How to Communicate to Your Nanny She’s Done Something Wrong
November 15, 2012 | in Background Check
Finding a great nanny is one of the most difficult tasks that a working parent can undertake, especially in areas that have a higher concentration of families seeking childcare providers than nannies seeking families; finding the perfect nanny is downright impossible. Even if your nanny speaks three languages, holds an advanced degree in something related to childcare, loves your children unconditionally, and is never late or inattentive, there will be times when she makes mistakes. Approaching an adult with reprimands, though, is almost as difficult as securing a good nanny in the first place. Worded incorrectly or spoken in a fit of anger, accusations of wrongdoing or scolding her can spark a disagreement that ends badly, up to and including a nanny with no post and a family with no nanny. Handling these situations effectively and gracefully is always a challenge, but there are a few ways to help facilitate a productive discussion, rather than an outright argument.
- Think Twice About Your Complaint – Before you decide to approach your nanny with an admonishment, be sure that your gripe is a legitimate one. It’s far too easy to become mired in working-parent guilt and to feel jealous of your nanny and the time she gets to spend with your children while you’re working; as a result of those feelings, you may also begin subconsciously looking for flaws in her methods.
- Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – If your nanny is a wonder with the kids, an exemplary tutor, and is willing to perform chores unrelated to childcare without complaint, it’s okay to let some small shortcomings slide. Counseling your nanny on her failure to thoroughly dust your guest bathroom might be a bit excessive, especially if she didn’t agree to perform housekeeping chores as part of your agreement in the first place.
- Wait Until You’re Calm – In the case of serious grievances, it’s best to adopt the same “count to ten” policy that you use with your children. Bite your tongue until you’ve calmed down enough to be reasonable, especially if you hope to retain your nanny’s services after the conversation. Being aggressive or confrontational will put her immediately on the defense, setting the stage for an all-out battle.
- Soften the Blow With Positive Statements – Rather than focusing solely on what she’s done wrong, try to also emphasize everything that your nanny does right. Let her know that her services are appreciated and that you’re thankful for her time and attention, but that there are some small areas that could use some improvement.
- Be Gentle, But Direct – While it’s not advised to upbraid your nanny in an authoritarian, heavy-handed manner, it’s also essential that you’re direct and honest. Mumbling vagaries and dropping hints almost never does the trick, so make sure that you’re open and direct about the things that you expect from your nanny that she hasn’t quite delivered. Nannies that don’t know exactly what they’re doing wrong can’t be expected to remedy the situation, so keep her in the loop by communicating both her strengths and weaknesses.
- Allow Her the Chance to Defend Herself – If your accusation is a serious one, or if there’s any room for ambiguity, it’s absolutely imperative that you allow your nanny time to speak her piece. The entire situation could be a big misunderstanding, but you’d never know if you refused to hear your nanny out.
- Refer to Your Nanny Contract – Written nanny agreements are becoming more and more common these days, and for good reason. The single most important document you can have at your disposal during a counseling session with your nanny is the contract you both agreed to and signed before she began working for you. When rules, expectations and responsibilities are in black and white and signed by both parties, complaints from either party about direct violations tend to hold more water.
- Keep Your Discussion Behind Closed Doors – Few things will humiliate and anger your nanny like a public dressing down, especially if you choose to do so in front of your children. Seeing their nanny scolded by a parent can affect their perception of her, making it difficult for her to maintain any semblance of authority later because you’ve effectively placed your nanny and your children on equal footing.
Rebuking a nanny can be especially nerve-wracking for someone who’s never before had an employee or subordinate report to them, leaving employers that are new to the game either reluctant to broach the issue of problems or overly-enthusiastic about establishing their authority. Trying to strike a balance between lax and authoritarian can be a challenge, but it’s also something that can be accomplished.← What You Should Include In Your Nanny’s Reference Letter | How to Monitor Your Nanny Without a Nanny Cam →
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