Author’s note: A personal emergency came up yesterday, and I was unable to post. I apologize for the inconvenience, but Ask The Dad is back and better than ever today.
How do I get this kid to learn what “no” means? I’m nannying for a 13-month-old boy who just doesn’t understand “no.” He’s too young for timeouts and has such a short attention span that taking things away doesn’t faze him. My dad recommended using a water spritzer. Could that work? Also, how can I get him to stop screaming? I get that he’s just finding his voice, but it hurts after a few hours!
Finding his voice? Babies are born with the ability to scream. By allowing this kid to scream incessantly, you teach him two lessons. First, it’s OK to scream whenever you like. Second, there’s no need to listen to the nanny.
This boy knows exactly what “no” means. “No” is a simple concept, and babies pick it up early. This kid just doesn’t care, and that attitude won’t change unless you change it. As the nanny, you cannot simply institute stricter discipline on your own. I recommend that you approach the boy’s parents, tell them about his conduct, and ask them how they handle it and what they would like for you to do about it.
Your employers’ son could benefit from a few slaps on the wrist, and if you can’t faze him by taking away his things, keep trying other restrictions until you find some that work. Feel free to be creative, as all children are different, and each reacts to punishments in a different way.
However, unless your employers feel as you do and support your efforts to enforce better conduct from the boy, you have few options. If they think their little angel is just fine, then you can either deal with an increasingly disrespectful and disobedient boy as he ages or find new employment.
Can a father reconcile with a child when the mother says no? My husband has not seen his son – now age 15 – since the boy was a baby. The mother didn’t disclose the pregnancy at first, and she was involved with another man. She reluctantly included the father in the boy’s life for the first year, then refused to have any more contact. He has asked to see the child and offered to contribute financially, but the mother never agreed. Now the man is married to me, and before we have babies of our own, he’d like to establish a relationship with his son. Does my husband have any rights? Should he exercise those rights? He does not want to disrupt the kid’s life for the negative if his mother does not approve.
Yes, your husband has rights, though he will need to fight to exercise them. And if he truly wants to know his son, I recommend that he take on that fight.
The boy’s mother obviously wants no part of her son’s father, and since the boy lives with her, her opinion carries all the weight. Possession really is nine-tenths of the law – until you actually get the law involved.
It is long past time for your husband to go to court. Unless the mother can demonstrate that contact with the boy’s father would be dangerous, the courts will probably grant some sort of visitation. This problem will not go away on its own, and your husband needs a lawyer.
Keep in mind, however, that this man has not seen his son for 14 years. Perhaps the mother has badmouthed him to the child, perhaps she hasn’t. Regardless, your husband must prepare himself for the possibility that the boy will want nothing to do with him. If he does get to meet the boy, he should be ready to explain why he waited 14 years to take this step.
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