Are Your Nanny And Your Child Getting Along?

Signs your nanny and child are developing a secure attachment

“Attachment style” is one of those phrases that gets thrown around a lot by behavioral psychologists, and that’s because it is a very important concept. But what are we really talking about? It’s fairly simple. Attachment refers to the relationship or bond a child has with his or her primary caregivers.

Think back to your own childhood and the important people in your life. The trust you placed in your parents and other caregivers significantly impacted your future relationships, whether you’ve ever taken the time to realize this or not. So, yes, attachment is important. It’s important your child feels confident in a caregiver. It’s important your child feels supported and can place trust in authority figures. This is how your child will grow to maintain strong relationships as well as exert independence.

Attachment starts when your child is just a baby. When the baby gives a cue or signal, such as a cry, outstretched arms or a smile, and the caregiver responds warmly, gently and sensitively, the baby begins to feel secure. The baby is learning, “I can count on this person to meet my needs. And, even though I don’t have words yet, I can tell this person what I need and feel confident that I will be heard.”

How do I know if the attachment between my child and me is secure?

Here are the two main things you want to look out for as a new parent:

1) The baby readily turns to you at times of distress and finds comfort in your arms or in your gentle reassurance; 2) The baby uses you as a “secure base” from which to venture out and explore the environment, periodically touching base with you to renew confidence.

If you’re employed outside the home and have a fulltime nanny or your child goes to daycare, this doesn’t mean you can’t build secure attachments with your child. In fact, research has shown that whether or not a parent is employed outside the home and whether a baby attends out-of-home childcare or not has little influence on attachment styles. It’s all about being emotionally available to your child when you are at home and also making sure whoever else is a primary caregiver is emotionally available.

Signs of Healthy Attachment

Even children who are experiencing attachment strain may show some of these signs of healthy attachment, so you should always be on the lookout for indications your child is not adjusting well to a caregiver. These are the signs you want to look out for when evaluating how your baby and small child is responding to both you and your nanny.

  1. Joyful the majority of the time.
  2. Seeks out primary caregiver for comfort and to meet needs.
  3. Likes to be cradled and held facing primary caregiver.
  4. Makes good eye contact with primary caregiver and initiates eye contact – both close & distant proximity.
  5. When primary caregiver makes eye contact, the child smiles back, showing signs of being happy with the interaction.
  6. Smiles and exhibits pleasure when seeing self in the mirror.
  7. Frequently engages in playful interactions with primary caregiver (interactions initiated by both parent and child.)
  8. Uses different cries to alert primary caregiver of needs and wants; easily consoled by primary caregiver.
  9. Willingly allows primary caregiver to hold bottle, hand feed, and nurture.
  10. Melts into primary caregiver when held; lays head on shoulder; holds on when held; faces primary caregiver rather than away.
  11. Enjoys cuddling, hugs, and kisses given by primary caregiver and initiates cuddling, hugs, and kisses without wanting something in return.
  12. Imitates primary caregiver regularly (actions, language, etc.)
  13. Settles quickly when held by primary caregiver.
  14. Prefers close proximity to primary caregiver but not in an anxious, desperate way.
  15. Consistently sleeps well and peacefully.
  16. Wants to please primary caregiver because he knows it will make his parent happy.
  17. Reacts appropriately to pain; wants primary caregiver to nurture him when in pain or sick; easily consoled.
  18. Displays age appropriate anxiety at brief separation from primary caregiver but is able to be reassured.
  19. Reunites happily with primary caregiver with eye contact and physical contact.
  20. Show signs of feeling safe in social situations; able to play and interact with others, but stays close and checks in with primary caregiver regularly but not in an anxious or desperate way.
  21. Gets along with other children & siblings most of the time.
  22. Is okay with primary caregiver leaving the room for short periods of time. Conversely, cares that primary caregiver has left the room and shows happiness when that person returns.
  23. Angry outbursts/tantrums are infrequent, short in duration. Nanny can soothe child.
  24. “Normal” discipline methods/parenting techniques are effective.

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.

Robert Wise Productions

Robert Wise Productions

2 replies
  1. Zequek Estrada
    Zequek Estrada says:

    I think it’s important to beware of things like this. It’s probably a good way to know if you’re getting the right kind of care for your child. I’d imagine that these tips could be used for other types of child care providers.


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