Thursday

Discipline Do's or Dont's

opinion 1
I was wondering what other nannies do for discipline. I am a nanny for a three year old girl and recently she has been having major behavior issues. Talking back, hitting, screaming, etc. The problem is that it is only with me, not with her parents. I was wondering what suggestions I could have so that I can deal with her. I have tried time outs, taking away privileges, etc. Her parents say I can spank her, but I totally don't feel comfortable doing that. Suggestions?

33 comments:

Katie said...

Whateer you do DO NOT spank her! Even if they give you permission. In my opinion it's not an effective form of discipline and could easily be used against you if this job doesn't work out for you.

What brings on this behaviors? For example does this always happen when you ask her to clean up her toys.

Has she had any other changes in her life?

Lyn said...

I use time outs. Using one of your examples, if a child hit me i would immediately get down so we were on the same level, in a serious tone say "hitting is not an acceptable behavior", take their hand and lead them to a seldom used room (usually the corner of the dining room), get down on thheir level again and say "this is where we go when we do hurtful things to people." I then leave the room. I come back after about 4 minutes (assuming the child is around 3-4) p, get down on their level and ask them what they did that made them go to time out, how did that make nanny feel?, and then have them apologize for what was done, give nanny a hug and we move on with our day and go on to the next part of our day. I have had to do this no more than 3 times per family ive been with. I then call mb or add to my daily notes what happened and EXACTLY how it was dealt with. Its always super important to tell you mb/db all the details of the situation and that the child knows that you have support from their parents. This is what i do and i hope it helps! Even with the craziest kids ive found doing this once provides instant changes in attitudes once they know you will not put up with it. Forgive all of my many spelling/grammatical errors I'm on my phone! :)

Lyn said...

Also, forgot to mention, if the child will not apologize when you return you then say "when you can apologize for hurting nannys feelings i will be back", then leave for another minute. And of course: this is not how i discipline for minor instances. But if a child hits, throws something at you, uses harsh attitude that is when this is required.

bostonnanny said...

I use time outs and consequences. I will immediately put the child in time out for any physical attacks. For talking back I normally give them one chance to correct their behavior and tone otherwise I start taking toys away. I do not tolerate talking back or hitting. If they can't verbalize their feelings after I repeatedly teach them how and what to say then time out.

Phoenix said...

now I am a believer in spanking. and for one reason only. Sometimes little kids hit because they aren't aware it hurts. i've had friends who have children who would hit and when the mom or dad spanked them (not hard) to show them it hurts they stopped doing it. But if you are not comfortable with that I understand. I would never spank another persons child even if i had the go ahead to do it. Parents need to do that. Also when she is acting that way don't pay attention to her. Make sure she is safe and won't hurt herself but any attention is bad attention. Don't try to calm her down. Let her know what she has done wrong. Explain to her that she did this and this to be put in time out and that she is in control whether or not she gets into trouble.
When my son was being very bad one year around xmas he was throwing a fit and said he didn't want any xmas presents. So xmas came around and he got NOTHING. We explained to him that he was the one that made this decision and that in life when you do or say something there are consequences or rewards for every action. His bday is in January so he got all his gifts then but to this day he doesn't say or do anything that he doesn't want to come true. You can't punish kids without giving them an explaination as to why they are being punished or privelages are being taken away. They are smarter than they lead us to believe. She is a toddler learning the walks of life and you are there to show her how to be a good person.

MissMannah said...

I don't believe in spanking or time-out. I think both is just a huge waste of time, both yours and the child's. I would suggest taking away privileges instead. And also trying to earn them back. Rewarding good behavior is always a lot more powerful than punishing bad behavior. Example: for hitting, I will usually catch the child's hand midair when they're about to hit and tell them I don't want them to hit me because it will hurt. If I can't catch it in time, I will put away the toys or turn off the TV, whatever they were doing, Same basic concept as the time-out but it doesn't involve putting the child in solitary confinement. For talking back or screaming, I just talk to the child about speaking appropriately and tell them I'm not going to listen to it anymore. If need be, walk out of the room and tell them to find you when they're ready to talk appropriately. You can also get a sticker chart for this one, she gets to pick out a sticker to put on her calendar at the end of everyday that she doesn't scream at you or talk back.

StrawberryShortKakes said...

DO NOT SPANK! It doesn't work. Same thing with washing out the mouth with soap, using a belt, etc. I don't know why people are living back in the 1900s and not realizing that this stuff doesn't work.

I am a behavior therapist for kids with autism so I deal with this behavior on a daily basis. Most people don't realize the power of ignoring. When a child is throwing a tantrum, the first thing people do is try to get in the child's face and talk to them, ask them questions, attempt to calm them down, etc. IDK about you but when I am really angry, the last thing I want to do is talk to someone. In this case, ignore the child. I'm not saying leave the house and come back in 20 min. Just let them be. If they are mad you said no, took something away, etc, validate the feelings (Yes, I know you are mad but TV is all done for today) and then let them be. Talking about it for 10 min is not going to help. They want the TV, you said no, end of story. Eventually they will get the hint that screaming and crying won't get the TV back and can move on.

For a situation like a child swearing (I just recently dealt with that), talking back, or a child not complying when you are trying to get them to do something (get dressed, brush their teeth, etc) taking away a preferred toy can often do the trick. Example, she has a favorite doll. You ask her to put her shoes on but she refuses. Take the doll away and tell her why- I took the doll away because I asked you to put your shoes on and you didn't. In the beginning, she will not be happy and you will probably struggle to put the shoes on but eventually she will learn (hopefully!). I don't really believe in "earning" back at this age. 3 year olds have a short memory so in a few hours she won't remember why her doll was taken away. Later on you can let her have the doll back. Then you will have it for the next tantrum. In other words, don't take something away for a whole day. It just isn't appropriate for this age.

Another thing, don't use bribes. A bribe is something that is promised for stopping a behavior that has already started. Example, a child is yelling and you say, if you stop yelling you can have candy. Instead, use reinforcers to reinforce good behavior. If you clean up your mess in the playroom, we can go outside and play!

And lastly, praise the good behavior. This goes along with the ignoring tantrums. If they are having bad behavior and you get all worked up and give attention, they are content because they are getting attention, even though it is negative. Instead, if she is acting nice and listening, praise her for that stuff, ignore the bad stuff. Example, if she is dropping food on the floor, tell her to please stop dropping food. She continues to do it, look away and ignore. Once she stops, say great job keeping your food on the table! If you yell at her for dropping the food, she will love the attention and that you are getting mad. 3 year olds are smart! At first this will seem forced and unnatural but after a while it will become 2nd nature.

Best of luck!

MissMannah said...

Strawberry, that is all very good advice. I should have said the earning back privileges should be for older children--I don't do that with 3 year olds either because you're right they don't understand it.

Also, I want to point out--many people can't grasp the difference between bribery and positive reinforcement. Bribery is when you're going above and beyond the normal positive to get good behavior. It is also when children are learning to only work for a reward, rather than learning to properly control or care for themselves. Example: a child throwing a fit because she doesn't want to clean her room. Saying "Clean up and then you can have a cookie" is bribery. Saying "Clean up and then you can pick out a special book for us to read together" is positive reinforcement.

MissMannah said...

Also, Strawberry, as a behavior therapist, I would love to hear your views on time-out...not necessarily for autistic children, but for all.

NVMom-movedtoTX said...

Agree with Strawberry and I'd also add that if these behaviors have started recently there is probably a trigger or triggers that you are not aware of. As they say in behavior therapy (I have a dd with autism), all behavior is communication. It's not necessarily good communication but it is nonetheless. You've got to observe and find out what the triggers are - difficulty with transitions, food issues, language skills are all examples of areas that can be triggers for 'bad' behavior.

Try not to get caught up in a behavior-punishment dynamic with this child. Sometimes I think adults are so afraid of an out of control child they forget the 'heavy lifting' part of dealing with kids is to teach them what we want rather than just punishing them for what we don't want. Put the focus on what you can do to shape her behavior into positive directions. Use lots of teaching and modeling and see what you can avert. Of course there will be times when frustrations come out. Teach her 'safe' ways to let off steam.

NVMom-movedtoTX said...

Miss Mannah, just my viewpoint as a Mom to a child with autism, and one child without, I never found time-outs that useful because they lack the teaching component. When a child is having an all out tantrum sometimes you just have to ignore, but the whole timers/ensuring they comply/apologies routine just seemed like time that could be better spent teaching when things are calm.
Many times during a tantrum I also found comforting but NOT giving in, also went a long way towards shortening the tantrum and moving on to something else. A little empathy goes a long way, IMO.

Busted said...

A little off-track, but Phoenix, I laughed my butt off at your xmas gift story. When I was about 10ish, I decided to seak into the closet, and peek at my xmas gifts. Bad part is...they were already wrapped. I literally untaped them to look, and then wrapped them back up trying to match the tape lines as best I could. My little sister walked in so I ended up involving her.
Long story short, we were sitting together one day with my mom, and my little sister accidentally spilled the beans. My mom was so upset she threatened to take all of our presents back. I told her it was all my fault (which it was) and not to take my sisters gifts back, only mine, which is exactly what she did. For xmas that year I got socks and undies, and nothing more. No toys, no candies, not even coal :(
Needless to say I have never peeked at another gift of any kind since!

Just My Two Cents Just Now said...

I would NOT spank her...that would be opening Pandora's Box and you would not want to do that.
I am surprised the parents gave you permission to do so..they must be old school. LOL.

StrawberryShortKakes said...

MissMannah- I have to agree with NVMom in that I don't find time outs very effective. I just don't see how forcing the child to sit in the corner to "think about what they did" is worth the struggle. After all, do we really think they are thinking about what they did? I think most people use it as a chance to allow the child to calm down but they don't have to sit in a corner to do that. If the child hits or is screaming/talking back and you want to give a timeout, in my opinion, you aren't solving the problem by having the child confined to a small space. Instead, like NVMom said, I think that turning the situation into a teachable moment would be better. Again, validate feelings and then encourage them to communicate their feelings in an appropriate manner. "I know you are upset but even when we are upset, we don't hit." For people that believe in time outs... now you are going to have them sit and think about it? This is also where the ignoring comes in. Children have to learn to work their way through their feelings themselves. If the child does well just sitting and calming down, encourage them to do that on their own. If they can be easily redirected to another activity, that's fine too. It really depends on the child and the situation so if you have a specific example I'd be happy to give my opinion.

I think it is much more effective to take a preferred toy away from the child, rather than the child away from the preferred toy... if that makes sense. I think that a a lot of caregivers want to make a huge deal of "infractions" and aren't able to move on from them. I'm not saying ignore all bad behavior and let the child get away with bloody murder, but harping on the bad behavior isn't going to stop it for good. Address each infraction one time, deal with it, move on. If you spend too much time worrying about the bad behavior, there won't be enough time to enjoy the good behavior. I think it also sends the child the message that yes, I messed up but not I have a clean slate. If at your job you messed up and your boss kept bringing it up, it would just keep bringing you down. I am definitely not saying that you should let them hit you, talk back, etc. Make it clear that it isn't acceptable and teach them an alternative way to communicate.

I really like to break down every infraction (can't think of a better word). At my work, with behavior we do an ABC for each one. A is antecedent, what led up to the behavior. B is the behavior and C is the consequence. You can really learn a lot from this by asking yourself what the child was trying to communicate through their behavior. Most parents give in wayyyy too easily. Example, the child wants a cookie and you say no cookies (antecedent) The child whines and starts to scream for cookies (behavior) and then the consequence for some parents is to give them a cookie! That's just wrong. The child just learned: I want a cookie, mom says no, I whine, she gives me a cookie. In reality, the ending should have been that mom says no cookies and then either redirects the child to a different snack she is offering or ignore the tantrum if not able to redirect. Giving into the whining might help you stop this tantrum but it won't help in the long run. Hope that helps! Let me know if it isn't clear. I have the day off and my mind is kind of out of work mode :)

Wren said...

Anyone unwilling to spank their child when the necessity arises is irresponsible. However I understand completely not wanting to spank a child that is not yours. I have had similar problems with my charge, who is also 3. It's usually when I am correcting her in some way and she gets a time out. I'll sit her down and face her on her level, but she meets me with a hand in my face. I usually catch her hand, and with a firm grip I tell her to use her words, not her hands, to express her anger. I have gone as far as pointing out that I have never and never will hit her, and I expect the same from her. She very rarely hits anymore, and I think it was just a phase for a while. Kids get testy, feel around for anything they can get away with. Just keep explaining that it's not okay, make sure after the problem is resolved you have a heart to heart with her.

StrawberryShortKakes said...

Wren, I disagree with you. I will never spank my child or any one else's children. I will take that to my grave. It is not an acceptable form of discipline in my opinion and won't do it. Disciplining a child when the necessity arises is being responsible but there are more effective methods than corporal punishment. What about a child you are disciplining for hitting you? Are you going to punish them by spanking? Makes no sense!

seeareuh said...

Strawberry,

I completely understand what you mean when you say that time outs are largely ineffective when the intent is to think about what he or she has done, however, I use timeout for a different reason: negative punishment. Punishment can be either positive or negative, in that the child is receiving something he or she does not want (positive) or getting something taken away that he or she does want (negative). I use time outs because the child must sit in the corner (of the living room), quietly, without moving from the corner, while watching his or her siblings play still (I nanny for four children, a 6yr old and 4yr old triplets). Taking away play time is effective. After the time out (usually five minutes, the kids argue "she only got four minutes why do I get six?!" so it's easier to jut split the difference) I ask the child to come over to where I am and I ask them why they were on time out, how they could have avoided time out, and to apologize to whomever they hurt (that's the usual reason for time outs with my kids). I then ask them if I can have a hug (so they know I'm not upset with them) and they continue on playing.

And oh my gos my kids' parents are THE WORST with whining and bribing. The other day, the two boys did not finish their milk at dinner (which is required). They whined and complained. What does their mom do? GIVES THEM CHOCOLATE MILK. What even? Who does that? Ridiculous.

StrawberryShortKakes said...

seeareuh- I think it is great that you found a form of punishment that works for your charges. What you wrote about positive and negative punishment, that is definitely accurate and I wish more people would understand how it works. Maybe I shouldn't have said that I never use time outs (I don't even know if I did). I think there is definitely a time and a place for them, it just isn't my go-to for punishment. In the example you used, it makes complete sense and most importantly, it seems to be working. The punishment fits the crime and everyone learns something... what else could you ask for?

And don't you hate having to watch parents do that kind of stuff?! No one is perfect and it is definitely easier to see when looking at it happen from the outside but some parents just don't get it. Then they wonder why their kids whine so much...

April said...

Have a child first and then see where your plans go.

You can be the best nanny , teacher, behavioral therapist in the world and it is still nothing like being a parent.

MissMannah said...

Strawberry, I completely agree with everything you said and I think you said it better than I ever could!

Wren, I think it is irresponsible for someone to pigeon-hole every single child and caregiver on Earth. Besides that, what do you consider "necessity" for spanking anyway?

April, I seriously hate it when parents say things like that. I am trying to have a child of my own and I fully intend to implement all my nanny strategies with him or her. I've been caring for other people's children for 11 years, why would I give my own sub-par care?

seeareuh said...

April, I too hate when parents say that & resent the comment. Sometimes we are around your children the same amount if not more time as you are and we know how stressful raising children can be! But if you want to have well adjusted children (which I think is every parent's goal) you need to be consistent and definitive in child rearing and if you're not, your child could grow up with traits you didn't wish to instill in them. Like I said, we get it, caring for children is stressful.

April said...

You ladies can hate it all you want I once hated it as well. I was a nanny, then I was a teacher. I had all the right techniques, and trainings, I also hated it when parents told me just wait until you're a parent.

I became a parent and now I understand.

When you ladies ( or gentlemen) become parents you will understand all the nuances of discipline in a way you can't understand as a nanny, teacher, or therapist.

April said...

Mannah I just wanted to send positive thoughts your way. Being a mother is amazing as I hope you soon discover.

StrawberryShortKakes said...

April, I found your comment condescending. Were you trying to imply that all behavior techniques go out the window when you're a parent? I am not naive and I know that the world isn't full of roses and butterflies. Parents, nannies and service providers alike all get tired, fed up, etc and often these ideal techniques are not used. I am only with the kids in caseload a few hours a day so multiply my frustrations times a thousand and that's how a parent feels. I get it. I just don't like the parents that throw all technique by the wayside and then wonder why their kids are terrors! You are a parent, you are tired, got it but many parents don't realize that if you deal with the behavior and nip it in the bud, it will be much easier in the long run.

And thank you for your kind words missmannah.

Z said...

Whatever your personal feelings are about spanking, you may want to research the laws in your state. In some states, it is illegal to spank a child besides your own. If they decide to turn against you for some reason, or if the child tells a teacher that her nanny hit her, you may find yourself in some legal trouble. My policy is to always refuse to spank.

Nanny S said...

I would never, ever spank a child for many reasons, but the most relevant one here is liability reasons. Imagine this--the three year old has a bruise one day. MB asks her if you spanked her. She says yes. You're fired, among a bunch of potential legal issues. Any nanny who physically punishes a child is, in my opinion, an absolute idiot.

For discipline for a 3-year-old, I think it's more important to teach them how to verbalize their feelings and make consequences of actions very clear. Children respond to positive encouragement and praise much better, so saying, "I noticed that you were very upset when I turned off the TV, but you still chose to pick up your toys! That was so good!" If that doesn't work, taking away desserts has been effective for me. I've never found time-outs helpful, I think that they just allow the child's resentment to fester at such a young age, but that's just me. Also bringing the parents into it is much more effective that anything. If the child knows they will be in trouble with the Nanny and THEN mom and dad, it's effective. My current charge (much older) was spitting in my face. I took away all desserts, cancelled her playdates and then when her dad came home, I spoke with him privately and then the three of us talked. In front of me he told her that if it happens again that Nanny will give whatever discipline needed, and when Mom or Dad come home, all TV episodes on the DVR will be deleted, as well as the weekly skiing trip. I thought it was a bit harsh, but it's never happened again. This kid respects me because she respects her parents, and that's absolutely essential.

Nanny J said...

In my state, spanking isn't illegal. Doesn't matter who you are, it isn't illegal (except for in a daycare setting). What IS illegal is leaving marks on a child. That's an actual injury.

I don't spank because I don't find it's highly effective unless it's for something like running into the road, etc, since it would probably just be my immediate instinct to give one firm swat on the bottom and a good speaking to.

Generally speaking, I use time-outs for children 2 or older. 1 minute per each year. If that doesn't work, they can sit quietly by themselves until a time that they're sufficiently ready to apologize/explain and move on.

For kids under 2, redirection is the best bet. They don't have the attention span to understand sitting for a minute, nor will they usually do it. :P

If it doesn't work, continue to take things away. Make the kid sit in its room all day. Give it a book or a puzzle to do quietly, and tell her when she's ready to behave you will do all the fun things you usually do; use her favorite things as suggestions, if she loves to go to the park use it to your advantage.

If all else fails, inform the parents of her lack of cooperation and your hesitance to spank and reasoning. Either they need to get it straightened out and make it apparent that if she doesn't listen to you THEY will deal with it, or they need to find someone to address these issues in a more knowledgeable manner.

XTC said...

Nanny S,
Just my opinion, but I would never use food as a form of discipline or reward. It could open the door to an entire host of eating disorders -- trust me.

Brandy said...

I was spanked as a child and it taught me HUGE lessons. I learned that my parents meant business when they said I was not to do something which I did anyway, etc.

It was a great deterrent from repeating any negative behaviors and I do not hold being spanked against my parents.

In fact, I hold many other things against my parents as an adult....however spanking is not one of them.

Marisol said...

You've already gotten some good advice on how to deal with your charge.

So my two cents on the spanking debate is this. I thinking spanking can be an effective form of discipline. That being said I would not use spanking as a nanny that my dear is opening up a can of worms for you.

Phoenix said...

One thing people need to understand about all these "techniques" is that each form of discipline acts different on each child. I know kids who would only resond to spanking. I know kids who would only respond to having toys taken away. Some would do well with timeout while others only behaved after you ignored them. Each child is different and responds differently to the types of punishment. Not all children can be dealt with the same way. I think that is a very large part of people's problems when they are raising kids and making judgments about how others parent.

Smile said...

If a three year old has escalated to hitting a caregiver, there is something seriously wrong! Try reading "Children, the Challenge" by Driekurs, I think. Lots of GREAT ideas for teaching yourself discipline methods.

Meghan said...

I nanny for two little girls ages 4 and 8 and I would NEVER spank either one of them. I use time-outs and they work very well for us. If one of them hits me, I get down to their level and explain that they cannot hit me and that they need to use their words. I don't give warnings for hitting, kicking, etc, so right after that I put them right into time-out, which is a corner chair in the kitchen. The 8 year old takes an 8 minute timeout and the 4 year old takes a 4 minute timeout. After the time-out is done, I walk over to them and have them explain to me why I put them into time-out and then they have to apologize to me. After this we do hugs and kisses and go and play. This is what works best for us, but keep in mind that all children are different :)