Toddler's Tantrums Taxing Temp

Received Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Perspective and Opinion on ISYN Please help me out. I need some advice immediately and will take whatever advice I receive. Here's my problem: I am a temp nanny for a family w/a very unruly 4 yr old girl. I worked for them as a temp for about 5 weeks during the beginning of summer and it was hard. Then the girl went to preschool and I was let go. This week the school is closed for vacation and the father called me and asked if I could work the week he was out. At the time, I had no job and was in need of money so I agreed. (This was 2 weeks ago!). Shortly after, I got a new part-time nanny job, however the hours will not coincide w/this temp position. The father works in a home office and I only work 5 hours, 10-3. I worked today (Monday) and will work all week until Friday. The problem is the child. She is very difficult. When she is to have her nap and quiet time, she becomes abusive to me and her Dad. She literally swings at both of us as we try to carry her to her room. Her Dad is not very strict w/her which makes my job harder. The daughter knows how to manipulate the father by saying she needs to pee, get a drink, etc. The Dad caters to her and does not seem to realize he is being manipulated by her. She kicks and screams for an hour, almost knocking the door down w/her feet as she throws a fit, etc. Yes, she was like this a bit when I worked for them before, but her tantrums were not this severe.

My question is this: Since I agreed to care for the child all week, would it be rude for me to call the Dad and tell him that today was a physically and emotionally taxing day and that I do not think (for $10/hr), I can handle this anymore. Seriously, I was so worn out today after her tantrum that I felt like throwing in the towel and leaving! And I have never had the urge to do this before! ~ As I type this, I am dreading my job. I know it is only for the next week, but I simply cannot put up w/being kicked at, hit and having to carry a 4 yr old to her room while doing so. But I know I agreed to watch her and need to honor my commitment, in spite of the abuse. What oh what would you other nannies do in my shoes??????????


WTF? said...

I don't know. If you're being hit and kicked, I think you should be able to bail. I do think you should share with the parents thought they probably need to get their child psych evaluation. That's really not normal for a four year old. Also, why would a four year old be napping? None of my children napped at that age. In fact, if they inadvertently did fall asleep, they were up half the night. I don't think it's developmentally appropriate even though I know a lot of daycares make the children nap. It's one of the reasons I'm glad my kids were never in a daycare setting.

Bay Area Nany said...

Yeah, 4 is pretty old to be napping. Still, your job sounds really hard, especially since the dad is home & not supporting you.

One thing to keep in mind is that part of what motivates her to misbehave is your reaction. Try, as much as you can, to always have a very neutral response to her outbursts. If she can't get a rise out of you she'll be a little less inclined to act out.

Also check out "Love & Logic" especially the version for young kids. I've used some of the techniques on my charges and they're waaaay more better behaved.

Bay Area Nanny said...

That's "Bay Area Nanny." Yeah, I can spell.

NanySarah said...

I have worked with a weathful family like this. Their 3 1/2 years bit, hit, throw toys at me, and ran away from me. In three months, he broke three pairs of glasses, broke two of my fingers- slamming a door, and he bit me so hard (surgery) the newer scar broke open. This was in the hands of his parents, through. Mom never paid or played attention to him (he actually ran around a store with a butter knife and mom stood there and did nothing). When I had the child alone, he was so sweet and lovable. One day, I took him to their club to go swimming. I found a gaint brusie on him. When I asked him about it, he said "my daddy hit me" My heart crashed.

Mom called me a Bi%^$ and I lefted. I did report the abuse to police, but nothing was done. It is very sad what this child had to go through (including 9 nannies in a year)

bippity boppity boo said...

Just leave and don't feel guilty. This is not you're real job and they need to get their child under control. Maybe you saying something will be the wake up call they need to realize that this is NOT normal.

MissDee said...

I think there may be two things that are going on here:

1. The parents ALLOW the child to behave in this manner. Does she treat her parents the way she treats you? If so, the parents have a problem with lack of discipline.

2. Autism, ADHD. Sounds like the child I had problems with a few months ago. I figured out what works and deosn't work with this child. She went to a new classroom last week, and I was a "sub" for the primary teacher who was at meetings all week with our school district. This child did very well all week with me compared to our problems in the past. She was a good listener and cried when I had to leave her. She cried when I took her back up to her old room, the room I was in. The teacher in responded to the child's crying when she had to leave me with "she only wants to stay with you because she knows she can walk all over you". As crazy as it sounds, this child and I have a bond.

I would maybe sit down and talk with the parents first. Even though you are exhausted by this child, leaving her may be worse then staying. Perhaps you and the parents can sit down and come up with some ideas to make this arrangement work for all of you.

monikerri said...

Sounds like she's ready to drop the nap!

Kids this age go nuts sometimes, it isn't always indicative of a behavioral problem. It certainly isn't always indicative that the parents are mistreating the child, or that the child is autistic, etc! It's a tantrum. If it was really that awful for you I am not sure that childcare is the profession for you.

It's only a week. Of course you can not go back but...it's only a week.

CuriousDad said...

A week, at five hours a day. Fulfill your contract. Discuss the possibility that the child no longer needs a nap and is old enough to play on her own with just adult supervision nearby with the parents point to several sources as pointed out by other posters. Better if you had read and or had sources available for parents.

This is what seems to be the general consensus of some on here. Besides the ones who are saying you should bail. It sounds good to me, as a Dad.

From me:
Get a sterling recommendation for yourself. Stay the week. Being able to deal with a difficult job and not bailing at the drop of problems is always considered an asset by potential employers. It means you can work through the difficult stages of a problem and maintain your ability to do the job. Even better would be for you to find a resolution for the girl and her parents.

Thread hijack: To others on here, I am now a Daddy to a DD. :) Weeee now my wife and I have one of each!

another nanny said...

I believe most children this age actually do need a period of quiet/resting in the afternoon, if not an actual nap. However, it sounds like naptime is really unpleasant for everybody in the house. Would it be possible to get her some books-on-CD or something like that? Maybe she could listen to one and then be allowed to play quietly in her room until her rest period is over.
If naptime is the only time when she is behaving terribly, I would say re-negotiate this time. However, if she is throwing major tantrums at other times, too, there's probably a deeper issue that you cannot hope to resolve in a week.

Personally, I would stick it out for just the week, but no longer than that.

NannyinMD said...

I would stick it out for the week, and never return.
I like the idea of books on tape.

DenverNanny said...

I've yet to meet even a 5 year old that didn't at least take quiet times-- never met a 4 year old who didn't nap/rest for at least 30 minutes/day. and I've worked with literally dozens of 4 & 5 year olds

I too have had parents/teachers say "she only wants to stay with you because she knows she can walk all over you" and it always aggravates me! It is possible to provide the structure and consistency kids need while still being nice!


If you need the money, stick it out and never work for them again. If you can get by without it, tell dad you'll work tomorrow, but that's it. If she acts like that just going to her room for quiet time, I highly doubt you'd see any behavior changes in the next week-- regardless if you cancelled nap time

just another mommy said...

my 4 year old (and 6 year old) still have quiet time, but that quiet time now involves watching a movie while their sister sleeps. It works much better than trying to put down a 4 year old for a nap! You could maybe suggest a movie at naptime instead and let her curl up on the couch with a favorite blanky/lovey.

But I would stick it out. It really is just 4 more days!

VAnanny said...

I have nannied for many 4 year olds and each of them took small afternoon naps in addition to quiet time. So I do not think it is unreasonable for a 4 year old to nap. Perhaps she gets way too cranky without one. Anyway OP, stick it out. You will be happy you did. All jobs are learning experiences, especially the challenging ones. You will come away with a good feeling becuase you stuck it out. And you don't want to burn any bridges. Good luck with your decision! =)

Marypoppin'pills said...

Curious Dad
Congrats on your new baby girl! All the best to you and your Wife. xo

maryjanepoppins said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mommy said...

I think you definitly have the right to quit after something like that happens especially if the parent lets the child get away with it....Let him be the one to spend the rest of the week with his child and her tantrums then maybe he will realize that his child needs some discipline!


NVMom said...

It seems as is this girl is frustrated and acting out because no one is communicating with her. At four she is old enough for two-way communication rather than being dragged off to her room. If the parents insist on this quiet time, there is no reason an adult cannot find out what the child wants to do with the time that will work for her. All you have to do is ask and I'll bet you have no more tantrums. BTW, a toddler is not a 4 year old.
That's a pre-schooler. I really think a lot of parents' inability to communicate with kids is the reason for many tantrums. I saw one good example today, when a tot (between 1-2 yrs old) tried to take off her bathing suit at the water park.Not for fun, it looked like to me. Her mother yelled at her, threatened to spank her, threatened to leave the park, and of course the child tantrumed out of frustration. Never once did the Mom try to find out what the problem was. She didn't even realize she could have stopped the tantrum before it even started. I was blown away, but more sad for the little girl who will probably spend the next few years pretty unhappy. Sorry, didn't mean to digress. I'm just saying these things can (not always!) but many times be prevented.

Jane Doe said...

I didn't care for the name.

WTF? said...

I have no doubt that most 4 & 5 year olds can be coerced in to sleeping during the day so it's more convenient for the adults around them. I know this happens all the time in daycare settings.

I have three children of my own. Two stopped napping around the time they turned four. The middle child stopped napping when he was 18 months old. Instead, he slept from 7pm-7am each day. I also know an awful lot of other parents and know I'm not alone. It's downright common for four year olds not to nap, not some kind of rarity. And sorry, I call bullshit on the five years old. Many are in school all day. Give me a break.

CuriousDad, "as a dad" are your children hitting an kicking the nanny? I wouldn't blame a caregiver one bit for not tolerating that. What person with ant self respect sticks around for that? That's much more than a simple tantrum. Those parents either need to have their child evaluated or figure out why their discipline techniques are creating a monster.

Old Nanny said...

I am 40 and I still need afternoon naps!

CuriousDad said...

"Those parents either need to have their child evaluated or figure out why their discipline techniques are creating a monster."

As stated in my last post I would agree with that statement.
"Better if you had read and or had sources available for parents."
"Even better would be for you to find a resolution for the girl and her parents."

As to the rest

"CuriousDad, "as a dad" are your children hitting an kicking the nanny? I wouldn't blame a caregiver one bit for not tolerating that."
I would not tolerate the kicking and screaming either. But, she is a nanny, they are suppose to be professional caregivers are they not? As such should she not try and get the parents involved in correcting the problem and not just quitting because the job is to hard?

"What person with ant self respect sticks around for that?"
Umm one who is not someone who quits at the drop of a hat, when the job gets difficult and chooses not to correct the problem they see. Why would anyone want to hire someone who would quit on them at the drop of a hat? I could see if this was a nanny who had worked for six months to a year or more and could not correct the problem. Either because the problem was outside of anyone's control, they could not handle the stress anymore, the caregiver is in danger of injury, and/or because the parents are resistant to correcting the problem. But this is a week long gig, no, she does not have to tolerate the tantrums, but she should stick out the week if there is no danger to her, to insure that she is someone who is known to be reliable and not a quitter. But she should most definitely not extend her time past a week if there is no remedy from her on how to correct the problem and she has a better job offer with less stress.

"That's much more than a simple tantrum. Those parents either need to have their child evaluated or figure out why their discipline techniques are creating a monster."
Agreed and as a neutral third party the Nanny should ask and see if they are getting help for her. The parents are probably hoping the pre-school will take care of the problem when she goes back in a week. However the Nanny should not longer accept jobs from them without the full knowledge of what she is getting into.

Her question was:
"My question is this: Since I agreed to care for the child all week, would it be rude for me to call the Dad and tell him that today was a physically and emotionally taxing day and that I do not think (for $10/hr), I can handle this anymore."

One bad day does not make for a bad week, but it may be a sign of things to come. Or not. Either way throwing in the towel for one bad day is the sign of a quitter to me. And not someone I would give a recommnedation to or hire.

BTW OP how is it going??

MinuteMuggle said...

I thought of autism too, actually. But that is just speculation.

OP, sounds like you have a rough job. I would stick it out if I were you, since it is not much longer. But I would not let the child hurt me, either. I would tell her that hurting is not tolerated. When she is having a fit, remove her from the situation immediately and say, "No more hurting." This is done with autistic kids as well as regular ed. kids. And put her in a safe place where she cannot hurt herself or others and let her have a tantrum.

The only way I would quit is if the Dad or Mom is unhappy with the way I was dealing with it. Because the way to deal with it is not allow a child to hurt you. If they can't understand that, they are not the right people to be working for.

Curious Dad, I understand that a nanny should be an "expert" on handling the situation, but a good parent would involve themselves, not need to be prompted by the nanny.

Also, congratulations, did I hear you say you have a new addition?

CuriousDad said...

MinuteMuggle said...

"Curious Dad, I understand that a nanny should be an "expert" on handling the situation, but a good parent would involve themselves, not need to be prompted by the nanny."

Agreed, but my answer was directed to the the Nanny not the parents. How much is the parents not being involved or not I do not know. But it is only one days worth of tantrum we are going by. I am unsure of the parents already have a plan to deal with the child and the Nanny may not have been told the plan/s the parents may have, if they have any.

Which bring a question in my mind to the Nannies on this board. How often do the parents forget to keep you in the loop about what they are doing/planning with their kids until almost the last minute/week?

"Also, congratulations, did I hear you say you have a new addition?"

No, no, no, no, you must be mistaken. Unless you are using a text to speech program, or someone told you? You should have read that I have a new addition. :)

Thanks, for everyones congrats and well wishes.

MinuteMuggle said...

curious dad,

you're fresh.

just my opinion said...

Fresh? lol. Smart-ass seems more like it! ;)

Haven't seen you around much lately, glad you're back from wherever you went.

DenverNanny said...

I cared for 5 year twins over the summer who would specifically ask for a nap time 4 days out of 5--Pretty sure they didn't want a nap to "convenience" me. For the record, they also slept 11-12 hours/night. On the few days when one of them DID cry/throw a fit about naptime, it was ALWAYS because he was so exhausted he was completely emotional and he would promptly fall asleep when I put him in his bed.

My first position in Denver involved 3 & 4 year old siblings and I stayed with them until they were 5 & 6. They also slept 7:30-7:30 and took naps 4 out of 5 days. The days they didn't nap, they read (yes, the boy could read at 4) quietly in their rooms-- and yes, the 6 year old did this AFTER school. Weird how kids aren't in school 24/7...

Also, don't the vast majority of kindergarten classes, and even some 1st grade classes, have nap times? All those years studying child development and those teachers and schools still don't know what they're doing...?

MinuteMuggle said...

Thanks JMO:

Just been busy! Glad to be back! The blog looks great!

ChiNanny said...


Lots of 4,5 and 6 year olds still nap. The 4 year old I watch now naps almost every day, and if she doesn't sleep she reads books and has quiet time. She still sleeps 11-12 hours a night.

When I taught kindergarten we had a brief 'rest time' after lunch for 15 minutes and at least half of the kids would fall asleep on their tables. Developmentally children who spend their waking hours playing, learning, and socializing, often need lots of sleep, which means a nap.

nyc mom said...

To OP's q:
I agree with CD. Stick out the week. If you had not found the new pt job, sounds like you would have no question in your mind but to stick it out. This child is not new to you. You agreed to the temp job knowing her unruly nature. So I'm guessing you aren't concerned about serious bodily harm. I think it's unfair to bail just because your need for money is less acute in light of the fact that you knew the child's issues already even if they have worsened. It is only 5 hours a day. If the tantrums become physical, go get the WAHD and tell him you feel unsafe manhandling the child and will need him to deal with the physicality. Sounds like he's already around trying to "assist" anyway so I would remove yourself from the physical interaction and offer to help do other tasks while he puts her down to the nap (which it sounds like she has outgrown anyway).

To address the sleep issues:

I have 3dc also. Both my older dc stopped naps early - one slightly before 3yo, one at 3yo. My current 23mo takes one nap a day for one hour. I have no doubt he will be done before 3yo also. None of my kids are big sleepers. My 2yo needs total of 12 hours a day and my 7yo and 9yo need only 9 hours a day. Their dad is the same - needs only about 5 hours a night.

I have no problem with a "quiet" time each day for a 4 or 5yo dc and my kids had this in school until K. By K, only 1 or 2 kids in each of their classes would ever actually nap during quiet time. This was all dropped completely for 1st grade. This is private school where kids tend to be a bit older so 5.5yo-6.5yo during K. In public Ks kids tend to be 6 mths younger so might still be napping a bit more.

I think the problem here is that WTF made an extreme statement ("why would a four year old be napping") implying no 4yos nap. Then DenverNanny responded with the opposite extreme statement ("I've yet to meet even a 5 year old that didn't at least take quiet times-- never met a 4 year old who didn't nap/rest for at least 30 minutes/day. and I've worked with literally dozens of 4 & 5 year olds") implying virtually all 4 and 5yos nap. Neither extreme is accurate. Some 4yos nap, some don't. Both are normal situations. The 4yo in this OP does sound like she is ready to drop the nap.

erosser said...

OMG LEAVE!!! Screw fulfilling the contract...its FIVE DAYS..they'll survive. Take it from someone who knows, in nannying you have to put your welfare first or no one else will...and you will be abused and manipulated by parents.

Send them an email explaining why the rest of the week it "no go" and move on!!!

WTF? said...

DenverNanny, why do you feel the need to argue with me about MY OWN experiences? It doesn't make any sense. And no, school children do not NAP in class. Good grief!

VAnanny said...


Sorry to burst your bubble but I have nannied in 3 different states and in all 3 of these states, napping after lunch in school was routine. No it is not like that everywhere but it does happen. It is not completely beyond the realm of imagination. Like nyc mom said, it is extreme to say that no 4-6 year olds nap and it is also extreme to say they all nap. Every child is different. Anyway, OP please let us know what you have decided to do.

DenverNanny said...

I don't see anything in my post that argues with "your experiences", rather my posts simply state my experience. In fact, if you look back through the thread, you will see that YOU were the one who felt it was necessary to "call bullshit" on MY childcare experiences.

I did not type, nor did I mean to imply, that EVERY 4-6 y.o. naps. Rather, I simply stated that in my experience with a large number of kids this age, the vast majority still napped on a regular basis. Even if they did not actually sleep, they were expected to read/play quietly on their beds for a rest/quiet time.

Also, the majority of kindergarten classes DO take a quiet time or naptime. Maybe they didn't nap at YOUR children's schools, but I'm like VAnanny in that I've lived in a number of states(5 actually: TN, AL, GA, OK, TX, & CO) and every school I was involved with had nap/quiet times after lunch. For example, one of my charges attended a blended kindergarten/1st grade class for gifted children that required students to bring a sheet and pillow to class for the 30 minute nap period after lunch.

So in conclusion, next time you're going to fasely accuse someone of something, do try not to do it on a blogger where the entire conversation is in writing for us all to review.

Potato, Potahto said...

I have had preschoolers (4-5 years old) who asked/begged for a nap, whereas I've known other children who dropped their nap at 2 years old. In the kindergarten classes I'm familiar with, the children have rest time after lunch, at least during the first half of the year. I don't think we can make a blanket statement.
However, I also have known some children who would fight against naptime (not to the extent described by OP, however), but who would become terrors in the evening without one.

Raphaelle said...

I think that the problem is that little girl really needs structure to feel safe.
She probably thinks she is in charge. That is lot of pressure on her shoulders.
I will tell her that maybe the rules are different with mom and dad but this is my rules. I love you and I treat you with respect, I don't hurt your body and I do NOT want you to hurt my BODY. After, I will try to figure out why she is acting this way. Is she angry ? Is she frustrated ? Does she need attention ? And I will try to propose a better way to express herself.
I understand that it is hard sometimes to deal with parents but I think that it is part of being a nanny. I will tell the parents that I would love to talk to them. And tell them the way it is. I am concerned about the child and I want to make sure that we are all on the same team. I think that we, as the caregivers of a child that we all love, do that and that and that.

cali mom said...

Coming in here way late and the OP has probably either finished the job or wussed out by now, but I have to chime in and say that a 4 year old is WAY to old to be physically carried to their room sceaming and acting out, being forced to have a "quiet time". Quiet time is not innappropriate, but scooping them up like a baby and manhandling them physically into complying with your (questionable) orders certainly is. I agree with the poster who pointed out the need for 2 way communication. If you were being picked up like a baby and forcibly stuffed under some blankets and no one would listen to you when you tried to speak and verbally communicate your feelings, you would certainly feel some rage, so why should a child be treated that way? And at 4, some means of discipline other than physical overpowerment need to be practiced. How can you teach a child not to act out physically when your "discipline" is always just to phsically push them around?