A Guide To Handling Conflict With Your Nanny: Here’s What NOT To Do

No matter how great your nanny is, there will inevitably be conflict. It’s a fact of all relationships. If handled well, issues provide opportunities for personal and relationship growth. Pretty much all conflicts involve the underlying needs of all humans including physical, intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual needs (Miller & Miller, 1997; Townsend, 2010). The way in which we tackle the conflicts will determine the outcomes.

When I worked as a Nanny Spy, I saw countless problems that got blown out of proportion or went undetected and led to bigger problems because of mishandled conflicts. The most important piece of advice I can give is to handle conflicts directly, promptly and face-to-face with your nanny. NEVER talk about your nanny behind her back or talk negatively in front of her to your children, as this will breed unrest within your home.

Communication is way more than just your words. It involves your body language and tone, as well. Communication roadblocks occur when two people talk in such a way that neither one feels understood. Research has found four particularly negative styles of communication, often referred to as the “four horsemen of the apocalypse,” (Gottman, 1999) because if left unchecked, these styles of interaction can eventually become lethal to relationships. Gottman identified these styles as criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.

Criticism is direct attacks on the other person focusing on his or her personality or character. “You are so inconsiderate!” is a criticism. However, a critique focuses on the actual behavior. For example, “I am upset because you did not call to tell me you were late.” Here, you aren’t addressing the person’s intentions, just the behavior that caused you to be upset.

Contempt is openly showing a lack of respect and annoyance for another person using body language, sarcasm or name-calling.

Defensiveness is a natural reaction to conflict, but when you stop listening to the other person and are only focused on backing up your own actions, you will not make any progress. It’s important that your nanny feels heard when she has a problem, as well, and it’s important you don’t immediately jump to defending yourself.

Stonewalling is completely withdrawing from the conversation and refusing to take part. Resolution will not be possible if one person refuses to participate in the discussion.

These are four things that you should avoid when handling conflicts in any of your relationships. It’s also a good idea to start modeling healthy conflict resolution for your children. Conflicts are a normal part of all healthy relationships and it’s important to remember that the nanny-parent relationship will be no different. Effectively communicating and working through issues will help you both to grow and the relationship to last.

Remember to never handle conflicts with your nanny in front of the child. Also, if your child has a specific complaint about the nanny, you’ll want to do your due diligence to verify the complaint before becoming accusatory. If there is something seriously wrong, I always recommend a third party for mediation.

If you’re interested in more information about our services as they relate to your nanny, check out our nanny consulting page or contact us today.

10 Warning Signs To Look Out For When Interviewing A Nanny

All interviews are going to be a little bit different depending on your style of communication, what you are looking for and the candidates, but there are some consistencies all interviews with a potential childcare provider should follow. First and foremost, it’s important the person you are interviewing can form a connection with your child. It’s also extremely important that you are able to communicate easily with the person you are interviewing and you feel that person is communicating openly and honestly, as well.

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In another blog, I’ll share some of my favorite questions to ask on an interview and what to look out for, but today I wanted to share what you SHOULDN’T see. Here are 10 Major Warning Signs:

  1. Being Late

When people are late to interviews it shows a total disregard for time management and a lack of respect for your time. If an interviewee is late before she even has a job, what will she do five months from now?

  1. No interaction with your child

It’s very important the person you are interviewing makes a conscious effort to talk to/interact with your child. If your child is a toddler, you want someone to get down at eye level and really attempt to make a connection. You need to know that the person you are interviewing understands that this is the essence of the job – and more important than anything that could possibly be answered with a verbal response.

  1. No clear examples from previous employers

You should ask the person you are interviewing for previous experiences handling difficult situations or times when previous jobs were challenging, rewarding, etc. If you feel the person you are interviewing is giving vague, cookie-cutter answers, or trying to avoid talking previous employment altogether, this could be an indication of a lack of experience or something at the previous job ending badly.

  1. Unable to articulate a clear schedule

You’ll want to ask potential candidates about their flexibility and schedules. For example, do they take classes? Do they have families of their own? Do they have some other type of employment? Do they travel a lot? It’s important to get a sense of how much time someone can actually dedicate to the job and if your family’s schedule can be a priority. If you are interviewing someone and she doesn’t seem to know where she’ll be in school in three months or if she will need to take time off for family issues, you want to make sure you understand the risks involved.

  1. Too much concern with salary and benefits

While this is something that should definitely be discussed and agreed upon (nanny contract) before someone begins working for you, it’s a major red flag if this gets brought up too soon in the interview process. It’s fine to discuss benefits and basic salary, but if it seems the person you’re interviewing is shopping around for the best deal and is totally consumed with the money above all else, it’s a major warning sign.

  1. Extreme nervousness

It’s understandable someone might be nervous on an interview, but you want to get the sense the person you are interviewing can be confident in stressful situations. Particularly if someone seems nervous around your child, you should take pause. Try to notice if any part of the interview, or any question in particular, seems to make the person uncomfortable. This could be a sign of trying to hide something or a lack of experience.

  1. A philosophy that contradicts your own

You’ll want the people you interview to articulate a clear childcare philosophy. This doesn’t have to be advanced, but it’s important to gauge whether someone can enforce and aid you in caring for your child in a way that makes you comfortable. You’ll want to ask about punishment and reward systems, for example, to make sure you are on the same page.

  1. Lack of experience

In general, a lack of experience should be fairly obvious just from a resume, but you’ll also want to make sure someone’s answers back up what the resume says. Ask for lots of concrete examples and make sure the person you are interviewing has experience with children who are specifically your child’s/children’s age.

  1. Off-putting personality

At the end of the day, there is a component of the interview that involves a “gut instinct.” Sometimes, you just won’t think your personality matches with the person you are interviewing. Maybe the person has a sense of humor that makes you uneasy. Be especially tuned in to how you feel talking and being in a room with this person. Is it easy to hold a conversation? Could you see yourself coming in after a long day at work and interacting with this person on a daily basis?

  1. Bad or no questions

Finally, if a potential nanny doesn’t ask you any questions, that’s reason for concern. It’s important for candidates to show an interest in your child, in your schedule, in your rules and philosophy and in your previous experience with nannies. One of the easiest ways to tell how much experience and interest in the position someone has is by how advanced and thought-out the questions are that you get asked. If someone asks a question you clearly already answered, that’s also a warning sign for lack of listening skills.

If you’re interested in more information about our services as they relate to your nanny, check out our nanny consulting page or contact us today.

3 Ways to Promote a Better Employer/Nanny Relationship

 

  1. Be united on all decisions.

Make sure you and your nanny have discussed rules and disciplinary procedures for your children and are on the same page. Never reprimand or contradict your nanny in front of your children! Not only does this diminish their authority from your child’s point of view, but it also shows your nanny you don’t respect her as a professional nor value her judgment. Parents and nannies need to play on the same team and support one another; consistency is key.

 

  1. Respect your nanny’s time off.

Remember that your nanny is also a person, with hobbies and interests, a social life and responsibilities other than the ones pertaining to your family. Be punctual when you say you will be home by a certain time and don’t inundate her phone with emails, voicemails or texts during her days off. Respect her personal space and property; don’t go look through her bag, car or (in the case of live-in caregivers) her bedroom.

 

  1. Show gratitude.

In 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People, David Niven states,“We work harder and better when we feel appreciated.” If your nanny feels her hard work is being acknowledged, she will be more likely to go the extra mile for you and your family. Something as simple as just saying “thank you” can go a long way when showing someone you appreciate all the work she does for your children to keep your household running smoothly. Random acts of kindness such as letting her leave (with full pay) on nights you get home early, or offering her the day off on her birthday are small ways you can show your nanny that you value the effort she puts into her job.

If you’re interested in more information about our services as they relate to your nanny, check out our nanny consulting page or contact us today.

Nanny’s First Day

It’s your nanny’s first day on the job; how can you ensure that things will run smoothly?

Just as with any job, your new nanny will need a few days of “orientation” in order to acclimate to her new position with your family. Ideally, she would be able to shadow you for a day and watch you perform the duties she will be responsible for going forward, but I realize it is not realistic for everyone to be able to take time off of work. Either way, taking a few hours to introduce the new nanny to the way you expect them to run your household will be mutually beneficial and help set the stage for a healthy working relationship and an open line of communication.

So what exactly do I need to show my nanny when they first start?

 First day orientation and job training may sound similar, but the concepts are actually quite different. When hiring your nanny, you should know what type of training they have previously had and, unless you have discussed this before, it shouldn’t be your responsibility to train them on childcare. It is, however, your responsibility to inform them about practices specific to working for you. For example, if you like your laundry washed and folded a certain way, you should give your new nanny detailed instructions about how this should be done, and where to put everything away. The same goes for any duties related to childcare. If, for instance, your child likes apples, but only when they have been skinned and cut into thin slices, make sure your nanny knows how to prepare snacks so that your child will want to eat them. In order for you to be happy with the work your nanny is doing, and in order for her to feel confident that she is meeting your needs as an employee, these needs must be clearly communicated from day one.

We suggest your nanny be able to shadow you for a day, just so you can show her exactly what the routine you want to be followed looks like. If shadowing isn’t an option, then making a list of daily activities and running through your preferences and expectations for each of them will suffice. Basically, you want to run through the tasks and responsibilities that your nanny will have to handle on a daily basis, giving her enough details that she will be able to anticipate what your needs are when she is making decisions. Remember, if you aren’t clear about what you want, you can’t expect your new nanny to be clear about it either. Don’t be afraid to give too many details, either. However, you should be aware of information overload, so make sure to write the really important things down, or suggest your nanny take notes on things like schedules, eating habits, etc.

If you’re interested in more information about our services as they relate to your nanny, check out our nanny consulting page or contact us today.

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The Nanny Search

So you know you need to hire a nanny, but where do you begin looking? 

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For many parents, the task of finding a childcare professional can be daunting, even if this isn’t your first time going through the process. For those of you who are new to parenting, or who have recently relocated to a new city and don’t yet have a network of people you trust who you can ask for advice, the prospect of locating, vetting, interviewing and then hiring a new nanny can seem near impossible.  Below are a few tried and true options families can use when approaching their search.

Reach out to friends:  The first place to start is asking friends, neighbors or other acquaintances you know who have children of a similar age, or that have had babysitters in the past. Ask them where they would recommend looking for a nanny, and if they have any suggestions for people they have used in the past that might be a good fit for your family. The best advertising is often through word-of-mouth!

Look within your community:  If you have just relocated to a new area, you may not know people you can ask yet. Or, perhaps your friends weren’t able to provide you with helpful answers.  Either way, your next step should be to reach out to people in your community to ask for advice. If you belong to a church, mosque or synagogue, many times nannies and babysitters will advertise their services there. You can also contact teachers and administrators at local schools to ask for guidance.  he more people you reach out to, the better chance you will have of finding exactly what you are looking for.

Use the internet:  Another great “first step” is always to perform an internet search. Search for terms like “childcare professionals in [your city],” and sift through the results you find. You may find local nanny agencies, ads from nannies looking for work on websites such as Craigslist or CareerBuilder or Mommy blogs that can give you guidelines and advice for how to navigate websites such as Care.com and GoNannies.com.

Whatever method you choose, the end result should be the same. We all want to have as many options as possible when selecting the person who will be caring for our children. The more avenues you have to search, the better your chance is of finding the perfect nanny for your family.  Happy hunting!

If you’re interested in more information about our services as they relate to your nanny, check out our nanny consulting page or contact us today.