I struggle with good and evil on a pretty regular basis. Especially being a nanny. I have my own goals with the children and certainly my own beliefs. I’m probably scoffed at by parents all over who think that I think I know it all. I’m here to tell you I DON’T THINK THAT. There are a few things that I do think I might have a good thought process on, but nothing I think is unconventional or out of this world ground breaking.
1. SLEEP. Sure, I love the break between 12-3 that a nap provides. But I also love the behavior that comes along with this good rest. I love knowing that the child was well behaved for the parents later on in the day, instead of their usual 6pm temper tantrum. I love knowing that it gave the child a better nights rest because they weren’t over tired. (For the longest time I didn’t understand how being over tired would affect a child’s sleep. I used to think just think that, logically, if they didn’t nap wouldn’t they sleep better, because they’d be so tired? Not true. At all.) I also enjoy the health benefits for children that come from getting a good nights sleep. You can’t argue with that, so I don’t need to explain why.
2. EATING WELL. I always strongly believed in this, even before I was eating well myself. That may seem a bit hypocritical, but I just seeing it as looking out for their well being over my own. I don’t think that treats need to be given everyday, or for every “good” that they do. I don’t think that just because brownies were made together that they all need to be eaten together at every turn. (some of these are personal examples…) Perhaps a cookie packed in a lunch every once in a while is appropriate. Every day? No. Brownies after breakfast? Hell no. Dessert every night? Nope. McDonald’s even once a week? FUCK no. I feel like McDonald’s and all fast food in general, ESPECIALLY FOR CHILDREN, is completely and 100 percent unnecessary. However, to celebrate a “special occasion” or if you really, really, REALLY had no other options that day…then fine. But to me, McDonald’s is an unnecessary evil. It does nothing for a human being except fill them up with fat and grease. I understand that things go haywire sometimes, or you’re running late…but sacrificing a child’s health is a sad consequence of not managing your time well. I don’t think that’s worth it. It may seem harsh, but when in my house as a child if you didn’t eat what was made for dinner…you didn’t eat. A few skipped meals and you realize that broccoli isn’t so bad. I remember one night my mother leaving me in the kitchen in the dark, after everyone had gone to bed because I wouldn’t eat my broccoli. I couldn’t get up until it was finished. I’m pretty sure I never fought broccoli again. Making separate meals for children, after they’re finished eating baby foods of course, is not ok. It only teaches them, in my honest opinion, that they don’t have to eat what you’re eating and that you will always make them whatever they want. They’ll just become accustomed to getting another meal, making you cook two different breakfasts/lunches/dinners. I feel like it also turns children into picky eaters. I’m in no way, shape or form a picky eater. Never have been. I feel that the way my parents raised me is a result of that. I learned to try new foods and not to be afraid of vegetables or something that smelled different. And face it, picky eaters are down right ANNOYING and is completely avoidable.
3. YES all kids are DIFFERENT, but some things are simply universal. Naps are good for everyone, I don’t care who you are. Eating right is good for everyone. Discipline is good for everyone. Perhaps the WAY you’re disciplining is different, but it should be done consistently either way. Discipline is probably where I’ve noticed children suffer the most. Taking something away from them and telling them it’s gone for x number of minutes/hours/days/weeks, and giving it back at any point beforehand…teaches them nothing. Putting them in time out and allowing them to come out before the allotted time, teaches them nothing. Putting them in time out and then allowing them to go right back to how they were behaving and not repeating the discipline…teaches them nothing. This is all pretty common sense. Right? Wrong. I’m sure they all have their reasons for not following through with whatever it is they promised, but parents have got to fucking follow through. It’s funny that after a few temper tantrums and fits, the kids I watch eventually just accept what I’m saying. I do not have any magic tricks, or special powers. I simply stick to my guns. No matter what. NO MATTER WHAT. If it really does mean ruining whatever plans we had for the day to teach the 1 kid out of the 3 or 4 or however many, that his/her behavior is NOT ACCEPTABLE, then so be it. If anything it’ll be a lesson for the rest of them as well that I’m not going to put up with that bad behavior, and that there will be consequences.
I probably sound like a crazy lunatic right now, and that’s okay. If crazy lunatic means your child listens to me, sleeps well, eats well and is over all better suited for his little life…then call me a crazy lunatic. I can’t articulate how many times a parent has said “I don’t know how you get (insert childs name here) to eat so well! She doesn’t even stand up on the chair while she’s eating!” “We need to have you here for dinners more often if it means that little Johnny will eat his vegetables!” “I don’t know why he naps for you, he never naps for us!” and so on. Like I said: I claim no magical tricks or powers. I simply practice what I preach. No, it’s not always easy. There are days with sick children, interrupted schedules, and over all “WTF”s. But, on a broader scale these kids behave. For me. These kids sit still, tearless, in dentists chairs. They don’t cry or need soda to help make their medicine go down. They welcome naps. They welcome teeth brushing. They understand that no REALLY DOES mean no. It’s not like I walk in and these kids just start obeying me like sweet little angels. They try and fight me tooth and nail. I’ve been kicked, punched, shoved, pinched, bitten, screamed at, thrown up on from so much crying they actually projectiled their lunch because they had to take a nap, my chair kicked repeatedly on a car ride, and smacked. All of this behavior is then met with a STERN and I mean STERN talking to, and an appropriate consequence. After awhile, it seems to get through to them. And from then on we’re usually a-okay.
My basic point in this whole rant/discussion is that I’m just trying to figure out WHY parents/guardians don’t follow these rules at least somewhat. Consistently. Sure, there are parents that do…but in every single nanny situation I have been in, these consistencies are non-existent. I’m pretty sure “Consistency” is a term these parents have never met. When these parents look at me and say “WOW, I can’t believe you got Little Lucas to do THAT!” I think “I can’t believe you CAN’T get him to do that”.
A child isn’t going to hate you because you put them in time out. They aren’t going to become serial killers because you forcefully talked to them. They won’t murder you in your sleep for turning the car around. And they certainly will not hold a grudge because you made them take a nap. Children are resilient. Children know what unconditional love truly means, and they will keep coming back for hugs. They will keep grabbing your face with both hands to give you big sloppy kisses (At least until they’re 6 or so… :( ) So don’t be afraid to follow through. Don’t be afraid to let them cry it out at nap time, or time outs. Don’t be afraid to PUNISH them. Consistency is KEY with children. I know it’s frustrating, daunting, painful, annoying, and downright inconvenient at times….but it WORKS. It will make trips of all kinds more enjoyable, meal times less messy, nap times longer, and faces full of more smiles than tears.
Agree with what you want, disagree with even more. But you cannot argue three things:
1. Eating well is good
2. Sleeping well is better
3. Discipline is best
10 minutes in time out if you disagree!