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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.