Discipline in the American Family

I recently had the pleasure of reading an article by a colleague. It was about discipline and the au pair experience. I could not agree more when I read how au pairs are often surprised at children’s behavior or that American families are relinquishing more control to their children. I have to disagree, however, that this results in happier or healthier children who behave well. Before I go any further, please go read Summer’s article for yourself: How to Discipline American Host Children

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Let me share a little bit. I come from a very large family, which can be quite loud, and I have been spanked as a child.

First, let me remind my readers: no au pair may yell at or hit any child. Doing so may result in immediate expulsion from the Au Pair Program as well returning home at the expense of the au pair, not to mention the possibility of criminal charges.

Second, let me remind you that communication is the number one solution for parents and au pairs for a successful experience.

Third, letting the kids decide is a bad idea, in my opinion. It is reasonable to allow the kids some input when it comes  rules and consequences, but not the big one. There should be clear expectations for the children, as well as clear consequence for failing to meet those expectations. I still like the idea of warning a child about their behavior and using a time-out to match the child’s age. I am sure there are situations when this won’t work, like immediate dangers. If a child is in danger, give no warning…ACT!

Kids do need some input, but good modeling, open communication, and clear consequences/expectations should be on top of the discipline checklist. I have to disagree, respectfully, with my colleague who seems to encourage a more “fluffy” approach to discipline. Please jump into the conversation. I am Joan Lowell, your Go Au Pair Local Area Representative in the RI area. Please contact me with your questions about an au pair experience or about discipline. Reach me at 401.309.1925 or jlowell@goaupair.com.


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