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AP really strict - how to sort it out?

(19 Posts)
chicaguapa Thu 23-Jul-09 23:32:03

We have a summer AP from Denmark. She's really nice and good with DC but she's very strict with them - much stricter than we are - and DD (7) has complained about this. And I know the DS (4) is getting worse because of it. And it's only day 4!!

I've broached the subject this evening and asked if everything is okay, any problems etc. I suggested that she's picking them up on things that we let go, eg running outside in socks without shoes on, and questioned whether these things really matter in the whole scheme of things, picking her battles etc, but I think it all just went in one ear and out the other.

I recognise that she's trying to assert her authority with DC so I've suggested that tomorrow they all sit down together to draw up a list of rules about expected behaviour etc. so DC know where they stand and AP knows the DC know she's in charge. But I fully expect to come home tomorrow and it not have been done.

Any other suggestions? She's here until 4 September so it's not the end of the world and so far everything else is ok. But I get an AP for the summer so the kids can have some fun and I'm concerned it's going to be a bit like boot camp for them.

nbee84 Fri 24-Jul-09 00:04:05

I think that you need to sit down with the ap and the children to draw up the rules.

That way you can get across to the ap the things that you feel are important and the ones that you would like her to let go/hold back on and the children will hopefully see a united front between you and the ap.

As she is only there for the summer it would be a shame if she was too strict with the children and they didn't enjoy their time off school.

chicaguapa Fri 24-Jul-09 00:14:02

Good idea. Thanks.

MuffinToptheMule Fri 24-Jul-09 10:45:46

I think it's so important that AP bosses and APs talk to each other about parenting styles. I've worked as a mothers help and an AP for a few families and parenting styles vary so much. Some parents I have worked for would not let their children run about outside in just their socks and other parents would. It doesn't matter what my view is on this but it matters that I know the parents view. Obviously parents can't run through every possible rule and scenario with an AP but they can give the AP an idea of their parenting styles.
I've turned down jobs because I didn't agree with the parenting styles of certain families and we wouldn't have fitted well together.
I really think you should sit down with your AP and explain how you want your children to be cared for.

chicaguapa Fri 24-Jul-09 12:47:50

I have also worked as an AP twice in my younger days so I know how hard it is from the AP's pov too. But I think you should take your cue from the parents and I would have expected her to have backed off a bit by now and relaxed now that she's seen numerous scenarios to learn from. But that's what we're going to suggest... that when we're around, she leaves the discipline to us so she can get a good idea of where to pitch hers (thus killing two birds with one stone.)

chicaguapa Sun 26-Jul-09 20:31:28

It's not going very well. Thank goodness this is our last year with a summer AP! She actually told DD today in the car that she didn't like her! I'm a bit worried about her temper tbh so I'm keeping a good eye on the situation!

ssd Sun 26-Jul-09 20:41:09

shock

she said that in your hearing?

whats she saying when you're not there?

I wouldn't leave her with my kids for a minute, she sounds totally unsuitable

ssd Sun 26-Jul-09 20:42:09

can I ask why you need a summer au pair and what'll be different next year?

Millarkie Sun 26-Jul-09 21:05:45

One of our APs was stricter than us (not hard tbh), especially about table manners which resulted in my dd making an effort to eat with her mouth wide open, just to see AP get upset!
I ended up writing up a 'how to deal with children' document that emphasised the 'ignore small things, ASK don't TELL, count-downs and 'naughty step' to be used only for persistent offences (ie. they have been told off and told the consequences of repeating the offence. I gave it to her and we discussed it because (as I pointed out to her) I did not want to be countering her instructions in front of the children because that would weaken her authority with them when I wasn't around. She improved a little but never fully relaxed.
I don't think I would keep an AP who actually said to one of my dc that they didn't like them though. Wouldn't want to think of my dc having to spend their holidays with someone who they knew didn't like them...Can you find a holiday club for them instead? or would that not work?

FabBakerGirlIsBack Sun 26-Jul-09 21:07:55

If I had an au pair who said they didn't like my child to them they would be on the next flight home.

Greensleeves Sun 26-Jul-09 21:08:04

I think you need a very very clear and firm chat with her. She needs to implement YOUR rules, not her own. She's an AP, not their foster mother

If she won't co-operate, get rid of her.

chicaguapa Sun 26-Jul-09 21:30:27

I have to admit I'm struggling a bit.

We have a summer AP as I work part time in the mornings and DS isn't old enough to go to a holiday club (he starts reception in September). DH is starting a PGCE in September to become a science teacher so next summer he will be 'off' and every summer thereafter (copious lesson plans permitting). Hurrah!

She apologised when she got home as when she said it in the car I asked her not to say that to either of them again. DC were being unbearable after a long day at an airshow and AP was sat in the middle of them. But she shouldn't have lost her temper with them and it does make me a bit concerned. On the plus side DC couldn't have cared less and say they like her.

AP's background is in teaching and this is definitely coming across. She's starting a BA in EY in September and with a year's experience working in a pre-school in Denmark I thought she'd be more reasonable in her expectations about children's behaviour. Her reference was glowing and said that she'd make an excellent teacher. But there's an obvious difference between teaching and being a big sister.

We were very specific about discipline before she came as I had drawn up a document about not smacking, positive reinforcement, only use the naughty step after a warning etc. Both DH and I have spoken to her about our concerns and she's approachable and doesn't get upset. We both like her as a person but I am not that happy with how she is with the DCs.

I'm not sure about the physical contact either. The other day DCs were fighting over a toy and AP took DS's hands and held them by his side. It was in the afternoon and not neccessary for her to get involved as I was there and I was a bit uncomfortable with what she did. I spoke to DH about it as he has spent a number of days working from home when she arrived to check everything was okay before she was left alone with DC and he said he thought I might have been overreacting. As a [lapsed] registered childminder myself I'm always uneasy with physical contact with other children as I do think there's a fine line between what's acceptable force and what isn't so I wondered if I was just being a bit paranoid.

catepilarr Mon 27-Jul-09 01:46:56

i think the sock thing might be a sort of cultural/different upbringing issue. for me it is totally unacceptable to run around in socks outside the house as it ruins the socks. therefore unless explicitly told by the parents they are allowed that i would tell the children to either put their shoes on or take the socks off. dont know about denmark, but where i come from people are generally used to care a lot more about not wasting/ruining things if they can help it.
of course she is to deal with your children how you want it but i am afraid you have to spell it clearly otherwise some aupairs tend to think they are there to show you better.

what would have you prefered your ap to do when your dcs were fighting over a toy? was she ment to be looking after them? if she is in charge do you still expect to be called in to sort out any fights etc? that sound a bit mean to me imho. but again, you will need to explain in detail how you want situations like this to be handled.

chicaguapa Mon 27-Jul-09 08:53:44

Hello caterpilarr. Perhaps I didn't explain or was very clear. When DS was told off for going outside without his shoes on, it was the afternoon ie when I'm caring for the children (this has been made explicit) and I was standing outside talking to another parent. DS came outside to ask me something, in his socks, on the driveway. AP came tearing out after him and shouted at him to go back inside and put some shoes on. He wasn't playing in the garden ruining his socks and I was in charge of the situation.

With fighting over the toy, AP has been told that we try to leave DC to sort out their own battles (good skill for the future) unless they are hurting each other. Again, I was in charge of the children at this point and was sitting a stone's throw from them. She was in another room and came running in to address the situation, in the way that she did.

In fact, she has now posted on her facebook page that she had an awful day with screaming kids in the car (fair enough), a friend replied asking why she hasn't been disciplining them and she answered that it's hard to do when the parents haven't done that from the beginning to which the friend replied use a tazer and she put Hmm!! Lol!. So we're going to both speak to her this morning about whether she's capable of or going to be happy looking after DC the way we want her to.

Maybe she feels we aren't strict enough but over here in pre-schools they do use positive reinforcement etc and do not call children naughty or other negative names. If she wants to work in one here (which she does), she's going to have to do that.

limonchik Mon 27-Jul-09 14:32:54

I've worked for a family where I'm a lot stricter than the parents and it is hard! Though I never intervened when the parents were around/in charge however much I wanted to. After going out to a restaurant with the whole family though, I tried to avoid family outings because the children's behaviour and not feeling able to intervene drove me mad. When I was in charge they behaved much more how I felt was appropriate though - I think children can adapt very quickly to parents and carers having different standards/expectations.

There's a big dfference between being a nanny (or pre-school teacher) and being an au pair though. An au pair can't impose her own standards/expectations, she has to fit in with the family. So I do kind of think if there's a fundamental difference in childcare philosophy it might not work.

Maybe you'd be better going for a younger/less experienced girl who hasn't formed her own opinion on discipline and will be happier to just be a big sister and follow your lead?

Millarkie Mon 27-Jul-09 16:30:00

chicaguapa - get rid of her! She has no respect for your way of life, she has no respect for you. Have a look on gumtree and see if there are any APs looking for a no-notice job or ring round childminders? It might only be 'for the summer' but if you can get replacement childcare I would get rid, or you could point out that she might want a reference from you and if she wants it to be a good one she will have to fit in with your family life.

PixiNanny Mon 27-Jul-09 18:24:57

Did she say that exactly or was it a "I know two very different children, nice x and horrible x, I really like nice x but horrible x isn't nice, do you think we can try to be nice x for today?" I've said that but I love my charges to bits But my younger charge (8yo g) gets very nasty sometimes (when she's been around a particular friend more than anything else really!)

Though, she does sound a nightmare, get rid of her! I do intervene (rarely) when the parents are there, but it's usually when they are doing things behind the parents back I must admit (like sneaking food to bed with them!)

catepilarr Mon 27-Jul-09 23:09:22

aha, now i get it what happened. i think she needs a talk on what her role as an ap is. coming out of her room in her time off to discipline the children is not on shock

chicaguapa Wed 29-Jul-09 21:23:18

DH spoke to her at length on Monday morning and gave it to her straight and what we expect; that her role is to keep DC safe and happy, that she's not there to parent them and that they're not at school. All these things we've told her subtly before so as to not rock the boat but we decided that if the boat capsizes so be it. He told her that if she didn't feel she could go along with our rules of behaviour etc, she'd have to think about whether she would want to stay and if she does stay, whether she'll be happy.
She got upset (which showed she cares) and was really apologetic and said that she wanted to stay and wanted us to feel we'd chosen the right person.
Tbh she's made a real effort since and the house is a lot calmer. And she seems a lot happier too as now she's put the iron rod away, she's not trying to control their every move. So far so good... hmm

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