I realize the important role a nanny plays in a child's life; the effects of which–for better or for worse–will stay with the child for many years to come. But as I have seen with every nanny job I have had: I am that “bad” person who represents the replacement of their mommy.
One of my nanny jobs is with Mira, who is 5 1/2 yrs. old. I officially started watching her (and sometimes her 7-year-old brother) about three months ago. I feel we are now growing in closeness. At the beginning, I was once again seen as the “bad” person – there because her mom is not – and in the first several weeks Mira would show her upset at not being with her mom. This arose consistently when I pulled up at her house after picking her up from school. Her mom has taken on a new position and therefore is not as present for Mira as she used to be. She would say she didn't like me, and that I was stupid and that I suck!
There have now been several times when, seemingly out of the blue, Mira will start making sobbing sounds (but shedding few tears), grunting, kicking her legs, and telling me to stop looking at her, while I would try to make eye contact and show my concern. She even has yelled at the top of her lungs, “Stop! Don’t look at me!” I gently tell her that because she is feeling so bad, I will stay close (but I stay only as close as she allows), though I attempt to respect her request that I do not look directly at her. Often her father is upstairs. There have been times when she has barged into his office while he is having a phone session with a client (he is a psychologist). At this point, I scoop her up and remove her while she is kicking and yelling. Fortunately, her father is on board with Parenting by Connection, and has mentioned that he trusts me. He allows me to handle the situation. She has this kind of outburst with mom and dad as well.
These outbursts usually happen after she and I have had a lot of fun and connection (playing memory games or Connect Four, dancing, doing yoga) together. Of course I see this as a very good sign that she is trusting me more and can then “let it all hang out.” As time goes on, I feel that Mira accepts me more and more. She now sits on my lap, and will whisper secrets to me when we are with others if she does not want them to know what she is thinking. I attribute this, in part, to my allowing her from the very beginning to make all the decisions as to what we are going to do. I allow her to always go first in games, and I dote over her as she demands, “Look, look at me! Watch, watch!” as she does cartwheels, handstands, and headstands.
In a sense, it has been one big Special Time every time we've been together. As I feel and sense our connection growing, I plan to push against her will a bit (insisting I go first, for instance, or insisting that this time, I decide what game we will play). One interesting thing to note: today when we were playing Connect Four and I would block her, she would comment: “Good move, good block.” This was in complete contrast to how she was in the past, when she would get really upset if she did not win at a game I am pleased and a bit amazed how fast she is opening up and trusting me!
-S. Hart, Certified Hand in Hand Instructor
- Do you want more suggestions on how to use Special Time? Check out our free video series. In the first video, you’ll get a step by step guide to using Special Time and some fun examples of what it can look like. Get your videos now.
- Want to know how to handle kids outbursts using Hand in Hand tools? Read it in Five Tools, What They Are and How They Work.
- Missed Part One of our Bad Nanny posts? It's here: Confessions of a Parenting by Connection Nanny: Part I