My Own Children Are the Worst of the Bunch!

~Kay Mishkin

Ever since I began doing childcare, back at the dawn of time, there is one topic many providers all lament about… their own children.  It is a fact that a great proportion of women providing care in their homes are doing it in order to be there for their own children.  For the most part, the well-being of our children is a number one priority for us; but do our children respond in a properly thankful, grateful matter?  NO WAY!

            Why is it that providers often report that their own children are the worst of the bunch?  That they are bossy, demanding, selfish, underhanded, argumentative and sometimes downright mean!  Don’t despair, all is not lost. Let’s take a closer look at this situation.

            First of all, there is a difference of effect on your children depending on when you started your business.  If you opened when your child was between 3 and 6, they probably are having a harder adjustment than if you started earlier.  Infants or young toddlers won’t be too aware of the difference, and will grow up accepting the childcare arrangement as their way of life.  Children of the preschool age have learned what their home routine is, they may have been enjoying the privileges of being an only child, and having a close relationship with their mom, when all of a sudden, new children are introduced -–your own may lash out, or may show their displeasure in many other various ways.

            Although there have not been many studies on this topic, one which was done by Betsy Squibb and Betty Beach at the University of Maine at Farmington many years ago, was significant.  Some of the findings were:

*  Women who stay at home to be with their own children usually have very high expectations for their children.  These unfortunate children are expected to show the world what a good caregiver the mother is, and to model to everyone, how the ideal child should behave.  Well, it is hard to come up to that!   So – we need to keep in mind that we (and our children) are only human and can’t be perfect.

* Children who are part of the childcare group run by their mother have a much more complicated task to understand about who owns what and who is in charge of what.  However, when these children finally do grasp the basics, their understanding is much more complex than the ordinary child.

*  Children taking part in their mother’s childcare KNOW what their mother is doing for work.  Other children may think their parents drive around in their cars all day.

*  Usually if a mother is doing childcare, the daily activities and the available equipment for her own children are of higher quality than might otherwise be true.

*  Often, during the work day, the provider’s own children spend much more time watching their parent than the other children do, thus learning much from her modeling behavior.

It is also very important to bear in mind that it is much easier to keep your cool when working with other people’s children.  The parent-child bond will make you completely irrational when it comes to your own child.  That is as it should be.  You are the lioness defending her cub and will pull out all the stops.  This level of emotion can create much stress in us when it comes to accepting our own children’s misbehaviors.

DO allow your child some special privileges, after all, it IS their home.  Do separate the “work” rules from the “home” rules, so your child won’t feel like they live 24 hours in a childcare.  Have a personal space for your child, don’t let other children nap or play in their room.

When your child is old enough, let them have some responsibilities to help with the work, and pay them in some way.

When you have a bad day, don’t over react.  Parents are often baffled by their child’s behavior even when they are NOT doing childcare!

And, above all, don’t feel guilty if you decide that your child needs to have time away from you, and learn to appreciate other caregivers. Try enrolling them in a nursery school or other activity program.  Most of us have done that and our children have benefited as have we.


 No matter how well behaved a child is, there will be times when they do not want to put on socks or pick up toys.  As young children develop, they begin to understand that they can make their own decisions.  And occasionally they make a power play at an inconvenient time.  (Usually when a childcare parent is in the house!)

While a power play can be frustrating for the adult who is trying to get the child to do something, it is a healthy part of children’s social and emotional development.  These incidents help children develop a stronger sense of self and the capability to set their own limits.  We adults  need to react appropriately.  In many instances, trying to force the child to do what they don’t want to  — makes the situation worse;  a full-blown power struggle.

Try offering assistance instead.  For example, you might say “You can put on your socks by yourself, or I can help you this morning.”  or, “I could help you put away your toys.  Would that be OK with you?”

Or offer choices. “ OK, you don’t want to put on your hat.  How about wearing THIS hat?  You need to wear a hat when we are outside.”  or, “Let’s see, which would it be easier to start with: putting the blocks in this tub or putting the cars back in their case?”  Power plays are a part of growing up.  When adults handle them in a calm manner, they offer a chance for children to develop self-esteem and self control.  Lastly, if the child you are power struggling with is your own child, try the ‘deep breath, count to 10’ approach.  Maybe you can avoid a head- on collision this time.  Good Luck.

P.S.  I firmly believe that my children benefited greatly from my presence and my child care work.  Now as adults, they both have a good understanding of children and parenting.  This can be one of your most satisfying job benefits if you have children of your own.  KM

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