Au Pair Asks: When Host Kids Are Mean

by cv harquail on April 6, 2010

Hi Readers, we interrupt our regularly scheduled plan for an emergency request for advice that popped up in the comments of the previous post. Here’s the issue, from VA AuPairMaidNanny:

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Some of you dedicated readers & Host Parents will remember that I posted a few weeks ago about my experience so far. Many of you gave me some good advice, and now I need some advice from you all yet again.

Yesterday my 4 yr old (host child) bit me in the face for no freaken reason. It took alot of my strenght not to show my hurtful expression to her but i wasn’t going to let her get away with it, so i put her in to time out. While I was putting her into time out and explaining to her why it’s not nice to bite people,my host dad came downstairs. I know he heard everything. On seeing her dad,the little girl tried to get out of her time out. She begged her father that she didn’t want to be in time out.

Now what hurts me the most and brings tears to my eyes is that the only thing the Host Dad said to her was “I told you not to bite”. He turned on his heels and walked out the door. End of story.

What about physical and metual abuse that an au pair goes thru with the children? What about when the host parents know what happened and they just look the other way?

What more do i need to do or show the parents to discipline the kids?

I know for sure that when I have children i wouldn’t want my children going around biting people. Please, any advice would be appreciated.

Let’s be sure to distinguish advice regarding:

(1) what to do with the child,

(2) what to say to parents when a child is hurtful, dangerous, or mean, and

(3) how to deal with a host parent like this dad, who does not seem to want to take responsibility for his kid or to support his au pair’s efforts.

mean face from stevegatto2 on Flickr

{ 88 comments }

Anonymous April 6, 2010 at 1:42 pm

Submitted on 2010/04/06 at 1:20pm

To the aupair who was hurt by the child: I think this probably happens alot more than people think ( I think it happens in the doctor’s office, too. I agree with the host mom above when she says that the host father was trying to support you.

Really, what did you want him to do ? Beat her ? Bite her back ? Obviously, she does not enjoy being in time out and that was a punishment.

Having said that, I think that you should consider asking for a rematch. You do not have to volunteer for physical pain. I would not get too self-righteous about the family. I would just say that the little girl is “more than you can handle”. Most likely the parents will get upset.

Then, perhaps they will take stronger action ; perhaps they need to seek counseling, perhaps behavorial modification. As far as new families are concerned, just tell them that this little girl bites and you would like a more enjoyable experience.

Very few people think that their children are capable of misbehaving. However, if you present your story to new families the way you presented it just now , to us, they will wonder if you really understand children. The truth is that we do not have control over everything our children do.

I suggest, too, that you question prospective families about discipline : how would they handle this type of situation ? You may be very surprized by the answers you receive. Maybe, you would be happier with older children. Sometimes, older children are rude and verbally hurtful rather than physical .

This is a big problem, however, and I look forward to hearing from other parents on this topic.

I heard a story once about an aupair who was bitten by a child she took cared for and I was told that their response was ” if you can’t handle him, you need to move on”. Maybe, though, you like this family for other reasons. Think about this whole thing very carefully because taking rash action …

PA au pair mom April 6, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Seems to me that he thought you were handling it well and he was supporting you. He didn’t let her out of time-out. That would have been a definite undermining of your authority.

I don’t interfere when my AP is disciplining the children. I want them to know that she is in charge and that they must respect her and be obedient.

PA au pair mom April 6, 2010 at 1:59 pm

I strongly disagree (sorry CV) that this host dad was not “supporting his au pair”.

He didn’t let her out of the punishment and he let the au pair continue in the authority figure role. I can not think of a better way to support an au pair.

If he had let her out of the time out or said “Daddy’s sorry that mean old AP gave you a time out” then THAT would have definitely been not supportive.

I think he did the right thing.

My 2 cents April 7, 2010 at 9:11 am

I completely agree. I suppose HD could have have added, “I’m sorry X bit you, that was not nice and not something we permit,” but honestly, he probably didn’t think it through that far, and I don’t think he should be dinged for that. Part of respecting the au pair’s authority — and developing her relationship with her kids — is specifically staying out of it and letting the au pair discipline. Seems to me, HD was doing precisely that by ignoring the child’s pleas and telling the child, essentially, “we’ve been over this and I warned you what would happen if you did. Go lay in the bed you made.”

And, I’ve gotta say, a 4 yo biting, or kicking, or scratching, on occasion is not that unusual — and especially if they are speech delayed or suffer another disability and cannot express feelings. They are 4 ! This is what they do !

Seems to me AP needs a thicker skin and is reading far too much into one incident in isolation. I’m equally guilty of this at times too.

Should be working April 6, 2010 at 2:06 pm

I think we don’t have enough detail here to be sure. I also believe that the host Dad was trying to be supportive, in letting the AP dole out the punishment and backing up the principle, i.e. “we don’t allow biting.” But I can’t tell if the AP is saying that in fact the HD said it in a dismissive way, one that would indicate that no further punishment was necessary.

It is hard to know when to step in and take over the punishing/discipline. I generally do not interfere because I want my au pair to feel comfortable disciplining the child. If I disagree with the discipline–either the seriousness of the infraction or the method to handle it–I try to gently modify the direction things are going, without criticizing the AP.

This post reminds me that when I don’t interfere with AP’s discipline, because I agree with it, it might be a good idea to say later that I think she acted totally appropriately. Otherwise she might think my noninterference was a sign of disapproval.

Interesting that noninterference can produce two totally divergent interpretations!

Calif Mom April 6, 2010 at 2:45 pm

At 4 years old, biting should pretty much be fading out of a child’s tool box of behaviors that help her get her way (depending on temperament and family culture, of course). I had one kid who was biter myself, so I know how hard it is to deal with!

Biting is really embarrassing for parents, and that might factor in here, too.

I need more info about the Dad’s reaction before I will weigh in on his reaction being appropriate or insufficient. Discipline is an art, really, and a lot depends on the 3 personalities involved in that scenario above.

Biting is usually done out of frustration at not being understood or feeling that she has no power, that her wishes don’t matter to those who are in power (which sometimes they don’t!) :-)

Instead of *not* reacting and showing her hurt expression to the child, next time the au pair might do the exact opposite and see if it gets through to this kid.

Sometimes, it has a greater effect on biters if you make a HUGE, DRAMATIC response after being bitten– really play up how much that hurt you, with crying, getting ice for yourself, whatever you might naturally do if you were badly injured.

And then leave the room, saying you do not want to be with the child right now because they just hurt you and you don’t like being bitten. Withdrawing affection after having been bitten is a reasonable response, and just might surprise the child. It would not be for a super long time, especially if you are on duty, but long enough to get the child’s attention, and create a negative consequence (beyond the time out) to her action.

Then, after both of you have cooled off your emotions, you need to have a discussion about how biting is not okay, and providing something she CAN bite. Also maybe help her think about her emotions and teach her how to say “I am really mad about X!” and stomp and work through all the things she IS allowed to do when she is frustrated, so she has some other ‘tools’ to turn to and stops biting.

There’s a book for preschoolers called No More Biting that might be good to pick up from the library on the next trip~

good luck!

Calif Mom April 6, 2010 at 2:53 pm

As for what to say to the parents, you need to bring this up at a calm time–preferably during your next meeting–and ask them for their help. Approach this from the angle of wanting what is best for the child. Of course you can say you don’t like being bitten in the face, but try to be collaborative first.

“Darlingchild bit me on Monday. Here is what I did [1,2,3] but it happened again on Wednesday. I would hate for Darlingchild to be sent home by a teacher from preschool (or camp) (or whatever) because she bit someone. I need your help. What else can we do?”

If the parents don’t respond to your efforts to address this behavior problem as a team, then you have important information about their motivation as parents to get their kids in line, and you are in for a really long year!

Mom23 April 6, 2010 at 3:17 pm

My husband and I have always felt that we should discipline as a team with the au pair. We state at the beginning that we will support the au pair and we expect the au pair to support us. If computer time is taken away, we have to all enforce this. There are times that we do not agree with the au pair and we will talk to her privately afterwards.

Lately, my eight year old has been trying to play mom and dad off of each other. Asking one parent to do something, then when getting a no asking the other. We simply say, “If dad said no, what makes you think that mom will say yes?” Kids do the same with au pairs and parents. They recognize everyone has a different style and might get a different response.

I would talk to your host parents and ask what types of strategies for discipline you all think will work to end the child’s biting. Maybe also talk through long term goals and how everyone might support one another.

Michigan Mom April 6, 2010 at 3:24 pm

I’m not sure what else the host dad could have done without undermining the au pair’s authority. Even administering a harsher punishment would have sent the message to the little girl that the au pair isn’t in charge, he is. That’s not a good message to send.

However, were I in the host dad’s shoes, I would have definitely spoken to the child later, outside the au pair’s presence, to reinforce that the au pair is an adult who must be respected and that biting is never okay.

West Coast Mom April 6, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Not to pile on, but … I agree with all the posts here that HD was most likely trying to support AP’s discipline. And also that he might be a bit embarrassed. It’s difficult when your kids misbehave in a wild or physical way, especially when they are supposed to be “too old” for the behavior in question.

As for what to do, our kids are very physical (both were biters as young children) and we’ve tried it all … and sometimes you just have to wait for your child to outgrow a behavior. Try not to reinforce it, of course, and stick to your general discipline philosophy (whether that’s time outs, 1-2-3 Magic, etc.). Consistency is important, as much for you as the misbehaving child, because when you are stressed, or embarrassed, or angry, a consistent discipline routine is good to fall back on (nothing increases your stress level when you dont know how to respond to a behavior, or you overreact and then have to retract a consequence, or your anger anergy escalates the bad behavior).

For me, it’s important to emphasize … regardless of the method, don’t expect miracles, and don’t blame the child or judge the parents. Some kids are just more challenging than others, despite the best intentions and methods of their parents. (That’s assuming a common sense level of caring and effort … which this AP might not have; hard to tell from the post).

Good luck,
WCM

aria April 6, 2010 at 4:35 pm

I understand where this AP is coming from because I was in a similar one myself, and it’s frustrating, because you want the parents to do SOMETHING, but… you’re not exactly sure what. I agree with Michigan Mom in that even if he HAD doled out a harsher punishment, it would seem like ultimately, the AP doesn’t have power which is a bad message.

But at the same time, something should be done. In my first HF, there was a 7 yr old girl and a 4 yr old boy, and while the little boy wasn’t a problem, the little girl was a nightmare. She spit water in my face once, and when I reported the incident to Dad, I got, “Well, she was probably just having fun. Maybe you should smile more.”

And then after refusing to take a bath one night, she threatened to tell HP I had slapped her (big lie of course) and when she ran to Dad sobbing about how abusive I was, Dad just comforted her and didn’t say a word to me (later on, he assured me he believed me- uh, thanks???).

I switched families, and I’m ten times happier. You have to really take a close look at the situation and decide if talking about the problem (Dad, I don’t feel like you’re supporting me in regards to discipline) will change things, or if it won’t make a difference at all. If not, just switch. You’ll be happier.

VA Au Pair/MAID/NANNY April 6, 2010 at 5:06 pm

thank you for all the posts, but i do agree with Michigan Mom,he should of spoken to his child and explained to her. Some of you want more infomation, when the child was hanging on his leg he was laughing when he said that ” i told you not to bite” and said to her please let go i’m late for a appointment (which was to go post a letter at the post office).I look after 3 kids the eldest is 11yrs and i get told by her everyday that ” you have to do what i tell you to do because my parents pay you”, i’ve spoken to the parents on many occasions about the attitude i get from her,and the behaviour of the other children,when they discpline the children i give them my surpport but when i do the time out’s i get over ruled. In a few weeks i am rematching with another family and i even went to the other state to meet them and the children in person. I also know that the mom hears about all what happens when she’s not around but does nothing because she feels that one person should handle it. When i meet there family friends they always tell me that i’ve got a good family but they are not living with them. I do have exprience in Au pairing for this will be my second time au pairing first in LA in 2002 and the 2nd now and the 3rd will be in a few months, but this is the first time ever that i have gotten a dennis the mence family. And i’ve done everything i can think of asking the parents to speak to them but they choose to look another way.

PA au pair mom April 6, 2010 at 6:25 pm

This situation is a world of difference from the first that everyone responded too.

Sounds to me like you already made up your mind that you want a rematch and you won’t be happy till you get one.

good luck. Hope the next family is closer to what you are looking for.

vicky January 25, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Hello, I know exactly how you feel, when I read what you put about the 4yr old child biting you. It reminded me of children I have worked with in the past, I went to Austria in 2009 being an au pair for the first time. I had finished 3 years of College taking Childcare courses in England and I wanted to have a new adventure. I went to look after twin boys who were 5 years old, when I arrived the boys tried everything they could think of to push my limits, to see what they could get away with. Over time they learnt all the tricks they could get away with, they noticed that their Mum and Dad would let me get away with nearly anything, they knew that crying, screaming and making up lies about me in German would mean they would get away with what they had done.

Even when I would explain to the Host Parents about what the boys had done wrong and why I was giving them time-out, they would still let me get away with it. They would let the boys come down from time-out and they never told them to say sorry and the parents never explained to them afterwards why they shouldn’t behave like they did. I felt so much that both of the parents undermined me all the time, I only felt better when I had sole-charge and I could ensure that the boys behaved and learnt that I was in charge.

But of course whenever the Host Parents were at home, they knew that screaming, lieing or crying would always mean they would get their way, their parents always gave in. Sometimes when they would do something wrong to hurt mom, I would tell them to say sorry to her and The twins seemed very scared of her, they didn’t really like to say sorry because of that reason. But when they would, their mom would always just say “okay” in an annoyed tone, she wouldn’t give eye contact and never would explain why it was wrong. I believe the boys knew this and so they didn’t feel comfortable apologising, or anything similar to that, as even saying sorry wouldn’t be accepted.

There was a pattern that everyday at bathtime the boys would misbehave while having a shower or bath. As soon as we would go upstairs, they would start to act crazy/hyper and make lots of mess and I usually wouldn’t mind, that they like to have fun. But the trouble was The Host Mum doesn’t like that, she likes it that the boys have a quick shower and come downstairs, she doesn’t like splashing either or any of kind of mess.
So I had added pressure that I must ensure the boys behaved, were tidy and listened to me, so it was worse that they were twins and love to mess around in the bathroom. I think they even knew that I felt upset, under pressure, but they were having so much fun to care. At one point I decided to have the twins take a shower one at a time, that way they would calm down and wait their turn. But the trouble I found with that, was I had to go check on the other child because they would suddenly go downstairs and make it a game to chase them or run to see Mom.

I had two children of the same age, it was hard to focus my attention on one child at a time specially if the other would do something silly when I would not be looking.

The other worse situation I had to deal with everyday, was bedtime either the twins didn’t want to go to bed or they wanted you to read them hundreds of stories or to be silly and loud in bed. I tried every method I could think of to get them to sleep, as most days they had Kindergarden and they had to be up early in the morning. I tried to ignore them, which was my best method, just the Host Parents never would ignore anything they would ask for or say. They seemed to behave like my opinion and views were not useful or acceptable, so they disciplined their children how they wanted to. I tried the method of reading stories and hoping the children would fall asleep listening to me, but they just kept asking questions or talking to each other once I left the room.
Most days I would leave in the evening to go home back to the apartment I was staying at(as the family had a family-run business of a 3star Hotel) I would tell the twins to go to sleep, and be good boys and they always yes they would. But they would talk to each other again once I was gone home because they knew that their Parents wouldn’t enforce my discipline methods at all.

So I can understand how horrible of a situation it is to live with people who don’t understand your way of doing things, don’t accept change and other ways of life, they undermine you all the time and they don’t fully treat you like one of the family at all.
I can tell you I went to work as an au pair a second time, I refused to let the bad experience of the first time to stop me finding a great job and a lovely family. I went to Crete for 8 months in April 2010 and I lived with a nice family, but again the child usually got her way, she was a 2 year old. It was a different age, but she did know how to get attention, how to get her way nearly all the time. I tired a few methods of discipline when she misbehaved, but usually any of the family members would interfer and take over. They did seem to care more about my view, well the Host Mom did anyway, but everyone else of the adults like her grandparents and the Host Dad would give in to her, would do the worse undermining, like asking ” did vicky hurt you?” and of course the answer was always Yes and he would treat her like she hadn’t done anything wrong by giving her hugs and kisses.

vicky January 25, 2011 at 5:20 pm

oops I meant “Let them” not “Let me”.

Calif Mom April 6, 2010 at 5:28 pm

Well, you’ve already got your answer then. You’ve already decided to rematch (which sounds totally reasonable to me!) and have already found a new family. Be sure to do what you can to start off your new relationship with the new host parents well, by asking to have weekly meetings and knowing what they expect. A regular meeting time makes working through problems so much easier. Sounds like better times are just around the corner!

ExAP April 6, 2010 at 6:30 pm

First of all: Good thing you’re rematching!

To what you should/could have done to make the child understand you more, I totally agree with CalifMom, good suggestion!

I totally understand your emotions, anger, frustratioon abut a child biting you (for me e.g. it’s one of the worst things one can do, plus hitting, etc.). And your (soon to be Ex-) HD didn’t respond in a supporting way. in my opinion. Saying “I told you not to bite” in a matter-of-factly, earnest voice with the right face expression would have been enoug to make you feel supported, I guess. Unfortunately, he didn’t do that.

I wish you luck with your new host family! Better times are coming =)

ex au pair April 6, 2010 at 7:47 pm

I had mean host kids. It was agreed that they simply ‘decided not to like me’, therefore treated me with complete disrespect. They were insulting and degrading. The kids were aged 10 and 13, and would ignore me, shut me down and reject any attempt at conversation. I bought them presents and got no thank you, I was always friendly and bubbly, supported their interests and they treated me like I was nothing. I would greet them after school and be ignored, ask a question and be asked “why does it matter” and the 10 year old girl once even said “why are you talking to me”. The host mum said that it was because I may have seemed homesick to the kids and they noticed so decided to treat me like this, therefore it wasn’t a good match. I think her kids were just nasty and wish her luck when they are older teenagers

Katie April 6, 2010 at 8:03 pm

ahah the same thing happened to me!

NVMom April 6, 2010 at 8:15 pm

I am sorry but I disagree with about everyone on here . . . if the child is “biting” and the parents are around, the parents should step in and handle it NOT the aupair. You are not undermining their authority you are enforcing it and reminding the child that the behavior is unacceptable. To simply walk out of the room, you may be showing that aupair is in charge but you are also showing the child the behavior is acceptable. My oldest son (5) has on occasion had unacceptable behavior with our aupair, I let her handle it and then I handled it in front of her. This showed my son that she was in charge and then I was in charge . . . the behavior has happened again (he’s 5) but the aupair knows I have her “back” and support her in what she is doing. We have a wonderful aupair who has built an amazing relationship with our children because we act as a team, but ultimately I am in charge and my children know that. They will treat our aupair with respect :)

Jenny April 6, 2010 at 9:14 pm

I missed the original post in which this Au pair asked for and received advice here. Could you someone point me there? I might be missing part of the story. My original reaction is that the host dad should talk to the child later about the incident, but in the middle of a time out given by the Au pair, the correct thing to do is let the Au Pair finish the discipline she started.

My (oldest) 4, now 5 year old has been very difficult at times for our wonderful Au Pair. As her mother, this is VERY frustrating to me, and I’m not sure exactly what is going on or how to fix it. This is the first time she has had this kind of disobedience to a care giver. It is also the first time some one has lived with us, the first time some one is part of our family, and the first time she was told, she will be helping her care giver learn. After 7 months it IS getting better, but we’ve had some really rough patches. One of the things I think I’ve done wrong at times is step in when my daughter has been doing something awful and I hear it, marching down from my office to get some order back in the house. Other times, our Au Pair has told me terrible things that she has said to her (daughter to Au Pair). This is a normally sweet but strong willed little girl. She has always been very attached to her nannies & teachers, and I assumed this relationship would be the same with ease. I realize that she’s trying to find her place in the family again, her pecking order, and for some reason she’s had a tough time finding her footing. Especially on days when our Au Pair is overwhelmed. It has gotten much better after MUCH work, and MUCH discipline from the Au Pair and from my husband and I. But I’ve learned to never intervene when Au Pair is in the middle of a time out or dealing with defiance. And that is hard to do. We do talk later to the kids about being respectful, fun they’ll get to have by listening well, fun they’ll miss out on if they can’t. Rewards and punishments as a result of the choices they make.

Lately my 2.5 year old has also had behavior that isn’t the greatest, normal for her age, but still hard. We have a new baby, I just went back to work, and this adjustment has been hard on us all. We have good routines, consistent discipline, positive reinforcement, and sometimes kids just don’t do what you want them to do. Especially when they find a way to control another person (as a result of feeling controlled themselves, I’m guessing).

I think in this case there must be more to the story than that, but it brings more questions/points we can all take away. What do you do when you are involved parents, you do have good kids, you DO care about their treatment of others, but they act badly for your Au Pair? Is this just part of the job for the Au Pair? Is their a part of the relationship between the Au Pair and the children that has to be left up to her (within reason, of course, abuse on either side is never acceptable)?

I’m not trying to change the thread on this piece of requested advice, but since this Au Pair is rematching, and she has her answer (and because many of you seemed to think that the host dad did what he should have in leaving her to finish the time out) I’m wondering if her questions can help us as host moms too, in figuring out how to handle similar situations when the host parents aren’t being neglectful?

Wow. That was long and windy! :)

Anna April 7, 2010 at 12:35 am

Jenny,
I feel for you. I am expecting a baby too, and my oldest is 6, second oldest will be 4 soon. They are nice kids who are very affectionate and get attached to caregivers, but they can act out too… And my oldest is introvert, she will not tell what’s bothering her, but instead will act out; not everybody can figure her out and understand and preempt those episodes. She needs lots of love, but she doesn’t ask for it.
I have a new au pair arriving a month before the baby is due, and I expect my kids to go through a rough adjustment period with more misbehavior than usual after the baby arrives (it is normal, I remember it took my oldest at least 3 months to get back to the semblance of herself after the birth of her sibling). I just pray that between my postpartum recovery, and them getting used to the new au pair AND the new baby, the new au pair has the stamina, maturity, compassion and understanding to stick it out. Of course I give all the support I can, but for a while after the baby I will be overwhelmed myself…

Jenny April 8, 2010 at 2:37 pm

Anna,
Good luck with your transition. Our wonderful Au Pair also had a loss of a loved one at home around Christmas time, just after the baby arrived. As if the holidays weren’t a hard enough time to be away! It was hard on all of us, because no one was as emotionally available to the kids as they needed, given all the changes. But we worked through it. Everyone rallied together, my husband and I made a new “prize box” and helped Au Pair make a behavior chart, listing all of the hardest parts of her day as well as some of the house rules that had been neglected, like Speaking Kindly to Each Other. Au Pair was in charge of giving stickers for things done well during the day and the kids got to chose a prize after a certain number of stickers. Sometimes the prize was from the box, and sometimes doing something special with her, like going somewhere cool or baking a treat. Anyway, it gave her a tool to reel them back in, take charge, change things up a bit, it gave us a chance to re-establish the rules and punishment in the house, and to do so consistently with her; it was the emotional temperature of the house that we all needed to work on, and behavior improved.

Do they still have bad, not listening days? Of course. Are they good kids with a good Au Pair and good parents who care about what is happening? Yes.

Then all we can do is keep at it and find positive ways to help her and encourage them, when we see behavior sliding for her. Sometimes it is important to really SHOW your Au Pair how motivated your kids can be to do the right thing – rather than just listing how things should be done in the handbook. When she saw it working so well, she couldn’t believe how fast they would get dressed to earn a STICKER! Especially when that had been a major source of disobedience and struggle for her for months! :)

Wishing you a healthy delivery and a smooth transition as you become a family of 5!

aria April 8, 2010 at 3:07 pm

LOVE the sticker/prize box idea!

Soccer Mom April 8, 2010 at 4:38 pm

Wow! Talk about being supportive, that’s awesome Jenny! It is just like an episode of Supernanny (which I watch, by the way, just so I can feel better about my kids’ behavior and my parenting – ha). You really need an AP who is willing to work with the host parents to try this. While most APs will, there are cases where they won’t (like one of our 6 former APs).

Jenny April 9, 2010 at 7:20 pm

Ha SM! I feel the same about watching the Super Nanny. My kids look like ANGELS Sometimes I have to turn it off, after a hard long day with my kids in bed, I can’t BARE to listen to another family with screaming children!

It is pretty amazing what kids will do for a sticker. Our oldest has always been driven that way. Potty training/bed time battles/you name it. Stickerchartpalooza around here. We’d talked about wonderful AP doing it since day 1, and I wanted it to be “her” thing for behavior with the kids since they behave well for us, so I didn’t take the time and left it to her. When she didn’t really take the initiative to follow through and behaviors were bad, we jumped in. Even though it wasn’t a good time for any of us to DO MORE to make life easier, we were all glad we did when life got easier. For me, coming up with a plan for everyone is always worth it.

Seems like it is definitely in the APs best interest to work with the parents. It seems like those 45 hrs a week will be much more enjoyable with kids who listen and act nicely.

anon this time April 6, 2010 at 9:15 pm

I agree with most families here that the host dad treated the situation right. He reiterated the disapproval of the child’s action, and let au pair handle it.

I bet afterwards he will have a talk with the child in the absence of the au pair. In a similar situation, I did, but I didn’t want to say all I had to say in the presence of the au pair. I didn’t want to go into the show off mode and cause a scandal, and when child is on the edge already, it is a bad time for a sit down serious talk.

I had a similar situation with my au pair and my daughter. She didn’t bite, she hit. My au pair didn’t know how to handle it at all, she was lost. She ran to my husband to tell on my daughter (he was working from home). Yes, kids at home misbehave more than in daycare or school setting where some of the au pairs get all their experience. Even a good kid when young, might have those incidence of violence toward a caregiver or a parent or a sibling. Show me one kid who never did! If a caregiver doesn’t handle it well the first time, the child is more likely to repeat it. It is au pair’s duty (with help, support and advice from parents) to find a way to prevent those situations, and to squash them at the beginning. Switching a family will not necessarily protect the au pair from “mean” kids. Kids become “mean” if they sense lack of affection, lack of authority, dislike or another weakness in a caregiver. Good kids don’t automatically turn “mean”. If my child is having behavioral problems, they are either sick, or having problems in school, or problems with the au pair. Au pairs should realize that a young child is not an adult, they are still growing and learning, and cannot be held to the same level of responsibility for calling them names, and yes, even hitting. The au pair cannot start crying and running away if a child calls her a hurtful name. They are not on the same level, one is a child and one is an adult. The au pair should rise to the position of authority and the boss. If she can’t, she is not qualified for the job. I am a working mom and when I am away from home, the au pair is the boss. She is supposed to have the confidence, the skills, and the thick skin to handle my small and mostly good children. If my children turn “bad”, something is usually going on in the caregiving arrangement. They don’t hit me, and if they hit her, the problem is with her.

Katie April 6, 2010 at 9:32 pm

I’m sorry but when I was a kid hitting people and calling names wasnt acceptable.

Lee April 6, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Katie is right. Hitting is not acceptable at any age. While it comes about developmentally – it should be taught right away that it is NOT okay and not looked upon as “something wrong with the au pair.” Perhaps you should read up on Positive Discipline.

PA au pair mom April 6, 2010 at 10:29 pm

Maybe I am misreading, but I think she was saying that hitting and name calling aren’t the same when done by a 2 year old as by a 20 year old. A 2 year old is very egocentric and doesn’t understand that he/she is not the center of the universe. An adult has a higher level of thinking and can understand and empathize with others.

I don’t think anon was saying that hitting is acceptable, just that it can occur. As the adult in the situation, it is the AP’s challenge (with help from Host parents) to help the child develop a sense of empathy and respect for the feelings of others.

anon this time April 7, 2010 at 12:03 am

I never said it was acceptable. I said these situations arise, and a caregiver should be prepared to deal with them. What if the parent isn’t around at the moment? Any caregiver worth her salt should be able (or able and willing to learn) to understand the situation, and to deal with it right, and be mature enough not to take it as a personal offense from a young child.
It is also naive to think that in a new family kids will be “good” and will not misbehave. Every kid will misbehave, and if it is a problem that repeats itself, maybe its time to reevaluate the caregiver’s skills.

ExAP April 7, 2010 at 5:48 pm

Au pairs are usually about 18-20 years old. They don’t have a professional education in child care. Just their common sense, and some hours of working with children, plus maybe siblings.
You cannot expect them to be able to handle such a situation perfectly, if they never experienced it before and if it came out of the blue. That is not fair.

Lee April 6, 2010 at 10:09 pm

Uh – my child is not and has not been violent to me, a caregiver, or a babysitter. Making a blanket assumption that all children have an incident or incidents of violence is way way wrong.

Anonymous April 6, 2010 at 11:11 pm

However what I feel that she is saying is that if the kid hits the caregiver that it is the caregivers problem. I disagree. If your child is hitting someone else it is just as much your problem as it is theres you are there parent and the number one person in charge. I do agree the au pair should have enough intiative to say something to the child and handle the situation. However I also think the parents should not just think that it is au pairs problem and thats that.

PA au pair mom April 6, 2010 at 11:54 pm

I agree that it is not only the caregiver’s problem when a child hits, or bites. It is the responsibility of all of the adults in the child’s life to work together to teach the child that the action is not acceptable and has consequences.

anon this time April 7, 2010 at 12:18 am

I didn’t say exactly that. But if the au pair is the ONLY adult in the world that my child hits, than something is going on in this relationship that has to be reexamined. Maybe (as was in my case) the au pair didn’t position herself as an adult in relation to my child. Half a year into the relationship, turns out my child was convinced that the au pair is a kid just like her. Maybe she didn’t define any boundaries at all.
Of course it is wrong to hit. Of course I will work with the au pair and my child to correct the situation. But how was it even allowed to come to that?
I am not placing the fault squarely on the au pair. It is the fault of my child, it is my fault that I haven’t observed the deterioration of the relationship of the child with the au pair that could even lead to that and didn’t step in on time, and it is my fault that I birthed a child capable of hitting, or didn’t pay enough loving attention to her having had to return to work at her tender age of 12 weeks.
But I still believe, and I have observed with my children, that with a competent, capable and loving caregiver, they are happy and well-behaved. Hitting behavior doesn’t just come out of nowhere, in the case of my kids. They are healthy normal kids that are not spoiled. I have no problems with them that I cannot handle. I am not Mary Poppins.

Anonymous April 7, 2010 at 4:13 am

I agree that there could be something wrong with the relationship however if there is a problem with the au pair and child ie hitting you should try to overcome it together instead of classifying it as a miss with the au pair. It isnt your fault that your birthed a child capable of hitting however it is your responsibility to guide them through it and make them know that it is not okay.

Melissa April 6, 2010 at 11:26 pm

I agree that hitting

Melissa April 6, 2010 at 11:37 pm

Sorry, accidentally hit “Submit” in my last post. I agree that hitting, or biting or what have you, are a typical part of development. That doesn’t make it ok, of course, but expected, and as PA AP Mom said, the onus is on the adult to manage it.
I do not think it is as simple as saying, it is the AP’s problem, or the parents problem, or whomever. However, I also do not think it is nearly as simple as saying that we should never expect or tolerate children having violent behavior. I have a special needs child, who is generally on the opposite spectrum of violent behavior (she is usually the one hugging or consoling those who get hurt on the playground). However, she has taught me a HUGE lesson in parenting that is it sooo easy to stand back and judge and say ‘my child has never done this or that, so yours shouldn’t either.” I am often the parent who is somewhat embarrassed because my child is doing something the other kids typically don’t . The key, as with most issues, seems to be that the AP needs to really talk and connect with the parents regarding this issue. Maybe the dad thought he was doing a good thing and supporting the AP? Or maybe he thought “I don’t have time to deal with this” and moved on, which is a whole different thing altogether. Regardless, it sounds like this AP has already determined that the best scenario for her is to move on.

PA au pair mom April 6, 2010 at 11:57 pm

wow Lee. I am jealous that you never had to deal with hitting or biting!!! Every kid I know has gone through some stage where they did something like that.

Anna April 7, 2010 at 12:25 am

Lee, are you a mom?
My babies (infants) were biting down on my nipple (ouch!) before they could talk!
I cannot believe that you kid never tested boundaries. That’s how kids learn there are boundaries, no? Every toddler I know at some point bit or pinched or pulled mom’s hair…

HM in NV April 7, 2010 at 12:36 am

Ditto!

Lee April 7, 2010 at 7:03 am

I am both a mom and a full-time teacher at a school for children aged toddler through middle school so every day I spend all day with many children.

Anonymous April 7, 2010 at 9:14 am

good on you lee :)

Anonymous Too April 8, 2010 at 7:28 pm

Your statement that your child “is not and has not been violent to me, a caregiver, or a babysitter,” struck me as unusual, as well.

Maybe we are defining “being violent” differently.

Or maybe something like hitting or biting has happened but your caregiver or babysitter didn’t think to mention it to you because it is so normal.

aria April 7, 2010 at 4:14 am

“It is au pair’s duty (with help, support and advice from parents) to find a way to prevent those situations, and to squash them at the beginning.”

No. It is the PARENTS’ duty to find a way to prevent those situations and squash them at the beginning, with help and support from the au pair. If your kids are hitting and biting the AP, that isn’t the AP’s problem. Yes, it is normal for kids to act out and be naughty, but some behaviors are not acceptable, and it’s your (as a parent) job to make that clear to your kids BEFORE the AP even arrives!

It’s up to her to continue reinforcing what you teach them, but it’s up to you to parent your children and let them know that some things are unacceptable.

Katie April 7, 2010 at 5:46 am

Couldnt agree more.

anon this time April 7, 2010 at 7:21 am

I have made that clear, but I am not there when the au pair is with the kids. That’s why I have the au pair, because I have to work.
When she is with them, she is “on duty”.

I think you are an au pair, you seem to be so eager to be finding fault with the mother. My kids don’t hit and bite ME. Why? Because I DO reinforce that and they KNOW it is not acceptable.

About your earlier comment on trying to overcome it together. You seem to be into nitpicking words etc. How do you know we didn’t? Let me make it clear. This incident happened with one child of mine, three times during the whole year. Yes, three times might be too many, but I have worked with the au pair from the beginning, teaching her to prevent such misbehavior, and she is finishing her year with us. I have worked with my child. We must be some monsters, huh?
Every au pair has weaknesses and strength. Our au pair is mostly wonderful, but her weakness is that she doesn’t have the very effective skills to deal with children misbehaving (I am not talking about hitting here, just in general), and lets it escalate to the stage it never gets to when the kids are with us. It has worked for the whole year because my kids are normally good (not only in my opinion, I hear teachers, other parents, etc. singing praises to their good behavior), and most of the time she can deal. I have been working with her teaching her the skills, but learning is a process and doesn’t happen overnight, and once a wrong kind of relationship is established with the child (i.e. peer vs. a figure of authority), it takes a lot of work to change.

Katie April 7, 2010 at 7:28 am

well you said you didnt notice that it was bad with the au pair until it the relationship was lost between the au pair and your child. sorry I’m not calling you a bad parent or anything. I’m simply stating my point of view. I never called you a monster or your children. you said you didnt step in on time when the relationship was deteriorating. By the way yes I was an au pair however that doesnt mean a person who wasnt an au pair previously wouldnt have the same view as me.

Katie April 7, 2010 at 7:31 am

by the way you seemed to leave out the details of working with your previous au pair in the situation so sorry I made an assumption

anon this time April 7, 2010 at 7:33 am

I did not see the relationship deteriorating, because the au pair is on duty when I am NOT HOME.
She never told me anything was wrong until the hitting incident occurred already.

Katie April 7, 2010 at 7:43 am

okay fair enough I misinterpreted it then..

Katie April 6, 2010 at 9:26 pm

When I was an au pair and the child screamed at me or hit me I would put him/her in time out. Then when the mum or dad came along they would immediately be out of time out/ not acknowledge the issue. I was told I was being to strict by disciplining them and that it was the parents job and basically I had to just put up with it. When I discussed this with the host mother she offered no solution as to what to do only to be jolly (basically meaning to let them walk all over me).. which in the end left me leaving my host family.So I kind of think the dad was trying to support in this situation he may have had other urgent things on his mind or was just having a bad day like we all do sometimes. I do think the parents should follow through by talking to the children later after the issue has occured.

Taking a computer lunch April 6, 2010 at 10:12 pm

I expect my typical child to be respectful and polite at all times. He gets resentful because the Camel gets a by, so we discipline her as well, although her functional age (at 11) is under 1, so she doesn’t really understand. My APs know that they can meet out punishments (e.g. take away TV) and that I will uphold it. My son knows that if he were to misbehave with an AP that I would come down on him like a ton of bricks. In my book there is no call for a child to be disrespectful toward any adult. My son knows that every adult has different rules and he has to adjust his behavior accordingly.

Au Pair in CO April 6, 2010 at 11:17 pm

One of my kids hit me in the face while the whole family was in the car. I told him firmly “Don’t do that, it hurts when you hit me”. The host dad didn’t say anything, but the host mom told me “not to sound so rude and annoyed when I corrected her kids”. Excuse me? Your kid just hit me, of course I’m annoyed. She didn’t say anything to the kid about what he did.

To VA AuPairMaidNanny: I do think the host dad was just trying to let you handle the situation. Of course it would have been nice to get some supporting words, but if he had stayed any longer, the girl would just have kept trying to get out from the time out. I do think he should have talked to you later, after the situation had calmed down, to check if you were alright.

Lee April 7, 2010 at 7:06 am

The problem was that HD was laughing and letting the child hang on his leg when he said ‘I told you not to bite.’ That shows the HD was not being fully supportive. 90% of what we communicate is not by words and taking into account the 90% I’d say he could have done a much better job with his body language to show he was being supportive.

Anonymous April 7, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Lee, I hear you but I want to add that I teach in a private school and every teacher knows never to call parents because when children misbehave private school parents try to get the teacher fired. We also overgrade because if we give honest grades ( I am not a big believer in grades ), the parents will go to the board and get the teacher fired or reprimanded. If a child physically hurt me ( this is NOT a special ed school ) , I would seriously consider suing the parents. We learn tricks after years of experience.Many host parents sound like private school parents. Aupairs do not have many years to learn to deal with hostile kids. Also, some people get an aupair when all else has failed ( although they don’t tell the aupair or the agency that ).

ExAP April 7, 2010 at 5:55 pm

I agree. It often seems like if one au pair isn’t perfect and did a tiny bit wrong (or like you say itactualy is about the child), let’s get a new one. Hire & fire.
Of course, it’s not with all HPs, and maybe it’s not the majority, but it’s too many.
I’ve had many ap friends rematching because of situations like that.
It’s simply sad.

Katie April 8, 2010 at 2:17 am

I agree with this too. When I had interviewed with my last host family and they said there au pair had just finished her year. That wasnt true she only lasted 6 months because of a situation exactly like this and I only lasted 7 months because of a situation like this and not clicking with the family. The host parents actually told me it wasnt me and they didnt even know if it would change when they got a new au pair.. Hence why I dont have to most positive outlook to aupairing as you can see in the above posts.

look I’m not trying to be a horrible person towards the HP. I just had a bad experience which is why I dont always have a positive look on things. I agree that a lot of au pairs did have positive experiences and thought it was the best year of there lives. I’m just not one of them

Scorched Earth Host Parent April 8, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Some host families are nightmares and some au pairs are nightmares. It goes both ways obviously.

Anonymous Too April 8, 2010 at 7:34 pm

Wow! What do “private school parents” sound like exactly?

Am I a different parent–and to follow this to its natural conclusion–do my kids exhibit different behaviors, are they less violoent now that they are in public school than they did when they were in private school?

There were some obnoxious hellions at the private school, parented by pushover parents. And there are obnoxious hellions at the public school, parented by pushover parents.

Parents learn tricks from (the good) teachers, too.

My 2 cents April 9, 2010 at 9:49 am

And let the gross overgeneralizing and extrapolating begin . . .

Anonymous April 9, 2010 at 10:00 am

hmm well obviously this has happened where she works. I really dont think she is saying it for all private schools?

NannyKelly April 7, 2010 at 7:49 am

This is so difficult because as an au pair you often feel helpless! The children I looked after as an au pair, never spit on me or bit me but they were verbally abusive. The 7 yearold boy would often to call me “fat” and repeat things I’m sure his parents said while I wasn’t around such as “You don’t know how to talk to children!”. The first week I was there, the boy really tested me, then during dinner the 2nd night told his mom that I wasn’t “strong enough”. His mother translated all of this for me. She knew her children were testing me and didn’t even say “Kelly’s the adult you listen to when I am not around”. She just encouraged me to “be more strong”. Cool, thanks for the advice HM.

But I did nanny for a family where the little girl bit me once, it wasn’t to be mean or hateful, she wasn’t like that, but still the mother reinforced me by saying “We don’t bite adults! That’s disrepectful!”. I think an au pair or nanny just wants reinforcement from the parents !

Anonymous April 7, 2010 at 7:59 am

I’m just wondering if all these au pairs have complaints about there families why the hell are you putting yourself through this. You are young do something you enjoy instead of travelling to another country where sure there are some exceptions to it but most au pairs on here seem to be complaining of how much of a miserable time they have. Life is short. Enjoy it.

Aria April 7, 2010 at 12:04 pm

That’s like saying, “what’s even the point of having AuPairMom.com? All you HM do is bitch all day about dumb stuff like using your coffee mug.”

really? Come on. We’re all here to get our concerns out there, and what kind of comments do you expect on a post about HK being mean? Sheesh. Life is short. Find some tact.

Anonymous April 7, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Aria:

Your immaturity wouldn’t last for a minute in most of the host families on this board.

Kat April 7, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Did you notice that this forum is a place where people talk about problems and ask for help? If they’d talk about how extremely happy they are all day long, it wouldn’t make any sense to write at all, would it?

Of course Au pairing has it’s bad aspects. We are taking care of kids for a whole year. Do you know ANY mom that is home with her kids and not having problems with them once in a full year? I don’t think so. So why should Au pairs just be shiny happy people all the time? It doesn’t work that way.

But having said that, I am pretty sure EVERY Au pair here would agree on the sentence ‘My year as an Au pair was the best (or one of the best) year(s) of my life!’. No matter how much sh-t they went through, cause that’s what makes you stronger and mature! That’s what we came to the US for. If we wouldn’t have wanted that, we would have stayed with our mommies ;)

aria April 7, 2010 at 4:30 pm

Yowza! Not touching that one. ;)

Anonymous April 7, 2010 at 8:11 pm

um I’m just saying if au pairs are actually unhappy with what they are doing then what are they doing? Its not saying the host mums a bitch, I actually never said that. I’m just saying if someone is miserable with something then why do it?

cv harquail April 8, 2010 at 6:06 am

There is always going to be a bit of a bias towards “problems” on this blog, because our role here is to help people have better au pair relationships. People with good relationships don’t need help. Hence, they don’t participate as much as people who are experiencing problems and challenges. You wouldn’t complain if a person wore a bathing suit to a pool because that’s what’s appropriate, right? So you have to remember that discussing ‘bad’ parts about au pairing is appropriate here.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that because we talk alot about problems and how to fix them, that problems are the only thing important about au pairing. cv

Anonymous April 8, 2010 at 6:23 am

Thanks for the response. I understand where you are coming from. I’m just saying if someone is miserable with there job and living situation that much then they dont have to continue living with it. Thats not to say that ALL HOST FAMILIES are bad. Of course there not otherwise au pairing wouldnt have lasted for very long :)

Janet April 7, 2010 at 8:24 am

My oldest son hit our au pair when he was 3 1/2. It was a phase that he went through, and he hit her a couple of times. My husband and I reinforced to him that the AP was in charge and that he should never ever hit anyone. I felt it was happening because the AP wasn’t standing up to him or being an adult figure who could discipline him (he is an aggressive child who constantly tests his limits). I went over how she should handle him when he acted that way, and it stopped. As parents we often think the AP knows how to handle children, but not all children are easy and want to get along. My 2nd son is wonderful and very compliant. My oldest son is strong willed, and he’s a handful.

PA au pair mom April 7, 2010 at 9:44 am

Janet makes a VERY good point. Every child, and every AP, is different.

What works in one situation will not necessarily work in another.

Anonymous April 7, 2010 at 9:54 am

and thats because every person is different :)

HRHM April 7, 2010 at 10:53 am

I have to say that we are having behavior issues with DD2 & 5 now, BECAUSE of our last AP. She was always a playmate, never a grownup. She didn’t like conflict with the kids and would let them walk all over her. When they jumped on her, were rough, etc, she just played along and never stopped it. I am having to retrain them because they can be worse than dogs, jumping all over the new AP who is definitely NOT interested in being pounced on every minute. She played the “repeating” game with them, and now DD5 frequently repeats what I say to her which annoys the He** out of me. I am trying to explain to her that it is rude, but she doesn’t understand it because it was fine with AP. I will definitely be changing the way I interview because of how much work AP2 made for me, DH and AP3. The AP needs to be a strong disciplinarian and be supported. It won’t work if both components aren’t present.

Calif Mom April 10, 2010 at 3:23 pm

O000h, CV! This is a great topic for a new post!

We have had to go through post-AP behavioral de-tox, as well.

Corey April 7, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Biting is not tolerated in my house. If my child bit my au pair the sh-t would hit the fan! My husband would definitely have said more to support our au pair in this instance.

Darthastewart April 7, 2010 at 1:25 pm

I let the au-pair finish, then will have a stern discussion with the kids. And.. If a child tries to get out of time-out with the au-pair- especially if the AP is the one who put them there- they get extra punishment.

Funnily enough, I’ve had a couple of old au-pairs come back to visit very recently, and the kids did something, and the three of us hollered at the kids at the same time. It was kind of funny hearing it come out in stereo!

Kids must respect the au-pairs in our house, but we do also ask them how things went, and what’s up with them.

pacificnw_mom April 7, 2010 at 4:01 pm

thinking back to when I was 20 and babysitting – I would have told a family thata I would no longer work for them is their child bit me on the face. Thaat would have been to much for me. The au pair is not the parent or punching bag; I think the parents need to step up in this situation.

Sarah April 7, 2010 at 8:22 pm

I agree that the au pair has to handle the situation in some way however the host parents should also enforce that what they did isnt acceptable behaviour.

Angie April 9, 2010 at 1:51 am

(1) what to do with the child,
au pair – Tell them it is very not ok, give a time out, and take away a privilege. This is a serious infraction and at age 4 the kid should understand it. host parent – while I think normally host parents should allow the au pair to be in charge when they are working, I think this is a severe enough case to intervene to seriously talk to the 4 year old and say that biting is never ok in a serious eye to eye conversation.

(2) what to say to parents when a child is hurtful, dangerous, or mean, and
that you are worried about the child’s interactions with others, and that they might hurt someone or themself. A 4 year old should not be able to hurt your feelings by saying mean things. You can correct the negative comments yourself with time outs or just reminding them that isn’t how we talk, but this doesn’t rise to the level of physical violence by any stretch.

(3) how to deal with a host parent like this dad, who does not seem to want to take responsibility for his kid or to support his au pair’s efforts.
ask for him to reinforce you when you want him to do it in a calm manner.

KM April 10, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Children need to learn that a family is a team. There are rules on a team. If basic rules are written down on a big poster board and everyone (AP, Mom, Dad, Children) is present when the rules are reviewed, this helps. When the consequences are also written down on a big poster board, this helps an AP manage discipline and get the support from the host parents. The children will know their parents support the rules and consequences. This tactic is often used by Super Nanny and it does work.

AP’s will know they are supported. They will know what discipline methods they can use that are supported by the parents. Children are visual and to see a smiling face from a parent during a reprimand would be confusing to them.

As for biting. . .did anyone see a recent Super Nanny episode where the 3-4 yo was biting his mom in the privates? This show and Nanny 911 offer a lot of creative ideas for discipline, structure and communication in raising children.

Calif Mom April 10, 2010 at 3:36 pm

The “House Rules” being posted — along with the day’s schedule — is something that the most-successful teachers I’ve encountered also do, even with 2-3 year olds. Especially powerful when the kids themselves create the list of rules. It reinforces the family’s culture and is a touchstone for remembering how to behave. Great reminder, KM!

(Might be good to have APs read Emotional Intelligence, too. It’s been translated into almost every language.)

Anonymous April 10, 2010 at 6:50 pm

I thought of someone else the host father in question ( & I think he was trying to support the aupair ) could have done. He could have said to the aupair , in front of his child, ” I am sorry that she bit you. Is there any first aid or medical help that I can offer ? Do you need a few minutes to recuperate ? ” This would have sent a strong message to the child and it would have sent a message to the aupair that he had some concern about her physical well being. It takes presence of mind to stay cool when your child does something hurtful. I have been in playgroups and at sports events where the parents became very aggressive ( and hurtful ) toward each other over children’s behavior. One time, my son hugged a little girl, knocked her down by accident, and the mother started screaming at me. I told her that it was an accident, I was sorry ( the kids were 1 ) and I was not going to take her unkind words personally. She then screamed ” I want you to take it personally… it is intended personally.” Eventually, she left the group. In another playgroup, a child bit another child on the leg. The mother of the biter physically separated the kids and then said calmly to the mother of the bittee , ” She bit her. I am really sorry .”
The mother of the kid who had been bitten wasn’t very gracious but the incident made an impression on me. The mother of the child who did the biting did not cover it up, excuse it, or get defensive. She just separated the kids and apologized. The child in that case was about 3:
old enough to benefit from the example.

AUPAIR Momma April 14, 2010 at 12:05 am

If the aupair already knows what she is going to do why did she bother to post or ask for advice? That is kind of annoying. It seems like a lot of these posts are just to feed the ego of the poster to make them feel like they did the right thing.

Anonymous April 14, 2010 at 7:32 am

A lot of the time people want a second perspective, to see if they are making/did make the right decision. I wouldn’t take it as egotistical.

aria June 3, 2010 at 4:30 am

I have a question that sort of relates to this post… well, not really. But I thought this would be the best place to come for advice.

I watch 5 year old fraternal twin boys and I adore them. They’re just *good* sweet kids, and if they ever misbehave, it’s never anything a quick time out in the corner can’t solve. But they have extremely different personalities, and I’m in a bind about how to deal with one.

The physically smaller boy is very timid and shy, and he likes sitting in bed with his teddy bear and just thinking. He sometimes has trouble making friends because he gets nervous around lots of kids.

The bigger one is the polar opposite. He has absolutely no qualms about going right up to anyone and telling them what he thinks. Ex- the other day, we were walking down the street, and an elderly woman stopped and smiled at them, and said something along the lines of, “Oh, what sweet children,” and then crossed a driveway without looking. I always tell them to STOP at driveways and look both ways, and the bigger twin immediately started scolding this poor woman! At the playground, if he perceives something to be unfair (he was THINKING about going on the swing, but that little girl took the swing he was thinking about) he’ll get in the kid’s face and yell at them. If a baby stops and stares at him, he’ll put his hands on his hips and scowl, and most of the babies run away!

I’ve tried telling him that you get more flies with honey, so he should try to be ‘sweeter’ like honey, but I’m at a block. He’s a good boy, and I know he doesn’t actually mean to hurt anyone, or sass anyone; he’s just really freaking impulsive and aggressive! I don’t want him to change his personality, because it’s part of who he is, but I want him to understand that he can’t just go around yelling at people in the streets.

Any ideas? Thanks!

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