My Child Doesn’t Want an Au Pair (and we need to have one). Ideas?

by cv harquail on November 2, 2010

I am a single HM, with a wonderful, but very strong willed 5yr old girl. We had our first AP in June for 10 weeks this year to see how it worked for us and to cover the 6 wk school holidays. I had previously had a month off work sick, but normally work full time.

The Au Pair was lovely, and she had fun with my daughter at times, but at other times my dear daughter (DD) was really nasty to her, telling the AP that she wasn’t part of her family, this wasn’t her home, and not doing as she was told. Our first AP found this very upsetting, and my daughter got well and truly told off each time (by me), but didn’t change. 201011022057.jpg

Our next AP was a lot stronger with my daughter, and at first I thought DD had changed, but then found out she was treating this second au pair the same.

It seems that DD doesn’t want an au pair, she just wants me at home the whole time, and thinks quite logically if she gets rid of the AP she will have me more. I am sure that my period off work and at home before the first AP started. DD has now “won” as our 2nd AP left on Friday. DD was upsetting the au pair and was making it very clear she didn’t want the AP!.

I have now decided to get a male AP, in the hope that:

  • DD will not then be so worried about them trying to take my place as her mum,
  • they may be able to be stronger with DD,
  • DD seems to respond better and be better behaved with me,
  • and DD seems to think she would be happier with a male AP.

I am sure some of DD’s issues come from her relationship with her father, who is someone she adores but doesn’t see for months on end, and is regularly upset by him. We have been separated for over 2 ½ yrs.

My questions are:

  1. How can I get/help DD accept and enjoy an au pair so she isn’t horrible to them in order to get them to leave?
  2. How can I help our new male AP (who starts this week) to create a really positive and fun relationship with DD so she wants him to stay?

I am desperate and willing to do anything. If a male AP doesn’t work and DD doesn’t improve I don’t know what I would do, as I have to work, and need an AP due to my shift work, and the fact the father doesn’t help out with either childcare or financially.

I know that there is a wealth of knowledge and experience out there, I hope you can send some my way.

Image: girlie, don’t go away from rhoadeecha on Flickr


Natt November 2, 2010 at 9:14 pm

I have a 5 year old DD too, and although she hasn’t disliked any of our aupairs, she does like to be with Mummy all the time if she can! 2 aupairs ago I started having special “mummy & DD” time, where just the 2 of us would go out and spend time alone together, or our aupair would take our younger DD out and we’d stay home having girly time. I found my eldest DD acted up and rebelled against our aupair because she missed me. Things settled down after I repeatedly reassured her that I loved her even though I had to work, and also spent more 1:1 time with her.
My suggestion would be to try some 1:1 time with her, doing something that she loves (my DD loves going out for ‘coffee’, seeing a movie, playing board games, reading a chapter book together). Reassure her alot, tell her you love her all the time, and perhaps call her from work? I also found a rewards chart worked well too – DD and the aupair made this together, and together they worked towards the goals and rewards.
As for your second question, tell your new aupair your thoughts on the whole situation, and ask him to support you in whatever system you decide. Give him a heads up on her likes/dislikes, and praise the good behaviour more than focus on the not so good behaviour.
Hope this has helped a little!

DeLu March 17, 2011 at 10:50 am

In my opinion i think you need a nanny like me
this is my email

Taking a Computer Lunch November 2, 2010 at 9:22 pm

All it took was one year of after-school care for my son while we gutted our house to make it handicapped accessible for The Camel (who went through 25 nurses in 9 months – 5 of whom failed to show up for shift without calling ahead), to think that APs are great. If he gets snippy all I have to say is aftercare. He loved our sporty AP, but the last two haven’t been particularly sporty, so he ignores them and they he. I encourage our APs to talk “with” him as opposed to “at” him, but I’m not sure how much it sinks in that he needs more than just another disciplinarian in his life. Our AP spends most of her time caring for The Camel, so he’s fairly independent. My guess is that by the time he’s in middle school (in a couple of years), the AP will really be mostly for her.

CO Host Mom November 2, 2010 at 10:23 pm

This is quite timely for me. My 4 year old is having similar issues – he tells the au pair he doesn’t like her, she’s ugly, go away, etc…. And it has been really shocking to me. He was very close to his previous au pair (with us two years), and so I have assumed it was initially because he was missing his old au pair. But new AP has been with us three months now, and it is getting worse, not better.

AP seems to be trying hard, and I don’t think she is in any way mean or hurtful to him – he certainly doesn’t express anything specific she’s done to make him dislike her so much. But I hate the thought that he is so unhappy being with her all day, every day.

Guess that isn’t much help, OP, but wanted to let you know you’re not alone!

Calif Mom November 3, 2010 at 9:22 am

Natt–GREAT advice, hard to find time to do. I wish I had done more of that when my eldest was that age. Believe me, they are off to middle school and the peer group takes over interest in the blink of an eye. Wallow in the mommy-centrism while you’re still the cheese.

TaCL–ha! I have dreaded the thought of after-care, because it looks like warehousing to me. Never thought of it as a lever! Maybe we’ll add that back to our quiver of options after all.

CO Host Mom
At risk of projecting way too much here, given my own lovely situation that we are working our way through, it strikes me (again) that 3 months is often a watershed; either it’s working or it isn’t. You have probably tried different things to support the AP, and hopefully the AP has tried different things in an effort to win your child’s heart. I’m completely sympathetic with you–our previous 2-year AP was very attached to kids and actually enjoyed spending time with them.

Please don’t be offended, but family dynamics in situations like this often remind me of dog packs. The non-alpha dogs need to know that they are being led by someone they can rely on, who will provide security and food for them. That’s why the dogs underneath the alpha will occasionally challenge the alpha and pick fights — they probably don’t really want to be in charge themselves, but they need to know they are in the hands of a good leader. When kids feel they aren’t being taken care of and their needs aren’t being met, they are going to force the issue. At least, this is the case for strong-willed kids. And it doesn’t necessarily mean the AP is doing anything wrong.

For the OP, my first thought was that a little counseling/therapy would probably help DD a lot, and the therapist could also give Mom ideas on specific things that might help DD deal with these confusing feelings she’s having. Might prevent a lot of heartache later on, and your child is still young enough that she will feel no stigma/shame about it whatsoever.

I also wonder a bit about whether your DD is sensing weakness/unsureness from you about this whole au pair thing. Here’s the thing: DD doesn’t get a vote. You’re the parent, you decide what is going to happen, and you set both the consequences and rewards. She gets to decide how she’s going to act in facing these options, of whether to behave or live with the consequences. But the choice of having an AP or not having one is NOT hers to make. I see so many families with kids who strike me as completely obnoxious, and often after just a little time you can see the patterns emerge: the kids are in charge, because the parents feel guilty about working full time and/or just want the kids to have everything. But that leads to tremendously UNhappy children in the long run. There is a lot of reading out there on this topic, but I circle back to kids wanting to be taken care of by adults; they will act like they want to be in charge, but deep down it does not serve them well.

I wish all of us luck! Transitions are the times when we parents are challenged, and when our skills can really make a difference in the outcomes for our families, and how our children learn to deal with those times when things aren’t perfect.

Aupairgal November 3, 2010 at 5:30 pm

Calif Mom,
your post made me think of Super Nanny (whichever one is the one with Jo), of which I watched countless youtube clips of in my first 2 months of Aupairing.

CO Host Mom November 6, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Calif Mom, not offended in the least, and I think you are exactly right. The kids are testing her right now, and she’s not standing up to the test. We’ve had a couple of big difficulties – the 4 year old threw a truck at her, and my 12 year old son got sort of mouthy with her and refused to listen to her. Out of characteristic for both of them. And both times her reaction was to cry, instead of reminding them who was in charge and deal with the situation. So here they are looking for an authority figure, and here she is sitting in the living room sobbing.

I had another long talk with her recently and told her she HAS to take charge if they are acting up. They are great kids – last AP was with us two years, before that we had a nanny with us for two years – and both girls were very close to the kids. But they had that leadership quality. They could stand up and be the authority, and the kids did well with that. Current AP is very sweet and trying hard, but seems to lack the ability to take charge.

Calif Mom November 8, 2010 at 3:36 pm

the producers of Super Nanny must have read a lot of child development books, then! :-)

CO Host Mom,

Oh boy. If she was sitting there sobbing in the living room–and the kids knew it–she’s in a big hole. I have no doubt that your kids acted and reacted differently with earlier au pairs! I do wish the agencies would sell this as a year caring for children first, and oh by the way you can travel and get to know America, too. That might screen out a lot who don’t have the right skill set for au pairing. CV’s dream of finding software that would predict good personality matches would be so lovely. (Visions of that old Hepburn/Tracy movie with the machine that performed the research department’s missions in my head now.)

Here’s what we did recently with our AP who couldn’t just calm the heck down: serious meeting with us and counselor, in which it was explained clearly that things had to improve or she would have to find a new family. We did this while kids were in school, so hub and I had to take time off work to make it happen. That indicated how serious it is. As hub put it, she seems to have gotten the menu, and noticed it was in all caps. She has chosen one thing to nag the kids about, and is working hard to rebuild their friendships. So far so good. Meltdowns started to decrease dramatically in just a day.

Our problem was at the opposite end of the spectrum, though; sweet and trying hard is hard to toughen up overnight. Some people just aren’t firm. Not sure what to tell you, but I do hope she finds some tactics that work for her. If she doesn’t you have NO GUILT over helping her find a family with a baby, or younger child who would do better with that kind of caregiver. The 4+ set will always eat her for lunch. And there’s nothing eye-rollier than a 12 yo who doesn’t respect you. That’s a miserable scene for her, too, and you would be doing her a favor.

calif mom November 8, 2010 at 3:37 pm

MEMO, she got the memo, not the menu. I must be hungry. It’s this stupid time change, I’m sure…

Anna November 3, 2010 at 12:42 am

Don’t lose faith.

Rematch, even the friendliest one, can be hard not only on au pair’s self-esteem, but on the family’s self-esteem (as I am feeling myself right now!)

But you only have one child, and I am sure she is not the most difficult girl in the world. There are young women and men au pairs in existence for whom it won’t be so difficult to exhibit the authority and love and patience required to win over your young daughter’s affection. You just haven’t found the right person yet.

You have just one (albeit very strong minded) child, of the age that is not a baby anymore.

I have three young ones, one with a strong personality, and one an infant who is trying to pull refusing the bottle trick when mommy is not home for a month already!
But I have to believe, my kids are good kids, there is the right au pair for whom this job will be easy out there!

Good luck to you, good luck to both of us!

By the way, I think that an au pair that finds that kind of rejection from a child so truly upsetting, is not such a good au pair. Those who are experienced with children should understand the adjustment period, the ages and stages, and not take those things personally. It is a child, not an adult. You need somebody who knows kids, who has EXPERIENCE, and who is resilient, optimistic and thick-skinned!

Amanda November 3, 2010 at 2:53 pm

While I agree that a child shouldn’t get the best of an AP, it can be very upsetting for a young woman who has left her home to come to yours for a year and is treated terribly by the children. I have years of childcare experience, and am now an Early Childhood Teacher, but I was treated horribly by the HK’s I cared for. They didn’t want an AP, like the OP’s child of this post, and they just said the nastiest, most unkind things. While I was the adult, the children were having issues that I couldn’t do anything about, and I shouldn’t have had to live/work in that environment. You would rematch in a heartbeat if your AP was rude to your child, and in my case (the kids were much older), I wasn’t going to tolerate direspect everyday for a year. I did rematch. I wanted to enjoy my year with a family who wanted me in their lives.

PA AP mom November 3, 2010 at 2:56 pm

I agree Amanda. You shouldn’t subject yourself to being disrespected and treated poorly everyday. It’s a year of learning, working and hopefully, fun.

That said, it sounds to me that OP’s child is running the show. If my children are rude, nasty or unkind to the AP, there are serious consequences.

sarahjay November 3, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Yes, I am hoping that a male au pair will be a little more thick-skinned, and not take things personally. I really want someone to engage with Hollie, who she has fun with, not someone who is always saying ‘no’ to things which aren’t really an issue. My last two au pairs haven’t had much experiance with children, and it’s difficult when they think Hollie is being really naughty, when really she is just being a normal child!

I am sorting counciling and advice re Hollie’s emotional needs and seperation issues, and also having someone give me and my new au pair advice on how he can manage Hollie.

Our new au pair arrived today and I am so please already. He seems really lovely. Hollie invited herself to sit on his lap after dinner whilst looking through a book, which I took as a positive, although she say’s she doesn’t know what she thinks about him yet!

maleaupairmommy November 3, 2010 at 2:00 am

LOL my daughter is spoiled forever by her male au pairs. I have 3 kids the youngest being a girl. She has had one since she was 6 months old. I think between her dad, brothers, and the male au pairs she thinks men are there to serve here. Oh well at least she will be picky with her boyfriends or so I hope.

All my male au pairs had to work their asses off the first 4-8 weeks to get the kids to like them and listen to them. They were very persisent and of course we encouraged them along with our old APs that told them it was normal and hang in there. They did hange in there and are glad they did. Just keep encouraging them and make sure you have mommy and me time special dates and praise her 100 times when she does something nice to the au pair and reward her. Bribing works wondering. We have a star chart and after 20 stars they get prizes from the prize box. They get stars for helping out, being nice to one another, nice to others, behaving well. They also lose star for being nasty, not listening, etc. Works better than time outs ever did. The AP and the kids decorate a new one every once in awhile for an art project. Good luck.

I love and adore my male au pairs. As much as I would love a girl I don’t think they have the persistent and attitude to take care of my high energy, smart, and crazy kids. No rematches for male au pairs so far. Male au pair #5 comes in Jan.

BTW I prematch with all my male au pairs so they know exactly what they are in for and I tell them the truth and many times worse than what it is so that they know and there are no surprises. I want someone who is willing to work hard. I believe all of them would say that it was a special time and you should see them with their chest out and proud faces when the realize they have won the kids over.

Jeana November 3, 2010 at 8:00 am

I, too, am a single parent with two daughters with health issues and work full-time. My thoughts are a bit different than what has been shared so far.

I think you’re dealing with a parenting issue. A five year old that thinks she has a vote in such an important decision concerns me, and your daughter is showing you that she thinks she has a voice.

You have indicated that you need the flexibility of an aupair due to work demands. End of the story. I would communicate to your daughter that you’re a wonderful mom, you know what your family needs, and for now, that is an aupair. Communicate your expectations for appropriate, respectful behavior. Think about consequences for appropriate behavior and inappropriate behavior. Rude behavior? Certainly demands an apology, perhaps doing something special for the aupair, and a picture or few written sentences of apology. Appropriate behavior? Awesome! Some special time with your daughter because you’re celebrating her appropriate behavior.

If your daughter thinks she can treat an aupair in your home with disrespect because she doesn’t agree with your decision, she’ll think she can treat friends, teachers, and you with disrespect when she doesn’t like the situation in the days to come. I think this is a blessing in disguise; you now know you’ve got some work to do with your daughter so that she begins to learn that she is a child right now and you know exactly what is best for your family. The decision isn’t hers to make. Of course you encourage her to make the decisions that are appropriate for a five year old. Child care decision? Isn’t one of them. Nip this now so you’ll both have a happier future.

sarahjay November 3, 2010 at 5:25 pm

Thanks I know where you are coming from. I have repeatedly warned my daughter that if our au pair leaves that I can not work and we will have to move because we can’t afford to stay, this something she hates the thought of, and gets upset over. I really thought that would work, but still she was horrid. I dolled out loads of punishments, starcharts, and crosses for being nasty or arguing, but no change. I even threatend that she would have to live with someone else as I couldn’t work and look after her on my own, (how nasty is that of me), although that upset her, it didn’t change her behaviour!

It was really bad that my daughters behaviour made the last au pair leave, but there was nothing I could do to make her stay, so Hollie did win…… and of course we haven’t moved! which undmines my threats as well, not good!

I do think the au pairs need to win Hollie over, and show her they are in charge, and us all work hard to make it a postive experiance for all. Maybe that is where I need the advice, how to help the au pair bond and form postive and fun relationship with my daughter.

PS . my daughter does have previous for rejecting people, as she did this to my mother for a few months, when she was looking after her whilst I was away on courses. However she is over that now, and adores my mother and her time with her.

AP Swed November 15, 2010 at 11:02 pm

Before I joined the AP program I sat for a 5 year old girl who could be both the sweetest little angel and a devil in desguise. As both nannys and APs we take our que from the parents, the dicapline, tactics and behavior around the kids. I worked for a single dad and his DD could do no wrong in his eyes so ofcourse I feel short in dicapline. I couldn’t be top dog when dad was a pushover. :(
And the thought that the APs need to win your daughter over is a hard thing for me to imagine, couse is your daughter doesnt respect that you’re top dog, that you make the rules; there is no way shes going to respect anybody else.

Calif Mom November 3, 2010 at 9:25 am

Hi Jeana!

I had the same thought; struck me that the child thinks her family is a democracy instead of a benevolent dictatorship. I should have read further down the replies before commenting–you said it very well.

Mom23 November 3, 2010 at 10:36 am

I think that it is important for the child and the au pair to bond. Maybe there are some treats or experiences that they can share together — a trip to an arcade or to the ice cream shop during the first week. I thinkk it is important to emphasize this with your au pair that an effort needs to made and that it might not be easy to win your daughter over. I agree with an earlier poster — an au pair who is offended that a child does not immediately like him or her is not a good au pair. We always sit our au pairs down and tell them that our children will test them especially the first few weeks to see where the boundaries are and that our children may not initially like them. Trust and acceptance takes time.

I also think your daughter needs to have ground rules about how she treats the au pair. We have a child who is very resistant to having sitters/au pairs. If DC is rude or disrespectful, DC loses i-pod (most precious possession) for a day. It is not easy or fun to have a child who doesn’t want a sitter/au pair, but for most of us it is a necessity.

Good luck.

calif mom November 3, 2010 at 11:33 am

Interesting! My kids tend to do just the opposite: there is a lovey-dovey honeymoon period for the first few weeks, and then if the kids are uncomfortable or feeling insecure or unfairly treated, the testing begins. Favoritism between the two kids is a quick ticket to misery for all.

Totally agree that it’s the APs who cannot step outside of themselves and their own reactions who end up not succeeding. I think that’s called maturity. Wish there were a foolproof formula for finding it!

Should be working #2 November 3, 2010 at 11:34 am

I can’t add much other than I agree with the previous comments about this issue probably being more a parenting issue than an AP issue. Jeana really said it very well and this is your chance to get the boat back on even keel.

We have two daughters that are generally well behaved but every so often we have to remind them – especially the 10 year old who now always have opinions about everything and believes that she is running on 16 – that ‘Hey! Guess what? – This is not a democracy, we decide > you follow’. Kids will keep pushing and pushing the limits and rules just to check that they are still there and that they are still the same as before.

Nina November 3, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Ah, I had the same problem with my au pair child for about 3 months. It actually didn’t become better until I went away for 2 weeks for Christmas back in my home country, and after I came back, he was lovely! (there was actually lots of stress factors, such as his previous 2 au pairs just walking out for apparently no reason, starting a new kindergarten and suddenly no longer an only child).

Maybe your daughter just needs to know that mummy has to work. The day care centre doesn’t sound like a bad one. Even if it is just for a very short period of time, so that she gets used to you not being there. There is also this other thing, I’m sorry, I don’t know how it’s called in English, but someone who can pick her from from school and take her back to her own house, play with your daughter, feed her etc.. Sometimes this woman will do it so that your daughter is her only child that she works with, which I think might also be an option so that your daughter gets used to you being away, but the things that the carer does is not too different from that of an au pair, however, having an au pair means that she gets to be around her own toys and then still gets to see mummy straight away when she comes home from work and then eat together.

sarahjay November 3, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Thanks for the suggestions. My daughter hasn’t liked being dropped off early so I can go to work now, I’ve pointed out if we hadn’t lost our last au pair she could be left at home getting ready for school in her own house, which she seems to have understood.

My daughter is used to a childminder, as she was going to one (who then became close friend) since she was 8 months when I went back to work 2 days a week, (I increased to full time by time she was 3 years). She loved the childminder though, it was like a home from home.

I will stress to her the benifits of being looked after at home as opposed to carted off to other peoples homes all the time.

JBLV November 3, 2010 at 3:12 pm

Maybe she needs to be part of the decision? Perhaps she can be an active decider in what kind of childcare you choose. You can sit down and look at the options together (babysitter, after-school care or daycare). You can explain the pluses and minuses of each kind of care. If she warms up to the idea of an AP, she could help decide which AP you choose. You can look at the different countries where Au Pairs come from, what hobbies the AP’s enjoy, etc. She can also be part of the skype phone calls and interviews (after you do an initial interview).

Also, does she understand why it is important for mommy to work? It never hurts to sit down periodically and explain why mommy works. My mother was a single working mom. When I was six, my mother chose a combination of babysitters, after-school care and daycare. We had frequent conversations about why it was important for her to work. And she consulted me regarding what kind of care I wanted. It wasn’t perfect, but I think it helped my psychological well-being to know I was part of the decisions being made.

JBLV November 3, 2010 at 3:19 pm

Sorry, I didn’t read all the responses before posting. I seem to be in the minority. Certainly not all children will respond in the same way. As a child, I needed to understand why my parents worked, and I need to feel I was part of the decisions being made (though I was definitely persuaded to think in certain ways). Perhaps other children respond better to authority?

calif mom November 3, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Not to split hairs here, but a 5 yo is a different creature than a 6 year old. But that said, your thoughts are a good reminder that each kid develops emotionally and cognitively in different areas, at different speeds, and arrives in the world with different inherent temperaments, so of course what works for one child might never work for another in the same situation–even if they were twins! (Don’t apologize for being in the minority. Some of my favorite people usually are!)

You make a good point that as in all things about parenting, YMMV! I’m impressed at all the different perspectives brought to this question. Not an easy situation to muddle through.

OB Mom November 3, 2010 at 7:53 pm

I think there needs to be a positive spin on things rather than a negative.
* Spend a bit of time “pumping up” the next AP. Comment on how fun it will be to have a Male AP (since that is different). Perhaps he will be able to help her with gymnastics, flips, other physical things (if that is what she likes).
* Don’t threaten her with any of the negatives (e.g. having to move, not live at home, go to daycare). That sounds threatening and will make her even more insecure about your love for her.
* Once your AP arrives, make sure to back him up 100%. Never say anything to undermine him in front of her (had you possibly said some negative comments to the previous AP’s that gave your daughter the belief that she could be that way too?)
* And finally, demand a positive attitude from your daughter. Provide tremendous accolades when she is acting the way you want her do. Stern, but not exagerated attention, when she does not.

I know sometimes it’s hard when we fall into habits of negative parenting instead of positive parenting. Your AP needs to learn the same style of giving attention to the positive (tons of attention when she says something nice, while ignoring when she says something rude). I’ve done it before and needed to retrain myself and my child. Usually around stressful events (and having an AP leave is definitely one of those).

Good Luck!

JBLV November 4, 2010 at 9:04 am

Excellent suggestions

Should be working November 4, 2010 at 12:01 pm

I agree that the positive approach will be more effective than the threats. Also perhaps consider that your daughter can’t really be reasoned with on this nor argued into accepting the au pair. It sounds to me like all the ‘reasons’ in the world for wanting to have an AP aren’t going to address whatever emotional and behavioral factors have led to this constellation. So even though it is true she’d have more time in the morning, and that you need to work, I would not think that she could be persuaded to behave differently even for these very good reasons.

JBLV November 4, 2010 at 3:01 pm

I should clarify. I “reason” with my two-year-old all the time. An example is when he needs to put a hat on and doesn’t want to. Instead of saying “do you want to put your hat on?” I say “do you want to wear your blue hat or your red hat?” This way he feels a part of the decision being made. It has cut down on many temper tantrums.

Sitting down with a five-year-old, one could say something like the following:

Mommy loves you more than anything in the world. This is why mommy goes to work. We can buy things at the grocery store, and we can live in our home because mommy goes to work to earn money for these things. And while I’m at work, I really, really, really want you to be happy. Do you think you can help me pick the person who can make you happy while mommy is working? This person can play with you and keep you safe! Do you want to help mommy pick this person? Look, here are two people! This one likes gymnastics, and going to the park, and chocolate! And this one likes puppies, playing with his brother and sister, and ice-cream! Which one do you like? Who do you think would be the most fun? Should we talk with Heinrich or Hans?

OB Mom November 5, 2010 at 3:35 pm

Yes, I agree that “empowering” her to help make the decision is a great idea. That’s what I intended in spinning it more positively … however, be ready to go with her decision, so perhaps you should have reviewed them first and be ready with 2 candidates. I have often had my kids “interview” the final AP candidate to be sure they could talk with one another.

Gecko January 13, 2011 at 12:52 pm

My 6 year old boy was responding poorly to our new au pair. She was our 7th au pair and this had never happened before. Luckily I did involve him with interviewing my final candidate. When I reminded him that he helped choose this girl he started acting better. I gently reminded him what he liked about her. For example, the kids and I made short videos for her before she came. We knew her English wasn’t great so we helped her learn common words by having the kids hold up an object and say it in their voice. Reminding him of these videos also made him realize that we knew there would be language challenges and that he still needs to help her with this. This wasn’t our only tactic but I think it was the ‘ah-ha’ moment for him.

He is 7 years old now and acting poorly with the next au pair. He didn’t interview this girl but we did discuss her application together and look at her pictures. Last year I thought the conflict was because of a personality (and possibly language) difference. This year I’m realizing my son’s behavior is what needs adjusting/refinement. I asked him who was his favorite au pair was and why. His top choices were my personal least favorite. I felt these girls didn’t follow the rules very well and that’s exactly what he liked. Aha for Mommy! I explained that anyone who takes care of him must abide by these rules. The au pair isn’t ‘being mean’ to him because she follows the rules. She must follow the rules and he must also. There are certainly other contributing factors that we’re addressing and I’m hoping everyone will adjust well.

I’ve always said the kids change faster than I can adapt to and he seems to be accelerating, yikes!

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