Screaming Three Year Old

I am a nanny for a 10 month old and three year old. I have only been here three weeks. Well, 12 days!
The 3 year old screams everytime I tell her no. It is so loud, so bad that it makes me not want to say no. I have tried giving her choices, making things seem like her idea, I talk in a calm manner, I talk to her sitting next to her. The second she has to be corrected, she just screams. By corrected I mean, she takes a soft block from her brother. I try to redirect her because he starts to cry. Her response is to throw the block as hard as she can at him. Granted, it cannot hurt her. Then I offer a solution like "if we you play without throwing blocks, I think you need to play something else." And I even try and find something fun for just her. Movies, barbies, dolls, leggos. Etc. The screams are ear shattering. I work in a neighborhood in Larchmont, NY and the houses are close together. I took the little boy outside on the porch with me while she was screaming because I am new and I am afraid someone is going to think I am hurting her. The older lady next door was out there. I said, "I'm sorry she's screaming. She isn't hurt". The neighbor said, "Oh I know. We're used to that." I was surprised and the neighor clearly didn't want to say more. She just looked at me with then she said, "Did they tell you how many nannies they have been through since X (boy) was born". I looked at her surprised and she just shook her head. So clearly there is something to do with the new baby and the girl but what am I supposed to do? We have a whole summer ahead of us. If I make lunch and tell her it's lunch time, she screams. If I ask her if she wants lunch and she says yes, I ask her what she wants and it is something like "Burger King" which I have to say, "we can't have that today..maybe tom.." SCREAM SCREAM SCREAM.  I swear I am a calm, yoga centered person but my BP is easily up 20 points being here. I don't know that I can take this!


CleaverJune said...

It looks like you have a few choices...

1. Talk to parents about inappropriate behavior of the three year old and discuss the options/potential methods for correcting this behavior. Be sure to talk about how this behavior is making you feel and if it is something that needs to be worked on in order for you to stay, discuss that. Don't forget to start with the positive and talk about the good things about her first. discuss how the ramifications of her current behavior could potentially put the little one in harms way. (What if that soft block from your post had been a rigid/hard toy?) talk about how the safety of their children is paramount to you. Make sure that you approach them as someone who is concerned and wanting to help.

2. Do nothing with the child and look for a new position.
Because you aren't going to make it there long otherwise. The screaming wore others down and will do the same to you.

3. Say nothing and correct behavior on your own.
(Depending on the type of parents and what type of position you have this may actually not be a terrible idea.) I have had parents that weren't really involved at all and didn't care so much as long as baby A and children B,C, & D were clean, presentable, and made the parents look good in public. (terrible parents in my opinion.) Talking to them about any concern was just a waste of breath because they would always just say, "just take care of it."

If it was me in your shoes, every time this happened that kid would be put in a time out so fast it would make her head spin. Three year olds have meltdowns, yes. This is not because she's three. This is not a typical three year old tantrum or meltdown. This is clearly manipulative behavior that has in the past, worked for her. With me it would not work - at all.
Good behavior is rewarded. Poor behavior has corresponding age-appropriate consequences. Tantrums are not rewarded with me and violent behavior towards anyone, especially the baby, will be dealt with quickly and without delay. I know this makes me sound really severe, but I'm actually a really upbeat and fun nanny. I think that learning through play and having fun are important for children. But while I'm a fun and games type of nanny, I also take no shit.

I really wish you the best - this doesn't sound like a fun position to be in. Please let us all know what happens.

Courtney said...

I am no professional and I only have one child bu it sounds like the older child is having major problems adjusting to the baby. Maybe she needs some special alone time where you or the parents devote special time just to her without the baby so she still feels like she's not being neglected? Not that you are doing anything wrong. I was an only child for 6 years before my sister came around and I really disliked having all the attention taken from me. I didn't act like that but I was significantly older.

Nanny said...

I have a firm no tantrums no throwing rule. Toys that get thrown about get put into timeout.

Angi said...

O.o where is the discipline here? Of course she going to scream because there is no consequence to negative behavior.

Time outs, loss of toys or TV time, loss of special events, etc

clare said...

There needs to be a consequence for misbehaving. Time outs, loss of adventure, loss of privileges etc... She's obviously misadjusting to the baby, but that's no excuse.

this_nick said...

She's 3, she's having trouble adjusting to the new baby, and the only way she gets the attention completely on her is acting out. These suggestions of consequences/time outs may work, but also may not, because even negative attention is attention, and that's part of what she's angling for.

The suggestion from the "non-professional" above is spot-on. (LOL Courtney, you're a mom - you're the ultimate expert.) She needs lots of special time in which one or both parents spend with just her.

As far as you go, you have to try and not react to the crying. I don't just mean externally; if you allow the crying to stress you this kid knows it, and to her having you irritated by her screaming is a weird sort of success. She's got your full attention and she knows it!

Try to think of the screaming the way you would any loud noise, like construction work lol. Don't have any feeling about it. Realize it is merely a tool she's using to achieve results, and if she stops getting results with you (your attention, her own way), she'll eventually abandon that tool, at least with you.

Good luck!

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