'd love to see me as a nanny? I would treat the children like crap? nice. brilliant.

wow. you should go out for the debate team at your middle school. you'd be great.

what?? said...

When Annabelle said "a G rated problem" I took it to mean as opposed to something P.G. 13 or R rated etc. It did sound as if she meant in the post to talk to the child about a problem that was inappropriate. It did not sound as if she meant a bug spray question at all.

How can it be a "comprehension problem" if others as well are having trouble seeing what you meant? MM's first post was not an attack on you at all, A. Your response to it was unprovoked.

MinuteMuggle said...

wbn,

I agree with Mom. It sounds like symptoms of autism to me. It is unfortunate when parents do not want to acknowledge this problem, and when caregivers do not recognize the possibility of it and fail to refer the family to early intervention. All the signs seem there to me in this child: failure to socialize, definite sensory issues etc. I hope the child is doing well now.

Kirsten said...

face it guys. minute muggle is here to start problems. she doesn't stick to posting advice to the original poster. she looks for nooks and crannies to start quarrels about. i've read all the posts and understand them all. not sure why she attacked anabelle. it's obvious that girls love it when anyone in their life treats them with friendliness! i think it's great advice to act friendly towards her and let her know that she is not only a little girl but a truly fun little girl who has good ideas. i mean, what is the matter with that? also i'd like to state for the record that i am a nanny and i always play little games with the child to ask her approval on "G RATED" questions all of the time. it's great to allow her to think she is truly helping me. it brings us closer together. it was not hard to understand this from annabella's posting.
if you aren't going to post something nice, don't post anything.
minute mugle: You obviously lack communicative skills. Instead of trying to "give advice" on this site, you might want to try reading a book to better your communication skills. Best of luck to you.

Annabelle :) said...

No I am not in middle school MM! The debate team? You are a loser! You are welcome to say anything you want to me. It doesn't bother me the least bit. In the end, I know I am a good person and it's so sad to know that there is someone on here that posts such as yourself, such shallow remarks. Did you get your GED?

I'm proud of my advice and my comments. Stop knit picking them apart. You are scum to me. I wish there were better people on this earth than those like you who are uneducated trouble makers. I hope to God that you are not a caretaker or a mother because you obviously do not have normal values.
May God be with you. And what is "Minute Muggle"? That is the strangest moniker I have ever seen. Strange/weird/uneducated/= low life scum who suprisingly knows how to type!

world's best nanny said...

Well put Annabelle! I agree that her posts (MinuteMuggle's) are always or so it seems to be picking people's comments apart. I thought it was just me... but that is obviously not the case. Glad that you stood up for yourself and don't let her little 'ways' bring you down. Look what she wrote about my post. She's kissing my butt so I can be her buddy. That's what it appears to me. Oh and thanks for the email article, it's great!

Original Poster said...

Hi all! Thanks for the advice! This is so helpful. I will totally take Anabell's advice on cleaning up/helping TOGETHER and allowing the girl to believe that I am not just her "boss"! And "fox in socks" thank you for putting yourself in my shoes and advising about the sticker charts. Thank you everyone for your kind suggestions.

Thanks to all but "MMugle"- no drama needed here thank you very much!

WTF? said...

Hey Kirsten! Why don't you crawl back under whatever rock you came out from?

MinuteMuggle said...

wbn: kissing your butt? where did you get that from? I was actually disagreeing with you and trying to be polite about it. what I should have said, (after all, why be polite to a rude person who posts with multiple monikers) was that you as a provider were negligent in not referring your charge to EI.

As far as the poster(s) flinging insults at me: I stand by my opinions. If my comments are so offensive, why have they not been deleted?

OP: sorry you don't like my opinions, but I am welcome to post here. I think it is funny that you consider me to be starting "drama" when others are making comments like:

"You are scum to me. I wish there were better people on this earth than those like you who are uneducated trouble makers. I hope to God that you are not a caretaker or a mother because you obviously do not have normal values. May God be with you. And what is "Minute Muggle"? That is the strangest moniker I have ever seen. Strange/weird/uneducated/= low life scum who suprisingly knows how to type!"

If that is not drama, I don't know what is. Making fun of people's monikers? lol


I think some people just cannot handle when people disagree with them. Just like....in middle school.

oops: there's the bell, girls! run along now!

gunna gatcha! said...

minute muggle is also using a moniker known to be "WTF". Is Minute Muggle allowed to post on this site? I have traced the IP Address of your blog minute muggle manor... beware....

MinuteMuggle said...

why don't we let jane or mpp confirm that? because it could not be less accurate. I am not "wtf."

also, it's rather ridiculous to wonder if I am "allowed" to post on this site since I am doing so as we speak.

WTF? said...

Bite me, fucktard! You're just some ass with a hard-on for Minute Muggle posting your complaints under multiple names. No one else has a probelm with her. Quit yout trolling and go away!

mom said...

First of all, ENOUGH!

And, on what planet do you think WTF and Minute Muggle are the same person? If I recall correctly, they strongly disagree on a number of occasions. What kind of fool would use multiple monikers to have a flame war with herself? Duh.

MinuteMuggle said...

lol

thanks wtf and mom. :)

Marypoppin'pills said...

WTF and MM are not the same person.

WTF? said...

I know, Mom. It's a big conspiracy. I've been fighting with myself for 6 months just waiting for the opportunity to tell off a screen name I've never seen before. LOL.

mom said...

; )

Yup WTF,
You had a good run, but they're onto you now! Now whatever will you do for amusement?

WTF? said...

Well, I could always take a page out of their book and create a bunch of different names to post complaints about Minute Muggle under. Note to W hiney B othersome N inny, this site doesn't have all that much traffic so if posts are showing up every couple of minutes and from monikers we've never seen, it's pretty obvious that they're from the same person.