My maid used to look after the two young kids of her previous employer. I get the impression from her that her main job was looking after the kids and doing some light housework. She wakes and gets the kids ready for school each day. This includes fixing and feeding them breakfast, tying the little girl’s hair and walking them to school. When they get back from school. She makes sure they eat their lunch, have their bath and then takes them to the mother’s shop or back to school again if there are extra activities in school.

She tells me with tears in her eyes that the kids were sad to see her go. I can tell that she has a fondness for the little girl whom she described as rather naughty. I do not think that she has any idea that she has contributed a little bit to this naughtiness.

Why do I say this? Well, I would say that most maids are not given the authority to scold or discipline the kids but they are sometimes given the job of looking after the kids. To me, you cannot look after kids without disciplining as well. This creates a disharmony.

Anyway, yesterday we made some pancakes for the kids for tea because they liked it so much previously. The little one was grumbling about not having enough. He had finished his and his sister had just started eating at the time. The maid was amused by the fact that he liked the pancake so much and she kept on laughing and commenting on the fact. This made the little one even more concious about the fact that he wanted more and there was none. This made the maid laugh even more. Finally, the little one couldn’t stand it any more. He ran out of the kitchen crying very loudly and stomping his foot.

If he acts up like this, I would usually just ignore him till he has calmed down. However, the maid rushed to pick him up and got his sister to give him a piece of her pancake. When she tried to ask his sister to give him another piece of pancake just so he could hold another piece in both his hands to pacify him, I stopped her.

Later on I took her aside and told her to ignore him if he misbehaves or throws a tantrum in future. I explained to her that kids learn from how we behave towards them. I told her that if he screams and you run and give him what he wants, he will learn that he can get what he wants by screaming. So leave him alone even if he looks very pitiful because kids will cry sadly one moment and be laughing again the next. I told her that I know she ran to him because she feels sorry for him and wanted to make him happy again but that is not the way to do it. This way, we will encourage a child to be naughty and greedy.

She told me that that is how she used to give in to everything to the little girl that was under her care because she didn’t know how to handle her. She told me that the little girl was very demanding and would ask for orange juice etc sometimes at 12 or 1 am. It was very tiring. Giving in to everything was easier. She also told me that to make sure that the girl did not keep on asking her for food, she would stuff her with food till she was so full that she wouldn’t ask anymore! That is also another easier way of handling kids.

I also had to explain to the kids that what the boy did was wrong. If he wants more pancake, he should ask nicely and because there wasn’t anymore, I will make sure that I make more for him the next time round. I also told them that what kakak did was wrong too. She felt sorry for him and wanted to make him happy again but I reminded them that no one should be rewarded for bad behaviour. And no one should have their food taken away from them to give to the one with the bad behaviour. They both agreed on that.

And so it turned out alright. I took the opportunity to speak to the maid as well as to the children to set the rules for everyone. I had to be careful when speaking with the maid because I don’t think she meant it in a bad way so I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. At the same time I must make sure that she knows what to do and what not to do in future when in comes to the kids.

I had set up rules and shown her exactly what to do in terms of housework but I had forgotten to set rules and show her what to do in terms of the kids. I didn’t think it was necessary because I always take care of the children myself, bathe, feed, etc. She sometimes plays with the kids when we are busy, that is all. She acted in the way she knew how and according to her natural instinct. Since she had always cared for other children in that manner in the past two years, she naturally did it in the way she used to do. However, the dynamics in my home are not the same and so I had some explaining to do.

Well, so thats that. A lesson learned by everyone including me. So what about you. Do you set rules with your maid about how she should handle your children?

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