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Survival kit as an Au Pair

It is easy to become an Au Pair, it's easy to fill in the application documents but some sneaky things that agencies don't tell you is that every day is not decorated with sunshine and roses. Some days will test your limits and have you doubt every decision that you made up until this point.

Understand me right, being an Au Pair is a wonderful experience, but it is important to expect the worst and be surprised by the best.

Kids can be horrible. Yes, we love them, we adore them and sometimes we despise them. When arriving as a new Au Pair you're a new toy that Mommy and Daddy shipped from Africa - and this toy is bringing presents! However, once the "toy" brings in boundaries and limits, it will most likely not be accepted with open arms. In some cases, you are not the first Au Pair that the family welcomes into their home and this may go both ways with the children - either they accept you, or reject you. We're here to talk about the rejection. How do we go on with life and get these kids to like us?

1. Bribery and corruption is not an option. Do not manipulate your host children to engage with you by offering them sweet treats of their liking.

2. Get to know your host children, ask them what games they like playing and engage in these activities with them.

3. Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate! I know they say that we don’t negotiate with terrorists, but sometimes it is the only hand we are dealt with. If you have a stubborn host-kid who wants to do what they want whenever they want – negotiate with them. For example, instead of making an executive decision and forcing the child to have it your way; give them three options of what you consider to be suitable.

4. Ignore the bad behaviour and reward the good. Don’t reward it with food, but rather 5 minutes extra screen time or a fun activity. Reward systems are great to implement and easy to maintain, like a star chart system.

5. Set the expectation from the start so that the child knows what is next on the agenda. For example, tell them “We are going to clean our rooms up and then when it is done, we can go outside and have a water balloon fight” or “You may play for 5 minutes on the Internet and then we are going to do homework.”

6. Communication is key in all of these situations and it is important to speak to your host parents when problems do arise. It is also important to discuss appropriate discipline methods with them that they normally use.

7. Consistency is important and you and your host parents will have to work like a well-oiled machine together. This means that both parties have to have the same stance on matters and be consistent when saying no about the same things.

8. Have fun with your host children – remember you are there to be a helping hand and a big sister. It is not your job to be the parent. Teach the children about the beautiful and fun things about life and explore with them!

9. Go down on their level, get dirty in the mud with them and be a wonderful part of their childhood memories.

10. Love these children as if they are your own family, even if they reject you at first. They will eventually feel your love and will come back for seconds!

Always remember, some days are difficult but that is what coffee is made for! Take an extra big sip and remember, it’s still better to have a bad day in a foreign country than having a good day in your hometown.

Author: World Voyage

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