Monday Problem: Boy is a Brat not a ‘Typical Boy’
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Dear Nanny X,
I am in an unbelievably difficult situation. I just started working with a new family who have one little boy aged four. Mom and dad have a Masters in psychology and enjoy high salaries and cool jobs. I get on along with them. I work full-time but the parents kind of come and go.
The child looks like an angel but he’s not. I am beginning to loathe taking him out anywhere. As soon as he gets anyplace he immediately tackles the biggest kid present. He’ll try to grab their toy or cycle or scooter and no matter how big the kid is he’ll attack and intimidate them. If that doesn’t work he’ll railroad the weakest kid. No one is safe. Babies, dogs, toddlers get trampled in his stampede to dominion. He is disruptive of other children’s games, spiteful to infants and downright obnoxious to adults. The play-date invites from peers are fast drying up.
The progressive parents’ response to my daily ‘chats’ about junior’s behavior? “Oh he’s just a typical boy. It’s gender and age appropriate.” I do manage some level of control when he’s with me but it takes so much energy and constant monitoring. But once we’re home all bets are off. This kid is real smart and he knows that his parents do not enforce my rules.
I am at my wit’s end. I think this child has major behavioral issues and the sooner we address them the quicker his rehabilitation will be. I don’t like to walk out on a family but I’m really getting stressed out by the parent’s denial.
it does sound as though this child is crying out for boundaries. How does he react when you attempt to enforce them? I get that the parents don’t back you up, and that alone can be frustrating. Is he in preschool? This type of disruptive behavior will soon hit radars if it continues. You say you have had discussions with the parents.
It’s now time to set your agenda. Sit down and tell the parents the full consequences of their son’s poor social interactions. Let them know that play-date offers are drying up and be very firm in your own convictions. You do not have to participate. You can choose to leave.
Boys do not equal cruel and anti-social behavior. In fact much excusing of aggressive attitudes in young boys leads (in my opinion) to arrogant young men who do not respect women or authority.
It’s a toxic toleration of bad manners and we as caregivers need not comply.