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I'm an AP how to educate the kids?

(20 Posts)
lanlansunshine Thu 30-Jan-14 21:52:03

Hello everyone! I'm in Europe as an AP at the moment and have been here for 3 months with the family. Honestly I love the family and the kids but sometimes it's too much for me. special about the kids. our kids are 4 years old girls(Twins) and one 5 and half year old boy. my host mom is a single mom and i love her alot because she is nice and open-minded ect anyways she is a strong lady for me^^

About the mom:
she works from Monday to Friday 9AM to 5:30PM sometimes she back home late because of work.

About the kids:
They go to school at 8:30AM to 3:15PM
Back home and eat soup at 3:40PM. because they dont eat vegetable this is why we keeping feed them soup.
Dinner time at 5PM
Go to sleep at 8PM

About my work:
prepare breakfast and lunch for the kids. send them to school with host mom, pick up from school and feed them soup, prepare dinner, shower them and put them to sleep.

in the past 3 months the problem we have are:

1. in the morning they don't want to get up. i understand its cold and bed is too comfortable

2. they don't want to eat breakfast. even the TV or IPAD are off. quiet. but it doesnt matter, they play each other like tickle each other and run around in the livingroom

3. they don't want to eat soup after school. in the beginning I turn off TV and everything and put them back to table tell them to finish the soup, but they didnt listen and they just running around in the livingroom chasing each other. so the host mom told me I could use some candies as motivation so I did and it helps. Honestly, I don't like it. because they can't eat candies like this, this is not a mission, you don't need a reward for you finished the soup.

4. they don't eat dinner, play the food, waste the food alot, eat with hands, sitting on the table or walking on the table. just like tonight I spent 20 mins to take them back to dinner table. they finished the juice then started to runing around and chasing each other. I put them back to the chairs more than 5 times, but trust me. im so tired because they are 3 and Im alone. finally everyone is sit next table,(the food is cold already) then the girls started to play the food and the boy was chewing the food suddenly he spitted the food on the table anywhere I looked at him seriously telling him 'THIS IS RUDE,YOU CAN NOT DO THIS!' then 1 min later, he spitted the food on one of girls face...

Once, nobody eats the dinner so I took the food away and before sleep they said they are hungry. I said no, you had chance to eat your food but you did not. so you have to wait for breakfast. then they started to cry and host mom gave them bread and told me "we need to give them food because if they are hungry they don't sleep in the next few hours and they have no energy for school" I said we had agreement that we don't give the kids food if they don't eat dinner. she said yes I know. but still...Im just an aupair so I did not say anything.

5. Sleep. usually the host mom put the boy to sleep and me with 2 girls. usually I spend 45 mins or more to put them to sleep, 3 of us in dark, the girls tickle each other, chatting to each other, play with each other..i have to shout at them sometimes so they can be quiet. I don't like shoutting at all..but after tried singing them sleeping song, cuddle them, stroke their back or forehead for over 30 mins didnt help I start shoutting. (I know this is not good at all, but seems its the only way could let them quiet so far)

I tried to change them like not to walking or sitting on the dinner table or the boy not to spitting at people anymore but doesnt work, after 3 months I'm giving up. the boy likes to spitting on people alot even the mom told him not to do it. awe don't have rules here. I created some, but....how to say it? like I don't let them waste the food, they said"ok, I want to do it my own" then they put sooooo much strawberry jam or butter on the bread then they don't eat it and throw the bread away say 'this is poo poo'...

I'm frustrated and sometimes this is too much for me...like yesterday my stomach did not feel well so I sitting next table alone drink water, suddenly the boy hit my back so hard and I just wanted to vomit...

What should I do? In China, we all heard how strict the Western parents are and the way of educate the kids are MUCH MUCH NICER than Chinese traditional way. but since I'm here...no. they are way too spoiled and Im trying to be strict, so they are a little bit better when with me alone, but when the host mom back home, everything changes.

I understand being a single mom is diffcult. so I try to do everything I could, but at the moment..i really don't know what to do. so everyone please help.
Thank you so much! smile
Happy Chinese new year!

NannyAnna Fri 31-Jan-14 10:14:20

Hi lanlansunshine

Poor you, sounds like a dreadful situation. I don't think an Ap should be made to do all what you are doing. You have the job of a nanny without any respect from the children or the mother. Unfortunately there isn't a magic answer to all of your problems with this family as it doesn't seem that the mother wants to support you in disciplining the children. If you want to stay working there rather than change to a new Family I would sit down and tell the mum all of the things you have wrote here, tell her you are not managing and it is too much because you have no authority and the children aren't listening to you. She needs to address this, the boy shouldn't be spitting OR hitting you on the back. The children don't respect you and I don't blame you for shouting. You can't really discipline any further without the mums support so you need to speak to her first and come up with some strategies on dealing with the behaviour that will work for you both. If she doesn't support you then I would suggest you leave. There really is no thanks for being an AP in jobs like these. Good luck let me know how it goes. Anna

NannyLouise29 Fri 31-Jan-14 10:31:13

I agree with NannyAnna, unfortunately there's not a magical solution.

Having a talk with the mum, making sure you have some examples of the type of behaviour you're talking about here, and perhaps ways of how you'd like to deal with it. For example, as far as their eating goes, I would put food on the table for 45 minutes, let them know that if they don't eat then they can't be very hungry and there'll be no more food after it is cleared away until the next meal. Once they understand you mean business they'll catch on very quickly.

However, you need mum's support, and I agree, this is a lot for an AP to deal with.

blueshoes Fri 31-Jan-14 13:47:59

Hello Lanlan, gongxifacai!

I grew up in Singapore and have some idea of the traditional Chinese way of bringing up children but not on the mainland. I have also lived in UK for 15 years. I think each family is different and you cannot really say whether one culture tends to be stricter than another. So try not to get too bogged down with thinking about cultural differences.

The children are not the best behaved but I think the key is to discuss with the host mum what she wants. As a host mum, I know my children don't always listen to me, sit nicely at the table, go to sleep quietly or eat their dinner or stay out of the candies. If they don't always listen to me or dh, I would not expect them to listen to the aupair all the time either.

How strict does your host mum expect you to be with your dcs? You want to work to her standards. I think it is good to talk to her and discuss how she wants you to manage the situation e.g. not let the children spread the bread, leave them to giggle in bed and leave after 15 minutes, give them less food and take it away if they don't eat and not let them have pudding.

In the situations you describe, I would be happy to let my aupair do all the above. If you get worked up (who doesn't!), is she happy for you to leave the situation until the children calm down. The children are young but not that young. You can encourage but as a host mum I am quite realistic and don't expect miracles. We all have to pick our battles so agree with the hostmum what her priorities are and then enforce those but you can let others slip.

You are doing a great job in trying circumstances and still thinking about your host mum. 3 children of that age is not the easiest. I hope you can work something out.

CookieDoughKid Fri 31-Jan-14 17:50:25

You need early intervention from the mother. And you need to report the situations honestly and frequently with the mother.

What are her discipline methods? Try not to guess but ask her for advice. What methods does she want to use for her own children?

Im from an Asian family and my parents were very strict. Zero tolerance rule and strict punishment (my mother would not have to say twice. If she had to say again, would feel pain!!). So I can understand the mismatch and differences you are experiencing.
The children are still very young and learning to push boundaries and assert independence so you should try and remember that.

CookieDoughKid Fri 31-Jan-14 21:20:48

You need early intervention from the mother. And you need to report the situations honestly and frequently with the mother.

What are her discipline methods? Try not to guess but ask her for advice. What methods does she want to use for her own children?

Im from an Asian family and my parents were very strict. Zero tolerance rule and strict punishment (my mother would not have to say twice. If she had to say again, would feel pain!!). So I can understand the mismatch and differences you are experiencing.
The children are still very young and learning to push boundaries and assert independence so you should try and remember that.

CookieDoughKid Fri 31-Jan-14 21:20:48

You need early intervention from the mother. And you need to report the situations honestly and frequently with the mother.

What are her discipline methods? Try not to guess but ask her for advice. What methods does she want to use for her own children?

Im from an Asian family and my parents were very strict. Zero tolerance rule and strict punishment (my mother would not have to say twice. If she had to say again, would feel pain!!). So I can understand the mismatch and differences you are experiencing.
The children are still very young and learning to push boundaries and assert independence so you should try and remember that.

CookieDoughKid Fri 31-Jan-14 21:20:48

You need early intervention from the mother. And you need to report the situations honestly and frequently with the mother.

What are her discipline methods? Try not to guess but ask her for advice. What methods does she want to use for her own children?

Im from an Asian family and my parents were very strict. Zero tolerance rule and strict punishment (my mother would not have to say twice. If she had to say again, would feel pain!!). So I can understand the mismatch and differences you are experiencing.
The children are still very young and learning to push boundaries and assert independence so you should try and remember that.

allyfe Sat 01-Feb-14 11:01:57

It sounds like their behaviour is a nightmare! Essentially, I agree with everyone that you need some back-up from the host mum. And don't worry about feeling like you should be able to make them behave yourself, as the others have said, they are pushing boundaries, and basically it is really hard when you are trying to establish your authority. You need to set up some strict rules and some serious consequences.

One thing is that they do go to bed quite late, considering what time they must have to get up in the morning. Over-tired children can be hideously badly behaved. In the morning, ideally, you want them waking up by themselves. If you have to wake them up every morning then they are probably over tired. I'd suggest you make the night-time routine shorter, so they are in bed earlier (all of them!). But more than that, you need some strict rules that they clearly understand, and some clear punishments if they don't stick to them, and rewards if they do.

You need to set out some rules, and be firm about them. But, you can only really do it with the support of the host mum. Remember, she needs you, and so she should be really trying to help you make their behaviour appropriate.

Good luck!

Goldmandra Sat 01-Feb-14 16:06:58

What do the children enjoy doing?

Work out what that is and then agree with the host mother that they must earn the treats by good behaviour.

If the children choose not to eat they need to be given one warning then the food is taken away. They then don't get to eat until the next meal time.

If the mother is worried that they will be hungry overnight they could have a drink of milk.

You need to agree these strategies in advance and she has to agree to back you up. If she disagrees with you in front of the children or changes a decision you have made they will never respect you. They must get the same clear message from both of you.

Try not to shout or appear to be upset. Offer them praise when they do things that you like, even very small things.

If the mother will not back you up consider leaving because this situation will not get any better.

lanlansunshine Mon 03-Feb-14 20:46:16

Thank you Anna, Louise,blueshoes , Cookiedoughkid, allyfe, Goldmandra for the great answers! smile

Yes, I want to stay with this family because I like all of them a lot smile
I did sat down and talked to host mom with all the problems I wrote here, even with my notebook(looked like a meeting^^) We talked about these problems for 3 hours before Christmas. After I told her the problems I seen and what I think and the questions, she said she knows these problems and the kids have been like this all the time, not just right now. and she said she is not a good mom. When I asked her what is the punishment if they do something wrong, then she said we will see, but safe first.

I kept asking her some other solutions but she doesn't has solutions either. So until now we don’t really have solutions, also I told her the rules that I created. For example,like Louise said put the ood on table for 45 minutes if the kids don’t eat dinner then they have to wait until next meal. She said its good we will follow them. But in fact, nope. She is too nice to the kids,she gave them food as I wrote before. most of time I tried too hard to let them learn how to respect people or wash their hands after toilet.but failure and I felt very down so now I try not to put much pressure on myself.

Most problems come from the boy because he has Autism. For me he is not much different with other kids(in home, I dunno much in school) he likes cars, transformers,games, and he waits for me in school when I picking the girls. He would ask me some questions ect. or maybe just because I don’t know much about Autism.

Yesterday I was home relaxing and mom asked me if I can help her to put the kids to bath and sleep, I said yes. so we spent about 1.5 hours to put them to bath, the mom caught them, they ran and made faces to the mom and had so much fun, mom got pissed off and caught one in the bath, I was washing one in the bathroom and turned around to get shower gel, when I turned back she was out of bathroom naked with full head of shampoo running around with other 2 kids and mom shouting stop at them but they had so much fun, I caught her back and put her in the bath immediately without say anything or look at her then we countined the bath. Finally they are all washed and bed time. Spent about 1.5 hours to put them sleep..when I back to my room was already 9:30PM. Sign….

The mom expect me to be more strict than her, because she is too nice...I trying to be strict but the seems the kids don't care, they like ipad alot...everyday come back from school, Ipad, after eating, Ipad, before sleep, Ipad..hmm..maybe i should hide Ipad^^

Thank you again everyone, your messages really help alot!!smile <3<3<3

Goldmandra Mon 03-Feb-14 21:42:31

lanlan you must find looking after these children very hard work! You sound very patient.

Children with Autism need clear, predictable routines. If the routine is going to change they need to be prepared for that.

Make a chart showing the evening routine and three columns, one for each child. Give them a tick every time they do something nicely. Each tick earns a small amount of time on the iPad later. Don't take ticks away.

Let them have the iPad time they have earned at a particular time of the evening. The same time every day. Make that time before bath time because screen time before bed can make it harder for them to sleep. Perhaps one could have their iPad time while the others are in the bath.

When it is not their time on the iPad, hide it.

Give the children very clear instructions using very few words, e.g. "Get in the bath" or "sit down".

Do they like stories at bed time? Perhaps they could earn a story by getting into bed nicely. If they start to mess around, you stop reading.

Could you show the host mother this thread? Her life and your life will be much easier if she could be consistent and not undermine you.

Children who know where the boundaries are feel much more secure. This is because if they are allowed to behave badly and then the adult suddenly gets cross it takes them by surprise. If they know that a certain behaviour always get them into trouble they can control whether they get into trouble. If it changes from day to day, they don't know how far they can push it so cannot control whether they get into trouble. That is confusing and unsettling for them.

Children need adults to have clear expectations of them and to provide clear boundaries. Allowing them to behave badly until you lose your temper isn't fair on them and makes everyone's life harder.

NannyLouise29 Mon 03-Feb-14 22:42:11

Goldmandra - I wholeheartedly agree with your last post. Boundaries, routine, communication, and patience I feel are underrated but highly effective.

allyfe Tue 04-Feb-14 07:09:07

One other thing is that children can learn that they have different rules with different people. I don't know if this would work, but perhaps if YOU sit down with the children and explain clearly but simply that their behaviour is not acceptable and that you now have some rules e.g. They have to earn their time on the ipad (e.g. by having a good bath, by eating dinner etc), and for example that dinner times are strictly 45 minutes. AFter that you will clear up. etc. Write them on a list and put them on the wall (I've been watching to much super-nanny). They will hate you to begin with, but children like clear rules (and rewards). Although I know it is much easier said than done!

Goldmandra Tue 04-Feb-14 08:04:17

I agree that children can adapt to different rules with different people and, if you establish some boundaries, they should adapt their behaviour to fit in with those when they are with you. It is very hard and every time you aren't consistent you will lose lots of the progress you have made.

However, once the mother is around, your boundaries will go out of the window and hers will apply. If you spend time with them together it will work much better if you establish the boundaries together too.

Gigondas Tue 04-Feb-14 08:28:34

Loads of good advice here but the issue here is the mum and I am not sure what solution is . You have to work to her rules. She doesn't seem to be able to stick to them such as they are (and I can see why as single mum of 3 with ft job it must be tough).

Maybe nannies etc have some thoughts on how to resolve but I think it may be hard to make real progress without her applying some of this too. Otherwise kids will play divide and rule. I have two nannies who job share and I know my dc (5 and 2) will try to exploit differences in approach if they can. This is why I know it is so important that all try to do same thing .

You sound like a lovely au pair who is going above the norm for this family.

Gigondas Tue 04-Feb-14 08:31:54

Losing iPad/tv works really well to enforce good behaviour with my oldest as does treat outings(swimming, hot chocolate at Starbucks etc).

Sweet treats work better for little one.

Just thought last posts was negative but I really feel for you! my step sis having nightmare with au pair at minute who does far less than you so was envy of how lovely you seem.

oscarwilde Tue 04-Feb-14 11:45:28

Hi lanlan, that sounds really quite difficult.

What do you typically do with them after school - they seem to have a lot of energy late in the day. Can you give them a snack at the school gate and take them to a park to run off some steam every afternoon?
If the weather is bad and music is not an issue for the little boy, what about musical statues and funny dancing or playing with a wii so that they are not sitting about for the afternoon?

I'm not asian but my parents were pretty old fashioned.
I would stop feeding them soup and let them get hungry for dinner. Offer raw carrot sticks/slice of apple at the school gate or when you get in but nothing else. They have lunch at school, they will be fine until 5pm. When they start eating properly at 5, then you can give more substantial snacks if required.

I know that you said that they don't eat vegetables. That's tough luck, that's what is on offer.

TV and ipad off at 5 for the rest of the day, and dinner at 5, if they are hungry they will get on with it. Take food away at 5.45, with bath at 6.
Not eating food nicely, getting down for the table to run around means the food gets taken away in my house and put in the bin. Three warnings and it is gone. You only have to do this once or twice and they will know you are serious. You really need to get the mum on side with you on this. If she does not support you, even if it is a tactic that works for you, it won't work when she is by herself.

I would sit her down and tell her that you really like her and her children but it is becoming impossible to stay. Pick one thing at a time - mealtimes would be best and work on that.

Goldmandra Tue 04-Feb-14 12:19:15

Three warnings and it is gone.

One clear warning is better.

Three warnings teaches them that it is OK to ignore you twice.

oscarwilde Tue 04-Feb-14 13:10:22

Very true - I find at that age, it can take three warnings for the warning to be even heard and understood when they mucking about.

With mine, we are now at one stern warning and then the food goes. I will relent once in the face of a distraught "I'll eat it" and give it back (as I can't bear to see the food go in the compost bin) but never a second time. Thankfully, its unusual to have to repeatedly do this.

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