We’ve all had one of those days, when all you want to do is to go home and write your resignation letter and look for what others call a “real” job. But the “real” job is not for you, you love your nanny job and the little “angels” you look after. To survive the negative behaviour, you need to remind yourself of this fact frequently and start with a fresh mind and positive expectations every day.
New day, new start. Don’t carry grudges or ill feelings with you. First of all, look at yourself and your practice. Children are not born misbehaving; there is always a reason for certain types of behaviour. Any trigger can turn your angel into a little devil. It is important to reflect and see if you can prevent any of these triggers.
Are you a trigger?
Children are very sensitive to our feelings, if you feel stressed, upset, rushed, out of control, children are likely to pick up on this and unlike you, they haven’t got years of practice in managing their own feelings. The onslaught of negative feelings will certainly affect the way the child behaves.
If you are not feeling at your best, child’s negative behaviour may just fuel your own feelings and reactions and you may not notice slipping into the vicious circle.
Objectivity and self-criticism are important skills to learn.
I don’t mean beating yourself over not managing the situation; I am talking about your ability to step back and see where you’ve gone wrong and to change your practice to prevent the situation happening again. This is a best example of evidence-based practice. Part of being objective, should also include praising yourself for what you have achieved and done well to improve child’s behaviour. It’s good to blow your own trumpet sometimes.
Other questions to ask yourself:
Is the child hungry or tired after busy weekend or are they ill? Is the child going through the transition you are not aware of, like one of the grandparents being in a hospital, losing a favourite toy…Or are they simply having a bad day? In a summary, look for the triggers and try to prevent these from turning into negative behaviour. Prevention is always better than having to look for a cure.
Positive expectations should be your priority. We have already established that children pick up on our feelings. If you come to work and expect the same negative behaviour as the day before, how do you think the child will react to this attitude?
Think of yourself. If someone is always expecting you to misbehave and doesn’t have positive expectations of you- how would you feel? I know how I would feel. I would feel that there is no point of me trying to persuade you otherwise, I would have no motivation to do any better. So, expect the miracles and they will happen.
And when they do, praise the children.
Praising the child makes them feel happy and good about themselves, makes them feel valued and accepted and most of all, the child will want to behave well again, so he/she can get more praise next time.
As human beings, we all strive for love and acceptance; use this to your advantage.
And be specific with your praise.
You do not need to praise a child all the time. But when you do, explain why you are praising the child, so they know what it is that will get them the same praise in the future. For example, if the child has helped you put the toys away without argument or shared their toys with others. If the child has done exceptionally well, you can surprise them with a reward, like going to the library and borrowing their favourite book. It is also important to be aware that you need to be praising children for different things at different stages of development. You do need to praise a two year old for sharing, but five year old should do so automatically.
Stage of development
If you are aware of different stages of child’s behaviour development, you will be able to predict certain behaviours and your expectations will be realistic.
But don’t forget.
Every child is a unique individual and any behaviour charts are for expected development only, the timings of behaviours may vary greatly from child to child. As the children grow, talk to them about their feelings; help them express these in any way they want and choose to; allow them time to become a whole person, learning along the way. Another (sometimes challenging) way to promote positive behaviour is to work in partnership with the parents.
Working in partnership
It can be challenging, if you don’t have clear communication channels.
It is essential to have a hand-over at the end of the day where you have time to discuss any behaviour that may have come up during the day (preferably within your working hours). If you have time to discuss the issues, another important factor is to have BOTH the parents on board. All your hard work can come crashing down to nothing if one of the parents is “rewarding” the negative behaviour. For example, rewarding tantrum with the extra slice of cake in return for five minutes of peace and quiet.
Once you have agreed on managing the behaviour, be consistent.
Simply saying NO, is not sufficient or effective. Explain to the child, why they are not allowed to braid the cat’s tail and paint it pink and explain the consequences of their actions. If the child decides to braid the cat’s tail anyway, stick to your guns and be consistent. If you are not consistent, the child will be getting mixed messages and whatever you do, will not work. Being consistent, makes children feel safe and secure, because they know exactly what to expect.
Sorting out conflicts
I understand that you are paid to look after the child 100% of the time, but not allowing them to sort out their own conflicts can have long-term effects. Every child will end up in a conflict situation. I understand that instinct of wanting to help and sort out the conflict for the child; it is your job to ensure that the child is always happy and content after all.
But if we consider the long-term effects, we should quickly change our ways. Allowing the child to sort out their own conflicts, will help them with social interaction, problem and conflict solving, building new relationships and maintaining these and it will also help the child become more resilient and confident. You don’t have to leave the child alone, just observe and if the conflict turns physical, intervene and offer solutions for the situation where both the children will be happy with the outcome.
And most of all- be a positive role model at all times.
Children copy all we adults do, so by saying please and thank you and behaving in a calm, confident and polite manner, children will learn all they need for their own life.
There can never be an end to discussions of managing child’s behaviour, but if you work on yourself, look for triggers, prevent these, expect only positives and be a good role model, you don’t have to worry.