The Trickiest Kid Problems - Solved!
Nannies help solve 42 common kid challenges.
Katie Bugbee, Senior Managing Editor
Articles> The Trickiest Kid Problems - Solved!
nanny saves the day drawing

All moms and nannies know that one thing is for sure: kids can be difficult. But, the littlest tricks (okay, call them manipulation tactics) can get our favorite wee ones to do just about anything. Here are some of our favorite strategies for getting through the day with the least amount of whining. Just click on the links to see the words of wisdom!

Please use Pinterest to "pin" your favorites! And, if you have your own tricks, share them in the comments below. Our list of pins is growing and we'd love to hear your most successful solutions to the curve balls kids throw at us.

  1. Get dressed
  2. Eat a healthy breakfast
  3. Learn good manners
  4. Stop fighting with their sibling
  5. No hitting
  6. No biting
  7. Share with friends
  8. Clean up toys
  9. Clean their room
  10. Stop watching so much TV
  11. Be patient and sit still
  12. Stop whining
  13. Use an indoor voice.
  14. Give you peace and quiet
  15. Covering their mouth when sneezing or coughing
  16. Blow their nose
  17. Use the potty
  18. Stop wiping their hands on their clothes
  19. Wash hands - with soap
  20. Sit still during a hair cut
  21. Play less video games
  22. Do their homework
  23. End the "I want a dog" begging
  24. Talk through their feelings
  25. Calm down from a tantrum
  26. Leave the house
  27. Make friends on the playground
  28. Pump their legs on the swing
  29. Leave the playground without a tantrum
  30. Stop whining in the car
  31. Eat their dinner
  32. Eat their vegetables
  33. Bring dishes to the sink
  34. Cut out too many sweets
  35. Brush teeth
  36. Floss
  37. Get in PJs
  38. Wash their hair
  39. Get out of the bath
  40. Take a bath
  41. Ease their fear of bedtime monsters
  42. Go to bed


Katie Bugbee is our global parenting expert and senior managing editor here at She has written for Babble, Huffington Post, Newsday and Parenting. A busy working mother, she offers families advice on many parenting dilemmas, from appeasing picky eaters to finding the perfect babysitter.

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(47) Comments
Laura B.
Laura B.
Hey orange square. As an observer......You get nasty, you called a child a brat and.....
hopefully you aren't helping these kids with their spelling tests, because
Yikes !!!

Are you nannying now ? Because it seems you spend a lot of time on here giving bad advice.
Get back to work you're on someone else's checkbook.
August 30, 2012 at 8:01 AM
Cassandra R.
Cassandra R.
Any advice on if I did the right thing by telling this family I had been watching there twins boy n girl age 6 starting last school year. The kids are very disrespectful rude kids that cuss all the time thinks everything you tell them to do s funny. Have to tell them to do something at least 5 times or more before they do it. Spoke to the parents about it when I first started they did a little better but watch them over the summer some and they was the worst espically 11 hrsva day. The kids didn't wanna go to park or outside claiming it was too hot. I did take them places when the parents left money for me to do so. But they are the type of kids that can't be around other kids without doing something to them. They can't even be quiet in a movie and watch it. So the parents claimed I did nothing with them when I felt I tried to. I even would have to deal with a bad puppy they got and keeping the kids from killing the poor dog with the way they handled it and they thought it was so funny. So I told them I couldn't watch them any more because I couldn't deal with the disrespect and them not minding me so they said it's fine they guess its time for them to move on and find someone that can deal with them. I remind you I was the third one and think I lasted the longest. The kids was in kindergarten and got kicked out that should tell you something is wrong there but I tried my best to tolerate it because I needed the money. And so how about when I left they didn't even pay me all my money and claim
they don't owe me anything after dealing with there kids for 10-11 hours a day. Did I make the right choice to leave. I really feel bad for that dog and have been thinking about calling animal control center because they are being cruel to that pet.
August 27, 2012 at 9:36 AM
Darlene P.
Darlene P.
Thank you for all your suggestion. It very helpful.
August 4, 2012 at 11:44 PM
Kathryn F.
Kathryn F.
Great feedback, I am a grama caring for my 4 year old grandson. He is a runner, he has no fear. I thought he'd grow out of it, he starts daycare soon and pre-school in Sept, will this become an issue with them? I literally have to chain my door, the worst is when he sets his mind into not cooperating, he acts like, it is a game and and wants to be chased. Any suggestions?
August 4, 2012 at 3:07 PM
Mariah G.
Mariah G.
take away one of their favorite toys. they can earn it back within a certain amount of time but if they don't behave they lose it for the whole day
August 3, 2012 at 1:35 PM
Rose R.
Rose R.
I also made cleaning up a game. Once a week or so (and yes, I know this sounds crazy), I'd take a deck of cards or a handful of coupons and toss them up into the ceiling fan, letting them "rain" down on everyone. They'd sit in wonder as it all came down, then they'd fly through them tossing them in the air like playing with leaves in the yard. And then when it came time which was before they were starting to get bored with them, I'd have them pick them all up and put them all in a basket. Because we'd had fun with them, they were very willing to do that.
July 29, 2012 at 11:43 PM
Rose R.
Rose R.
When many toys need to get picked up, young children are often overwhelmed. I found it easier to get them to clean up if I had them do it by category, i.e. let's pick up all the dolls, then let's pick up all the books, then let's pick up the cars and trucks, etc. That worked better for me.
Anything that they refused to pick up (unless it was their "special" toy) went into a basket that went in a closet and stayed there until the first of the next month. When I'd bring it out, it would be like a new toy to them and they'd appreciate it more.
July 29, 2012 at 11:40 PM
Rose R.
Rose R.
When there was a squabble over a toy, I put the toy in time out for the remainder of the day and returned it to the toy box the next morning. Then when a squabble over a toy would start, all I'd have to say is, "That toy sure is causing trouble. Does it need to go to time out?" And the squabble would stop, usually with both children dropping it and walking away. This worked well for 1, 2 and 3-year olds. Not sure if it would work for older ones, but it worked for the age ranges I worked with, and that was good.
July 29, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Janie F.
Janie F.
I think every one does the best they can with each situtions, children are all different and what works for one might not work for the other. Select age group you like to work with and be sure to speak with parents as to their expectations. Keep a daily journal and keep parents inform in it, ask parents how they feel about ways you have dealt with different situtions listen to their input so you are both on the same page. Parents and caregivers should always be in agreeance or work on a solution for what ever the problem is, otherwise it is not going to work. And remember parents always have the last word on how they want their children dealt with and if you don't agree or it goes against your believes you will probably need to look for another position.
July 27, 2012 at 11:32 PM
Darlene R.
Darlene R.
why can I not click on each one? Only some are highlighted.
July 27, 2012 at 12:56 AM
Sarah C.
Sarah C.
@Tiffany G.--I would highly recommend COUNTING DOWN and not up. If you count up to three (1, 2, 3...) and they are slow to respond or don't respond at all, then you are left hanging. They KNOW you can go higher and will push limits.

I have found counting down from 5 is highly effective. It's slightly more gracious than three seconds, but is much more final. who's going to go into negative numbers?? This has worked for me from age 1 (Yes. One-year-olds will respond promptly when properly trained.) all the way up to teenagers.

State clearly the behavior you desire to be executed (e.g. come to the table for lunch, begin toy clean-up, etc.) and inform them to be done by one. I then say while holding up the corresponding number of fingers, "Five, four, three, two, one, and DONE."

I feel this is the best method for displaying proper authority while simultaneously giving them ownership and a "deadline" so-to-speak. :)
July 26, 2012 at 10:53 PM
Cathy W.
Cathy W.
Tambi--If children have cell phones ask parents if the children can call them at work. Or suggest to the parents that you would like them to tell the children that any phone calls should be made inside the house and nearby you. Also find out who they will be calling. If they want to speak to their parents while you are there, give them a journal or spiral notebook and have them start writing "letters" to their parents to read when they come home.
July 26, 2012 at 7:08 PM
Tiffany G.
Tiffany G.
I have been trying the count to 3 strategy, and it seems to be working. Also, if by the count of 3 doesn't work I slap pm the back of thigh ( therefore preventing them from flinching). I've changed getting loud to talking normal toned and it seems to make a difference. It might not seem like alot but it has made a big difference in her reactions from testing me and knowing what's wrong from right.
July 26, 2012 at 1:14 AM
Margaret H.
Margaret H.
Not every situation is going to be ideal, in fact most have something that could be better. But sometimes there is nothing you can do about the fact that you don't fit right with a situation. We deal with people, and that means that there is no cut-and-dried way of doing things. There are general principles to guide all of us, and sometimes parents are just going to insist on their way or the highway. They have that right, even though some of them reveal their inexperience or biases that may not make sense to us. Don't feel badly about a situation or situations that don't work out. I have been dismissed twice over things that sounded ludicrous to me, and I would not change the way I handled the situations if I were to be confronted with them again. As much as we love the kids, they are not ours; and we are ultimately not answerable for them, only for our part in their lives and how we influenced and cared for them.
July 26, 2012 at 12:34 AM
Margaret H.
Margaret H.
When my kids were growing up, I didn't let them watch creepy or scary movies. Not one time did I have to deal with them being afraid to go to bed or to sleep. It was just part of the daily routine, and they did it without complaint or whining. At least when we were in our own home--my daughter snookered my brother into thinking she was scared, but she just wanted to stay up when she thought we had some fun going on.
Getting a kid to sit still for a haircut is fairly easy for me. I just tell them about the time my own son was fidgeting and turned his head at the exact moment I trimmed the hair above his ears, causing me to snip a piece of his ear off. They either sit still after that or ask their moms to please let someone else cut their hair! :)
July 26, 2012 at 12:25 AM
Jenny D.
Jenny D.
make it a contest who can get dressed first
July 25, 2012 at 6:50 PM
Aurora R.
Aurora R.
Hi Tambi,Do you think you are feeling a little guilty because you weren't aware she was talking to her mom on the phone? And you didn't like that her mom was the one that brought it to your attention. Because if she was begging and harping to her mother on the phone you should of been aware something wasn't right. I'm not saying to listen to the childs coversation but if you were in and out of where the 11 year old was talking on the phone you would of heard her. Don't get me wrong I'm just saying thats why we aew nannies to watch the children when their parents are at work. Would of you felt better if you were the one who first told the mother that you were sorry that her daughter called her and wanted her to come home. I don't think the daughter was being manulipative she's 11 years old. That's normal. It's very important to have good communication with the child so she doesn't have to feel she has to go behind your back. There's nothing to nip in the bud just good communication. :)
July 25, 2012 at 4:16 PM
Danielle J.
Danielle J.
I currenttly work with peer children and special needs children up to 5 years old. I also nanny /baby sit. And I agree they need and like structure and loving firmness. Show them,tell them what the expectations are. And realize we are a special person to do this job so don't let anyone put u down for a mistake u make. Keep up the good work ladies
July 25, 2012 at 3:56 PM
Bertha R.
Bertha R.
Well after to read all tese situations i can see myself in some of the same circunstances. As a Nanny i learn something.... when we take care of children instead of be in a factory is because i love them but doesn't mean we have to be treat as dogs... we are taking the place of the most important person in their lifes...."the mom" we have to remember them who we are.... "I love you with all my heart... i am your friend also but we have to respect each other no matter what" if you dont respect me i am not going to keep the secret and i dont care the answer but your parents must to know....about your behavior" believe me.... this works..but when you say it... you say it very serious and watching her/his eyes. Kids are smart and when they dont have the chance to win in an specific situation.... they believe that for little while you are the enemy.... dont worry.... in their heart your name is anyway in Big Prints. Good Look
July 25, 2012 at 3:28 PM
Monica K.
Monica K.

Wow. That's an intense story! First, we all make up things in our head. Especially as nannies, we are aiming to please the children as well as the parents -when in fact, most of the children would rather NOT be with us because they simply prefer mom and dad. It's tricky, many parents don't get the balance we strike.

That said, after hearing your story, I'd bet pretty much my entire salary that they did not fire you because you didn't call them! If you were expected to call them every time the kids acted up, you'd absolutely know it. No one likes a tattle tale...especially if you're calling them to tell them their kid something so awful-it would me THEM look bad and put them on the spot while they were at work. No one wants to be in that situation.

Here's what I think: They were mortified, embarrassed, and terribly ashamed. How do you maintain a respectful work relationship with your nanny after your kid crosses the line like that? Where do kids learn racism?...They don't just make it up. Think about that. It's environmental.

That doesn't mean that I think they handled the situation well at all. They could have called in a family+nanny meeting and given you a chance to educate them about racism and hatred. You could have worked with the family to create a lesson for them or they could have even brought the issue to school (which is a likely place it came from) and discussed the matter with teacher.

Either way, many things could have been done BY THE PARENTS to make the situation right, and it would have been a great learning experience for everyone. But they didn't. They probably weren't made of the "right stuff".

Shake it off-have a plan next time (and hope to never use it)! But I'd say, forget about feeling guilty for not calling right away. Chalk it up to kids being kids! You nailed it when you said he was pushing limits. The kid didn't know the gravity of the N-word and as the expert childcare provider that you undoubtedly knew that and didn't make a stink of it.

You did the right thing. You addressed the issue exactly when you should have and left it up to them to handle it. But instead of taking the high-road, it sounds like they burrowed under the rock of shame and let you go so they didn't have to feel so bad.

P.S. I think there needs to be a FORUM for Nannies by Nannies to address issues. Maybe a FB group...? Ideas....?Either way, its a delicate balance being a nanny and addressing issues with other nannies with concern and interest without sounding like gossiping school girls. Right nannies?! We need support too!
July 25, 2012 at 2:18 PM

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