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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!

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

You shouldn't have to pay her if she made herself unavailable to 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.

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!

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.

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.

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

Totally agree nbee84 :-)

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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

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?

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.

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.

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.

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

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...

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.

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 15:00:00

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.

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.

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

is this childminder new and inexperienced?

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?

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