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3.5 year old being complete nightmare generally but especially with nanny

(15 Posts)
webminx Wed 20-Nov-13 14:11:36

Hello,
Mammoth post ahead. We've recently hired our first nanny. She cares for our 4 month old son (DS2) part time and on some days, my 3.5 year old DS1 also. He is currently at nursery and will be transitioning to preschool in January so is kind of in a temporary sometimes-at-home-sometimes-at-nursery-sometimes-with-nanny situation which is not ideal but unfortunately just the way things are at the moment.

Anyway, he is generally being a bit of a nightmare behavior wise - mostly centring around using the toilet. We've been "training" for over a year, with a break and back to nappies once in between. He is definitely ready, able and totally comfortable with going to the toilet. He just seems to choose to go in his pants as he is too engrossed in playing or too lazy to go to the loo. He refuses to wear pull ups. Am at wits' end. Toileting is therefore a stress point and a trigger for undesirable behaviour both at home and at nursery.

Today, nanny tried to change him and get him to use the toilet when they came home from morning activity. He completely lost it and she endured over an hour of screaming, throwing, hitting, hair pulling, etc. He even tried to trip her up on the stairs as she brought the baby upstairs. I know this only because she phoned to check if the baby could sleep late on his nap as he was woken by all the drama. I am embarrassed, mortified and furious in equal measure. DS1 is being a total brat and the nanny is really doing her best. Am due to go home at 5pm from work but could leave earlier if required. What should I do when I get in? How can I help DS2 behave better generally but especially with the nanny? Any advice from nannies/parents who've gone through this? I know a settling-in period is to be expected but this rage and behaviour is totally inappropriate...

baggyoldcow Wed 20-Nov-13 14:33:02

Does he behave like this when it's you looking after them or is it just with the nanny? If the latter I think he's testing the waters to see what he can get away with - presumably there's a bit of jealousy over the attention the baby gets etc. going on here.
I suspect by the time you get home too much time will have passed since the incident for any intervention/punishment to be effective.
Two things I found helpful when my DD was being very rude to a nanny were 1) if I was there to be very strict and quick to put her on time out etc. This wasn't a quick fix by any means but it helped to emphasize that she couldn't get away with it. And 2) to mention it to her nursery teacher, who was very much admired. The teacher just used to talk to her from time to time about how nice the nanny was etc. and it seemed to go in!
The other thing is to discuss with the nanny what punishment/s she is allowed to use when he behaves like this. She may not feel able to punish him without your giving her license.

PeterParkerSays Wed 20-Nov-13 14:34:51

Reading your OP, I see a little boy who's had a lot of change in the last 6 months, which for him is 1/6 of the time he's been alive. He has a new brother, the nanny, trying to potty train - does he know about the preschool in January?

I would be trying to give him the vocabulary to express what he's feeling, as I think that is partially causing his rage. He's not being a brat - he's trying to show you how unhappy and angry he is, and may be exerting control over using the toilet as it's the one area of his life he does have control over.

Could you spend some 1:1 time with him, read books about new babies, being angry etc to help him recognise his feelings?

Are there any discipline procedures in place? My charge was the same age and I had the exact same problem with him when I started. It took a month of consistently putting him in the corner when he was rude or kicking off and then lavishing attention and cuddles afterwards and he did settle. it's a lot of change for your son as the others have said but he will settle given time smile

SharonCurley Wed 20-Nov-13 16:14:12

As other posters have said..it's a big change for him.I have the same age gap between my two.Thought it was all going great the first few weeks but it wasn't for a month or two until I noticed the change in behaviour-tantrums and anger.They say its like your husband leaving you for another woman , the ow moving in and then you are expected to be nice to her.I was at my wits end some days.Reallt felt I had failed her!(which is very silly)Plenty of one on one time whenever you can manage it.It all settled down again .I am lucky enough to still be in maternity leave though so it is different from your situation.I do think the one on one with both parents is v important though.

SharonCurley Wed 20-Nov-13 16:24:45

They definitely do feel a lot of anger.My dd is very gentle, sensitive , kind and affectionate but the behaviour she displayed was very angry behaviour -wanting to hurt people but not actually doing it.She also smeared poo on the toilet seat (i had a good cry after that)completely out of character.Don't be too hard on yourself or him.You are doung a great job.It will all be fine.She has been wonderful with the baby though luckily .They say to be careful around any of the baby's milestones though..I try to make sure she is accomplishing things each week, no matter how small-swimming, climbing , drawing etc

webminx Wed 20-Nov-13 20:09:44

Aww thanks so much for the replies - so good to hear am not entirely alone in this! Really do sometimes feel like I've done something horribly wrong as a parent as DS1 was, up until DS2 arrived, a perfectly lovely, reasonable little boy. After the first few weeks (which went really well, as others have mentioned!), it started and I feel like I've run out of tools to deal with it. Certainly run out of patience on the toilet front. To give DS1 his credit, like Sharon's DD, he has been lovely to the baby - very kind and gentle and affectionate. It's just adults in authority that he's struggling with. Basically, any instruction that isn't in line with his wishes results in a situation, on a spectrum from whinging (tolerable) to full-on screaming, flailing and hitting (unacceptable). The discipline in place therefore ranges from ignoring (tolerable but irritating behaviour), to counting/warning to ignoring and putting him on "thinking time" until he's ready to apologize and behave. He is as stubborn as I'm consistent though, so we unfortunately get into long, protracted behaviour/consequence/behaviour/consequence situations until someone (me) loses their rag or will to live. Am hoping that some day in the not too distant future, he'll come out of this! Just hoping the nanny doesn't give up before he does...

surpriseme Wed 20-Nov-13 20:15:22

Too late now, but I wouldn't go home early because of it as all that will teach him is if he misbehaves mummy will come home etc.
It sounds like he is testing the waters but also is completely confused by everything. Maybe he feels that if he is mean to the nanny she will go and you will come back. Some children see it as black and white as that-if the nanny wasn't there then mummy would be!
Maybe set up a reward chart, focus on one behaviour at a time. It sounds like potty training is the big one at the moment so maybe he should get a sticker for each time he goes with no fuss

cathpip Wed 20-Nov-13 20:18:22

Remember that the nanny gets to go home at the end of the day smile, he has had a lot of change, maybe sit down with the nanny and decide how to deal with the behaviour, and what discipline the nanny can give. If he see that you are both on the same page and that you both back each other up it will be easier to tackle, this won't sort itself out overnight but it will get better. Have you thought of delaying pre school till after feb half term, it may be worth a chat with the nursery staff, see what they think.

Karoleann Wed 20-Nov-13 21:03:27

Okay, I'd go with the ignoring (and praising the good behaviour) sticker chart routine.

Each time he goes to the toilet nicely (and does something) he gets a star. If he has an accident no-one makes a fuss, but he doesn't get the star. You can take the chart into nursery too and they can do it too.
He gets a reward - with nanny for every XXX stars he gets.

You have to discipline the tripping up, but everything else just ignore, its a stage they'll grow out of.

baggyoldcow Thu 21-Nov-13 06:15:46

As cath says, the nanny gets to go home. I also think (and maybe Confused will confirm?) that generally nannies are quite tolerant of our atrocious youth in the way that we mums are not. So unless she's complaining to you that your son is the worst behaved child she's ever seen and she can't possibly work with him, I wouldn't be too worried about her.
I'm sure it's a phase he'll grow out of if he gets a bit more attention from you - hard to do but it will work. Meanwhile, have a wine.

webminx Thu 21-Nov-13 14:13:41

She did actually say that in her 15 years of nannying (she's been a maternity nurse) she has never seen anything as bad sad.

baggyoldcow Thu 21-Nov-13 15:45:52

Oh dear, sorry to hear that, minx. But hang in there, I'm sure it'll work itself out. thanks

Blondeshavemorefun Thu 21-Nov-13 17:09:22

i def wouldnt come home early

sounds to me he is testing boundaries, and nanny also needs to make sure ds knows how far he can push them with her - no point in you telling him off for behaviour with her iyswim

regards PT, if training for over a year, then he isnt ready, but you say he is but too lazy/engrossed - i would either take to the toilet every hour or so - you say he refuses to wear pull ups, but if he is ready , as you say, then unless he starts going to the toilet i would put back in nappies - tho many may disagree - there is only so many wet/pooey pairs of pants you can cope with

ignoring bad behaviour can help and praise/reward the good with stars etc, but equally i wouldnt put up with hours of screaming and there would be consequences ie loses tv time/stars/fav toy

how does he behave at nursery\/ if none of the tantrums, then he is testing, and both you and nanny need need firm displine

i had a charge who was terrible for his mum she gave in all the time, said no, he winged, she said yes but for me and school was good, as we both were firm and consistent - and even at 3 he knew how to play the parents sad

oscarwilde Fri 22-Nov-13 12:57:49

Sounds like your nanny has been lucky in her career to date imo grin Definitely don't go home - I don't think that will help at all. What will help is that your son understands that what goes on at home / or at school is not a secret that he will get away with. Not that your nanny gets to whinge to you about his bad behaviour in a tattle tale manner as soon as you get in the door but that she makes a point to talk about what has gone well, and what has not in a fair way, in front of him

Several issues here I think.
1) Lots of change in his life
2) Toilet
3) Discipline approach when it all really kicks off.

1) It's your first nanny so either your son has been in full-time nursery while you work FT/PT or you have only recently returned to work and have been at home full-time since he was born. Assuming you had 3 months fulltime mat leave, it's actually quite a long time for him to have had you at home when he gets in from nursery etc etc. It will be an adjustment with the nanny. Full stop. Let her get on with it. If there's an opportunity to arrange to have one on one time with her [someone else takes care of the baby for a few hours a week] then it will be a useful opportunity to bond with her. A 4 month olds needs with feeding and attention will mean that his afternoons are probably pretty boring.

2) Not unusual. Sodding irritating but really not unusual at this age. My 3yr5mo has recently done the same thing. Very distracted at starting nursery and really regressed. Plus had trouble using new loos at different heights etc. Take him to the loo at the nursery and check that his technique is still appropriate at a junior loo especially as they have cut out sections in the seats. Seeing that wearing a nappy will be enforced if he continues to procrastinate or dirties himself intentionally should help. Continuous and scheduled trips pointing out that he is not getting their on time under his own supervision so will go when he is told to will also help. Making a HUGE fuss over good days is the best way entirely. Whether it's a sticker chart as a means to a Saturday ice-cream/new toy/magazine etc.

3) When it all really kicks off - remove the attention. Take him to his room or a safe spot and leave him to it (closing the door behind you) provided he can't hurt himself. He'll calm down much quicker. This WILL involve physically carrying him if necessary. 2-3 instances of this and it will stop. My DSis didn't have a safe spot so strapped her daughter in the pram, pushed her down the hall to face the front door, and went away for 5 mins. It sounds v harsh but at this age, when they tantrum like this it is totally pointless trying to negotiate a calm down if they have truly gone mental. Once they calm themselves down, a conversation can be had about why it's not nice behaviour, won't be tolerated etc etc. You could waste a lot of time trying to put a child on a naughty step that has totally lost control. Trust me, I'm no hippie but we've found that a positive parenting approach is working really well at this age. And distraction too when they are starting to dig in.

Last word in this lengthy post, my DD's worst, worst behaviour is when she is tired and/or hungry. The two together is a magic combination. If your DS is being collected from nursery and taken home for lunch, I would be ensuring he is met with a snack and jollied along until he gets a proper meal into him. If your 4 month old baby is not a great sleeper, he may well be having his sleep disturbed too unless he sleeps in the west wing of course.

This is what has worked for us. Our DD has in the past month really settled down and is much happier.

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