Playtimes April 2014 - page 51

wielders, with parents frequently
giving away their own authority and
that of a babysitter, nanny or helper,
often inadvertently. If a restless child
starts shouting for Mum while in
the care of someone else and Mum
appears, for instance, the parent
immediately puts that child in charge.
“That’s a huge power that they get to
hang out with Mum,” says Amanda.
“But as soon as she’s come down, I’ve
lost all authority. I’m done.”
Caregivers need space to instil
discipline and that trust has to come
from the parent, she advises. Evaluate
the styles of discipline your child
responds to. Where a telling-off in
public works, taking away a toy may
not. If a default punishment is taking
away a toy, it’s likely the child will
repeat bad behaviours because he
doesn’t feel the consequence. Then,
try to harmonise the way each
caregiver disciplines, so the style is
consistent and matches the child’s
disposition. Talk about the family’s
rules, boundaries and how you’d like
children disciplined with anyone
taking care of your child. Then, when
the caregiver is left in charge, stay
away. Make sure he or she really is
able to take control.
Taking charge
For Catherine Bailey, the helper
experience has been like entering a
new realm. Having raised her four-
year-old daughter and two-year-old
son in England without help, the new
presence of a live-in helper has not
been without its challenges. In the
early days, Catherine tried to be in the
bathroom with the helper for the pre-
bedtime routine. She discovered her
children would be overly boisterous,
refusing certain requests like brushing
teeth, especially for their helper. “I
think it was because they didn’t know
who to listen to,” she says. Bemused
by tiptoeing around each other,
coupled with the limited bathroom
space, Catherine decided that bath
time would be better off performed
by one person. “I’ve found what
works is to be really clear about who
has the responsibility so there is no
confusion,” she says.
For others, it’s the helper who
gets listened to while the parent is
disobeyed. Joyce To is a kindergarten
teacher who works with children
aged four months to three years. She
frequently witnesses children who are
usually focused and attentive become
out of control when a parent suddenly
accompanies them to class instead of
a helper.
She says the children play up
because parents let them. “The kids
tend to dismiss instructions and
misbehave when they think they can
get away with it. For example, they
know if they are with their helper they
will be brought back to their seat if
they crawl or walk around during a
April 2014
Cover...,41,42,43,44,45,46,47,48,49,50 52,53,54,55,56,57,58,59,60,61,...back cover
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