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Is my childminder being unreasonable, or am I?

(50 Posts)
Sunnyway Fri 25-Jan-13 08:30:24

My 2 year old DS has been with his childminder for 5 months and loves going there. The childminder has a 2 year old daughter and our two play very happily together. In addition, there is one older boy there before and after school and all 3 children get on well.

Since Christmas my DS has developed the annoying habit of lashing out when one of the other children try to take one of his toys. He also throws tantrums when it’s time to go out in the buggy and it can take 15 mins to get his shoes on because he makes such a fuss.

My childminder mentioned this to me as soon as it started happening 3 weeks ago and we met with my Health Visitor to discuss tactics to deal with his tantrums. The Health Visitor had just carried out his 2 year development check and all is well; no special needs, just normal tantrums.

Then last week my childminder rang me at work to say my DS had kicked her in the face on the changing table while she was changing his nappy. It had upset her and she asked me to come and get him. I left work immediately to collect him, and the next day when I dropped him off in the morning the childminder said she didn’t think she wanted to continue with him because his tantrums were having a detrimental effect on her daughter.

I took my DS home that morning and took the day off work, and that evening the childminder came over to our house to discuss things. She said she would like to keep our DS to see if the tantrums improved but her husband was not comfortable with it. She said she wanted a week to discuss things with her husband and come back to us with a decision. We said we understood and that we would not hold her to the 4 week notice period.

I took the following week off work as parental leave (this week) and went to look at a couple of nurseries, just in case. Then last night she rang to say that she had reached a decision and would not be able to take our DS back next week. I said I understood and would look at getting him into a nursery for next week.

But this morning the childminder has sent her invoice and she has billed me for this week. I’m annoyed because parental leave is unpaid so I’ve lost salary and I feel I shouldn’t have to pay for time she asked not to have my DS. I understand that she doesn’t want to deal with tantrums, but at the same time these are normal 2 year old behaviours.

Just interested in the views of other childminders and parents, as to whether it’s reasonable that I pay for this week. Sorry for the long post!

HSMM Fri 25-Jan-13 08:34:02

My contracts state that parents don't pay if I'm unavailable. What does yours say?

minderjinx Fri 25-Jan-13 08:37:32

I'd simply query this before getting too indignant - it could be a simple error on her part.

minderjinx Fri 25-Jan-13 08:48:36

Just cross-posted with HSMM.

My behaviour policy says that children may be temporarily suspended or contracts terminated without notice if there is clearly unnaceptable behaviour including violence towards children or adults. I've never had the situation in practice but I might envisage "suspending" childcare if an older child was so badly behaved that I felt a cooling off period was appropriate, and in that situation I would expect fees to continue to be paid, and I suppose if or when it was decided that they would not return I would then stop charging and advertise their place.

I can't thankfully imagine a situation warranting that sort of action with a two year old. But then I can't imagine having a fiftenn minute struggle over shoes either - after a minute or so they'd be put in a buggy without shoes!

thesnootyfox Fri 25-Jan-13 08:49:49

Your childminder is not handling the situation well. I would not be happy to receive a call to collect my child in the circumstances described. She is a childminder professional and should be able to deal with it.

Ds1 didn't go through the tantrum stage but ds2 did/still is although they have been parented the same. I imagine that her dd didn't have tantrums and she doesn't have any experience to draw on.

In your position I would sit down with her and agree a way forward. Failing that it might be worth looking for someone else.

thesnootyfox Fri 25-Jan-13 08:54:31

Sorry, posted without reading properly!

It really depends on the wording in your contract with her. If it isn't explicit I wouldn't pay her. You have lost money because of her incompetence.

I think I would be inclined to raise her unprofessionalism with OFSTED.

Strix Fri 25-Jan-13 09:05:55

I would not pay. I also think a two year ol having a tantrum is NOT cause to not look after the child. Especially as your HV has said his behaviour is normal.

I would not have taken of work. And I would have asked her to uphold the four weeks notice.

But, as you have already acccepted these things verbally, I would just just ask her to re-invoice. And I would also ask her to out everything in writing.

I assume your contract requires written notice of termination on either side.

minderjinx Fri 25-Jan-13 09:08:12

Raising her "unprofessionalism" with OFSTED would be an over-reaction verging on the ridiculous. How would it be if everyone who was well intentioned but ultimately less than successful in every part of their job was reported to a government regulator?

The woman is clearly trying her best. She has gone out of the way to discuss the situation with the Health Visitor and to visit the parents in her own time and in their home. She has said she would have liked to persevere but that is causing problems in her own family. The only real issue is whether the OP pays for the final week.

Hmmm, a childminder who doesn't want to deal with tantrums should perhaps consider a different career I think! They are unfortunately part of looking after a group of toddlers (my friends and I joke that the collective noun for a group of 2 year olds is a tantrum of toddlers!)

I think in you situation OP I would check your contract, mine clearly states that if I am unavailable for care then I do not charge. I would also ask to meet to discuss the invoice and state clearly that I was not happy with the charges and am not willing to pay as she took the decision to refuse care, you were still happy for him to attend.

FlouncingMintyy Fri 25-Jan-13 09:19:31

Your childminder is being unreasonable. I really feel for you and hope you can find a child carer who understands that most two year olds are sometimes difficult, that is the nature of the beast!

Strix Fri 25-Jan-13 09:39:34

I don't think the childminder has been entirely reasonable in her course of action. She should have given you written notice of contract termination. And she should have served that notice.

It sounds to me like her DH is calling the shots. But, your arrangement is a professional contract with her (presumably). Imagine if I called in one day and said, I really want to come to work today but my husband said "no"? I daresay my boss would not be impressed.

Strix Fri 25-Jan-13 09:40:22

Oh and...

smile at "tantrum of toddlers".

Fightlikeagirl Fri 25-Jan-13 09:41:18

I don't think this childminder has been unprofessional at all. We are of course only hearing the parents side of this. Sometimes for whatever reason a childminder is not suited to a particular child, it happens, it's very upsetting for everyone involved but it does happen, it dies not mean the childminder is a bad one or in the wrong career!!!!
I don't believe from the information you have told us that ofsted would want to get involved, she has been open and honest and not caused any harm to the child. They would definitely not get involved with any financial dispute.
That all said, I do think it is unfair for her to charge you if she is not prepared to work the notice. I had to give notice to a parent once as she was constantly late and wouldn't work with me on this, I gave her a months notice which I worked and so therefore charged.
Maybe she has made a mistake? Could you ask her?

Fightlikeagirl Fri 25-Jan-13 09:42:16

Sorry meant "ofsted would not want to get involved"

MaryPoppinsBag Fri 25-Jan-13 10:08:32

Check your contract with regards to payment it depends what you have signed up for. Depending on what you find in your contract speak to her about it, and say that you've had to take unpaid leave and can't afford to pay.

I don't think she has been unprofessional. CM is a very intrusive career and directly impacts on a CM's own family. I would not hesitate to terminate a contract if that child was having a negative impact on my family life. My children are more important that money.

Does your DC tantrum for you at home?
I have a 5 yo mindee who tantrums occasionally and it is much harder to deal with him than my own children. Simply because mine would be quickly bundled off to a separate part of the house to calm down. I can't 'handle' a mindee in that way as I would be afraid of hurting them and the repercussions if I did and the child was harmed. In a home setting there is only you and no other adult witnesses, which puts you in a very awkward situation.

thesnootyfox Fri 25-Jan-13 10:35:30

I'm surprised that people don't think
she has been unprofessional. Saying that a 2 year olds tantrum is having such a negative impact on your family that you have to terminate the contract is ridiculous. Of course childminding impacts on your homelife, that is why you don't go into it lightly.

It sounds as if this woman was childminding because she wanted a playmate for her dd and to earn some money in the process. As soon as a difficult situation came along she passed the buck and that is very unprofessional.

The childminders that I have come across are skilled in dealing with negative behaviour and have offered me tips and strategies on coping with ds2's tantrums.

ZuleikaD Fri 25-Jan-13 11:33:30

As other posters have said, we only have the parent's view on their child's behaviour here. I don't think it's fair to have a go at the absent CM for unprofessionalism when we have no idea how the OP's child has been behaving or what impact it may be having on the CM's daughter. If she's regularly being hurt then how many CMs would carry on with the contract? I certainly wouldn't.

MaryPoppinsBag Fri 25-Jan-13 11:38:25

Snooty
Do you CM? You can imagine what it will be like but the reality is different.

I am 8 months in and definitely didn't go into it lightly, but it is more intrusive and messy than I ever imagined!
Maybe the OP's CM doesn't enjoy it and is looking for a way out. I have spoken to other CM whose partners really resent the intrusion and put pressure on them to finish. Which might be happening here. Maybe the CM and her DH have never dealt with a child prone to tantrums. Not all children have them.

I also can't emphasise enough how much guilt is attached to putting other people's children before your own. And directly exposing your children to difficult behaviour is also a worry.

IMO it would be more unprofessional to carry on and not put your heart into it! If she can't handle the situation the child would be better off with someone who can.

From what the OP has said she has handled it professionally, but it sounds to me like she is getting pressurised to quit.

nbee84 Fri 25-Jan-13 11:48:37

Agree with others that we only have the parents view on her child's behaviour. The child's behaviour at the childminder's could also be worse than the childminder has let on to the parent.

I looked after a little boy that, in his parents eyes, was a typical 4 year old. In my eyes (and having looked after numerous children over 25 years) he is the worst behaved boy that I have ever looked after. I certainly spoke with the parents about behaviour and ways that we could tackle various issues but didn't give them a run down of every tantrum and incident as 1) it would have taken a long time! and 2) It would have sounded so negative.

Maybe this is the case with this childminder - it doesn't sound like she's tried to get rid at the first hurdle. She's spoken with the parents and the health visitor.

sweetestB Fri 25-Jan-13 12:09:57

I'm a CM and I work with the most bad behaved toddler ever. For over a year we have bein working on this child's behaviour with very little improvement. It does cause an impact in my family and I gave the parents 6 months notice as I can wait until this child goes to pre school, however I reduced the hours this child is with me, so my own child will suffer less and I can also keep my sanity.
I think you CM is taking the piss, she didn't need one week taking to her husband regarding the situation and unless her husband is her assistant, why does he have a say anyway..? if he is around long enough to be affected by her work, than she is in the wrong field.
You both should have discussed payment regarding the week in question before the week started.

MaryPoppinsBag Fri 25-Jan-13 12:32:47

I would argue that the DH has a say because it directly impacts on his child and his home. She may well be in the wrong field of work, but she is entitled to try a job and decide she doesn't like it for whatever reason.

Maybe the husband can see how upset she is by the situation.
I know what mine would say if I was that unhappy with the job. Or if my child was being hurt by someone else's child on a regular basis.

Maybe saying I will speak with my husband and saying that he says x, y or z gives her the confidence or excuse to say to the OP I can't have your child anymore.

Childminding is not done in isolation from the family and it makes it different to any other childcare/ school job with regards to how much 'bad behaviour' you can tolerate.
Especially because you are on your own with the children and can't spend hours on one child when you have other children's needs to meet.

sweetestB Fri 25-Jan-13 12:40:59

I know it. I totally agree marypoppins. But she probably didn't need one o paid week to talk to her husband about the situation while the OP was waiting for her decision not knowing what to do. She didn't give the OP any reasonable notice. If the children behavior was escalating so badly she probably has been discussing and thinking about letting the child go for a while.
I'm also closing my businnes and my H unhappiness is a big reason, but he doesn't get to decide when and how, I do.

MaryPoppinsBag Fri 25-Jan-13 12:44:29

I don't think the CM should be paid either.

ReetPetit Fri 25-Jan-13 13:31:25

all the posters on here saying the cm is out of order are being ridiculous! and report her - seriously?? for what??

when a childminder takes on your child, she is not signing a life time guarantee. People's circumstances changes. Sometimes you don't bond with a child or find the child's behaviour very difficult. Clearly, she has, as has her husband, found your child's behaviour too difficult to cope with. Therefore, she has done the professional thing and given notice. She has gone out of her way to be helpful but having been kicked in the face, has decided enough is enough. That is her choice. She doesn't have to justify that to anyone.

What would have been unprofessional would have been to keep a child on, who yourself or your family don't want there. That is not good for the child.

Op, I think you are right that you shouldn't pay for this week if the cm was unavailable. I would be inclined to think she has made a mistake in invoicing you for it - just ask her.

I wish you well in finding alternative care for your child. I would say though, 15 minutes trying to get a 2 year old's shoes on - personally, I would have put him in the buggy after a few minutes and taken him without shoes!!

Karoleann Fri 25-Jan-13 14:19:28

Of course you shouldn't be paying for this week, I don't think you should be paying for the day she asked you to come home either, if she's not able to offer her supposedly professional services for a period of time, she should not be charging for them.

She sounds like she's just not very good at her job, its not an ofsted matter, but i would be quite cross that she's leaving you in the lurch. If it were me I would write to her suggesting that she undertakes some further training about how to deal with normal behaviour that is challenging.

FlouncingMintyy Fri 25-Jan-13 14:38:50

ReetPetit the cm hasn't given the op any notice! She had to collect him on the day the cm was hurt by the kick and he hasn't been back there since. How is that giving notice?

sweetestB Fri 25-Jan-13 14:51:26

is this childminder new and inexperienced?

neolara Fri 25-Jan-13 14:56:19

Blimey. No idea about the bill but she's being completely pathetic about your ds's behaviour. He's 2. She's a childminder. She should be able to cope with completely normal 2 year old behaviour, taxing as it is.

LadyHarrietdeSpook Fri 25-Jan-13 15:00:00

She said she would like to keep our DS to see if the tantrums improved but her husband was not comfortable with it. She said she wanted a week to discuss things with her husband and come back to us with a decision.

No, I wouldn't be paying her. Your son is two. She doesn't sound terribly experienced/engaged with looking after your particular DC. I would be incredibly unimpressed by being called back from work under those circumstances. If I had an 11 year old whom she was minding after school being threatening - different story altogether.

I would be fairly relaxed about her pursuing payment under your particular circumstances. I am assuming that she was there where the HV characterised the behaviour as 'normal two year old behaviour'?

I wouldn't bother to countersue her for unpaid earnings, I'm sure she'll back down wink.

minderjinx Fri 25-Jan-13 15:01:44

Even the mother isn't suggesting that the childminder should keep the child, or that she is being pathetic not coping with him! The child has left and the only issue is whether or not the parents should be expected to pay for the last week. We still don't know if the parents have asked whether the charge was intended or an error, or if she did mean to charge, whether she will reconsider.

LadyHarrietdeSpook Fri 25-Jan-13 15:04:23

I'm guessing it's not, however, because the child's behaviour is 'that bad.' The OP is trying to be reasonable and accept that the woman does, of course, have the right to mind her child or not. OP has been very patient with this childminder and is rightly shocked to have been given that bill!

I hope it is a mistake.

ReetPetit Fri 25-Jan-13 16:50:33

Flouncing, i do appreciate it seems unfair to not be given any notice.

However, on most standard cm contracts such as NCMA and I think the other leading companies who supply contracts - there is a clause which states if the child's behaviour is effecting care of other children in the setting the cm can terminate the contract with immediate effect. I am not saying it is fair but we only know one side of the story and no one knows (other than op and cm) if this is normal 2 year old behaviour or something more which for whatever reason the cm and her family can't/won't cope with...

sweetestB Fri 25-Jan-13 17:21:02

But she didn't terminate the contract with immediate effect did she? She left the OP wondering for 1 week if she would have childcare or not while her husband the CM 'made her decision'. Also I bet that the 2 year old was kicking the air and got the CM's face by mistake. Silly her didn't know how to protect herself/stop the behaviour. If she wants to carry on being a CM and care for toddlers, she should do better than that IMO

Viviennemary Fri 25-Jan-13 17:27:34

She requested you to come and get your DS so you shouldn't pay. A good childminder should be able to deal with two year old tantrums. She doesn't sound much use if she can't even handle a child of two.

HSMM Fri 25-Jan-13 17:38:50

I cared for a toddler once, who lashed out at everyone and everything. I gave his parents notice, to protect the other children, but I worked with him and his parents through the notice period. They were obviously happy with how I had handled it, because his little sister came to me a couple of years later.

If I had given immediate notice, because I could not manage him, or protect the other children, I would not have charged. This is reflected in my contracts, which is why I suggested the OP checks hers.

ZuleikaD Fri 25-Jan-13 18:52:11

I do agree that the OP shouldn't be charged but I'm gobsmacked at the attitude of some on this thread that a CM is just supposed to take whatever a child dishes out and get on with it. Childminding is childcare in domestic circumstances and the contracts specifically recognise that behaviour that's affecting other children in your care (your own or others) is cause for immediate termination.

sweetest you can't possibly know the circumstances of being kicked in the face. The child (who may be nearly 3, let's not forget) might have really walloped her on purpose. I know many 2-3 yos who are very capable of dishing out a very aggressive and deliberate blow, and as CMs we don't have to tolerate it if we don't want to.

MaryPoppinsBag Fri 25-Jan-13 19:21:15

I'm gobsmacked too Zuleika!

Why should CM put up with whatever is thrown at us - literally in some cases?

ReetPetit Fri 25-Jan-13 19:38:55

i agree. some shocking attitudes on here.
makes me want to give up cm more and more everytime i read a thread like this!! sad

sweetestB Fri 25-Jan-13 20:06:47

1st - I'm a CM too. 2nd- zuleika if it was the case I'm sure the CM would have terminated the contract straight away when she phoned the OP to collect the child early OR before giving the 1 week paid break for her husband her to decide to continue or not. If child's behaviour was that bad and her own child and the other child was suffering that much, she wouldn't need one paid week to 'decide'. I know it was what I would do if I was in a situation with such an aggressive child who kicked me on the face on purpose and it was SO bad I had to call the parent to come collect earlier. Specially if I have been working on the behaviour and it didn't improve. I think most CMs would do the same.

sweetestB Fri 25-Jan-13 20:12:25

I'm not saying she has to keep the child if she doesn't want to. She should simply either terminate the contract immediately due to unacceptable behaviour OR give proper notice. Take one week paid break for her husband decide what SHE should do IS taking the piss.

Sunnyway Sat 26-Jan-13 03:05:11

Thanks to everyone who replied to me on this question - lots of interesting points raised. The childminder is new and inexperienced, and that may have had an effect on her decision to terminate our contract. I support her decision because you can't force someone to take a child when the chemistry is wrong, or when the CM's DH is unhappy. The attitude of the DH (who is not the CM's assistant, he just gets home early) made me nervous which is why I didn't ask the CM to keep to the 4 week notice period.

The upshot is that I challenged the last week's fees, the CM defended her right to charge but later in the day changed her mind and waived the fees which I'm grateful for.

Sunnyway Sat 26-Jan-13 03:35:04

I have just noticed that one of the posters said she wanted to give up CM every time she reads a thread like this. That's too sad, and as the thread's author I just wanted to add something to improve the mood of this thread! As a parent I agree that a CM should not have to put up with everything thrown at them. I'm sure most parents agree, but parents may get defensive and unreasonable when their little angel is criticised.

I liked the fact that our CM was new to the work because she was very fresh and enthusiastic compared with some other CM's I met. The downside was that she didn't have a toolbag of tricks and years of experience to draw on when my DS started playing up. My DS's angry behaviour only started earlier this month after returning from Christmas, so I hadn't sat by for weeks or months expecting the CM to put up with it. Her DH was at home during the first week of Jan and his presence may have changed the dynamic in the house, causing my DS to play up over the next couple of weeks.

I knew when I entered into this contract that the CM didn't have years of experience and so when she wanted to terminate I didn't want to try to persuade her to keep going. The DH had witnessed some of the tantrums and had a much stronger reaction to them than the CM. My DH is exactly the same; he gets as angry as our toddler sometimes, whereas I feel much calmer as I'm more used to toddler tantrums. But you can't separate a CM from her family and as soon as the DH is unhappy and influences the CM's decision I think it would be risky to try work to keep the child in that situation. If I'd wanted a more "professional" detached type of daycare for my DS I could have gone to a nursery. (Which unfortunately I may now have to do!)

I don't think there are any hard feelings between me and my CM and I really hope this thread doesn't put any CM's off childminding because we parents need you!

ZooAnimals Sat 26-Jan-13 03:40:26

Glad you got it all sorted.

I think perhaps everyone should refrain from describing the child's behaviour as 'normal' and criticising the way the childminder handled it, as apart from the OP, none of us know what his behaviour is like or how she tried to deal with it.

With regards to what the HV said, you don't have to look far on mumsnet to find a thread about ridiculous things that HV have said. There are great HV of course, but there are also ones who make mistakes, so to treat what the HV said as gospel is a bit naive. I would imagine the childminder who spends hours each day with the child has a better idea of his behaviour than a HV who spent, maybe an hour max, doing a 2 year development check with him.

calmlychaotic Sat 26-Jan-13 07:55:07

sunnyway, you round lovely and very reasonable. very nice of you to come back to improve the mood, and its refreshing that someone can look at their own child's behaviour in such a practical way without getting all defensive that their child can do no wrong. I hope you find another childminder, I currently mind a child I adore but was given notice by previous cm for being too much. I find him hard work but good fun. I'm not particularly experienced its just as you said the chemistry works sometimes. I hope you find another childminder. my own ds went through a really horrible tantrum phase and I sympathise, he's mostly over it now thankfully.

nbee84 Sat 26-Jan-13 10:06:51

I wish there was a 'like' button on here as I would press it for Sunnway's post at 03:35:04 smile

Sunnyway - i hope you find a lovely childminder that can help your ds through this phase.

Kt8791 Sat 26-Jan-13 10:28:28

Totally agree nbee84 :-)

FlouncingMintyy Sat 26-Jan-13 11:30:35

Yes, you sound like a dream client Sunnyway, you really do and I am glad the cm saw sense about trying to charge you for that final week. Don't give up on finding a childminder just yet! its a shame to send him to nursery if you don't want to. I am sure you will find a lovely childminder who will be prepared to take him on, tantrums and all. They are not going to last forever smile.

minderjinx Sat 26-Jan-13 15:54:05

" I wish there was a 'like' button on here as I would press it for Sunnway's post at 03:35:04

Sunnyway - i hope you find a lovely childminder that can help your ds through this phase."

I second what nbee says.

ReetPetit Sat 26-Jan-13 16:37:34

nice post Sunnyway! smile

when i said these threads make me want to give up, i didn't mean your original post - which was balanced and fair I feel, I was referring to some of the responses you got which implied the cm should put up and shut up, which I think as a mother you would agree would not be good for your child. Sounds like it's for the best the arrangement has come to an end. Good Luck!

hollie11 Tue 29-Jan-13 13:38:37

You shouldn't have to pay her if she made herself unavailable to work.......talk to her about it......sounds like a genuine (paperwork)mistake. No childminder in there right mind would charge you for that week unless prior agreed.

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