A United Front on Discipline

A guide to discussing discipline with your nanny or babysitter, as well as 4 discipline strategies parents and caregivers can stick to.

When you and your partner don’t approach discipline in the same way, it can feel like you’re being undermined at every turn. And if you’re lucky enough to agree on discipline strategies, there may be other caregivers in your children’s lives, like nannies or grandparents, who have their own opinions. No one wants their children getting away with bad behaviour during the day – but dealing with that bad behaviour needs a clearly articulated strategy.
No matter what their beliefs, most adults agree that children need discipline. Here are 4 strategies for creating a discipline strategy the whole family can stand behind:

1. Discuss discipline upfront, and often
Discipline is an issue that can be discussed even before you have children. Talk with your partner about how you were raised and how you feel about how your parents disciplined you.
You should have a similar discussion with your nanny during the hiring process. Ask her what she would do in different scenarios to make sure you will be comfortable with her discipline philosophy. And keep communicating with all parties as issues come up. If you take away a favourite toy from your daughter in the morning, make sure your nanny doesn’t give it back to her as soon as you leave for work.

2. Learn to love the differences
Not everyone in your children’s lives will approach discipline in exactly the same way. That’s OK, as long as all the caregivers stick within your boundaries, the whole idea behind discipline is to help prepare your child for the world. It is helpful to children to learn that there are different personalities in the world who have different reactions to things.

3. Try the mildest interventions first
That being said, you and your partner should work to have a unified game plan. When you disagree on strategies for teaching your little one to behave, start with the most benign philosophy first.

4. Take a step back
When dealing with a caregiver, it’s important to communicate your philosophy for discipline. Go over how you handle different levels of bad behaviour and ask her to do the same. But there comes a time when you need to relax and let her work out what discipline methods work best between her and your children (as long as she sticks to your articulated boundaries). Time out or no TV?

The bottom line, however, is that parents have the ultimate say in how the children are disciplined. If you feel like you’re being undermined, your children are not responding well to a caregiver, or worse — that they’re in danger — don’t hesitate to intervene.



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