Picking Battles is Causing a War for this Nanny

opinion dec
Hi, I'm a nanny and would like you to post this on the website so that I can get some opinions/advice. I've not written to you before so I'm not sure if this is how I go about it!

I am a nanny for an American family, in England. This is my first nanny job, but not my first childcare job. I look after a girl, 5 and a boy, 4. The girl is at school all day and the boy is home with me. I'll call the girl S. I have been working with this family for nearly 4 months now. Everything was perfect.. Until last week. S is a difficult child and will throw big tantrums when she doesn't get her own way, but I was still really enjoying the job. I picked S up from school and brought her home, mum was working from home, which she occasionally does but its very rare. Mum asked me to help S get changed so that they can go out for dinner. While getting her changed S notices her favourite dress is missing, I tell her that mum took it because it was too small, S gets angry at this. I try to help S take off her cardigan and S screams "IM NOT A BABY DONT HELP ME" -- maybe the way I replied to this was wrong, but I said "well if you're going to act like a baby I'm going to treat you like a baby" mum then walks into the room and says to me "you can't get down to her level and bicker with her like that!" S then goes on to tell mum that she said "please don't help me get changed I want to do it myself" this is the first time I have heard S lie to her mum, and I didn't want to be petty and call her out on it. Mum goes on to explain to S that she needs to be respectful of me and that even though she is in the house, I am still in charge.

So that settles down and we get to yesterday. S was an angel all day which was a lovely change. Mum gets home from work and says that she and dad want to speak to me and could I wait around. We sit down to chat and they say "we were putting the children to bed last night and S said that you pushed her at the train station, and J (brother,4) said that you did too" Let me just start by saying that I have never pushed a child, and never would. I knew the situation that the children were talking about, we had gotten of off the train and S was trying to turn around to wave to her friends still on the train, but we were on a train platform full of people and where S kept stopping to wave, people were walking into her and getting frustrated. I put my hand on S back, and guided her along the platform. S said to me "don't push me! I'm telling mum" I said to S "I'm not pushing you I'm guiding you" and nothing more was said from either of us. Mum and Dad said that they believe that I didn't push her, and in the future if they say anything like that then to just text mum and tell her.

Well today on the school run, we get off of the train and I ask S to hold my hand, the response I get is "whyyyy do I have to hold your hand, I don't want to hold your hand, etc etc" by this time I've already had a bad morning with her, and I say in a stern voice "because I said you do" I am then told "You shouted in my face! I'm telling mummy" J then says "you're being mean to us I'm telling mummy" -- J is usually a little angel with me, practically perfect, but when he is with his sister he copies everything she does. So now I've texted mum and told her, as I was told to, but I feel like if I'm to text mum every time I get a "I'm telling mummy" then I'm going to be texting mum an awful lot!

Also, it is my job to do the childrens laundry, and I'm pretty good with it and do a wash at least everyday. Last week I put some trousers on J that were too small. Mum says he can't go out wearing them and that "we" need to keep on top of the washing so that there are always trousers that fit. This was a monday, I don't work weekends and had done a wash on friday, so how was this me not keeping on top of the washing! Little things like this bug me, and I just needed somewhere to vent for this one.

Mum has told me to "pick my battles" with S, but the way she is I feel like every time she misbehaves I should pull her up on it. I understand that S is a child and probably misbehaves because she wants her mum, but this morning she actually brought me to tears, and its made me for the first time, think that I don't like this job.


StrawberryShortKakes said...

To me, S sounds like a major brat! It is clear that she doesn't like you and that's her choice. However, it would be more pleasant for all if you could resolve the problem. I'm surprised that these issues are just coming up now, when you've already been there 4 months.

First off, I think it's great that MB sided with you during the dressing incident and told S that you are in charge. Also MB and DB told you they believe that you didn't push her. I was afraid that they would side with S, their darling daughter, but that isn't the case. Since MB and DB seem to be on your side, I think the most important thing is to be a team when it comes to discipline. I suggest sitting down with them and discussing what she be done with S when she says disrespectful things to do.

Also, I think it might be beneficial to sit down with MB, DB, and S so that she knows that mom and dad are on your side, not hers. Of course they love their daughter but they must show her that running to tell mom isn't going to do anything. As far as the "I'm going to tell mom that you pushed me/made me hold you hand, etc!" comments go, perhaps you can have S call mom on speaker phone when this happens. Start by telling MB what happened and make sure she knows to be on your side. Say something like "We were crossing a busy street when I asked S to take my hand and she refused, she asked to speak with you". When MB gets on the phone, she should clearly tell S, "You are expected to hold an adults hand when crossing the street." My guess is that S will see that she doesn't have a leg to stand on and these comments will stop.

I agree with MB about picking your battles with S, she probably just misses mom and would rather have her over you. But, S needs to get used to the fact that mom has to work and you are in charge. As far as the laundry thing goes, make a lighthearted comment back to mom like wow I just did laundry on Friday, is J wearing 5 outfits a day?! That way she gets the idea that it isn't your fault and you did all you could do.

alex said...

Ah, that little girl sounds bratty! She is probably acting out because she wants her mother but that is not an excuse. I agree that you need to see if you can sit down with MB & DB and explain the issues and see if you can come up with a solution because texting her everytime that happens would be ridiculous! Kids do that all the time.

I think MB & DB need to have a talk with her about who is in charge. It does sound like they are on your side and she would be required to hold their hands in public. I had a charge act like this before and he was unbareable! His parents knew he was crazy though and he was 10!! He would even spy on phone conversations I was having with his mother. Odd child.

Anne said...

Yikes! I'm not as convinced as previous posters are that Mom & Dad are truly on your side. It sounds like they may be tolerating you until another comes along. Perhaps even starting to build a case against you ie the laundry remarks.

You say you have worked in childcare before, but what ages? If you've mostly dealt with toddlers 5 years old is a new ball game.

Do you happen to know if you are their first nanny or not? Did they just move to England? These things could be related to the behavior.

I am also not certain that S wants her mom as much as she is testing your boundaries. Are you really in charge of her type of deal?
5 year olds are great for being sassy and pushing the buttons.
I would make my own notes in a journal book or something about S's behavior, your response, and Mom/Dad response.

TC said...

I'm going to be blunt. I think you handled two of the situations wrong.

Of course everyone loses their temper from time to time but when you're in the child care business those moments should be few and far between. When you made the baby comment and then when you said because I said to, you lost your temper.

My charges are 5 and 2 and yes they test me on a daily basis but I can't lose my temper. Had my charge thrown a temper tantrum about getting dressed I wouldn't have basically called her a baby. I would have told her in a stern voice that I wasn't going to put up with a temper tantrum and that she needed to get dressed and I would help her if she needed it or if I was about to lose my temper I would have just struggled along with her helping her to get dressed without saying a word and revisited that incident with her later after she and I both calmed down.

I also would have either ignored her comment asking why she had to hold my hand or I would have simply said you have to hold my hand.

I'm not saying you're a bad nanny by any stretch of the imagination and it does seem like the little girl is a brat but you have to show her who's boss and that you are in control at all times.

Phoenix said...

I would call out "S" on every dam thing she did. I would also go to her parents and tell them exactly what has been happening. That S is lying and influencing the behavior of the little brother. Tell them that you don't want to text the mom everytime S does something wrong because then it is almost like you are a sibling not a nanny. Just tell them to keep in mind that S is going through a lying phase and if she tells them something to take it into careful consideration of your character that you wouldn't do something like that. Have them speak to you if they get alarmed by anything she says.

That little girl is a brat and you can't pick your battles. You must always win the battle.

Tales from the (Nanny)Hood said...

Well, I think you need to change your approach and that picking your battles is a good plan. There is a terrific book that you might be able to find, called "Winning the Whining Wars". I'll try to sum up the highlights in a few paragraphs...

First though, sit down with your employers, and explain the issue as you see it and how it affects you. Use "I" statements, and be sure to focus on finding solutions, not trashing "S". You need to be on the same page as your bosses or this won't work. Hopefully when you explain your plan, they will get on board. If they won't, then you simply need to do as they tell you WRT these behavior issues, and keep your eyes open for other job opportunities.

Then, bring "S" in, and her parents need to tell her that fibbing is not acceptable, and that she needs to do as you tell her, and that you are in charge of her when mom and dad are working.

Next, choose behaviors you want to eliminate. I would go with tantrums first, then work on other issues. Tell S. that you do not like her tantrums, and that you will not sit and listen to them any longer. When she tantrums, get up and walk away. If she follows you, ignore her. Read a book, have a snack, etc. Do not give her attention for behavior you dislike. If she gets in your face, calmly say, "I will not talk with you until you are calm. Can you calm down on your own, or do you need help from me putting you in time out?"

The basic idea is that you can extinguish bad behaviors by not giving attention to a child who is acting poorly. Of course, issues of safety aren't to be ignored, you have to deal with that right away. But tantrums, screaming, etc. can be dealt with by depriving the child of attention.

WRT lying/fibbing, I would say something to S. about needing her to tell the truth so that you can believe her when she tells you things. If you KNOW she is fibbing, I would say, "I know that is not true. Do you want to try again to tell me what the truth is, or are you going to keep me from believing you today?" That puts the power to get positive or negative attention in her hands.

The harder part of this is giving positive attention, but it's essential. "Catch" S. being well-behaved, and tell her you like what she is doing. It may feel fake or awkward at first, but S. wants attention, and if she gets her fill of attention being "good", she will be less likely to seek attention for being "bad".

Good luck!

Phoenix said...

Tales has a very good point. People do this with their dogs. Don't give attention at all good or bad when they act out. They are looking for "any" reaction from you. And positive reinforcement is key when they are good.

This was good advice

oh well said...

You say that S goes to school all day, while J gets to stay with you. Have you considered the possibility that S was jealous of J and felt that she was getting less attention from you? I would have a talk with her along these lines, to make sure that she feels that she is just as important to you as her brother. Also I would try to do something special with her, to make her feel important.

StrawberryShortKakes said...

I think Tales gave you some great advice. I agree that pointing out the good behavior would probably work wonders.

Until S's behavior improves, I would be sure to inform MB of these incidents before S does. It does sound like tattling but if S is the one to tell her side of the story before you do, MB might think that you are to blame and you were trying to hide something. Just say to mom, "just to let you know, today S..." and be sure to keep her informed. In the same regard, make sure to tell mom the good behaviors because she might think you all negative.

MissMannah said...

I may be way off here but I'm wondering if you might subtly be playing favorites with J over S and she's acting out over it. I completely agree with TC that you are handling her bad behavior in an inappropriate way. Maybe you are not as experienced with 5-year-olds and I can definitely sympathize. I hate working with that age for this very reason: they can be very bratty.

I agree with Tales when she says to ignore the bad behavior. If I were in your shoes, when she yelled about not being a baby and wanting to dress herself, I would have just shrugged and said "OK, let me know when you're done" and walked off.

OP said...

I appreciate all of your help and advice, and I can now see that I have handled the situations in the wrong way. When I worked in a day nursery I was mainly working with babies, one year and under, so moving on to older children has been a challenge, but I can take constructive criticism and am grateful. I have only been working with children for about 18 months altogether, so I know that I have a lot to learn. I will definetly bare in mind what you have all said, and I am going to try the ignoring bad behaviour approach. I believe I am the 3rd nanny that this family has had in a short space of time, so understand that its difficult for the children. I'm hoping that this is just a bad phase that S is going through, considering that this is my 4 month with the family and my first hiccup.

StrawberryShortKakes said...

OP I think it's great that you are willing to take the constructive criticism that others have given you. It shows that you are dedicated to your job and that you care about the children's happiness. I was also happy that you wrote that you mainly had experience with infants so this age group is new to you. Sometimes people think that because they took care of a baby they know how to take care of school-aged children or vice versa. Yes, a general rapport with children is needed in the nanny professional but children of different ages require different things. I, for example, do much better with younger children because I find it difficult to deal with the talking-back and opposition to authority that school-aged children often have. Anyway, I'm glad that you are sticking with this job and are more than willing to try new things :)

MissMannah said...

Strawberry, I am the exact same way. After they start talking, I think "Aww how cute!" Then when they start talking back, I think "OK, back to momma you go!"

There's a world of difference between working with babies and school-agers. Heck, even between preschoolers and school-agers! OP, you're starting to see that and I hope S doesn't put you over the edge. Who knows, you might find your niche and find out you really like working with this age? (better you than me)

Also, the fact that they've been through 3 nannies already is really tough on the kids so S is probably acting out as a result. Maybe she was really attached to one of the previous nannies and she's holding that against you? It is possible, I had that happen with a 4-year-old before, it took me awhile to win him over. Wait for a calm moment and trying just talking to her one-on-one (might have to be far in the future), and she might open up to you.

JKD said...

I also wonder if the 5yr old is jealous of the time you spend with her brother.In my first job the oldest was almost 6 and she was jealous of the fact I spent so much time with her 8mth old and 2.5yr old siblings while she was in school.
What I did was try and spend 30mins a day with just her doing something she enjoyed.When I first started the 2 youngest went for naps after lunch and the oldest came home for lunch so I always made time for 30mins craft session with her(her all time fave thing to do) before having to return to school.Or if I was babysitting in the evening I would put the 2 youngest 2 bed 30mins before the oldest and do it then.But if she acted up/was rude to me those times were taken away

Donna J. said...

Typical spoiled Brat American Rich kid! You need to get the mum on your side. Tell her that you notice the child lying a lot more than usual and you would like input on how to correct the child when this occurs. Throw the ball back into mums court. Ask her what is appropriate punishment when lying occurs. Then carry it out every time the kid lies or mis-behaves. It is also typical behavior for five year old girls. They want to be independent but can’t be just yet. I went through this phase with my daughter. You have to set boundaries or at least have the mother set them for you. See how that goes!

MissMannah said...

Donna, what is the point of punishing this girl every single time she lies or misbehaves? Feeding into her behavior, even in a negative way, will ultimately backfire on her because it reinforces it. Does everything need to turn into a power struggle? Or are you suggesting OP shows the girl who's boss? I really should point out how offensive your "typical American brat" comment was too, especially seeing as I've seen plenty of spoiled brats over on your side of the pond.

OP said...

Okay so here is an update for anyone reading the comments.

Today was a nightmare with S. I had to take J and S to meet dad for a coffee before he flew off for a business trip. Everything went fine etc got home, and MB comes home an hour early. I had been upstairs running the childrens bath when S turned on the tv, and it was on a channel that they aren't allowed to watch. I came downstairs and MB was like "what channel is this?" I said oh S turned the tv on when I was upstairs, they don't usually watch this channel. I said goodbye to the children and MB said she wanted to speak to me by the door. She said "DB saw you at the train station with J and S and you weren't holding their hands, I feel like you aren't following the rules we have set. The childrens safety is the most important thing, and if you don't hold their hand they could fall on the tracks. It is a family rule that on platforms we hold the childrens hand. And now they're watching channels they aren't supposed to? This is strick two, first you leave her downstairs and go in the lift 15 floors without her(long story, S didn't get in the lift, doors closed before I could stop them, went up 3, not 15! 3, floors and ran back down for her) and now you don't hold their hands on the platform. If this carries on we are going to have to find another situation, I'm not looking for another nanny yet, but if things carry on like this..." If I'm totally honest, I have no explanation for why I was not holding the childrens hands, except for they were stood practically on my feet and I didn't think I needed to. Mum said all of this is a stern slightly raised voice. I've got a feeling I will be given my one months notice (if I'm lucky, I don't have a contract, they didn't want one) this has really upset me, I didn't realise I was on some kind of strike system?! But I feel like if I start looking for a new nanny job the new family will ask why I was only in my previous job 4 months, and get the impression that I change jobs on a regular basis. Also reference wise, what if I get a bad reference from this family? No one is really going to believe the nanny over the family are they?

TC said...

Well I'd look at finding another job asap

A new family might not hire you based on what your current family said BUT I'd just be honest with them and explain that the oldest had a problem with telling the truth and couldn't control her temper and you tried your best to help her but realized that you couldn't so you gave the mother notice so that she could find a more suitable replacement.

If I was hiring a nanny I'd be willing to give you another chance.

MissMannah said...

It sounds like MB has a little prepared speech here and she is holding her nannies up to an impossible standard. She is trying to either bully you into quitting or turn you into a subservient wimp. You're going to have to constantly watch your back if you stay with this family so it is time to make the decision of to quit or not to quit. And don't let worrying about what new families will think be a deterrent.

If you stay with them, you are going to have to sit MB down and have a talk with her about S's attitude problems and what to do about it. Apparently they are turning into safety issues and that's how you need to present it. Her refusal to get into the elevator is just unacceptable--though if it was me, I would have left the elevator and picked up the child, kicking and screaming and carried her into it. I don't mess about when safety is involved. Better to have her hate you and tattle to Mom than kidnapped.

But if you quit, and I strongly urge you to, even though the kids are going to go through the same thing with the next nanny, you need to look out for red flags with families you interview with. Flag #1: too many nannies in a short period of time. Though if they all left for legitimate reasons, you can let that one slide. Flag #2: not wanting a contract. Never accept a position without a contract because you will always end up screwed. Of course, you can get screwed with a contract too, but at least you'll have a bit of say in the matter.

StrawberryShortKakes said...

Oh, no, OP! I really had faith that things would get better with S but it seems like MB is out to get you now, too. I am curious, what did you respond back to MB when she said the thing about not holding hands at the train? I am assuming that you didn't know it was a "family rule" to hold hands at the train because you wrote that they were practically standing on top of you. If that is the case, I hope you put mom in her place (in a kind way) that you had not been told that you needed to do that and you would be sure to enforce that next time.

From the way that you typed what MB said to you, she seems like she has an attitude problem, just like S. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree there. I can see that she would be concerned about the children's safety (I would want to hold hands at the train too) but the TV thing, give me a break. Are you supposed to have eyes in the back of your head? If you stayed downstairs and delayed their bath, she would probably yell at you for that too. Seems like you just can't win.

If I were you, I would start looking for another job. Since you are on this "strike system" that MB has come up with in her head, you are bound to make another mistake sometime... I mean, you are human aren't you?! I think now she will try and find anything to yell at you about. I don't see why you should worry about one bad reference. I am not sure of how many other references you have but if you explain what happened and tell the next potential family this job didn't work out, I bet they will understand. I would honestly play it off like this mother was a nutbag.

The best you can get out of this situation is to learn from it and move on. In the future, make sure to be clear with the parents on what the discipline should be and what rules they have in regards to safety.

Manhattan Nanny said...

You need to leave. I can't see this child's behavior improving if the parents aren't supporting you.
Did you find this job through an agency? If so, and they placed the previous nannies with this family, they are aware that this is a difficult family to work for. They will place you with a new family. If you don't have an agency find a good one. If you explain your situation with this family they will advise you on how to handle the reference situation.

Tales from the (Nanny)Hood said...

When you start job hunting, you need to be very...passionless...when you discuss why you left. DO NOT blame the kid(s) or the parents. In your shoes I would say, "After several months, we realized we were not a good fit, and decided to part ways." If the potential employers press you, I would say, "I'm not comfortable discussing specifics because I want to preserve my former employers privacy. If you have specific questions after speaking with them, I will be happy to answer those questions."

StrawberryShortKakes said...

I disagree with Tales. Although I think that is the more professional thing to do, I think that leaving them in the dark with many questions makes it looks like you have something to hide. Yes, they can come to you with any questions, people don't always do that. If I were you, I would put it all on the table and explain what happened so that they don't have any doubt. Tell them briefly that things didn't work out but also be more specific. Saying that things didn't work out is just too vague and makes it seem that it could have been your fault. You could always say that you were just not a good fit for the family but that also seems a bit concerning to me.

OP said...

When mum said about them not holding my hand I explained to her that they were practically standing on me so I didn't feel the need. I also said I understood that their saftey is the most important thing and that I couldn't begin to imagine how much she worries leaving her children with a stranger etc. I reminded her of the times when the children have "told" on me for forcing them to hold my hands, and this was obviously just a one off where DB was unfortunate enough to see. She said that there can't be one offs when it comes to safety, and that the one off time cos be the time that they fall onto the tracks. Let me also state that we were standing far back from the tracks, they were nowhere near them!

I didn't find this family through an agency. I found them through gumtree. I don't know if you guys have that in the states, but I think its like craigslist. The most upsetting thing is that I absolutely LOVED this job up until last week. I am going to start looking for an agency to join.

Anne said...

I'm sorry to read this Op. I had a bad feeling when he started the laundry complaints and that they've had so many nannies.

This may be dishonest, but do you need to even discuss them with a new family? Can you still get a great reference from your nursery job? If you can use them and try to get a job caring for a baby or toddler since you have that experience.

If possible maybe go back to working at the nursery or another one just to be out of this situation.

Can't add much in the way of advice, but maybe next nanny job you can ask for a reference from a previous nanny or caregive. I always do this and it's been very helpful to me.

Good luck!

Army Wife said...

Try and develope a system of discipline and reward. The parents seem supportive which is great. Get both children in on it. That is what I did when I nannied four little girls, two of them bratty. Make sure it's a group effort so both children are rewarded together or have their reward taken away together. I did a sticker chart- If I was treated in an unkind way or if I had to repeat myself over and over, or if they did something mean to eachother, they would get a sad face sticker. (basically anytime I had to seriously take a breath and calm myself because one of them was being so bratty they got the sad face) then when one of them would do something great, like help their sibling or help me pick up toys, do what they were asked with a smile, or anything I just found generally pleasant, they got a smile sticker.

The reward would be a really fun activity or treat to be given Friday afternoon, I would tell them what it was on Monday so they knew what they were working toward all week. On Friday we would count up all the faces and if the good outweighed the bad faces, they got their treat after school, if they didn't then there was no treat. (thats why you tell them
Monday, so they are actually sad of they don't get it) It only took area times of them missing out on going to get ice cream or going to the amusement park for them to realize I meant it. Also make sure to get the parents in on it, my employers had a 30$ limit for Friday treats so I kept it in that range. Hopefully yours are willing to pay for the treat.

Army Wife said...

Also, it sounds like the parents really want you to work out. They aren't trying to be hurtful and it sounds like they understand mistakes happen like forgetting to hold hands. It would only take a second for one of the
To run off, ignore protests against hand holding and make it clear you will all stay still until their hands are both held. Inform the parents of this so they know you're being proactive with it and are going to find a solution to that disagreement S has about hand holding.

Army Wife said...

I dont think I really see where MB is being horrible. This is a really complex relationship and it sounds like she's being a little over the top but not ridiculously. You getting into
A lift without both kids should never happen, regardless of how. Which could be solved by the constant hand holding rule. I think you just weren't prepared for the difficulty 5 year old girls come with. How could you be if you haven't worked with them before? They can definitely be monsters!

Here's what I'm seeing from MB point of view-
She is told by both children you pushed one of ten but understand it's a misunderstanding, you are seen not holding hands with them in a dangerous area, one is found on a channel she shouldn't be on, S isn't on the left when you and J are and gets left... Obviously they were all accidents and MB needs to understand that, but at the same time I can see how she would feel he need to have that talk with you if that has all happened in a 4 month period. I'm sure you are a wonderful nanny! I'm not saying you aren't doing your job or that MB was justified in hurting your feelings, I'm just saying I think you new to look at it from her prospective. I'm on my iPhone do of there are tons of typos that's why!! Haha

Anne said...

When you've been a nanny for awhile you pick up on things red flags if you will and in my opinion there are little red flags all over this situation. OP should learn from this experience and find a job elsewhere hopefully before she is kicked out. There is no telling when and where MB will give her her 3rd strike.

MissMannah said...

Army Wife, I disagree with your sticker/treat method. First of all, it borders on bribery. Children should behave because it is expected of them, not because they want a $30 treat at the end of the week. (dollar sign goes BEFORE the number, not after) Also, the way you do the stickers sound very arbitrary and kind of based off your own moods, rather than their behavior. What if you're just feeling like an old grouch? (face it, we all have those days) The girls are less likely to get a smilie face sticker because you might judge their behavior more harshly than on days where maybe you got a restful night's sleep and are feeling more patient.

It is my opinion that if you are going to do a sticker reward system, it needs to be for something very specific. For example, when I had the 4-year-old boy, he used to dawdle terribly while getting ready for school and finally I got fed up nagging him every morning. So I would set out his clothes and breakfast and backpack and set the timer for 30 minutes. If he had time left over after getting everything done, he got to watch some TV (parents approved) and got a sticker on his calendar. If not, then I gathered shoes/socks/whatever up and he had to finish getting ready in the car. Trust me, that only happened a couple of times.

Army Wife said...

MissMannah, children are people also. Not machines. They certainly don't behave just because it's expected of them. Don't get me wrong, most children are generally well behaved and the threat of a parent/loved one being upset or worse a time out is usually enough. With some children, that's not the case. The 5 y/o twin girls who led me to create my sticker chart were not the kind of children that need to please. They are very stubborn hard headed girls (not all together bad qualities in my opinion) I could put them in time out and in 5 minutes ask if they were ready to discuss what had happened to earn them the time out, and they would refuse. They would constantly tattle tell on their younger and older sisters, make things up about them, hide possessions, break toys on purpose, and cause other issues. They also had many good qualities- those are just some of the few negative that led me to the sticker chart. 30$ for 4 kids isn't bad for a treat, considering these parents were wealthy enough to pay me double what most people were getting. Not to mention if they would have had an issue they would have told me about it. The reason I didn't do set behavior negatives or positives for the chart is because it basically just wasn't fair. I did start that way, but why should remembering to say please and thank you all day earn a smiley face and getting an A on a spelling test not? There are just too many good things that a child can do to make you proud to narrow it down to a few. That also is the same to be said about the negatives. If you push your sister down and call her stupid then you deserve to get a sad face whether or not it's a listed behavior issue.

I am a great nanny for the one year old I currently watch for a few reasons: I love him, his parents are incredible and deserve to know he is happy and well taken care of all day, I want the future good reference so the next place my husband and I are stationed I know I will find a good job, I want a raise at the time of my yearly performance evaluation and I want decent bonuses. Everyone who has raise and bonus incentives knows it is what makes them go from good, or even great, to over the top excellent at their job. I know that works for me, so why wouldn't I give a child a chance to earn what in their world is equivalent to that? Telling them to behave because it's expected of them will not work for some children, especially strong willed ones. Which I think is fine, every child is different and should be treated differently.

Army Wife said...

Also, with the sticker/treat method it's all or nothing. They all work together to earn it, or they all are the reason that they didn't earn it. They encourage each other to use their manners, be polite, not talk back, put their breakfast dishes in the sink, get dressed when asked, used the potty when asked..etc. I'm sure you know nothing is as powerful as one child encouraging another. It goes worlds farther than me saying 'go get dressed' when their sister says 'maybe if we all get dressed fast we will earn stickers' and it shows a lesson for later in life. If you do what is right and what is expected of you, life can reward you. All those reasons are why I believe there is absolutely nothing wrong with something like that. They worked very hard to earn their treat every week. Why shouldn't that hard work be rewarded?

As for the stickers being affected by my mood? I woke up happy to go to work every morning. If I woke up cranky, coffee and a morning walk with my puppy before work fixed that. I would become crabby during the day if it was a constant battle to get anything done, so my mood didn't really dictate the sticker chart. Yes, if I was grumpy there were usually more sad faces that day then smiley, but that's because I because grumpy for whatever reasons I had to put the sad faces on the chart. I would never give a sad face because I was grumpy. If one hit another, I might be less patient to deal with it than usual if I had already had a bad day, but that would earn a sad face regardless of what mood I was in. I'm sure I might have given a few happy faces out loosely if I was an expectational mood. One time in particular I gave 4 :) faces (one for each girl) because they all tried very hard at gymnastics. If I was in a horrible mood would I have done that? Probably not, but earlier issues in the day would be the reasoning for the horrible mood so they wouldn't have deserved extra stickers anyway.

I hope those explanations help understand why I do believe for some children it is a great method :) Like I said, every child is different and need to be treated that way.

StrawberryShortKakes said...

I am not sure which side of the fence I am on about the stick/reward system but from what ArmyWife has described her methods, it sounds a lot like verbal praise, just in a tangible form. In that case, I think it makes sense. Originally I didn't like the idea of the sticker thing because, like Miss Mannah, I thought it seemed very biased. I still think that's true but a lot of what adults say to children is biased and they don't even realize it.

Anyway, I watch Nanny 911 and she has used this system before and it seems to work. I think Nanny 911 is like God in the childcare world so I guess I would think that it would work, for most children anyway. But again, I think it depends on the specific child. I think that it could also backfire on you if you had a bratty child. You could say "If you get more happy faces than sad faces, on Friday we will go out for ice cream" and a child could say "I don't like ice cream so I'm gonna be bad." Don't lie, we all have probably heard children say things like this, just to test us. Idk who on this earth doesn't like ice cream, but that's just an example :)

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Army Wife said...

Jedd that made me laugh, I like your witty comments!
But I agree, either way you are probably on borrowed time OP. (now that I actually know what OP means..)

MissMannah said...

Army Wife, you said:
"I know that works for me, so why wouldn't I give a child a chance to earn what in their world is equivalent to that?"

You were talking about your JOB, not your day to day life. This is where I see a distinct difference. If you were doling out rewards for the girls doing actual WORK, that would be a totally different story. This is why we give children allowances, we give them a chance to earn money/rewards. Giving them rewards for doing what they are supposed to anyway (aka: not talking back or going potty) is bribery. And it is patronising to them. If I want to use your example, then your husband would give you a reward every time you folded socks or cooked dinner without kicking up a fuss about it.

Strawberry, the reason Nanny 911 appears to be a god is because she is only with a family for 5 days and the footage is edited to hell and condensed down to 1 hour.

Army Wife said...

Mannah, every child is different and needs to be addressed differently. I like that system because I've seen it work. I suggest that if you think that system links too closely to bribery, than don't use it.

The difference is I'm an adult, not a 5 year old who clearly isn't responding to negative treatment /punishment and needs some kind of insentive to put her best foot forward.

MissMannah said...

Have you found no middle ground between time-out and bribery? Wow.

I'm not suggesting you do away with your system, I'm suggesting you re-evaluate it but you seem to think that you have all the answers. Well, more power to you, I just hope those girls aren't spoiled brats for their nanny/parents now, expecting a present every time they turn around.

Army Wife said...

I have moved to a different state since then so am under no control of them. 
But since the parents were on board and everyone loved Friday treats (which were not presets, just things to get  excited about anywhere from going to a movie to getting to take a picnic to the park, the fact that they earned it is what made it special). 

But no I had many other systems, that was the one I suggested to OP. since you asked I'm assuming you're curious or have some compulsive need to know about what else worked/we tried so I'll tell you.

There was a 2 yo, two 5 yo and a 7 yo. The face year olds craved attention desperately so we made special time while 2 yo was napping to hang out. They both had a stealing problem and would constantly take their sisters stuff. If that happened then the alone play time with me wouldn't happen that day. This only worked sometimes, other times would say that they don't care and just continue to take more stuff throughout the day. They would also get a toy of theirs taken away for taking a toy that was NOT theirs, if that happened they would say they didnt like the toy I took away anyway (it could be their favorite toy, they just refused to admit it) and keep taking their sisters toys. They had lying problems and if they were caught lying they wouldn't get juice at lunch and instead get water. Then when I was busy doing dishes or something they would sneak into where their parents kept extra juice boxes and take one. If the punishment for that was time out, I would expect an apology and explication of what they did wrong before they could leave time out chairs. They would refuse and ended up spending an hour in time out. Or they would do as i asked but obviously not care. If they were making trouble together then they would have to play in speerate rooms, which meant I could only be with one at a time, when this happened either barbies head would get ripped off, walls would get colored on, toys would get thrown, etc. I couldn't watch both at the same time so the one I wasn't with would do this. Then what? Time out? Taking a toy away? I already told you how both those went. If I tried having a serious talk about how they were upsetting me and why that behavior wasn't okay they would just shoot sarcastic remarks at me. Again... Then what?? I would take away TV privlages and they would be unaffected, I would take away the privlages of getting to pick what music we listened to in the van so they would spend the entire car ride screaming. So again.. How do I punish them for that? When punishments dont affect them? The only thing that worked was positive reinforcement and the pressure the other sisters Put on them to be good so they would get their Friday treat. The 7 yo loves measeums, one week a measeum was the Friday treat plan but the twins were being horrible. The 7 yo told then if they didn't try their best to earn smileys all week she wouldn't let them come lay in bed with her at all  (they like sleeping together if one wakes up with a bad dream) and that did more than anything else. So again, since you seemed so curious about my methods and so quick to judge the reward method, there are just a few examples of how and why it worked. I was dealing with two products of unattentive parents, too many nannies and previous nannies who had been all about power trips, and like most people know if you get a power trip with a child and try to control everything they do they will only rebel.

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MissMannah said...

I do see what you mean and I had jumped to the conclusion, based on what you previously posted, that you had only tried time-out or scolding them and then gave up and started giving out treats. I am a big proponent of taking away privileges with this age group, or earning them as the case may be...because that is different than earning rewards. Getting to go to a museum or playground isn't a reward because it is something you'd be doing anyway. (I would hope so) But I was under the impression that you were buying them treats or toys every week in exchange for good behavior.

As for time-out, I don't use it, simple as that. You showed a perfectly good reason why it doesn't work: the kids rebel and the nanny gets angry and ends up tacking on more punishment. I remember my mom tried time-out with me once and I happened to have a crayon in my pocket at the can imagine what happened then, yep I colored all over the wall to get back at her. She never bothered with time-out again and I've never bothered with it with my charges. Kids either don't care or they get so offended that you leave them by themselves that it causes even more problems.

MissMannah said...

Jedd, lol I feel the same way. With the exception of 1 boy, I've only had infants and toddlers. And my new job STILL hasn't started, we're waiting for Baby C to be born, she was due on Dec 5th!

Army Wife said...

Yes they were things we'd do normally... I just didn't make that clear to the little girls ;)

The only time I've ever had time outs work was with a very eager to please 6 year old girl. Being time out was like the world crashing down to her... But she also couldn't stand when anyone she loved was upset at her. If only every child had tht personality trait built into them ;)

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Wow said...


I soooo agree with you! I only work with infant multiples born to first time parents for the same exact reason! I've cared for 1 singleton who is an only child and started with him when he was 5 months old. The rest have been twins and triplets. I stay with "my" babies until they start preschool, but still wind up babysitting them for years after, and we don't have any problems at all. Give me my preemie twins and triplets over 1 bratty 3 year old any day!