Dealing with Disrespect

Written by Saraya
guest column "I often think back to my time as a nanny, and wonder: why didn’t I leave that one horrible job sooner? Why didn’t I call the parents out on what they were doing so obviously wrong? Why didn’t I sit down with them and say, “If your child continues to disrespect me (hit me, throw things at me, defy me, etc, etc) and there is no discipline happening to correct it, I’m going to have to give my notice.” But I didn’t. Most of us won’t. Even through all the crap, we still hold out hope that WE as nannies can succeed where the parents have failed. We love the kids, and we don’t want to leave. We want to be a constant, dependable presence for the kids, where the parents may not be. And honestly, who wants to deal with that kind of confrontation? Who wants to tell another adult that they are doing something wrong and that’s why their kids are so bad? We don’t want to ‘black listed’ as a nanny either. So we endure.



Ashley said...

After you're out the door, you should always write the parent a letter and let them know exactly how they are damaging their children's self esteem and psyche- so long as it is an objective opinion. Children's very lives depend on you! I have done this at all three jobs I left. Only one parent got a glowing review of their parenting skills.

knolan said...

A lot to comment on here - I can't imagine this way of life acceptable for any adult or child. I wouldn't work in a place where it was. What an unhappy existence. Children who are acting up to this degree need a caring, competent adult (hopefully their parents) to not only discipline them but actually care enough to go beyond the behavior, provide guidance and give their children the happy and secure lives they deserve. Kids with these ingredients don't live this way.
There is a lot more to raising a child than just discipline. If you focus only on the surface (disobeying, etc.) you are missing the forest for the trees!

It is said all behavior is communication. If behavior is that out of control, something is being communicated that must be dealt with but sadly is only being exacerbated by the adults. Perhaps that is more than one nanny can tackle, but there it is.

SickMissDee said...

One of the daycares I worked at in the inner-city had the director rewarding disrespectful behavior that endangered the lives of other children and teachers. I was bit, pinched, kicked, slapped, and scratched when I attempted to discipline a child. After they ______ (insert one of the above actions here)me, I would explain to them in a gentle and firm voice, "I understand you are angry. I will not allow you to hurt me or anyone else when you feel like this". They would run to the office and tell the director I yelled at them. One child, a 2.5 year old, whose father worked at the center, scratched me repeatedly in the face-he started crying because I told him I would not allow him to hurt me. The director pokes her head into my room and says, "Danielle, I don't know why these kids don't like you. I have been trying to figure it out since I hired you", or something to that effect. I was so drained from the blatant disrespect from the children, parents and director that I went home that night and never went back.

PARENTS are the child's first teachers, responsible for growth and development. NANNIES are the adults that teach cognitive skills, and reinforce things learned from the parents. TEACHERS are like nannies, expanding on the skills the child learned from the nanny/childcare teacher.

Nannies and teachers aren't parents. Parents are parents, and if they can't handle it, they should admit it, and not expect someone else to raise their children.

Wow said...

I only start a job with a family when the child is an infant, younger than 6 months old, for this very reason. I have been nanny to singles, twins and triplets and I have NEVER had a problem with children and discipline, even when their parents have. The reason is because I am consistent. As they grow and develop, when the child misbehaves, I give a warning and ALWAYS follow through with the consequence (time out or loss of a priviledge) if the behavior continues. Children learn in a short time that I mean business and usually heed my warnings.

Many parents tend to be inconsistent and make threats but not follow through. I've had parents tell me that their children are better behaved with me than they are with them.

I've heard the experts explain this by saying that the children are "more comfortable" with their parents so they misbehave more. Not true. The parents tend to not follow through in their discipline and the children know they can push the limits and get away with it.

I also encourage positive behavior and give plenty of attention to the children. Understanding child development goes a long way too. In my opinion, there needs to be mandatory parenting classes conducted in this country. They would go a long way and parents and children would be much happier if parents know what they're doing. Children can have their challenging moments, but being equipped can make a huge difference.

In the absence of parenting classes, it would help parents to observe and duplicate what they see working for the nanny. Most parents hire their nanny because they're impressed with their qualifications.

Also, there are times when the nanny is not a match with the family. If it's not working, leave. Some parents don't have control and they won't allow anyone else to have control either, so there's utter chaos. Also, maybe the nanny's and parent's styles are too different. Get out sooner, rather than later and it will be easier on everyone.

MissMannah said...

How about talking to Susie herself about her anger management problems? I know it was just an example, but if you and the parents are playing "good cop, bad cop" nobody is going to win and everyone is just going to get more frustrated. If it is apparent that the parents are not disciplining their child, yes you could quit. But you can also teach the child basic manners. Start when she's calm instead of waiting until she's angry and then expect her to automatically know how to control herself. Is this not our job? Don't place all the blame on the lazy parents. Also, the way you suggested speaking to them about the lack of discipline was very condescending and I'll bet it is the easiest way to get yourself fired.

Anonymous said...

This is a different situation that I want advice on. I have been a Nanny for 6 years and it is very hard to find the right family who will just trust your judgment instead of undermine. Why do they worry so much and never communicate until they feel the situation could have been handled better. where is the positive recognition? Why are we lectured about petty things? It makes me think the Family thinks you did something on purposes just to anger them. They also tend to always have the children soy for them and tell them every detail. This is totally inappropriate if you ask me.

Anonymous said...

I typed spy on them at the end of the question. Ugh!!

Anonymous said...

I work for a family with 2 children and it's horrible, the mother let's them do anything they want and the word "No" does not exist the kids listen excellent to me when where alone but when the mother is around everything is chaos, she also works upstairs so if she hears one of the kids cry for 20 seconds she runs down stairs and says why are they crying, not only that when the mother is around he bites me and throws things.What's worse was the little girl who used to behave now has copied his behavior , I want to quit the mother is never consistent or follows throught just empty threats.It nuts he would never bite or hurt me when the mom is gonever, it's like he has split personality