Toddler “Hates” New Au Pair. What to do?

by cv harquail on October 8, 2015

Our third Au Pair just arrived and has been here for almost three weeks. She is very sweet, is trying hard, and while she may be too meek for our family, we are hoping she will come out of her shell with time. 

3904781914_07d093f4ab_mWe may have made a mistake by overlapping her with our last Au Pair. We loved, loved our last Au Pair, the kids loved her, and she was a very confident person.

The new Au Pair has already confessed that she is scared the kids (and us) will never like her as much, and I know she feels intimidated, insecure and overwhelmed. She is very timid with them, can barely talk to me, and just seems very worried about whether anyone likes her. We try to assure her that we do, and it will take time to settle in. 

And three of my kids do generally like her but… my toddler… acts like she hates her.

I’ve never seen my toddler act this way, screaming, kicking, refusing to let her help her in any way. She’s at the point of screaming until she starts gagging every time the Au Pair tries to get near her… and this is a child who has never thrown fits up to this point.  

I know she really misses the last Au Pair and has even asked “If I take a big nap, will she come back?” and other such things. It’s breaking my heart to see her so sad, and acting so horribly. I’m embarrassed for her behavior, sorry that the Au Pair is being treated this way, and trying everything I can come up with to get her to stop freaking out.

We are all trying to be patient, but I simply don’t know what to do.

I feel like she feels guilty to ‘move on’ to another Au Pair, she will cry ‘I can’t, I can’t’ when I tell her to ask the new Au Pair to help her with something, or play a game or something. (If I didn’t know better, I would say the last Au Pair made her promise never to love another one…)

New Au Pair Lacks Confidence

What’s worse, it just is perpetuating the general lack of confidence of the new Au Pair… she doesn’t know what to do, but even when I try to give her ideas, she doesn’t seem to follow through with them.

She just stares at her like she is scared, which seems to let my daughter know that it ‘works’ and makes her behavior even worse.

It turns out that the Au Pair’s childcare experience isn’t as thorough as it came across on paper and the interviews, and I think she just wasn’t prepared even for normal toddler behavior, but especially something so extreme. I feel like she doesn’t have a ‘strong’ personality, and this situation would be a challenge even for a very confident person.

  • So what can I do? Has anyone had a young kid that simply refuses to accept the new Au Pair?
  • Have you been able to help an un-confident Au Pair learn to be firm?

I don’t want to rematch as this seems to be the child’s problem, not the Au Pair’s… it seems very unfair to her.

But then I wonder if she had a stronger personality, would it even be an issue?   Thank you so much!!



Image of toddler by Amy McTique on Flickr
mage of rabbit by Clare Bell on Flickr3660510534_c29787431f_m


WarmStateMomma October 8, 2015 at 10:15 am

My daughter was 27 months when AP#2 left and AP#3 arrived. AP#2 had a strong, confident demeanor and was very tight with my daughter. AP#3 was quiet and meek and my daughter was very standoffish, refusing to speak Chinese with AP#3, etc. It wasn’t as bad as the OP’s situation, though. By the end of the second week, they’d bonded and my daughter was using only Chinese with AP#3. Six months in, they are extremely close and my daughter often prefers to play with the AP than anyone else.

In our case it helped that the AP and my daughter just got used to each other over big chunks of time. YMMV

NBHostMom October 8, 2015 at 11:02 am

I’d say your toddler’s behavior is very normal, she’s “lost” a very important person in her life and probably hasn’t developed the reasoning skills yet to fully grasp where she’s gone.

What you’ve said here regarding personality mismatch and teaching someone to be firm, we’ve lived this and I wouldn’t do it again. A different situation but same root issue…. Au pair was kind, quiet and gentle and the kids ran the show. Au pair was so kind and loving we wanted to support her to have a successful year. We taught discipline techniques, using a firm voice, redirection all sorts of skills, but the kids spotted “weakness” and really manipulated the situation. We made it through an exhausting year but in retrospect, we should have rematched. The au pair would have thrived in many household while she just “survived” in ours.

In your case, the new au pair has only been there a few weeks, she may really blossom once she gets over the initial culture shock. I’d talk to her, reinforce that you like her but also state what perosnality traits she needs to project to be successful with your kids. She may in fact suspect this is a mismatch as well

Returning HM October 8, 2015 at 11:51 am

I’m wondering how it is when you’re not there, OP. If AP is the only adult around, will your toddler respond to her and allow her to care for her? Will she allow her to help or play or otherwise interact? If so, then it may be better to have AP and toddler do some fun activities together and have a bit of a “get used to each other” period with you (and maybe the other children, if it’s possible) not there. If you’re always there nearby, then it’s not surprising that toddler is refusing to work with AP – she doesn’t have to! It may help to make yourself “conveniently inconvenient” for a few hours a few days in a row and see how things develop. Give the two of them time alone to bond and make sure the activities they do are really special for your toddler so she comes to associate AP with fun things and not just chores or being there instead of old AP.

FWIW, we have not had luck overlapping, especially when we love the outgoing AP. But whether we overlap or not, the issue of missing the old AP always does happen. I just tell the new AP that just as the children are referring to him or her by the old AP’s name, so the children referred to the previous AP by the even more previous AP’s name, and so on all the way back. And yet, the children loved and appreciated all, for the different qualities and characteristics they brought to our family. Sometimes reminding the AP of this can be helpful – tell her stories of when the previous AP was new and confused and unsure, but look at how good she became! Seeing that someone else could learn to do it can help us as we embark on a new path too.

Good luck!

Taking a Computer Lunch October 8, 2015 at 12:28 pm

In your toddler’s eyes, your incoming AP forced your outgoing AP to leave. It’s not rational, but your toddler’s experience of the world is pretty limited – and they often jump to conclusions that fit into their world view. Schedule the AP for some one-on-one time with the toddler doing something special (have the AP help you come up with some possibilities that your child will like) – going to see an age-appropriate movie, going out for ice cream, doing an activity that the child loves and rarely gets to do. Make sure it’s a dynamic and interactive experience, unless your toddler really loves arts & crafts or getting a special trip to the library. If the child is a boy – he’ll always open up doing something – like kicking a soccer ball – than during a quiet activity. Make sure your AP and the child get bonding time away from the others, so that he or she sees that the new AP cares for him/her too!

We went through this with child #2, who was 4 when the only AP he had ever known – and whom had lived with us for 3 1/2 years because we tried to sponsor her as an employee – left. AP #2 put up with his venom, and they bonded over her love of Disney movies and her need to have an excuse to go see one. She would beg us to schedule her alone with him on a Saturday. I worked like a charm. Subsequent APs put up with the games for which he made up the rules and changed them on a whim, his stick fighting, and learned quickly that by moving, they broke through his natural veneer. Once he became a teenager, however, they stopped trying, and we didn’t force it – after all we had matched with them to care for his older sister who requires total care.

Taking a Computer Lunch October 8, 2015 at 7:58 pm

I’d like to add that the shelf-life of a toddler’s memories is very short. Encourage your AP to get on the floor and play with your toddler on her level, to ignore the tantrums, and talk as if she isn’t having a meltdown.

Oh, and when your AP says she won’t ever be loved by your children like your outgoing AP, encourage her to get in the mix, and tell her, “The two hardest days in an AP’s year, are her first day at work and her last.” Encourage her to think about the powers she has to make her successor jealous and to visualize what she needs to do to make that happen.

Oh, and don’t overlap. It really doesn’t make things easier. Let each AP learn new to own the job and it will be hers. Most of my APs (and remember, I have The Camel) were ready to fly solo by their first Tuesday (I’m with APIA so the APs first meet The Camel on a Friday). They had their medication cheat sheet, the Camel’s schedule from their handbook, and they were ready not to have someone watching over their shoulder.

Mimi October 8, 2015 at 4:51 pm

Great advice by previous posters here. Three weeks in is early in an AP-HF relationship and it can take some APs longer to get their bearings even in easy situations. These are all great strategies and sometimes time is all it takes, especially in a situation like yours. We schedule bonding time and activities for all our APs in the first 6-8 weeks to give the AP time to get to know our (strong-willed) kids individually because it can be hard in the normal course of their time to do this. Depending on your parenting style and your child’s development/age, you might be able to use this as an opportunity to start reinforcing empathy with your toddler. Empathy is very much a work in progress for toddlers, but role playing with you might help her understand how hurtful her behavior is to the AP.

Like NBHostMom posted, my kids will also try to exploit any perceived weakness so we screen for this in our interview process by asking situational questions about tantrums and confidence in situations like you describe. One thing I would add is that you need to be very careful about the confidence you are projecting about your AP’s abilities. If you don’t feel that she is going to cut it long term, your kids will pick up on that and so will the AP. Establish a timeline with the AP about what strategies you want her to employ, not just for dealing with tantrums, but also for bonding and stick with it. Make her feel like she has the ability to deal with this and reinforce her successes. It should help her build confidence. If at the end of your timeline she is still not responding and there are still problems, cut her loose so you both can have a successful year without misery.

Anon Again October 9, 2015 at 5:23 am

I have a slightly different take on what everyone is saying here but then I am one of the more “harsh” HMs out there and I make no apologies for it either.

Why not tell the AP that if she can’t grow a back bone and do the job she is here to do then you’ll have to rematch.

It is no use having an non-runner in the house. If she “boosted” her experience to a point where it’s almost lies and she can’t do the job she was hired to do because she doesn’t have the NATURAL disposition to do it .. then save everyone lots of hassle (especially you) and rematch..

Kids throw tantrums when they know they can.. that’s a fact .. they are pushing boundaries with each new player in the game and if they don’t find that boundary they very quickly go out of control and that’s no fun for anyone including the toddler.

Your toddler is your priority, not this girl’s confidence (or lack thereof) and it’s not your job to build that up either.

So for me the answer would be very simple.. involve LCC immediately .. let her know that there is a very serious issue in the house…. sit down with AP and tell her she needs to step up her game and find a way around toddler or it’s not going to work.. give a time limit for improvement … and be ready for it not working.. sometimes it just doesn’t work.. not because anyone is a bad person or did anything wrong.. but just because..

FrenchieNoVA October 9, 2015 at 5:51 am

Our twin toddlers had a hard time switching to our second au pair as well (we all loved our first au pair so much!), however at the end of the day it all comes down to not letting your toddler be the boss of anybody.

When our kids misbehave (regardless of “why”), we count. And when we count to 3, they go to timeout, or if in the car on her way to an activity/playdate/… our au pair will turn the car around. No second chances.
They learned real fast, and I mean, REAL FAST, that we (host parents and new au pair) mean business and won’t put up with temper tantrums. Read the “1, 2, 3 magic” book if you have not already. The method works wonders.

It took them a good 3 months to warm up and start loving the new au pair, but at least after the first 2 weeks we did not have to put up with screaming, kicking and crying.

American Host Mom in Europe October 9, 2015 at 8:18 am

I think this is normal (the toddler’s reaction), and in my experience, gets worse before it gets better. My kids are 6, 6, and 7, and this recent transition has been the hardest. I keep reminding them how they were unhappy when our last AP arrived (when they are now mourning her leaving), and that they’ve been through this before. They test more with each new one.

For us, new AP has been here 7 weeks and I’d say they are just starting to feel happy about her. In our case, they seem to just want her to leave, and I’ve realised that they think that means they’d get more time with mamma and pappa, so I have to remind them that if we didn’t have an AP, they’d have to stay later at after school care, might not be able to take all of their extra-curricular activities, not get to bake during the week, etc.

I also think it is important to set guidance for the AP, and if the AP isn’t a good personality fit with your family, time isn’t really going to change that. But anything you can do to bolster her confidence — in her eyes, and in the eyes of the children — will help.

And FWIW, I have a different opinion about the overlap. All except one of my APs have overlapped with their predecessor for one week, which saves me a tremendous amount of hassle of days away from work, and having to drive around with them showing them where everything is, teaching them what to buy at the grocery store (our APs do the shopping 1x per week), etc. I feel it also gives my kids a chance to get comfortable with the new AP while they have the comfort of the outgoing AP around as security. And in most cases, as my new and outgoing APs have connected in advance of arrival (and because similarly aged girls in this situation tend to connect quickly), I think it is an advantage that my kids see the positive interaction between the APs — “Oh, old AP thinks she’s fun, maybe I will too.” And there’s the added bonus of the new AP getting to learn a bit of what works with my kids by observation — since kids are different with parents than they are with APs. I don’t really see a downside (unless outgoing AP has a lot of bad habits you don’t want passed on). I guess it helps that my kids have seen many of our APs after they left us, as they come back as visitors, so they know it isn’t a final good-bye.

NBHostMom October 9, 2015 at 8:31 am

We also overlap APs and it always been a positive experience. We do warn incoming AP that we may ask her to change something old AP taught her but, in general, I’d agree overlapping has helped my kids in the transition.

Anna October 9, 2015 at 8:59 am

What sounds like red flags to me in your description of the situation is that the new au pair has fear of the toddler, and that she doesn’t follow your suggestions.

If she cannot follow your instructions in the beginning when everyone should be trying to make the bests impression suggest to me that she cannot, she may not be cut out for it.

I had a similar situation, I had an au pair who had a people-pleasing personality. My kids sensed a weakness and were testing her limits. One child in particular, his behavior got worse and worse. I coached her very specifically on how to behave in these situations. She didn’t do it. When the child would misbehave she would keep smiling, and then when I came home she would complain to me about this child. Soon she asked for rematch herself, complaining that she cannot deal with my child. Meanwhile my child – usually a sweet and kind boy – transformed into a monster with her (since she would not set any limits in a meaningful way).

I do screen for a strong and confident personality, because I know if she won’t be able to establish herself as a “top dog” in the beginning, my kids will take advantage and will walk all over her. For those agencies that have personality test results revealed I look for a certain personality, for example GoAuPair uses Hartman personality test and I look for the color “red” as a primary or secondary color, and for DiSC test that Cultural Care uses I look for “D” as a primary or secondary personality. To screen out meek traits, I avoid “white” (in the GoAuPair test) and I avoid “S” (in the DiSC personality test). If I have to compromise on my preferred personality profile, I would take any other combo of primary/secondary EXCEPT ones that include the “white” or “S”.

I agree with some previous posters is that I would give her a finite amount of time to change the situation (two-three weeks), tell her about it, and invest some time in coaching her every day and demanding a report at the end of every day about the results of using the techniques (including written notes). I tried to do it with my problematic au pair, and this is how I found out she was not even following my suggestions.

momo4 October 9, 2015 at 11:52 am

There was a post about the DISC personality test a while back, quite interesting actually. I wish CV would re-post it actually so I could hear even more people’s opinions since APC just started using it 2 years ago.

I think there are advantages and disadvantages to each of the personality types, and as many people commented in the original post, there is no absolute “best” personality type for APs, rather a good personality match between the HM and AP is what matters.

My current AP is high on dominance and steadiness and she is a rockstar. I find that for me, steadiness is really helpful for dealing with the chaos and unpredictability of a house with 4 kids ages 1-10, but it can also mean lack of initiative. My least favorite AP was high on steadiness but sky high on sociability and all she ever did was sit around and talk at me and it drove me nuts.

All this being said, a majority of the HMs commenting on the DISC personality test post described themselves as high on dominance and sociability. I think the OP of that post made an excellent point about how useful it is to take the test yourself, because it helps you understand why certain APs personality types either work or don’t work for you. (For the record, I actually score high on steadiness and compliance even though I’ve never thought of myself as being particularly compliant :)

momo4 October 9, 2015 at 11:25 am

I think most APs arrive with anxiety about how they will compare to the last AP, and whether the kids/family will like them. I agree that it often takes kids several weeks to get used to a new AP, and giving them time to connect WITHOUT the parents around to intervene is essential.

My kids are 1, 3, 5 and 10 and they seem to transition fairly easily from one AP to the next, but the 3 and 5 y/o’s behavior is extra wild and uncooperative for a few weeks as everyone settles into the new year, and I always make a point of reassuring the AP that this a normal part of the adjustment, and that the kids will get easier to deal with once they are used to the new AP, which they do.

The way the OPs child is behaving does seem a bit beyond what I would expect, especially 3 weeks in, and I wonder if the parents and AP may be inadvertently encouraging this behavior by “rewarding” the child. If every time the child throws a tantrum the parents rush over to comfort her and the AP retreats (which is what the child wants) then the behavior is only reinforced. And a new AP isn’t going to solve this, since the child can just as well throw tantrums when the new AP tries to help her.

That said, if the AP is scared of the child and won’t/can’t even try to connect, then there seems little hope that this match is going to work. Experience with toddlers can be very helpful (so the AP knows not to take the behavior personally), and a more calm confident personality may also help a lot.

In any case, I do not think that telling the AP to grow a backbone (which she obviously desperately needs) is going to help matters, and giving her a time frame in which to “shape up or ship out” will only stress everyone out more. If she is just too meek, passive and scared, just go ahead and rematch, don’t waste energy and time trying to change her personality because that never works.

In my experience, overly gentle APs are great with infants and a disaster with older children. My oldest daughter was something of a model of sweetness and compliance with APs until she was 7 and we got a girl who just wanted the kids to love her (which they did), but was completely unable to set any kind of boundaries with them or ever say no. Over the course of the year, my formerly obedient daughter turned into a back-talking, disobedient brat who would fight with the AP (whom she actually loved!) and refuse to listen to her. The AP was always buying the kids treats in an ineffective attempt to bribe them into listening, and instead they just began to feel entitled to treats every time they went out. No matter how much I reassured the AP that it was not only ok but necessary to say no and set boundaries, and no matter how much she agreed with me that this was necessary, she just couldn’t do it. Thankfully our next AP was mature, loving and firm, and my daughter learned to listen again.

It may be worth it to give it another couple weeks with this AP, making sure that she has time alone with the toddler and a chance to bond. I do not think that the toddler’s behavior is due to the APs meek personality, but the APs personality may make her simply incapable of dealing with the behavior. If this is the case, I think that rematching is the right thing to do. I think that OP’s sympathy for the AP is admirable, but if the AP really simply can’t do her job, for whatever reason, then the family needs to find someone who can.

NJ Mama October 9, 2015 at 12:39 pm

I agree that it takes time for kids — some kids more than others, and at different stages of their lives — to get used to a new au pair. And I think there have been some great suggestions made here. However, I also think that if your au pair still requires so much coaching, it may be time to rematch.

Personality conflicts can be really hard to fix. In fact, I’m having one right now, and it’s just … exhausting. I never really understood what a “personality conflict” was before – I thought it was code meaning that either the family was mean or the au pair was weak or inexperienced, and the way the agency labeled it in rematch was “personality conflict.” Now I think differently. My au pair sounds similar to yours – very sweet, very hardworking. however my children are older and more independent. And still I have had to coach her on everything – including very specific instructions on how to interact with the kids at certain times of the day. We really had to devise a very specific routine for each day — and honestly we already had a pretty good system going before she arrived. But otherwise things just weren’t getting done. My husband put it this way – our au pair is really really great at remembering to do all of the unimportant things and really really bad and doing all of the really important things. and this is happening despite very specific schedules and notes that are all written down — and she arrived 2 1/2 months ago.

After a heart-to-heart a few weeks ago, we are, finally, seeing some improvement – not a ton, but a little. And my kids have decided they’d prefer to power through (for now) than start a rematch. But it’s a different dynamic with a toddler for sure. My kids understand what’s going on. The toddler doesn’t. Also – I don’t think your situation can really be “the toddler’s problem” because the toddler can’t get along with the au pair. I think the bigger problem is the au pair not being able to figure out a way to get along with the toddler. She has to forget about the last au pair and put aside hurt feelings and really try.

Have you head a real heart-to-heart with her? If she is really overwhelmed, and things aren’t improving – or don’t improve in another few weeks – it may be better all around to start a rematch. Yes, it would mean putting your kids through getting to know someone new. However, as I look back on all of our au pairs, the times when my kids have had the hardest transition were always when we had a weak au pair (overlap or not never mattered). And maybe the au pair would find a family with fewer kids, someone more suited to her personality and experience. In the end, both parties want to have a good year. That’s the goal.

I guess what I would do in your situation is take some of the great suggestions here, especially the suggestions about how to get your child to bond with the au pair, put them to work, and if there isn’t any improvement in another week or two then think long and hard about a rematch. You don’t want to slog through the year like this.

DEU_HM October 23, 2015 at 10:39 pm

Your second paragraph describes our AP situation exactly, with our other kids. Then we add on the problem with the toddler… And we really tried everything. I think your post was the most useful for me, and we did exactly that…

Tried as many of the other suggestions from this thread… And now have admitted defeat. You’re right, we can’t trudge through this for a year.

I guess it’s time to start scouring the rematch threads. But thank you, so much, for your advice! (And I hope your situation has been improving!)

AuPair Paris October 9, 2015 at 4:28 pm

For what it’s worth, I think a lot of au pairs have problem being confident and tough in the beginning. I was SO “gentle” because I didn’t know my own boundaries. Could I offer consequences? Would they be supported? It sounds like you *are* supporting the AP, but it must be really difficult for her when your toddler seems to dislike her so much. All APs want to be loved by the kids (all good ones) and it takes a while to realise that the kids may or may not love you, but they quite often won’t *like* you, if you’re doing your job properly. (This evening within about ten minutes I had a normally monosyllabic pre-teen opening up to me about the pressure she felt starting a new school… And then yelling at me and giving me full on attitude for asking her to take a shower…)

I am not sure it’s helpful to just say the AP “is” or “isn’t” a particular way with the kids. Obviously, the situation is feeding her anxieties, and no one knows what on earth she might be like without that. Maybe great. Maybe not much better. So it’s really a matter of what you as a family are willing to deal with to help the situation, rather than a matter of “but if only she was better, she’d have fixed it”. If you can’t handle it, there’s no shame in saying so, and recommending the AP very highly, to a family who are looking for her skills. (Although… Would this help? If the poor littlie feels abandoned, losing someone else, even someone you HATE and have been chasing off, could tend to reinforce that “everyone leaves” sadness.)

If AP stays it’ll be lots of work, probably, on the toddler rather than the AP. That is, the two of them together, but I really feel like, when no longer worrying about being *hated* by a small child, practicality will force AP to get a bit more forceful. But I feel SO bad for your toddler in this story. She sounds so unhappy and must be missing her old AP so much. Since old and new APs overlapped, did they make friends? Could you skype with old AP as a family, including new AP in the discussion, to prove they get along? When I overlapped with the previous AP, we were thick as thieves, ESPECIALLY in front of the kids… And later, I became a major source of info and good wishes from her, because I had her on facebook. It was clear we were a team, and I was sort of “carrying on for her”, for a while, before they started loving me in my own right.

I don’t know. It’s hard. Can the poor kid talk to the old AP at all? Will the old AP be reasonable about it all? Maybe feeling like she’s not gone from the earth/her life forever could help the toddler get to grips with things a bit?

TexasHM October 9, 2015 at 4:53 pm

I think a key piece we are missing here is how this AP is with the other two host children. Is she able to set boundaries? Have they bonded? Is she confident with them?

To answer the questions directly we have never had a kid react this way luckily. We make a point throughout the year of reminding them that the AP has family in her country that miss her very much and that we get them for a time and then they have to go home. We also ask the APs to put on a brave face, talk up the incoming AP and tell the kids that she will miss them too but we will stay in touch and we celebrate with a end of term party. There are some tears but for the most part we focus on the positive – how much AP has grown, how many people she has impacted, things she has done and how excited we are to hear about her future endeavors. The kids get it now and I would almost go as far as to say its become a borderline non-event!

Our one and only burnout rematch AP was VERY insecure and as others have said, desperately wanted the kids to like her. They did but even now a year later if you ask why you get responses like “AP didn’t make me wear a coat!” (it was 40 degrees outside) and “because AP let me do whatever I wanted!” Sigh. I can’t tell if your case is that bad though. For us, I saw kid outside without coat on and lunchboxes coming home with ridiculous crazy leftovers and notes from daycare that kid didn’t have enough for lunch (AP said “there were no carrots in the fridge” sigh. We had apples and several other things in the same fridge, same drawer).

When we rematched and AP1 came back as a nanny our youngest (then 4) had such horrible behavior that AP1 called me horrified because HK was throwing a complete tantrum on the floor kicking and screaming, the works. AP1 had never seen her behave like that and has known our youngest since she was 10 mos old! She was terrified that HK was sick or injured or that something was horribly wrong. What was wrong was AP1 told her to get ready for dance class and gave her a deadline to do it herself or be dressed. HK was used to being the boss for a few weeks and blew up when she wasnt the boss again. Within 24 hours the behavior of all 3 kids was notably better. When burnout AP left house, it markedly improved again.

DEU_HM October 23, 2015 at 10:33 pm

What a great idea to tell the kids for the whole year about APs family and making them understand that it is temporary… We will definitely be doing this from now on!

Much like your stories indicating a lack of common sense, we started to find all sorts of issues like this. Letting the kids go to a friends’ house, but not knowing which friend or where OR telling them what time to be home (insert me ringing doorbells to find kids…….)

It’s comforting to hear that others have had the same sorts of issues, but still frustrating to have to rematch. I would give my right arm for my AP2 to come back!

CA pair October 13, 2015 at 11:02 pm

I could have written this myself! My just turned 3 year old was horrible to AP#3. She would tell her to go back home, was upset she slept in AP#2 s room. I seriously feared AP would leave us! It was about 3 months before things felt smooth. I love love love AP3, my daughter lives her and we’ve extended another year.

cv harquail October 14, 2015 at 3:49 pm


Meg October 22, 2015 at 2:16 pm

I can’t offer advice but maybe a little solidarity. One of my kids bonded with the Au Pair way more than with the other. In our case the toddler loves her to death and I have given up on the grade school age kid ever really connecting. I was a really clueless first time host mom.

DEU_HM October 23, 2015 at 10:27 pm

OP here, with an update. First, thank you all so much for your input! We tried so many of the suggestions, set a time limit to see improvements, and unfortunately just entered rematch today.

I am completely horrified and feeling like we’ve all somehow failed, but after several other issues with AP (including her leaving the kids home alone, letting the baby fall off a bunk bed, losing a kid at the museum, etc) we’ve decided that it is much more than just the toddler having a hard time adjusting. After the toddler started hiding from her every time she came around, and begging us not to make her stay with ‘that girl’ and telling her to her face she doesn’t like her… I was just frustrated every day to the point of losing my mind.

I kept telling myself she just needs time, but after trying several different things, giving her very specific directions every day that weren’t being followed because of her fear of my toddler, we finally decided that she just really can not handle it. The bigger kids even started complaining that they were having to babysit the whole time, because AP couldn’t handle anything. She even started giving the toddler a pacifier (she hasn’t used a pacifier for a year….) knowing that it was against the rules. So, time to rematch.

I’m terrified because we need APs from a specific country to keep our kids fluent in that language, and we have one of the smallest agencies that has a very limited number of rematches available, and a grand total of one from our country of choice. We have a large family, live where most APs don’t care to go…. Ack! Otherwise, we’ll have to take one from overseas again, but they said it will be January at the earliest?! I interviewed 25+ every time and having a pool of one is horrifying. :( :(

Seems like AP program is awesome when it works, but the last two months, and probably the next four to six… Complete disaster. I’m so discouraged.

FirstTimeHM October 24, 2015 at 3:15 pm

I’m so sorry that your AP isn’t able to pick herself up and do a proper job. Leaving kids home alone, a baby falling off a bunk bed, not being able to keep an eye on all kids on an outing… Yes, that’s a rematch.
I do hope for you that the one rematch candidate is great, but chances are she isn’t. Can you select someone from or If you do the selection work perhaps it will work out faster.

I wish I could do more than just wish you luck and pray for you…

DEU_HM October 29, 2015 at 8:33 am

We’ve actually decided to get a new AP from overseas. There will be a two month gap (omg) but in the long run, I’d rather do that than wind up having another almost-guaranteed problem. Thanks so much for the response!

NJ Host Mom November 3, 2015 at 10:16 am

I am so sorry for your situation and I truly do understand your situation because we went through very similar situation. I agree with you that to have a gap of 2 months (if you can have a way to cover these 2 months) would be better than to settle for anyone and have problems down the road, not worth it.

What we ended up doing for one of the year was to hire from another agency and hold the money from the original one until the following year where there is a larger pool of candidate. I didn’t like to have 2 agency fees paid and forced to use APs again the following year but it allowed us great options.

The schools are also great resources as they have aftercare, which to be honest, I feel so much more comfortable than APs. However, with my working and business trip schedules we need some flexibilities. Like you, I also needed APs from a specific country (Chinese speaking) but have been disappointed for the most part. Sometimes the cultural difference is just too large to fill our family need. Yes, to be able to keep up with the language is important but I feel that I am sacrificing my kids’ well being. Besides, they can’t drive so my husband and I are going crazy with all the pick ups and drop offs in between work schedule and no activities period. The quality of the APs don’t really match up to what they advertise.

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