Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Family and Children => Topic started by: snowdragon on March 28, 2013, 07:14:28 PM

Title: Babysitting defience
Post by: snowdragon on March 28, 2013, 07:14:28 PM
      My PT  was in dire straights tonight because her regular childcare went out of town - she knew this two weeks ago and had mentioned each time we got together that she might not be in this time because of it.  I told her last time that I could watch him, but that if I did we'd likely end up at my sister's playing video games with her kids. I was not too worried about it as we and the kids had gotten together a few times before for various outings.  The child was openly defiant, gave me a couple of lectures about things he did not like me doing in my own car ( like pulling into a parking lot to call my sister to let her know we were on the way) manipulative and lied straight to my face and openly defied me when I told him not to kick the car seat ( I again pulled into a parking lot and switched him over to the other side.) and when I told him not to eat in the car - he went ahead and did anyway ( he had been fed eggs and muffins that were his suggestion   not 15 minutes before and tossed about half in the  garbage, so hunger was not an issue).

   He even pitched a temper tantrum because I would not over ride the house rules and let him watch his favorite movie.  After my sister told him it was not allowed at her house, no sooner did she walk out of the room than he started with the crying and the "I told you to put it on."
      I did speak to the mother afterward - but I am wondering what parents would like a babysitter to do with behavior like this.  If it had been my niece or nephew it would be a different story as I could have either sent them to their rooms or something.  With this kid, because of the circumstances that mom was at work for a couple of hours, I could not even take him back to her til her last client left. All told I had had him for less than three hours - and all this happened in that short of a time, I expected better out of an 8 or 9 year old [ he's in 4th grade].
  Since several of my friends have kids of this age range - I am fairly sure I will be babysitting one of them again. What can a baby sitter do about behavior like this - other than putting up with it and telling the parents later.


Title: Re: Babysitting defience
Post by: gramma dishes on March 28, 2013, 07:20:26 PM
I wouldn't make arrangements to babysit this kid again UNLESS you first laid some ground rules with the parent(s) in advance. 

"The last time I watched your son, he ..... (description of his behaviors).  I'm sorry, but I'm just not willing to take that on again." 

If she apologizes and reassures you that he will be quite seriously 'instructed' as to what's appropriate behavior beforehand and if he then follows through with better behavior, problem solved.  If it turns out to be a repeat, then "Sorry, that just won't be possible" comes to mind.
Title: Re: Babysitting defience
Post by: Bottlecaps on March 28, 2013, 07:25:54 PM
All you really can do is ask the parents in advance how they prefer their child be disciplined in the event that they misbehave. Most parents will be happy to let you know how they prefer that you handle it. If I were a parent, I know that it would give me peace of mind knowing that my kid will be disciplined, should they need to be, in a fashion that is consistent with my own views on discipline.

As for this kid, POD to gramma dishes - lay some ground rules, and any subsequent requests to babysit should be dependent upon whether or not this kid followed said rules. Although to be honest, after this time, I personally would have a hard time agreeing to a second time to even give a second chance!
Title: Re: Babysitting defience
Post by: snowdragon on March 28, 2013, 07:27:24 PM
I won't take this kid again, ever.  Nor will he be invited on anymore outings with us, even if mom is attendance, a lot of that I would forgive, but the outright lying to my face will not have a chance to be repeated.

  But many kids try stuff like this with babysitters, I am hoping to have some tools to deal with it with other kids, other than waiting for the parents to handle it later.
Title: Re: Babysitting defience
Post by: gramma dishes on March 28, 2013, 07:31:05 PM
I won't take this kid again, ever. 

LOL!!    :) :D ;D

Good for you!  I wouldn't either!  I wasn't sure by your original post whether your were willing to give him a second chance, but you've made it clear that is NOT your intention.  Again -- good decision! 
Title: Re: Babysitting defience
Post by: rose red on March 28, 2013, 07:31:18 PM
Off-topic but what does "PT" stand for?
Title: Re: Babysitting defience
Post by: Bottlecaps on March 28, 2013, 07:31:52 PM
I won't take this kid again, ever.  Nor will he be invited on anymore outings with us, even if mom is attendance, a lot of that I would forgive, but the outright lying to my face will not have a chance to be repeated.

Good on ya! :) I have to admit, I would have had a hard time keeping my cool in the car. My car, my rules - and don't even get me started on the lying!  >:(
Title: Re: Babysitting defience
Post by: gramma dishes on March 28, 2013, 07:33:32 PM
I would honestly hope that MOST kids don't act like this.  I don't know if we can give you specific suggestions because every child and every parent and every situation is different. 

One thing that you might make clear up front though is that you let the parents know you will NOT be tolerating back talk, open disobedience or insistence (from their kids) that you disobey traffic rules.
Title: Re: Babysitting defience
Post by: EmmaJ. on March 28, 2013, 09:23:56 PM
Off-topic but what does "PT" stand for?

Thanks, I was just going to ask too!  I am terrible with figuring out abbreviations.
Title: Re: Babysitting defience
Post by: kherbert05 on March 28, 2013, 10:02:47 PM
I won't take this kid again, ever.  Nor will he be invited on anymore outings with us, even if mom is attendance, a lot of that I would forgive, but the outright lying to my face will not have a chance to be repeated.

  But many kids try stuff like this with babysitters, I am hoping to have some tools to deal with it with other kids, other than waiting for the parents to handle it later.
Good for you on the first part.

I disagree with you about the 2nd part.  They might try to pull something fudge the rules a little bit - but that level of attempted manipulation I have to have my may attitude is learned. I suspect that either parents or regular babysitter gives in regularly.
Title: Re: Babysitting defience
Post by: Lynn2000 on March 28, 2013, 11:11:51 PM
I think Bottlecaps had a good suggestion, that you can ask the parents about disciplining their child when you make the babysitting arrangements--one of those standard questions along with dietary restrictions, naptimes, medical conditions, etc.. It doesn't mean you expect their child to misbehave, just that you want to be prepared for it.

And the other part of it is what rules you, as the babysitter, have, and what ways you've already thought of to discipline kids. For example, like you said when you were at your sister's house, you didn't really have a "room" you could send the kid to for a timeout. So maybe you have to think about a different place to put a child for a timeout, like a chair facing the corner in the kitchen, or a couch at the unused end of the living room. Since kids might be coming in from a variety of families with different rules, I think a warning on the first offense would be appropriate--"Simon, that is back-talk, and I don't allow back-talk. If you do that again to me, we will go straight home instead of getting ice cream." And then if he does it again--follow through on the consequence.

Most generally well-behaved kids will pick up on new rules quickly if you explain them, even if they're different from at home. The original kid sounds like a bit of an extreme.
Title: Re: Babysitting defience
Post by: Paper Roses on March 28, 2013, 11:13:02 PM
Off-topic but what does "PT" stand for?

Thanks, I was just going to ask too!  I am terrible with figuring out abbreviations.

I was wondering as well - I'm guessing Physical Therapist, since snowdragon has been dealing with the broken leg?
Title: Re: Babysitting defience
Post by: *inviteseller on March 28, 2013, 11:40:25 PM
I wouldn't babysit him anymore.  He is a bit old to be acting in the manner he did.  Maybe he likes to push buttons to see what he can get away with when mom is not around, maybe mom treats him like the most specialist snowflake, either way that kind of behavior is exhausting to deal with.  When I babysit, I always ask the parents what I should do if there is any acting up and I follow it (except the time the parent told me to give them a good smack!  ummm, no siree bob!)  But I meant it for fairly minor offenses...fighting with siblings, breaking basic house rules.  This kid you had seemed to just be plain and simple defiant. 
Title: Re: Babysitting defience
Post by: LifeOnPluto on March 29, 2013, 12:16:42 AM
The kid is 8 or 9?! From the description of his behaviour, he sounded about 4 years old! I agree with inviteseller - he is too old to be behaving like that.

I'd personally give his mum a brief run-down of his behaviour, so she's aware of what went on. Then I'd make a mental note never to babysit that kid again.
Title: Re: Babysitting defience
Post by: Softly Spoken on March 29, 2013, 12:51:32 AM
Wow, this takes me back to my time as a nanny. Not that the kids I watched were little terrors, but the question of rules and how to enforce them.

I knew instinctively, even when I started taking my babysitter training course as a tween, that kids would go as far as you let them. I knew not to escalate, and to meet anger and boundary-pushing with calm-but-firm consequences.

When I watched a child, my first question to their parent after getting emergency phone numbers was "What are the rules and what happens if they break them?" I developed a rep among the parents as the 'fun' sitter who the children loved to play with...while among the children I was known as the 'strict' sitter who was even harder to mess with than their parents - and both reps were completely true. >:D

If I don't get any guidance from a parent, then it becomes a "I'm-in-charge-so-we-go-by-my-rules" situation. Misbehavior means lost privileges. If a child wants to do X, they must do Y first (i.e. say 'please' if they want something, or eat their vegetable before they can have dessert). Isolation, however temporary, is a very powerful tool. Consequences, consequences, consequences.

I remember when I got push-back about rules from kids, it always helped to offer to call their parents and clarify. If I didn't choose to allow them to do it, kids that were fond of playing the "my Mom always lets me" card got told "Well then you can ask her when she picks you up." >:D
Title: Re: Babysitting defience
Post by: scotcat60 on March 29, 2013, 06:15:59 AM
He's been doing what children often do when left with sitters, pushing the boundaries to see how far he can go, but you stayed firm (hooray) and he didn't get away with it. Who knows, if you did take him again he might well not try it on, knowing what happened last time. But personally, I wouldn't offer to do so, on the grounds that inviteseller posted.
Title: Re: Babysitting defience
Post by: bloo on March 29, 2013, 07:30:14 AM
Wow, this takes me back to my time as a nanny. Not that the kids I watched were little terrors, but the question of rules and how to enforce them.

I knew instinctively, even when I started taking my babysitter training course as a tween, that kids would go as far as you let them. I knew not to escalate, and to meet anger and boundary-pushing with calm-but-firm consequences.

When I watched a child, my first question to their parent after getting emergency phone numbers was "What are the rules and what happens if they break them?" I developed a rep among the parents as the 'fun' sitter who the children loved to play with...while among the children I was known as the 'strict' sitter who was even harder to mess with than their parents - and both reps were completely true. >:D

If I don't get any guidance from a parent, then it becomes a "I'm-in-charge-so-we-go-by-my-rules" situation. Misbehavior means lost privileges. If a child wants to do X, they must do Y first (i.e. say 'please' if they want something, or eat their vegetable before they can have dessert). Isolation, however temporary, is a very powerful tool. Consequences, consequences, consequences.

I remember when I got push-back about rules from kids, it always helped to offer to call their parents and clarify. If I didn't choose to allow them to do it, kids that were fond of playing the "my Mom always lets me" card got told "Well then you can ask her when she picks you up." >:D

Totally agree with Softly Spoken here. I have a rep as a 'fun' parent with my kid's friends but I've heard on more than one occasion that I'm 'scary'.

When I'm watching my friends' little kids, one is a nightmare. It's very rare I watch her because this little girl figured out quick I can't be manipulated. So she doesn't like to come to my house unless she really wants to spend time with my kids (who are really good with little ones). When I do watch her she would spend her first 15-30 minutes with her nose in the corner, depending on how stubborn she felt like being, then she'd behave. She would come in like a tidal wave: yelling, stomping, kicking, spitting (this is, of course, after the innocent crying jag while her mom was leaving).

It's a shame about that kid Snowdragon. By the fact he was put in your care with no instructions for discipline + that level of misbehavior means there is no discipline at home. His future will not be bright.
Title: Re: Babysitting defience
Post by: wonderfullyanonymous on March 29, 2013, 08:59:10 AM
I only watched these kids once, because there regular sitter was not available, but the following happened to me, and I learned a lot from it.


There were 2 boys, pretty close in age, once was more of a wallflower, the other a little more boisterous, but they were both good kids.
The morning I watched these 2, LMB, took a bowl of leftover popcorn, poured salt on it, some pepper, some other things, and I just watched him, I never said anything.

He finally says, aren't you going to yell at me?

I replied back, no, why would I do that?

He then proceeds to clean up the mess he just made without even being asked.

Of all the kids I ever watched, I had one little nightmare child. He lived across the street from me, and until I watched him I had no idea how little discipline he had. The first time I watched him I limited him on sweets and treats, when he asked, made sure he ate lunch, etc. The next, and last time I watched him, his mother told me he could eat whatever snack he wanted. Who am I to go against what mom said, especially when the kid is right there. He ate an entire box of ice cream sandwiches, and because of what his mother told me, in front of him, I could not say no.

Title: Re: Babysitting defience
Post by: CharlieBraun on March 29, 2013, 10:55:28 AM
Would anyone object if I started a thread in Off-Topic for Tales of the Babysitting Variety?  I can see we all have some common experiences!

OP - I totally back you on not sitting for this child again.  As for future, "better" ways of handling it?  I think everyone has covered the "ask up front" aspect of touching base with parents, even if you know them in other settings, but I actually think you did very well in sticking to boundaries and not allowing yourself to be provoked into an unpleasant reaction.
Title: Re: Babysitting defience
Post by: TootsNYC on March 29, 2013, 11:36:09 AM
I think that the "how to handle discipline issues" should be an automatic thing for parents as well as babysitters.
Title: Re: Babysitting defience
Post by: rain on March 29, 2013, 12:16:22 PM
 ::) - can you add ex's to that?
Title: Re: Babysitting defience
Post by: EllenS on March 29, 2013, 12:27:16 PM
At 8 or 9, he is old enough to be spoken to like a reasonable person.

"Look, the way you are acting is not going to work with me.  Your mom left me in charge, so that means I make the decisions.  If you listen to me and treat me with respect,  we can have fun. But if you keep on doing x, y, and z, I am going to have to treat you like a little toddler, and that means I just ignore everything you say and make sure you are safe until your mom comes to get you.  Is that how you want this to go?"
Title: Re: Babysitting defience
Post by: mmswm on March 29, 2013, 12:35:42 PM
I agree with the suggestion to ask the parents how they would like discipline handled should it become necessary.  As for the time out thing, when my kids were smaller I carried a "time out mat", so no matter where we were, I could lay out the mat and there they would sit for however long they needed to calm down. It was actually just an inexpensive, small bath mat in a color that I didn't use at home, but it was easy to fold up and carry in my car or diaper bag.
Title: Re: Babysitting defience
Post by: EllenS on March 29, 2013, 02:27:32 PM
I would add a caveat - don't try to introduce any method of discipline, such as a time-out, that a child has not been used to at home.  Some personality types will just escalate, and you wouldn't want to, for example, engage in a physical wrestling match to make a 9 year old sit in time-out if he is just going to get up and run away.

Whatever you do, make sure it is something you have permission, ability, and committment to follow through with 100%, without it becoming unreasonable in proportion to the behavior.  For example, if a kid ate in my car after being instructed not to, I would pull over and throw his food away, then make him vacuum the car.  This is not unreasonable or disproportionate. Otherwise a truly defiant kid will "call your bluff" and push you beyond the zone of a sane and measured response. 

Most parents and other authority figures who fail to discipline, do so because they do not know what to do other than "nothing" or "going nuclear".  So anything that is not worth going nuclear, gets nothing.  You need a wide range of middle ground, and don't be afraid to take your time and think over your response.
Title: Re: Babysitting defience
Post by: Cami on March 30, 2013, 08:46:50 PM
Two lessons I've learned over the years are:

1. Ask what sorts of misbehaviors I might expect and how the parents expect me to handle them.
2. If the parents just stare at me blankly when I ask them for discipline techniques or or tell me that they don't believe in discipline or -- my personal favorite -- that they don't believe in saying "no" to children as "discipline dampens a child's natural instincts" [yeah, that's the point], then I will decline to babysit them. In other words, my agreement to babysit is contingent upon parents exercising discipline in their regular lives. Experience has taught me that parents who exercise no discipline at home have children with whom I do not want to spend one unnecessary second and certainly do not want in my care or in my home/car.
Title: Re: Babysitting defience
Post by: snowdragon on March 30, 2013, 09:24:24 PM
Off-topic but what does "PT" stand for?

Thanks, I was just going to ask too!  I am terrible with figuring out abbreviations.

Physical therapist.

Thanks for all the advice folks.  It helps a lot.
Title: Re: Babysitting defience
Post by: Eeep! on April 01, 2013, 02:52:27 PM
People have given excellent advice.  I just thought I would add that I think you now know whey she was so desperate to find a sitter.  >:D