When Children Become Disrespectful: What Do You Do?

Dear Nanny X,
I have worked for the same family for 6 years now. The two children are aged 9 and 6. One is a boy (eldest) the other a girl. In the last 6 months the situation has become a nightmare. The boy now refers to me as the ‘sitter’ to his friends and in public to anyone who cares to know. The girl is following in his footsteps. I used to be able to reason with them, but now everything I say falls on deaf ears. I feel like a chauffeur getting them in and out of cabs and taking them on prearranged play-dates. When I mention this to his mom she says things like ‘oh they’re just kids’ or ‘they don’t mean it’ – but it is now getting to the point of rudeness. I feel all of my years nurturing the two children whom I adore are for nothing. I am not a mean or angry person. I am very mild-tempered. So I feel like a servant these days.
The other thing is that the children never want to tidy up their mess and so I end up doing it. Now it feels as though I am expected to clean their rooms. I don’t know what to do. I feel disheartened. 
Nanny Anon
Dear Nanny Anon,

I am sure I speak for many Nannies when I say ‘been there done that’. Here’s the thing, your employer is oblivious to how serious this matter of disrespect is for you. So set aside some time alone with her, perhaps when the children are in school, and talk to her candidly about how this is affecting you. She may feel this is a developmental stage for her son and one she can weather. If so tell her that you are not comfortable with it. Ask her to speak to her son about how his words and tone hurt your feelings at times. Explain to her how much you care about your relationship with her children. Allow her to fully understand that it will eventually impact your work with them. You may even wish to initiate a discussion with the boy when he is alone. With the parent’s permission. Most children respond one on one.

If the situation continues and nothing changes perhaps it is time for you to review your career path. Your nurturing skills may be best utilized with infants and younger children. Some Nannies are better with younger children, others with older children. 

As children develop they do become aware of who does what, so to speak. Sometimes they are simply looking for a new dynamic between themselves and their caregiver. Sometimes they are testing boundaries. 

FYI: At ages 9 and 6 they should be tidying up their own rooms.