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The Nightmare Babysitting Charge

The Nightmare Babysitting Charge

By Amalah

I read the Daycare Bullies post on your website and wondering if you might have advice for me. My situation is a little opposite.

I currently homeschool my children (ages 4, 8, 11, 13). I have also babysat a friend’s toddler since he was just days old.

He turned 2 a few months ago. He has a sister that is 12 that lives in the same home full time. He has 3 step-brothers that are in his home every other weekend and occasional holidays. Their ages are 9-14. The toddler’s parents since he was born, parent permissively.

I, however, do not. I’m not perfect by any means but I am doing my best. I have rules of respect and kindness in my home. I follow through with what I say. And I try to parent with the Love & Logic method.

It is very frustrating to have this toddler in my home. He is very bright and usually stubborn. I realize he is 2 and is learning. But the parenting style of his home and mine are clashing. He can communicate. He often says “no want be nice”, “no want say please”, “no want talk nice”, “no want clean toys” etc. He is mouthy, defiant, disrespectful to me and my oldest. He refuses to share or take turns. He orders my daughter and I around. Yells a lot. Throws tantrums. Hits, shoves, throws things at my children. He is no longer allowed to touch or be near our animals (1 dog and 3 cats) because he hits them and is mean to them. I used to try and work with him on how to be gentle and praise his good behavior, but it doesn’t work. I have to be in the same room to supervise. His behavior is worse when I turn my back or just go to the bathroom. His mom allows him to bring toys, candy, coke, etc because she “just doesn’t want to fight with him”. Of course I put them in the diaper bag after she drops him off.

A few weeks ago she asked if anything had happened or changed lately so she could understand why he hates coming to my house. I explained he is talking back more and his rudeness and meanness isn’t acceptable. He sits on time out and doesn’t get his way… I don’t give in to tantrums. She didn’t say anything.

Recently my children and I went to their home for Christmas gift exchange. It was a nightmare. He wasn’t nice as you can imagine. His mom did nothing. Her 12 year old daughter was justifying the toddler’s behavior to my children (when my 4yr old said “ow that hurts please stop”). I had to be the one to intervene. And several times there was rudeness. All while she still did nothing but sigh.

I understand feeling tired. I understand feeling overwhelmed. I’m a single mother and only parent to them. I’m juggling my kids, their homeschooling, watching her kid, and managing my own photography business. I’m tired too. But I feel there’s some behavior that’s not ok. No one is the exception at my house. The rules are the same for everyone.

I’m not sure what to do. I’m not sure how to or if it’s possible to help his behavior while he is at my house? Please help. Please advise.

Frustrated Friend

One detail that’s not included here is whether the babysitting income is something essential to your household, or if the arrangement arose out of the existing friendship as a more of a “favor.”

If it’s the former, it’s time to make a change. This arrangement is no longer a good fit.

If it’s the latter, it’s also time to make a change. This arrangement is no longer a good fit.

Sorry to be so blunt, but seriously. He hurts your children and your pets. He is exhibiting significant behavior problems that would cause issues and concerns  and talks of expulsion at ANY daycare program. You have spoken to his mother and nothing has changed. (And most likely won’t, as she joins right in with a disregard for your rules by sending in toys, candy, and soda. FOR A 2 YEAR OLD AHHHH RAGE STROKE.)

And you’ve seen first-hand that his behavior problems continue at home and are completely ignored, tolerated and excused.

Honestly, your friend needs a wake-up call. And her son needs her to get said wake-up call and DEAL WITH THIS. He’s out of control and it’s not his fault, but it seems highly doubtful that whatever time he spends in your home is going to have any real impact at this point. You’ve tried. But you need to put your own children (and animals, and personal sanity) first and that’s okay.

Ending the arrangement and pushing your friend to find a more formal daycare setting for this child might be exactly what they both need. He needs age-appropriate socialization and better behavior modeling from peers his own age. He needs adults who are actually trained in early childhood education and development to deal with his behaviors, and possibly figure out if there’s something deeper going on than just a spoiled 2 year old. (The violence and defiance your describe does sound troubling.)

And your friend needs to hear that SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE, is putting her foot down about this child’s behavior and enforcing some freaking consequences. Any good daycare provider would do the same at this point. It’s sticky because there’s a friendship here, but hey! At least he’s not your grandkid or something. This babysitting arrangement is business, and you are perfectly entitled to put an end to it for any reason, at any time.

If you need the money, find a different babysitting charge or offer up homeschooling/tutoring services to an older kid, but get this particular child out of your home. Be completely honest with your friend that it’s because he’s hitting and hurting and you’re just not equipped to handle his tantrums. Suggest that it’s probably time to get him into a more formal/structured program with kids his own age, for better socialization.

And after that, it’s out of your hands. She might remain in a state of denial and refuse to discipline or set limits. She might get super defensive and not talk to you for awhile. She might just pawn him off on another friend or neighbor who lets him run wild. It sucks to watch innocent kids spiral because of crappy/lazy parenting, but it’s not your fault. Or your responsibility (provided there’s no abuse/neglect going on that needs to be reported, but that doesn’t sound like the case here). You did your best for two full years now and it’s no longer a good fit. Your kids, pets, safety, sanity, personal-preference-to-not-deal-with-a-raging-sugared-up-toddler-behaving-like-a-monster are all allowed to take priority over a babysitting arrangement you made a long time ago with a friend.

Published January 22, 2016. Last updated July 16, 2017.
Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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