Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Nanny On, Moms

As a nanny, I often wonder what kind of Mom I will be to my kids. I'm very conscientious of the kids I watch, and keep them happy and occupied. That being said, I am also a big believer in letting kids play by themselves (or other kids) so as to use their imagination. Too much enabling encourages kids to get bossy, especially if they are already more "specifically-inclined" towards activities (verses the, "whatever happens happens" attitude).

This week, this topic has weighed especially on my heart. Yesterday was President's Day, and our normal play heaven was overrun with kids - particularly older kids, who pay no mind to two year olds on the prowl. Then today, at play group, a similar situation happened on a smaller scale. My charge is Mr. Chill, so nothing traumatic occurred. But my blood boiled at the older kids who repeatedly climbed up the slide so that the little kids could not go down it, or the name calling between kids, or the general rough-housing.

More infuriating for me, however, was watching the lack of follow-through from Moms. They would tell their child to stop something, and when they didn't, they let it go and kept talking to other Moms.

I agree that there are times to pick your battles with your kids. I do not agree with letting your child walk all over you and other kids. If you tell someone to not do something, and they do not listen to you, you should respond. Not in an angry or aggressive way, but a firm way. I like to ask the 5 year old why she did not listen to me, why I'm asking her to listen to me, and why she acted that way. Making children conscious of their actions is very important; otherwise, it does and will transfer into adulthood.

See what Calvin's Dad is doing here?
When I quit office work to start nannying, it did not seem like a career choice to many people. But being a nanny to two little people uses all my social graces (under pressure and otherwise), interpersonal skills, schedule management, imagination and curiosity, is a high responsibility post, and heck! A ton of fun. It's the best job I've ever hard, and it's the reason I know I'll be ready to be a Mom when that day comes.

But I also know, from being a nanny, that your child is not "just that way." Every child is going to act out and be rebellious and not want to take a bath or brush their hair or eat their vegetables or wear sunscreen, but that is why you are the adult and they are the child. I may consider my charges to be my little friends, but I am also in charge of them. I have to take care of them and protect their well-being, and the only way I can do that is if they listen to me.

This June, I'll be with my family for over a year and a half. Every time one of the kids listens to me especially well or asks my permission before they run off or says please/ thank you, my heart bursts with pride. They didn't always do these things, and I drum it into them in a loving way. Because that's how kids learn: by example and constant reminders.

Moms, when you're out with your kids, try to put yourself in another caretaker's place: if your child is acting out and hindering other children from enjoying themselves, please step up and set an example of how people should act around people, big and small. It's what this nanny would do!

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