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Parents and Guardians Forum>Very Bossy Three Year Old
kgirl27 06:49 PM 03-09-2011
Hello everyone,

I recently started working as a nanny and started this week for a new family. They have two kids, a 1 year old boy and a three year old girl. The boy is very mellow, and the girl definitely has her sweet side but is very, very bossy. I'm finding it a real challenge and am not sure how to deal with it... For instance, when asked to wash her hands after using the potty, she says no, sticks her hands under her arms and begins to cry when I insist. I proceed gently encouraging her and telling her we must wash after touching the toiler etc, and manage to get her to do it, but its difficult and I dread these situations!

More problems occur when her little brother wants to play with something she decides she doesn't want him to touch. For example a red wagon type pull around toy. Even if she is not using it, she will sometimes shriek/scream when he touches as a means to get him to stop, and he backs away startled. I tell her to please share and she refuses. I try to explain it's both of theirs and he wants to play, too. I try to encourage her to play with him, suggest ways they can both play with it (her pushing him in it etc), but she refuses for the most part. She yells no and is very defiant and if I take it away/try to give it to him she gets very angry and upset, and then I have two upset children. Sometimes I try to distract her brother, who is much easier to redirect to something else... but it makes me feel bad because he should be able to play too. She also has a habit of pushing him/yelling in his face/grabbing him etc.

Besides those issues, the bossiness continues in many situations including about food, me not allowing her to do something including dangerous situations, wanting to put her down etc. It's getting so wearing and it's only been three days!! Argggg. I have not tried a time out, I am a bit afraid of what will occur and don't want to deal with a huge breakdown... does anyone have any advice? I also worry about her not liking me as a result of discipline and want to make a good impression on the parents, as well as I want to child to have a good relationship with me and enjoy our time together... so do not want to do things that will cause her to dislike me.

Thanks so much!
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treehugger82 07:18 PM 03-09-2011
Did you discuss her behavior with the parents? It's not your #1 job to be her friend.... It's your job to take excellent care of her. There is a big difference between the two
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nannyde 03:30 AM 03-10-2011
She knows you are weak. She sees your kindness as weakness.

She's doing this because she knows she is more powerful than you.

You want something from her. Friendship, co-operation, reasonableness, fairness, etc.

She wants you to mind her.

So you guys are flipped upside down. You need to "right" it. You need to TELL her what to do not ASK her to do it. You are going to have to be the boss of her every second of every day for weeks to get this under control. Don't back down off the smallest request. Even if you ask her to put a paper towel on the table... she must do it. If you tell her to sit on this spot... she must do it. If you tell her to wait for you to finish this or that with brother she must do it. EVERY SINGLE THING YOU TELL HER TO DO SHE MUST DO. Once she realizes you are in control she will back down and be a follower.

You need to be HONEST with the parents and tell them she is not minding you, she's rude to you, she's mean to the brother etc. ALL of these are DANGEROUS to her, the baby, and to you and your livlihood.

If the parents don't back you up then I would suggest you leave. Just be honest with them and tell them that you can't work in a job where a three year old is the boss. It's not safe and it's not good for anyone including their poor little son.

And when you go... the next Nanny needs to tell them the same.
And then the next...
And the next.

They need HELP with this kid now.
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kendallina 01:16 PM 03-10-2011
Nannyde...you often have good advice, but I don't understand why you have to be so rude and condescending when giving advice. You think a new person who doesn't understand your experience and the value that you do bring to this forum is going to listen to you when the first thing you say to them is that they are weak?? That seems to be a strange way to relate to others adults...

To OP:
The little girl is running the show. She needs someone who will speak firmly to her and be consistent.

For example, if I have a child who refuses to wash their hands after pottying I explain to them one time that they need to wash their hands after pottying and they need to stay in the bathroom until they do that. Then I walk away (but don't go too far). If the child were to follow me out I would gently turn them around and tell them to wash their hands and they can leave the bathroom once they're done. Ignore all other questions or attempts to engage with you until she has washed her hands. It is not negotiable, so I won't negotiate, plead with or beg a child to do these things.

I'm all for having children work together to solve their own problems and I generally do not make children share toys, however, when this little girl is refusing to share the wagon with her little brother she is doing it to exert power, she's not doing it because she really wants to play with that toy. Don't let it be a power struggle. If the brother starts playing with it first, then it's his to play with. He's only one and doesn't understand that some things are hers and some are his. I would tell her that the toys that she doesn't want him to use can stay in her room and she can play with them in there. Toys that are in community areas are community toys.

If she is playing with something and he tries to play with it to then she has a choice: she can share it with him or take a turn with it in 5 minutes (or however long). If she cannot choose one of those two options, then you will make the choice for her (and in that instance I would give it to him and tell her that you choose to have her share it with him). She will cry and have a fit when you take it to share with the brother, but she needs to learn that when you give her a choice, you are being nice and she should take one of the choices.

With a child that is trying to exert her power, you have to be very firm with her, keep an eye on her every second and give her consequences when she does things that are not okay. Don't be afraid to discipline her (I'm not big into time outs, but they do work with some children and may work with her...).

Also, the parents and you need to get on the same page with discipline, which I think is going to be hard to do. It sounds like the little girl knows she can run the show because her parents allow her to.

Good luck to you!
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daycare 02:06 PM 03-10-2011
Originally Posted by kendallina:
Nannyde...you often have good advice, but I don't understand why you have to be so rude and condescending when giving advice. You think a new person who doesn't understand your experience and the value that you do bring to this forum is going to listen to you when the first thing you say to them is that they are weak?? That seems to be a strange way to relate to others adults...

To OP:
The little girl is running the show. She needs someone who will speak firmly to her and be consistent.

For example, if I have a child who refuses to wash their hands after pottying I explain to them one time that they need to wash their hands after pottying and they need to stay in the bathroom until they do that. Then I walk away (but don't go too far). If the child were to follow me out I would gently turn them around and tell them to wash their hands and they can leave the bathroom once they're done. Ignore all other questions or attempts to engage with you until she has washed her hands. It is not negotiable, so I won't negotiate, plead with or beg a child to do these things.

I'm all for having children work together to solve their own problems and I generally do not make children share toys, however, when this little girl is refusing to share the wagon with her little brother she is doing it to exert power, she's not doing it because she really wants to play with that toy. Don't let it be a power struggle. If the brother starts playing with it first, then it's his to play with. He's only one and doesn't understand that some things are hers and some are his. I would tell her that the toys that she doesn't want him to use can stay in her room and she can play with them in there. Toys that are in community areas are community toys.

If she is playing with something and he tries to play with it to then she has a choice: she can share it with him or take a turn with it in 5 minutes (or however long). If she cannot choose one of those two options, then you will make the choice for her (and in that instance I would give it to him and tell her that you choose to have her share it with him). She will cry and have a fit when you take it to share with the brother, but she needs to learn that when you give her a choice, you are being nice and she should take one of the choices.

With a child that is trying to exert her power, you have to be very firm with her, keep an eye on her every second and give her consequences when she does things that are not okay. Don't be afraid to discipline her (I'm not big into time outs, but they do work with some children and may work with her...).

Also, the parents and you need to get on the same page with discipline, which I think is going to be hard to do. It sounds like the little girl knows she can run the show because her parents allow her to.

Good luck to you!
I liked nannyde's advice.. it was direct and to the point no need to sugar coat it or beat around the bush... Some like it some don't............
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kgirl27 10:56 AM 03-11-2011
Thanks everyone for the advice.

I am planning to talk to the parents and make sure we are on the same page as far as discipline (I would like to try the supernanny time out technique), and go from there. I appreciate all your advice! I'm hoping this will work out and that I can get her behaving better. Otherwise I may quit!
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nannyde 04:13 PM 03-11-2011
Originally Posted by kendallina:
Nannyde...you often have good advice, but I don't understand why you have to be so rude and condescending when giving advice. You think a new person who doesn't understand your experience and the value that you do bring to this forum is going to listen to you when the first thing you say to them is that they are weak?? That seems to be a strange way to relate to others adults...
Fair enough

I don't normally read usernames or post counts when I read posts so I don't consider if the poster is new or has two thousand posts. I just look at the content of the post and respond.

I'll start over.

This isn't complicated. This kid is acting this way because she doesn't know what else to do. Children need minute to minute leadership when they are this far out of control.

The solution to this is first to understand why she is behaving this way with a near perfect stranger adult. She has to be VERY out of control to treat an adult this way that she doesn't really know.

The ONLY way I know to solve this is to small up her world and be the boss of her every second for weeks. She needs TIME to understand that her behavior will net zero.

Nothing else really matters when you have a kid like this. You can't be successful with any other aspect of their care if they don't mind. When you also add a one year old baby to the mix you have additional safety concerns. She could harm him easily with her escalating behavior.

My advice is to keep her area very small. NO free ranging in the house. Pick an area of the house where you can easily watch the baby and have her stay there to play. Don't entertain her at all. Have her play toys and entertain herself. Keep the baby separate from her as much as possible but when a choice has to be made on what can and can't be done.. the baby needs to win every time. She needs to see his position in the household elevate so that he is equal to her. The only way to do that is to train her to surrender to the baby each and every time she tries to control him.

When transitioning from one area of the house to another make sure that she must stay in whatever area you are taking her. She can't go from room to room. She needs minute to minute supervision and corrections.

YOU set the times for everything. She needs to wait until YOU tell her it is time to go to this room or that room with the exception of pottying. Make sure you build in time for her to sit and wait with nothing to do in every transition. She needs five minutes of time where she just WAITS until you tell her what will be next.

When she is outside have her WALK instead of free play. She needs the consistent exercise that comes from step after step with you setting the pace. At her age she should be able to do a nice forty five minute walk with her hand holding the side of the baby stroller.

Do the walk every possible day.. in the morning if possible.

When you are in the home just have her play. She doesn't need an adult involved in her happiness. She needs to create her own happiness. She doesn't need entertainment or any kind of stimulation. Just self play and NO t.v.

Once you get her into a calm routine and she shows you that she will accept your minute to minute leadership THEN very slowly start adding you into her gig. Do it in REALLY short spurts and then turn her back to entertaining herself. If she escalates her demands then back to "go play toys" and the small world you have her in.

Soon enough she will be laying in wait for any fun you bring to her. THAT'S when she will get got. Add YOU when she is being super sweet and kind to everyone around her. If you feel her starting to slip... back out and restart.

This kind of technique calms a child. When they know they are being led minute to minute the question of leadership (acting out) doesn't come up very often. It is her job to tip toe to the boundary of her will and it's your job to decide with each and every request whether or not she is ready to assume it.

As they get more and more stable then you can give them more and more choice. You will know if you are allowing too much choice or giving too much adult when she starts showing you the unhappiness that comes with a kid having too much say and power.

Don't do educational activities such as painting, play doh, crafts until you have a good month of compliance. I wouldn't read to her or do anything but supervise her until she gives you a solid amount of time where she shows you she gets it.

Now once she gets the idea that you are the boss then you will most likely have her protesting when you arrive and when the parents come home. Try VERY VERY VERY hard to not have any time in the house when the parents are home. She won't be able to manage the leadership she has with the parents and the follower role she has with you at the same time.

If it comes up be very frank with the parents that she can't handle you both there at the same time and be clear that you won't work while they are in the home. They need to communicate with you the minute they really need you to arrive and allow you to leave the minute they get home.

Good luck and check back in when you can.
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emilialavender 08:01 AM 04-07-2011
Like just about anything else that kids do, being bossy is usually just a test to see what they can and can’t get away with. By demanding that somebody else act according to their wishes, the child is testing the waters. Initial reaction and consistent attempt to get the child to stop being bossy are the most important things that will help you deal with a bossy child.

When she is disrespectful to adults and walks away, again, swift effective intervention is needed such as losing a privilege or time out.
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normad 05:04 PM 04-15-2011
At three years old its actually a normal stage that kids always say no, probably for her its a bit much too prominent but believe me, based on studies it is normal. I suggest that you convince her to actually do stuff by explaining her the importance of washing hands and as much as possible volunteer to do it with her or add some fun to it like singing the happy birthday song while doing it together. Just remember never to give treats to bribe her to do it since she will just be spoiled.
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Tags:behaviour, bossy, defiant, discipline, toddler
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