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100 Tips for Nannies and Families

The advice in this book comes from Candi Wingate, President of Nannies4hire.com.
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Children Who Lash out at Their Parents or Nannies

If you have a child who lashes out at you, whether you are the parent or nanny, you’re probably feeling stressed, frustrated, angry, frightened, and a host of other things.  You may feel that your life is in disarray (at a minimum) and a living hell (at a maximum).  You probably desperately need some peace and harmony in your life.  What can you do to deal with your child who lashes out at you?

  • 1. Try to determine why s/he lashes out at you. Does s/he simply not understand that lashing out is inappropriate? Is it attention-seeking behavior? Is s/he feeling stress, fear, or anxiety based on something going on in the home or in some other aspect of his/her life? Does s/he feel that s/he has unmet needs that s/he feels you should be addressing? Is s/he trying to control or manipulate you? Is a mental health concern at the root of his/her behavior?
  • 2. Respond immediately and appropriately. Remain calm. (Note: you may not feel calm, you may even need to find a time and place just to let out a primal scream . . . but remain calm in front of your children.) Remove from the immediate environment any items that have been or likely will be thrown by your child as s/he lashes out. Reinforce or clarify your expectations about what constitutes acceptable behavior. Implement a redirective technique that fits the situation, giving consideration to the severity of the misbehavior and how many times it has happened before: time-outs, grounding, and other techniques may be used. Hold your errant child and let him/her know that s/he is loved but that the misbehavior will not be tolerated. (Note: make sure that you often tell your children that you love them . . . not just when they are in trouble.) While your child is in full-throttle emotion mode, s/he may not really hear or respond to the information you are sharing, but share it nonetheless. Over time, that information will generally sink in.
  • 3. When the situation has simmered down, talk with your child about what s/he was thinking and feeling when s/he misbehaved as s/he did. Be open to whatever information s/he shares (or doesn’t share). You can’t force your child to share what’s on his/her mind and in his/her heart . . . and maybe s/he doesn’t really know. But if s/he does share with you, listen without condemnation. At this point, your goal is not to punish him/her but to help him/her make better choices going forward. If your behavior contributed to the blow-up (i.e., if your child is sensing the marital stress between you and your spouse), then you need to correct your own behavior (and, in the example, share this with your spouse as well) or find an alternative that can mitigate the effects of the situation on your child.
  • 4. In future incidents, when you see the situation queuing up for what may be a lashing out, try to preempt that behavior. Be proactive. Speak calmly, slowly, and kindly throughout whatever the potentially precipitating situation is at hand. Reinforce your boundaries on acceptable behavior. Maintain eye contact with your child and touch him/her in a reassuring way (unless to do so puts you at substantial risk of being bitten or otherwise injured).
  • 5. If you have tried your best and have not successfully remedied the misbehavior, or if the misbehavior is particularly severe, you are well advised to have your child visit with a counselor to determine if a mental health concern is at the root of the misbehavior.
  • 6. If the stress of the situation is wearing on you, it may help you to find someone you can talk to: a best friend, family member, or counselor. Children who lash out create tremendously stressful situations for their parents: in order for those parents to continue to respond constructively to incidents of lashing out, parents need to be able to keep the situation in perspective. Good listeners, a solid support system, are invaluable.

By following these six tips, you can respond as well as possible to the difficult situation of having your child lash out at you.  For more useful tips; continue to visit Nannies4hire.com.

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