Sunday

Hypocritical on issue of TV makes nanny's job miserable!

Received Sunday, May 2, 2010
perspective and opinion Let's just get this out of the way from the get go: I'm a nanny that's quite opinionated about matters of child-rearing, and I am pretty judgmental when I see lazy or inadequate parenting. I keep these thoughts to myself, or try to find a positive way to encourage change, but the judgment is there nonetheless. That said, I'm sort of a TV nazi. I agree with the AAP that TV before age 2 is unnecessary and harmful to an infant or young toddler's development, and even in older children, I think "screen time" should be allowed in strict moderation. This philosophy bodes well for me, as most parents aren't hiring professional nannies to come over and plop the kids in front of the TV all day.

But what happens when Mom and Dad- conservative though they are about the nanny using TV with the kids- use it constantly when they're parenting without nanny's help? Normally I'd just pass quiet judgment about being a lazy excuse for a parent and a hypocrite, but in this particular case, the Mount Everest size tantrums coming from the three year old who doesn't understand why I'm such a MEAN NANNY who won't let him watch TV when he can watch as much as he'd like when I'm not around... well, that complicates things. He always asks to watch TV, and I 99% of the time try to enthusiastically redirect him into a more appropriate activity ("Let's listen to music while we eat our lunch in the kitchen!" or "It's a beautiful day; we'll go play soccer/ride bikes/walk to the park!" but often, it just doesn't work. He throws a TOTAL fit. The redirects are rarely successful and the tantrums usually escalate- and we don't have this problem with any other issue. If Mom or Dad is around- as they sometimes are, as Mom telecommutes from home 2 days a week and Dad comes home every day for lunch- they override me and let him watch TV. But I'm expected to keep the TV off at all times.

How would you handle this?

20 comments:

Just another nanny said...

I would first try to redirect, as you've been doing. If that doesn't work, and one of the parents is home, go and consult them before the kid starts having a meltdown (I always feel like it undermines my authority if I say no and then the parent overrides, so I prefer to just ask them upfront). Also, you know that the parents let him watch TV, so you could always try the, "When mom comes home, you can watch TV. What would you like to do now?" If he can't give it up, have him elaborate. What show will he watch when Mom comes home? Can he draw a picture of his favorite show? Could you dress up and act out a scene from his favorite show? Could you read a book about his favorite characters?

A lot of people will probably tell you to address it directly with the parents. I'm not able to do that at my job, which I tried to offer interventions directly with the child.

annoyed nanny said...

The parents I work for do this as well....things like "let's try and come up with other things for him to do today instead of video games or tv" but every morning when i get there the childs playing the games or watching tv lol. So im stuck with kids in the house for eight hours on a rainy day and no tv but they have them awake less than two hours before i get there and they watchin tv the whole time. If parents are anti-tv im totally down and agree with that but when its like wew are trying to curc his tv watching yet he watches it every second with them thats annoying. That goes in the same catagory with the parents that complain thier child didnt eat five servings of fruit and veggies with me that day but when i arrive in the morning the kids eating a cup of peanut butter and a waffle with frosting on it for breakfast ...come on...

Sympathetic Nanny said...

I think that is tough that the child can watch T.V. when his parents are home, but none when you are there. It puts you in a position like you said of "bad guy" and it makes your job harder.
Perhaps you can plan certain things to do when he has his meltdown. Maybe pop out a favorite book that you ONLY use when he has his meltdown or a certain toy, etc...
If this doesn't work and the kid still has his meltdown, then it would be the parent's responsibility to either curb T.V. time w/them or let him watch T.V. in moderation. If they really care about you being happy in your job, they will compromise. Let's hope they do.

Black Orchid said...

I would refrain from using Sympathetic Nanny's suggestion of bringing out a favorite toy or book ONLY when he is having a meltdown. That seems more like positive reinforcement for the meltdown to me. You can't very well say, "I'm sorry Johnny, but you can't have your favorite toy unless you are throwing a major fit. So you better start throwing that fit now."
Sorry, Sympathetic Nanny. I'm not trying to be mean at all, but just pointing something out that you probably did not think about.

ChiNanny said...

Are you banned from letting them watch TV at all, or just don't want to do it?

Maybe you can work out with the parents that the children can watch a half hour a day with you. Then use this at the end of the day as a reward for not asking and throwing a tantrum about it all day.

If not, then I think you have to work through the tantrums, try to distract, and eventually he'll learn the tantrum doesn't work with you.

Dribs said...

Sorry you are in this position, OP. I think most of us nannies have been there in one position or another (and so often about tv!) and it is annoying. I like ChiNanny's suggestion of minimal tv at the end of the day as a reward. I usually try to involve the parents in solutions when it's an issue that is this based off of their choices. Maybe something like, "Kid has been having major tantrums about television viewing. I've been attempting to redirect him, that's not working very well. Do you have any suggestions as to how you'd like me to handle this/we can fix this?"

Depending on his "shows" could you get books/music/visit things relative? Maybe the books from the library so it's an outing? Also, I'm not sure where you live, but where I am it seems like at least once/month there is some sort of "character" visit at a bookstore or museum...perhaps you could attend those things?

My current charge watches a little tv with his parents, but none with me. When he asks me to watch tv, I just tell him we have "better things to do" and then follow-up with two choices (e.g. park or museum) and tv is not one of them.

NVMom said...

I would tell his parents, he is having trouble with transitions, which in effect is true, and that you would like to come up with a schedule for him. If they collaborate with you and help, all the better, but this is something you can do as well.

For kids as young as him, visual schedules work really well. It can be general pictures on a velcro board. For example, 'outside time' could be anything from a museum to a park visit. After each event, take the card off the board. It really helps for kids this age to know what's coming up in their day.

I'd also ask the parents directly to include a little television on the schedule as a reward. (Make sure it's a favorite show that can be recorded or DVR'd if it's convenient to watch later in the day.) I'd be surprised if they didn't relent, since you could show them it's a small part of an otherwise busy day. Good luck

Phoenix said...

Whats the big deal about TV? I don't understand what it does or doesn't do? My step son has his own TV and cable in his room (since the age of four). He has straight A's and is an amateur boxer. I don't understand what it does to certain kids? Why is it bad?

Katlee85 said...

Phoenix,

I think what most people mean about the tv is the majority lately of parents use tv as a means to babysit their kids, rather then just a small amount watched every day. Personally I let my kids watch tv an hour in the morning (On weekends) and an hour before bed. On school days, they watch tv while eating breakfast at the table, and then when they come home they do homework, play outside, eat dinner, and then watch an hour of tv before baths and bed. I don't see the issue with it if parents use it like I do, but too many parents let their kids watch for hours on end.

Phoenix said...

See we don't monitor it at all. He watches when he wants to and what he wants to watch. He even has it on as back ground noise when he's playing with legos or sleeping. But I've never had any problems.

I just didn't know what the reason is for reducing the amount of TV. Does it cause a decrease in IQ? Make kids roudy? Hurt their eyes?

MissMannah said...

First of all, I'll tell you I deal with the exact same thing. Fortunately my charge doesn't throw kicking and screaming fits, he just gets sulky. "No, I don't want to play with you, Mean Nanny!" That sort of thing. So I let him have his mood. Often times I'll go into his room and amuse myself by playing with his toys and reading his books. And then when he gets angry about that, I tell him how much fun I'm having and he's welcome to join me whenever he can stop his grumpy mood. It usually works rather quickly because he gets bored and wants to play too.

The part that really sucks for you is the parents are home and override your decision. Ultimately, he is their kid so they get to make the final decision. But you can suggest working out a specific play and TV schedule for at least when you're there. Maybe also try to do a lot of outside play when his parents happen to be home.

Phoenix, I pretty much agree with you--TV is no big deal to me. I'd let my charge watch it for awhile but his parents don't want me to. Of course his TV is on non-stop all weekend long. (Go figure)

Nervous Nanny said...

I'm essentially with Phoenix. We never had any sort of restriction on TV in my family, and my siblings and I all did very well in school, went to college, and did/do well there.

With my charges though, I have had issues with TV much like yours, OP. The mother told me at my interview that she did not like the 4 year old to watch a lot of TV. She asked that I not have it on during the day. So in my first few weeks, we maybe turned on the TV two times a week. But I began to be frustrated when every day when I got there the mom had both the 4 year old and the infant in front of the TV. And when I tried to shut it off, the mom would override me and turn it back on.

After that, we made a compromise that everyday in the afternoon she would get between half an hour and an hour of TV to wind down before mom got home. Maybe something like this would work for you? He could watch the show just before mom is home, and you could make it a special event, a reward for good behavior, or just a regularly scheduled thing.

djembé said...

I don't see why it's such a complicated issue.

If he asks for TV and the mother or father is home, tell him to ask Mom or Dad and whatever they answer, they answer.

If he asks for TV and you're the only one there, just say no. He'll tantrum and you'll ignore it. Big deal.

A Day in the Life of a Nanny said...

The family I work for does THE SAME thing with me...

I am not "against" TV by any means but I do not want the 2 year old I nanny watching it ALL day. She wants to watch TV constantly because her Mom and Dad will let her whenever she wants but then they expect me to "limit" her TV when they don't limit it at all... which causes HUGE tantrums. She doesn't get why she gets whatever she wants with Mom and Dad but Nanny has to say no. It is VERY frustrating. So I decided a long time ago that they cannot expect me to do "more" than they are willing to do... Especially when she is too young to understand why I say no and her Mom and Dad don't. I do what is best for ME with the kids during the day (activities, nap schedules, TV... Etc.) because I am caring for the kids for 12 hours a day. If I didn't do what was best for ME... I would go insane!!!

So I think you should do what works FOR YOU... Too many parents want nannies to implement rules/discipline that they are not willing to use/try and that is just not okay in my opinion.

GOOD LUCK!

MissMannah said...

Day in the life...

Could you please clarify your post? Because you seem to be saying that even though your bosses have said to limit TV watching, you go behind their back and let your charge watch it anyway. I don't know if that is what you meant and I certainly wouldn't want to make any accusations but if that is your advice, I hope the OP doesn't listen to you.

A Day in the Life of a Nanny said...

MissManah,

That is not what I was saying...

My employers have never asked me to limit TV but when I am here and they are around they will try to re-direct their 2 year old to "play with me" instead of watch TV. I am not the kind of person that would go behind anyone's back and I would like to say that I am very good at my job. I prefer to go outside, do an art project, or read books rather than have her watch TV. What I was trying to say is that it is hard for me to even get her to do any of the things I prefer because she only wants to watch TV (Because her parents let her watch it whenever she wants). SO... I decided to let her now and then to avoid huge tantrums. It is ME that would like to limit her TV... Not her parents. They would rather plop her in front of the TV than spend time with her.

So like I said, I do what's best for ME! And I hope OP does take that advice... whatever that means to her.

djembé said...

A Day in the Life of a Nanny, first you said:

her Mom and Dad will let her whenever she wants but then they expect me to "limit" her TV

then you said:

My employers have never asked me to limit TV

Which is it??

anonynanny said...

Phoenix said: I just didn't know what the reason is for reducing the amount of TV. Does it cause a decrease in IQ? Make kids roudy? Hurt their eyes?


It's correlated with lower IQ, but likely only because parents with higher IQ are the ones who tend to limit TV more, and they have kids with higher IQ. I'm too lazy to actually look at the studies, but I highly doubt that TV actually *causes* lowered IQs. There is a lot of debate over content though-- sex and violence is pretty prevalent, and a lot of parents may choose to limit it due to that. Plus, it teaches kids to just sit and stare and watch other people do things while they do nothing. Personally, I prefer kids to play video games, because they're interactive, rather than just sitting in front of the TV. Finally, some people argue that it can cause lowered attention spans, because each shot, episode, commercial, whatever is really short.

That said, I think TV is great for entertainment and education. Hell, I follow 8 shows right now. It just might not be the best thing to get kids used to.

A Day in the Life of a Nanny said...

djembe,

I am pretty sure I explained this already... They have never directly asked me... But I get the "vibe" sometimes that they are wanting me to give her attention and play with her the whole 12 hours I am there Vs. turning on the TV. It boils down to them wanting to get their "moneys worth" out of me. But when they are home with the kids the TV is on ALL day.

Kim said...

When I was a nanny, I had similar issues. My charge would want to watch TV, and her parents let her have free reign over the TV while they were with her, but asked that I restrict her to very minimal/no TV. She would have huge tantrums and completely melt down over this issue. Re-direction was my main focus with this, but, as another post mentioned, I would try to redirect her focus by reminding her she could watch TV when her mom got home, and we would talk about what show she was going to watch, etc. Another idea you might try is to unplug the TV, or switch up the channels, so there is only snow (they had a cable box so I would just change the input). It seems kind of "shady", but, for my charge, she was much more willing to accept the TV was "broken" for the day than that she was just not allowed to watch it. That "broken" TV saved me many a meltdown, and would just re-adjust the input when her parents got home. :-)
Best of luck to you!