Au Pair Asks: What if I’m not really prepared to handle these kids?

by cv harquail on February 20, 2012

Dear Au Pair Mom,

I really love to read your blog, and have been reading it for a few months now, back when I started on my quest to become an Au Pair. And now for the first time I’m writing to you for advice.

I have just moved to my host family and have been here for 2 weeks, and I love everything here so far, my host parents are amazing and so generous and have done everything they can to make me feel at home and welcome. The two kids and 2 and a half and a four year old boys. That’s where my problem lies. MustChangeAttitudeMaryEngelbreit.png

I feel like I have placed my self in a situation I didn’t realize I wasn’t prepared for.

The boys are really great but they are so hard to handle and take care of as they never listen, they don’t take discipline seriously and continuously fight with each other. I also find that they are spoilt and have a really bad attitude.

The way I handle them is so different to the parents, who are so patient with them. I don’t have any patience with them when they throw a tantrum. That is how I was raised, and many other kids I have cared for have been bought up the same way.

As they are younger, they are only in school two mornings a week so I practically have them full time.

I feel like I have over estimated myself with what I can manage as I haven’t had hardly any experience with children this age and my host parents knew that from my application. I now find myself in the position where I am wishing I had older children.

I am undecided on how to approach this because I love everything here — except taking care of the kids, which is the reason why I am here.

I don’t want to risk a rematch (and I know it’s too early for that anyway) because I’m scared I won’t find a family as great as the one I already have and I have already made some great friends in this town, but I find myself close to tears a lot of the time because I struggle so much with the kids and I am really homesick.

So I was hoping you had some advice for me, and what I can do to make this situation better, because sometimes I feel that I might be staying here for the wrong reasons and maybe this is not what I should be doing..

Thanks again, New Au Pair

Image: Must Change Attitude by Mary Englebrecht. But the question is— how?


Flavia February 20, 2012 at 9:10 pm

I was in the same situation. My host kids were really spoiled, they had tamtrums every day for no reason and they did whatever they want.
Parents never put limits, but eventually, the children will get used to that you do not play by the same rules and will behave different when they are with you.

A host mom February 20, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Dear Au pair,

We have two boys with a similar ages so I can completely relate to this. I would advise you to give the family some time. In our home when a new au pair arrives, the boys act wild and different than their usual selves for the first 2 or 3 weeks. Once they have confidence in their new au pair and in the situation, they begin to behave normally. I keep telling the new au pairs that the boys are not always “like this” and it takes them a while to believe me.
I think you need to work hard to get the confidence and trust of the children. If you gain their confidence and trust, they will begin behaving better. I often hear au pairs discussing discipline as the first thing to do but I have actually seen this backfire. What do the kids like to do? Whatever it is, get on the floor or run around on the playground and do it with them. Be a dinosaur or a frog or a ghost. If you release your inner child and you begin to play with the children and enter into their world, you will speak their language. As you probably noticed children do not speak in our normal grown up language- the way to communicate with kids and to get close to them is through play. All of our successful au pairs (three thus far) managed to learn the art of connecting with the children. I allowed them to use time out and other forms of discipline but you rarely need this when you have a close connection to children. I urge you to try to connect with them and you will see a whole new world open up before your eyes.
It may sound attractive to go to a family with older children but sometimes this is worse. Older children may not love their au pairs as much as younger ones and they have all sorts of other problems that are more challenging to deal with. With younger children you get lots of affection and love (if you meet them on their level) and this can be quite satisfying.
Once you gain their trust, I would slowly introduce discipline in whatever way the parents approve of. It is important to have consequences but this needs to be built on a foundation of love, nurturing and trust.
Toddlers need to have activities planned for them. Try to think ahead and plan the next activity to avoid boredom.
I would also recommend some “parenting” books. There is a book called “Playful Parenting” that I usually give my au pairs to read that speaks a great deal about how to connect with young children. If you read more about this age group, it may be easier to understand them. Good luck!

Seattle Mom February 21, 2012 at 1:12 am

I think this is excellent advice, and Playful Parenting is a great suggestion- I never thought of giving it to an au pair to read! I found it really useful when my toddler was getting the best of me (or the worst, haha).

I want to add (to the OP) that you can talk to the parents about how they want you to handle their children, and get their advice about how to connect with and discipline their children. I think most parents understand that an AP is not going to be exactly the same as they are.. at the same time there are limits to what they want the AP to do with their kids, and what they know will/won’t work. I never say “don’t do x or y” in a harsh tone with my daughter because it just doesn’t work, it makes her sad & angry to do that and it just makes things worse. Instead she is much more likely to go along with what you want if you say “can you please do x and y because a and b.” My daughter is more sensitive than average though, and she also really wants to please.. everyone is different. It’s just this is an example of things I would tell my AP about how to deal with her (she’s 3).

kat February 28, 2012 at 4:02 pm

this is so well said!

andrea March 1, 2012 at 3:28 pm

can you tell me the author of the “playful parenting” you are talking about? Amazon has 2 different books by the same name, different authors/books though. Thanks!

hm pippa March 2, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Playful Parenting by Lawrence J. Cohen.

I also recommend this book. Especially useful for au pairs trying to figure out how to earn respect and trust from their host kids without leveraging dominance and creating fear.

Anna February 20, 2012 at 11:17 pm

Don’t think that older children will be easier to handle; they come with their own set of challenges, which may be worse.

My 7 year old daughter can still throw screaming tantrums like a 4 year old, but she can also be purposefully mean, hurtful, disrespectful, talk back, ignore, and a whole new arsenal of more cruel and adult-like forms of misbehaviour. If you think you cannot handle preschoolers, you may be even more in trouble with older kids.

I think other parents gave you good advice. You have to find what works in your relationship with each child, and be very creative and don’t give up searching.

AFHostMom February 21, 2012 at 12:46 am

Well, I commend you for recognizing your limits. That’s not easy. Our first AP was home full time with little kids and she was not cut out for it. But she didn’t see that she wasn’t handling them, and you do, and that’s a huge difference. 2nd AP had the patience of a saint, somehow. 3rd AP is also home full time with the same kids, and I think she wanted to run for the hills for the first 3 weeks or so. We worked with her to help assert herself and things are getting better. But communication was key, and we adults were all on the same page. I know you have a different care-giving philosophy than the parents; do they recognize that? Are they being overly lenient in your view, or just different? Do the boys respond well to them or walk all over them?
I think eventually you have to speak to the HPs–I understand it’s very difficult (and it’s difficult to hear as a HP, trust me), but it’s only fair. Before you do that, though, you have a lot of options. YOu can talk to some other APs in your cluster, or your LCC, in general terms (in other words, of course, no badmouthing the host family)about managing young children. It’s not an inherently easy thing but you can get better at it if you have support and if the children respond appropriately.
the bottom line, I think, is that if the family is nice and good to you, they deserve forthrightness. Caring host parents are also the kind of people who are likely to be receptive to feedback. Good luck.

CalifMom February 21, 2012 at 7:33 am

Agree to give a little more time but if you are unwilling to learn from the parents, only feel that the kids “are spoiled”. –a state which they cannot escape from–then you may resent the parents or judge them more than you are open to their ideas. That’s not a great place to be.

I must strongly disagree that older kids “won’t love an AP as much as younger ones”. You should see our 12 and 7 year olds vying for affection and attention, climbing into laps, giving air hugs and sending love emails. The kids are older, they may talk back (it’s their developmental job, after all) but they do not love less.

Yes, they are hard in different ways, but for an AP who is struggling, that big gap in the day might just help her manage a lot better. Time to plan and rest is not a small benefit.

As for ability to get a nice family….there are more families than au pairs right now, at least for APIA. We went for 4 weeks without childcare until we found a great rematch au pair.

Gianna February 21, 2012 at 9:55 am

A little off track but this amazes me – that there are more families than aupairs in your organization. Do you have any insight into why that is happening ?

NoVA Host Mom February 28, 2012 at 12:37 am

Just a guess, but the only thing I can think of is if there is some unusually high number of rematches returning home vs. staying in country? Otherwise I would have figured its at least 1 for 1 (not counting those families with multiple APs).

Taking a Computer Lunch February 21, 2012 at 8:29 am

I think you have realized that you are in a work situation with a steep learning curve. It’s not like babysitting for the kids next door at all. You’re in a new country with a different culture and values, and you don’t get to leave at the end of the day.

You will adjust. I’ve known several au pairs who started counting the days until they could go home from the moment they realized what they had gotten into, but at the end of the day, they bonded with the kids and made a good year for themselves.

I agree with the other posters – talk to the parents about the means to control the kids. In the past other parents have recommended 1-2-3 Magic and How to Talk to Your Kids so They Will Listen…

Older kids are not necessarily less of a handful than younger kids, and you may have to earn their respect more openly than toddlers require. My kids have bonded with APs that have engaged with them on their terms (e.g. don’t try to make a boy that would rather throw a ball color a book, throw a ball with him).

If the parents can shut down temper tantrums quietly, patiently, and effectively, then really pay attention to what they do. When my son was 3, sometimes what he really needed was a hug, even if he was in a full-throttle temper tantrum, and sometimes he needed to be left alone (he never needed me to give in, although if he were well behaved I would let him win from time to time). Tools to prevent temper tantrums including calling out a warning (We are leaving the playground in 10 minutes, then call out 5 minutes, and then 2, and then count down – because little kids have no sense of time.)

Verbally praise the times they can change activities without throwing a fit. “Thank you for leaving the playground so nicely.”

Little kids want to know where the boundaries are, even if they push against them constantly. I will tell you, so do ‘tweens and teens.

newhostmom February 21, 2012 at 10:31 am

Our kids were 1 and 3 when our AP started. We purposefully looked for someone who had all-day work experience with young kids and not just an AP who had babysit her cousins a few times a week (not implying anything about the OP, just saying) because we knew it is HARD to be home all day with young kids and we wanted someone who had had a taste of that experience, otherwise it seems like just setting them up to fail. While obviously there are going to be different challenges with older kids, little kids need constant attention, activity planning, help with basic needs, etc.

Prior to her arrival, we did send our AP some book recommendations and spent a long time when she first arrived modeling how we would care for them all day. She was very confident and patient and was comfortable asking us questions, which we felt was great. Even with all her patience though, there were two times during the year that she was overwhelmed and fortunately, we had told her from the beginning that she was always to feel free to call us if she was overwhelmed. On those two times, I came home from work and helped her with the afternoon and accepted that sometimes with little kids, everything is just too much to handle.

Anyway, I’m just telling you how it went in our family. HPs of young kids need to have patience with the AP and think about how they feel on some days when they don’t feel up to it and the kids are all over the place – it is hard work sometimes. OP’s HP’s may very well be that type and OP should probably feel them out a bit. Tell them that you want to make sure you can be the best AP to them that you can be, ask them if they have any resources to read about relating to young kids, tell them calmly about a particular situation that happened during the day and ask the parents to help figure out a way you could have handled it better.

Whenever my OP came up to me and presented it that way – “here is something that happened today that I wish I had handled better. What do you suggest” rather than “the kids never listen to me and they just keep screaming and running around and making a mess!!” – I always was happy that she felt comfortable and was mature enough to recognize that she needed help and that I could help her.

It’s easy sometimes to think the grass is always greener – “if only I had older kids everything would be great!” – but every host family is going to have good things and bad things. You may get older, easier kids, but host parents you don’t like or a city you don’t like or not make any friends. It sounds like you have a great situation otherwise, with some tough kids – before you give up, try to make the best of it and appreciate what you have. Best of luck!

NoVA Twins Mom February 21, 2012 at 2:33 pm

I have 1 year old twins and a new au pair-

One thing I’ve found with my girls that you can try to implement while you’re doing what everyone else is suggesting is that it helps immensely to leave the house with really young ones. It seems backward and like it would be more work, but a change of scenery works wonders. It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive – a trip to Target to get a hot dog, a class at a rec center, story hour at the library (my girls visit two different libraries in the same week sometimes for multiple storyhours), lunch at another au pair’s house who has similarly aged kids (with permission from both sets of parents of course), walking or driving to a fenced in playground. We fund those trips for our au pair

NoVA Twins Mom February 21, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Sorry, my phone cut me off. I meant to say that we pay for the kid part of these outings – we pay for the hot dog lunch and the milk we ask to have picked up while you’re there, but the shampoo or sweater that comes home too is on the au pair. Another idea for your boys might be to go to PetSmart and see the fish/gerbils/etc that they have for sale, or to visit the playland at McDonalds that they probably love but don’t get to play for long on while you drink a fancy coffee – all free or cheap outings that will get you a change of scenery.

Taking a Computer Lunch February 21, 2012 at 9:06 pm

I have a different take on this one. It’s okay for adults to do things differently – AS LONG AS THE CHILDREN ARE NOT HARMED. The Camel, my special needs child, has had hundreds (literally) of adults handle her so far, and she’s only a teenager. In my opinion, it’s okay for everyone to handle her in their own way and to set their own routines (#1 reason that I don’t overlap -it’s too confusing for her). She adjusts.

My guidelines state that the AP is an adult in my house, and that while I may permit my kids to do something, if she doesn’t feel comfortable, she is allowed to establish different guidelines. When she takes away a privilege for an infraction of her guidelines, DH and I follow through (even when we think it’s petty – and we never undermine her authority by saying so to the child). (My guidelines also state that I’m one to yell and my children would benefit by having a firm friend.)

I agree, however, that if the AP feels that she is floundering, then it’s a good idea to follow the HP’s lead.

A host mom February 21, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Another word of caution about rematch: When host families look at the rematch applicants, they often try to avoid the au pairs who say they want older children (even if they have older children) because it usually means this is a person who is not willing to get down and dirty and put in the work. Parents of older children also desire hard-working au pairs and this can be seen as code-language for someone who is lazy. I am not saying you are lazy but other families may view you as lazy if you say you no longer want to work with young children. I absolutely agree with other posters about outings. Our au pair takes the toddlers to the library, local children’s museum, parks and other au pair homes. We have required her to be outdoors at least one hour per day (weather permitting) but she ends up spending much more time outdoors than is actually required. Each day, she has a daily plan of various activities and this helps to keep the kids engaged. About re matching, please don’t take this lightly. There are many more au pairs in our agency than families and it is hard for au pairs to find a family during rematch because of the reasons I previously mentioned. You want families to view you as someone strong who tried your best in any new (and challenging) situation. You would like the agency (area coordinator) and the family to view you as someone who is willing to learn and grow and become a great au pair. You do not want to enter rematch and be viewed as a person who quits difficult situations or is lazy. By the way, you can learn to have patience with younger children. Read about this age group and ask the host parents for advice. Most importantly when caring for young children, don’t take anything they say or do personally.

newhostmom February 21, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Good point on leaving the house every day. When I’m home with the kids all day myself, I always make a plan for the day BEFORE the day starts. It’s too hard to be planning logistics while handling two little ones. Every night, make a plan for what you’re going to do and then do it. And I’d say, do nothing other than watch the kids all day. If there’s a day that I’m trying even to get laundry done at the same time as watching them, I end up more stressed. Your one and only focus should be playing with the kids – everything else can wait. And when they nap, take time for yourself, don’t be rushing to do the dishes, etc. and then your nap break is up without even sitting. It’s tough work, but it can also be really really fun at this age. They are sweet and loving and there are so many fun things to do with little kids.

Happy Au Pair February 26, 2012 at 7:23 pm

Doesn’t your Au Pair need to do stuff around the house? Or does she have some paid time to do it when she doesn’t have the kids? I don’t. I have to do the kid’s laundry, make their beds (and wash the sheets once a week), keep the playroom organized and clean, vacuum it, cook, do the dishes,… and as I don’t wanna do that in my freetime I have to do it while I’m watching the kids. And the only time I really get something done is naptime (my older one (5) doesn’t take naps anymore but she has to rest either in her room or the playroom). That makes less than two hours a day to do all the stuff around the house so I rarely have time to sit down and relax… Only if I’m sick I try to get some rest during naptime. I don’t want to complain about it I just want to say that almost all the Au Pairs with little kids I know have to handle the kids and chores at the same time!

Taking a Computer Lunch February 26, 2012 at 11:26 pm

I think it all comes down to what the HP want from an AP…

I had my first AP do a couple of loads of laundry each week, and of course she cooked her own lunch and clean up after herself and the kids so I came home to a clean kitchen to prepare dinners. I wanted her to be with the kids, to stimulate them, read to them, play directly with them – that was far more important to me than housework (and it shows). My typically developing child ended up bilingual in her language, and felt totally loved and secure. Just keeping The Camel alive at that time was a chore (we later learned just how medically fragile she was!).

At the time she arrived, The Camel, my beloved special needs child received 4-6 hours of therapy in the home each week – which my AP was responsible for learning, using when my son napped, and teaching to us HP. I figured it was more than enough work to care for a toddler-aged child who functioned as a small infant, and a small infant who was quickly advancing.

Fast forward 11 years, and I now have my AP do some light cleaning and more laundry. She still has a lot of hard work in caring for my special needs child when she’s home – she’s not sitting down for long! Over the years, my APs have tended to be much tidier than I, but realized that I wanted the kids to come first.

newhostmom February 28, 2012 at 9:14 am

I think it just comes down to different expectations of an au pair. Since my kids were so young when she started (1 and 3), I had very minimal expectations of what our ap would do other than just watch the kids. She also had them for 9 hour days 5 days a week, which is a long block of time with two little kids so I knew she’d need at least 30-60 mins a day during naptime to recharge and get a few personal things done. I also thought about what I personally was able to accomplish when watching them, which was little to nothing :)

We asked that she clean up after the kids in terms of cleaning up after meals and picking up the playroom after they played, but other than that, her main focus was on playing with and helping with the kids. We didn’t ask her to do laundry or the kids sheets or rooms or anything. It just seemed like too much with such young kids to us.

Now what was funny is that she did actually end up cleaning and cooking and doing laundry every once in a while even though we didn’t ask her too. I think she was just the type of person who wanted to feel useful and man, when I came home to a surprise clean bathroom, I could have absolutely died of happiness. Such is the life of a working mom of two toddlers. And I think she felt really appreciated when she did those things unasked (which she was!).

We’re skipping a year this year (kids in daycare being a lot cheaper for us this year), but I think if we had another AP when the kids were older, we might ask her to do more around the house. Even now that they are 4.5 and 2.5, they have long stretches of time that they play by themselves and they nap very regularly. Also I presume the AP wouldn’t be on for 9 straight hours every day, so it would be an easier schedule too. So presumably she’d have time to help with the kids laundry while the kids were napping or playing independently.

newhostmom February 28, 2012 at 9:24 am

And I do want to make one thing more clear – even though I 100% get how difficult it is to try to do anything while watching toddlers, I think I have slightly higher expectations about what an AP could accomplish during the day than what a parent could accomplish. The reason being that, even in our situation when our AP had a 9-hour shift during the day, she still had all the other time in the day and entire weekends of personal time. So she was able to get ready on her own time, and then do whatever she wanted/needed to do to recharge from 5pm until bedtime every day and then the entire weekend free.

Contrast that to a parent who is pretty much “on shift” 24 hours a day.

So I think a HP could definitely have a reasonable expectation that the AP spend her “free time” while the kids were napping during her shift on cleaning up the playroom and doing the dishes. From the HP’s perspective, the AP can have her free personal time after her shift (which would be at least 14 hours of every day with sometimes whole days free too).

Just another perspective :)

Taking a Computer Lunch February 28, 2012 at 8:28 pm

AP #1, who had the kids full-time (usually about 42-43 hours per week) also chose to go to school full-time while she lived with us, so she hit the ground running to university the minute I returned from work. I made it clear to her that she could study while the kids napped, but that I wasn’t paying her to study. She was excellent at time management and she made it work. Not every AP could.

Happy Au Pair February 28, 2012 at 11:36 pm

@ newhostmom:
I just want to make clear that when I talked about “free time” I didn’t mean naptime but the time when I’m not working (when the kids are in school, after my shift,…).

emmiejane March 7, 2012 at 10:14 pm

I have a 2 1/2 and a 4 year old, and I also get how difficult it is to get anything else done. However, I agree with newhostmom that I do think the au pairs can get some things done during the day. The biggest task we ask our au pair to do is laundry and straightening the kids rooms. She has been able to do laundry and watch the kids. I know the folding aspect of it gets a little old at times, but she does it when my younger one is napping. I actually think if my au pair is working a 9 hour day, I don’t necessarily want her playing with my children the entire time. She needs to be with them (not somewhere else), but she can do laundry, clean up after breakfast and so forth. I think it is good for the kids to develop some skills for playing by themselves for 30 minutes while she cleans up breakfast before they go to the playground or wherever. I don’t want them to always need an adult playing with them. Of course, I do also want her to spend plenty of time actually playing with them, which she does.

Respect&Mutual Understanding June 2, 2012 at 11:49 pm

Spending “free time” on cleaning up?!
You have to state the working hours clearly! And I wonder whether the HM really aware when we look after an unruly child, it’s very very strenuous if we have to do the chores. Haven’t you ever looked after one of your children and felt overwelmed because when you turned your head only a minute to do another activity, suddenly the child almost felt from the kitchen-stool? The Au Pair who’s in charge must feel extra overwelmed because the parents never told the child not to sit on the kitchen-stool! They wanted their children to be great in crafting but they ignored the simplest things that could harm more.
My free time is the only way I could rest and enjoy my cultural exchange to see things outside or simply rest after a long hours look after indiscipline, tantrum tendency kids.
You already got an enjoyment, a benefit to get an Au Pair that’s why you choose au pair instead of paying a nanny, (because of the minimum salary of a nanny is rather expensive and a nanny charge per hour, they do the jobs that are clearly stated, if they work more than just a minute, you will have to pay more) why can’t you just be thankful of this program and treat the au pair well? not as a worker but as a REAL MEANING OF AU PAIR?
Au Pair programm is no longer works the way the Au Pair system worked.
I found it a real calamity and atrocity when I saw, nowadays, a lot of HFs take Au Pair as a substitute of a cheap labour.

janelleann March 18, 2012 at 8:17 am

Hi all,

I’m also an Au pair and I have a question that is somewhat related to this topic, yet not really. I used the search function to find a similar topic but didn’t have any luck, so I’d like pose my question on here. The children I am the Au pair for are 4 and 1,5. Obviously, the 1,5 year old can’t really talk yet. However the 4 yr old (who is a girl) is really spoiled. I don’t mean physically spoiled (like she gets gifts all the time), but her parents basically allow her to do whatever she wants. She has also gotten into this habit of calling everyone an asshole and everything in between. I’m an Au pair in Germany, and there are just certain things that can’t be translated otherwise it just sounds weird. Her parents seem to be getting fed up with all the name calling–not to mention hitting–yet they do nothing about it. She has also gotten into the habit of using ‘blackmail’ as a way to get what she wants, and her parents typically give in just so they don’t have to deal with the problem. I am really sick of all the name calling, hitting, etc., and have discussed this numerous times with my HP, but they continually just say that it’s kids being kids. The daughter normally doesn’t talk back to me so much when the parents are around (because she knows I’ll yell at her and discipline her. By that, I mean, I simply send her to her room and leave her to play by herself until she can apologize and behave herself). When her parents are around, however, I get yelled at for telling her she shouldn’t be calling me asshole or the like, hitting me, pushing her little brother around, disrespecting me, etc. As a result, I don’t know what to do.

Furthermore, we’ve recently started having problems with her not wanting to go to kindergarten. She’s gotten into the habit of throwing these huge tantrums before we leave/get ready to leave. Last week, her parents decided she could stay home 4 days. I didn’t have a problem with the 1st day she stayed home, even though my HM asked me to change my schedule to watch the children, so she could go to the gym and grab coffee afterwards with friends. However, on the other 3 days, although she asked me if I had plans, she didn’t take my plans into consideration at all, and demanded I change them, so she could go do things with her friends. My main question regarding this particular situation is this: who is liable for the care of the children when the children AREN’T sick and the parents decide they can stay home anyway? Each time the children have been sick, I’ve changed my plans around in order to be there to help out my HF. I come from a large family and know how crazy it can be when 2 children are both sick at the same time. On the other side, I feel as if my HF is abusing my helpfulness and it really annoys me that my HM demanded that I change my plans, so I could watch the children when they were both healthy enough to go to daycare and kindergarten just so she could meet up with her friends. I also had plans with friends, and although my main reason for being here is to care for the children, I just don’t think it was right of her to demand such a thing when it was her choice to allow the children to stay home.

I would love to get some perspective on this, especially from other HP. My HM and I have already discussed this, but she says she doesn’t understand what the big deal is for me to change my schedule. After all, I am the Au pair and that’s what I’m there for…

As a side-note, I want to add that my HM isn’t working right now. She’s still on maternity leave, and therefore has not work commitments.

Au Pair in Italy March 31, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Janelleann, I feel so bad for you and it sounds like your host family is horrible! Get out of there now if you can, seriously don’t waste your time one moment longer. I too am an Au Pair to two spoiled brats who throw tantrums multiple times a day, scream, hit, bite and use blackmail just as you have described. The difference is that both kids have never hit me and if one of them ever decides to, I will be on the first plane home. The host mother has no right to expect you to care for a child who is not sick IMO. Do not let her treat you like this, stand up for yourself. If the child is supposed to be in school and yet you notice that she has not left, leave the house and go somewhere else. Be out of reach. I do this with my host family when they are being especially disrespectful to my need for personal time. They will call me “oh I don’t have time to walk the dog…take her for a walk.” and I will respond “Oh, you know I would really love to but I am miles away…sorry.” It doesn’t matter if this is the truth or not! As for screaming at you, she also has no right to do that. You are an employee and that is abusive. If you worked in an office would you put up with your boss treating you in the same manner? I think not! What do your parents have to say about your situation? Surely they are also begging with you to leave this nightmare family!

Good luck and be sure to give us an update!

Respect&Mutual Understanding June 3, 2012 at 12:17 am

Hello Jane.

Sorry to hear that. I think there are a lot of families out there like that and there are a lot of kids whose time spend mostly on screaming, biting, blackmailing, even worst, hitting. I’m not going to excuse the children and saying they are still kids. They are kids and that’s why they need to behave, to discipline so that while they grow up, they will grow in an environment who respect others who know what is courtesy. I totally blame the parents who make children but don’t know how to educate them.

Don’t tell me the parents are busy, searching for the money so they could put their children in a great school and blah! Thank you. Parents like that are such misfortune to children.

Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.
When you decided to have a child, did you want them to be a better human? They strongly need to be discipline! If you really love your children, then you have to prepare them to a reality. Those kind of nagging behaviors are not going to be acceptable in reality. You have to show them that since they are born in this world!
Most of parents say things like “they are still young” Well, so you let them learn from their friends? from strangers who want nothing but damaged? Don’t underestimate the children. Children have flair to understand things faster than adults. Understand that. Understand that before it’s too late.

Jane, how long have you been living with that German family? Probably you still need time to discipline them. Let the children know you have rule and I hope as the time goes by, the children will get used to your rules and they will respect you more.
Were you going there using an agency? If yes, then ask for a re-match. We live and we learn.

Not all parents know how to educate and well-mannered their children. Mostly DON’T KNOW HOW but still saying their children are angels. They live in denial.

Good luck and be strong!

aria June 3, 2012 at 2:39 am

so true!! thanks! awesome statement! i wish more parents would think like you…i always say,you don’t do them a favour if you let everything slip soon as they are old enough,they love you for raising them with decipline. that doesn’t mean we don’t love them, we do it BECAUSE we love them.thanks

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