The Tactical Nanny

Hi, I have been a nanny for awhile now, on my 3rd family, plus have years of other experience with children of all ages including short term nannying (e.g. when the parents are away for a wedding/business trip/romantic getaway). In my current family, where I have been for 5 months now, as a live in, are 2 boys aged 9 and 7. The first 2 months were hard - the family had just moved to a foreign country and were still living temporarily while they waited for their house to be ready but after a month or so I felt like there was starting to be a bond between the kids and I. Things really improved when we moved into the house and everyone had a bit more space, the boys were settled in school and everything was more comfortable for everyone.

However, the last few weeks the 9 year old has been becoming steadily more disrespectful and downright rude towards me. He regularly criticizes my language skills in front of his native speaking friends (although I'm a certified speaker and 99% of native speakers don't even pick up that I'm not from here) and anything of mine he sees around the house - always little things when his mother is there, so she won't notice but as soon as she's gone it gets much worse. The last few days he won't even look me in the eyes and only speaks to me when his mother forces him to. There have not been any out of the ordinary incidents and I'm not sure what has brought on this behaviour but it's really taking its toll.

I've tried several different tactics - ignoring bad behaviour and rewarding good, being nice, discussing his behaviour, time outs, removal of privileges, but nothing seems to work. I know his parents have spoken to him several times about it but that has also done nothing. I was thinking maybe he's hitting puberty and starting to think he's too old/cool for a nanny and I tried to be more like a friend from the start than another parent type figure, because that's what the mother said he'd respond to best but that didn't work either. I really am wondering if it's even worth keeping this job. I would love any kind of advice because I'm really at the end of my nerves with this. - Anonymous


Nanny loves what she does said...

I would not worry about him. The move, new surroundings, making new friends, the stress of becoming a pre-teen. He needs to pick on someone and unfortunately, his main caregiver is going to get the blunt end of it. Have a nice talk with him alone- maybe out to lunch, a favorite place that he likes to go. Just the two of you. Be prepared for the other child. Maybe some one-on-one time( you and the 9 year old) is what you need. To start him trusting you and able to start talking and speaking with you.

MissMannah said...

This is completely normal behavior for his age. Just wait, it will get worse. My nephew is 14 and over the past 5 years he has become more and more sullen. Nothing his mother does is right and he is always rolling his eyes at her and making fun of her. I don't approve of this kind of behavior but it isn't my place to say anything. However, you can say something to this boy, like "When you say this and that it really hurts my feelings." And then just walk away. If he gets really disruptive or abusive you can start taking away privileges but stop the time outs. he is way too old for that.

dana said...

Is your charge truly adjusting well? Sometimes a big move such as what the family went through can be hard on a child. They may seem ok at first but if he isn't making friends, or missing his old ones, it's probably upsetting him and he's acting out. This is new behavior he's exhibiting and recent to the changes in his life. If you could sit him down privately and ask him if something is troubling him, maybe he would open up. It's unlikely something chemical because I think you would have had signs of it before now. I hope you find out what's bothering this child and work out some kind of resolution. Good luck, OP. Please update us soon and let us know how the both of you are doing.