Children Adapt to Differing Rules

Description

John Rosemond offers advice on how to navigate between different disciplining styles of a nanny and parents.

Q. I am a full-time nanny living with a single dad and his four young sons. The dad has given me free rein to deal with the kids and discipline them as I see fit when they are with me. I am much more strict and traditional than he is and although he doesn't mind how I handle things, he's not always willing to do the same things himself (or he's not as consistent). Is it okay to have certain rules/consequences in place that are only used consistently by me? Or should I only use discipline that he is willing to use as well? I should add that the boys are much better behaved with me than with him.

From toddlerhood, children can and will adapt accordingly to two different discipline styles, sets of expectations. and so on. The mere fact that you and this father aren't on the same page, while not an optimal situation, is not going to cause the children any "confusion." Children are not confused by situations of this sort. Rather, they figure them out quickly and usually learn how to play the field to their own advantage.

What's important is that you and your employer come to agreement as to which of you is going to handle discipline when you are both present (Sounds to me as if you are not only more suited, but more willing). Once that's been established, then communicate that agreement to the children, as in "This is the way we're going to do things when we are together." Perhaps, over time, he will come to see the wisdom of stepping fully up to the Daddy Plate.

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