Older Kids Causing Chaos

I have been working as a nanny for two families for a year now. The first family has two kids, ages three and four. The other family has SIX kids, 2, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 15 (although the 15 in a step brother and is rarely there). I get along great with the kids in the first family and have next to zero issues. However, I feel like I am constantly battling with the children of the larger family! Several times a week I deal with one of the older kids (the 9 and 11 year old) acting out and deliberately disobeying. For example, in the last few weeks, the 11 year old has locked himself in the bathroom ALL DAY and has thrown a fit about getting a seatbelt on saying I'm being a "control freak". The nine year old talks back constantly and when I ask her to do her chores or homework assignment, it's nothing but "I don't have to! My mom said no!"

She has attempted to PULL her little sister (age 2) into the pool, even though I was standing right next to the toddler. I just cannot seem to control these older kids! I'm not sure if I should be less demanding (although I only ask them to do the stuff that their mother asks them to) or more strict with them. I don't want to be too strict where they hate me. I know that they LOVED their former nanny. The 5 year old told me that the other kids told her that, "Our old nanny loved us, Ms. Emily doesn't". The other day they saw a picture of their old nanny and FLIPPED. They started kissing it and saying how much they missed her.

I think a lot of the problems stem from the fact that they don't really see me as an authority figure. Even though I've been there a year, I've been there mainly during the school year, which means I only spent about 12 full days with the older kids before the summer started. Other than school breaks, I saw them for 10-15 minutes after school a few days a week. I just don't know how I should react or handle the kids. All the kids except for the youngest is going back to school and I will be done with the family at Christmas, so I don't have much longer with the older kids. I also want to add that I get a long GREAT with the other kids I nanny for. I have watched other kids in the past and taught in classrooms and NEVER had this problem


gypsy said...

Is their ages. I would expect anyone to have trouble with those ages. Preteens & teens act crazy, irrational & you can do NOTHING right in their eyes.

It,s completely normal. Read Parenting With Love & Logic & How To Talk To Teens.

They're playing you about the last nanny. Agree she's wonderful & they'll stop.

nycmom said...

I agree with Gypsy.

I think nannying for older kids is much harder interpersonally, even though the physical labor is easier.

The only suggestion I have is to speak with the parents and have a discipline plan in place, including how the *parents* (not you) will deal with them not listening to you. Parents need to 100% support their nanny, same as they support one another, when dealing with kids. Otherwise the kids will divide and conquer. I also have a policy in place that if my kids don't listen to our nanny, she tells them once, then the second time if they do not listen she writes it down and I double the normal consequence. I also support her *in front* of them and chastise them whenever they are rude or disobedient with her in my presence.

♥ Amy Darling ♥ said...

If you can get any support from the parents, that would be great. I cannot imagine any parents accepting their children acting like this, but considering the parents I have worked for, nothing surprises me.

If you cannot get their support, I would just try to stick it out or leave.

I think those are your only options here.

Dingo said...

I take a hands off approach with my 8yo charge. She started really acting out mid-school year last year. I approach her with clear directions always starting with "Your mom would like you to ________ before she gets home." If she says no, I shrug and say "Okay, I'll let mom know you won't be doing it."

Granted, my charge has a lot of weird delays, and some of her social awkwardness spirals into aggression, and violence. She threw (yes, threw) her 2 year old sister down the stairs a few months ago because she didn't want to do her homework.

Mom and dad aren't exactly great at consistent rules or consequences, and the hands off approach has made for less violent tantrums while I'm there. I leveled with MB and told her if I had to continue to essentially force her child to do things and endure the tantrums and acting out, I would walk.