Tuesday

The best test for nanny?

Received Monday, June 10, 2008 - Perspective & Opinion
I am interested in everyone's response to the following proposition: "The best test for whether your nanny is doing her job well, is if your child is deeply bonded to the nanny and regularly demonstrates affection such as hugs, kisses, excited greeting upon arrival, tearful goodbyes, etc. that normally reserved for close family members."

To be honest, our nanny whom we've employed for nearly two years, has a flat affect, rarely speaks around us, and is otherwise very shy/reserved around us. She's dependable, but the real reason we have kept her, is because our daughter seems very close to the nanny. Is this a valid test for how well our nanny is doing?

33 comments:

A Fabulous Nanny said...

I think that as long as you're not having communication problems, and she's doing her job, then you should definitely keep her around! Sometimes employers forget that we nannies are there for the kiddos, and not to be pals with the employers or run their household. Sounds like you have a good one, albeit shy and possibly socially awkward, on your hands :)

josie said...

I agree with that test. Do you ever see nannies in the news for hurting children that the parents thought had a significant bond with the nanny? Nope. It doesn't happen.

In my experience what happens is the good nannies for bonds with their charges. The great nannies form significant bonds (because great nannies are naturally kind, loving, compassionate and truly love children-so this comes easy). The great nanny is comfortable in her job. The children are better than well tended to. Then one of the children wails when nanny leaves and the employer, usually the female, fires the nanny on the spot.

So while this is a good test to see if the person is actually good through and through at what she does, a sad percentage of parents want to have their cake and eat it too. They want nanny to be there 12 hours a day, love their child, put their child first and they want the child to prefer the nanny enough that the child doesnt cry when mommy needs her me time, but God forbid, a child cries out for the nanny during that 13 minutes a month employer is wearing her "mommy hat".

Good luck to you!
You can never be too rich or too thin. Your nanny can never be too loving or too kind.

Anonymous said...

Josie, you wrote:
"You can never be too rich or too thin. Your nanny can never be too loving or too kind."

You should write Hallmark cards for anorexic celebs.
You sound frightening...

Anonymous said...

Am I supposed to believe josie is very analytical or very self absorbed? Putting on my mommy hat...

Anonymous said...

I think the bond is the most important thing, but make sure you are seeing a genuine bond, and she is good for your child--sounds like something is causing you to question that. Does your child candidly reacts to her as described in your quotes--"hugs, kisses, excited greeting?" (Not just giving her a brusque hello or goodbye hug because she may have asked for her to do so). Have neighbors, teachers, other Moms told you how good she is with the kids? I agree, a nanny does not need to chat with you as long as she is professional and communicates what you need to know about the kids. But she does need to be someone the kids are comfortable talking with, enjoy being around, and she needs to care enough (and be verbal enough) to advocate for your child if needed (either in a health emergency or just to resolve a playground dispute) and set proper limits for the kids. She may just be shy around adults--that's fine. But if she is shy to the point that she doesn't interact well with the children, or would have difficulty asserting herself in a situation where she needs to protect your child, I don't think she's well suited for childcare.

Charlie Chan said...

Tearful goodbyes are probably a sign your not as good a caregiver as your nanny. If there are tearful goodbyes, maybe you should question whether you're a good parent or not.

Everything else is a good test of a nanny. No one is a better judge than the children who spend 8+ hours a day with the nanny.

Anonymous said...

charlie chan..your post does not make sense.

Children cry when parents lv.

My charges cried when their parntes left, were excited when they got home and then cried 20 minutes later when I left.

That is what children do when they have 3 fabulous adults in their lives looking after them and loving them!

Anonymous said...

Here's how to determine if you have the perfect nanny. She must have a cheery disposition, rosie cheeks, and no warts. Play games, all sorts. She must be kind, she must be witty. Very sweet and fairly pretty. Take the kids on outings, give them treats. Sing songs, bring sweets. Never be cross or cruel. Never feed them castor oil, or gruel. Love them as a son and daughter, And never smell of barley water.

Charlie Chan said...

2:50, if the child is crying because the nanny leaves, or cries when the nanny hands off the child to the parent - that's a sign that maybe the mother isn't a good parent to the child, and the child prefers the love of a nanny over whatever the parent has been giving the child.

That's what I meant.

Anonymous said...

I would say the children's bond is more important than your opinion of the nanny. I'm very shy and reserved until I get to know people, but I'm very open and warm with kids. I'm a part time nanny to 2 families. I'm very bonded to both sets of kids. They have nicknames for me and run to the door when I come in. One mom always thanks me for how happy the kids seem when she gets home. SHe doesn't seem bothered at all that I'm not really chatty. THe other mom is a SAHM and I can tell she gets irritated when she sees me coming in from the yard doing having a silly walk contest or singing a crazy song and then get quiet when I walk into the kitchen with her. I think she feels insulted.

Kaitlyn said...

I think it might sometimes be a valid test, but not the best test. I am a nanny for a 10 month old and when I get there in the mornings she sometimes reaches out for me and always smiles and giggles, but is very quick to wave bye-bye when her daddy comes home at the end of the day, with no tears or anything. If the child shows no good feelings toward the nanny it may show that the two don't have a good relationship, or it may show that the child is just an introvert. You can't use an ultimatum like "best" test.

Anonymous said...

tearful goodbyes? for who? the nanny or the charge? i know that if my nanny cried when she left, i would be slightly freaked out.

if the kids cry everytime the nanny leaves, that could be a sign of bigger things....such as issues with the parents.

Anonymous said...

5:10 That's what Charlie Chan was trying to say.

Anonymous said...

I disagree. I nannied for two girls, 5 and 3, and it took the younger months to warm up to me ("I don't like you, you look like a boy" - I had short hair), while her older sister took to me almost immediately. I understood that it was simply a temperament difference, and it was never a problem. But if the parents had been judging me by how emotional and demonstrative their daughters were when I arrived and left each day, they would have reached the conclusion that I was a great nanny to the one and a poor nanny to the other.

That said, in your particular situation, if your daughter is close to Nanny, why not keep her? Look at the problems people on this site have finding good ones. Your interactions with Nanny, as long as the basics of communication about your daughter are fulfilled, aren't terribly important.

If you want to try to make progress on a personal level with Nanny, try taking her out for lunch sometime - without daughter in tow. She may be assuming that you don't want to talk to her, or she may be trying not to waste your time, if you give off signals of being busy or stressed. Or maybe, as you say, she's just shy.

Good luck!

Yaya said...

Sounds like a good test to me, maybe not to full extremes as tears, but if your child(ren) are genuinely happy to see the nanny or not would be a good sign.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the first poster...it sounds like your nanny might just be a bit shy and socially awkward.

My charge, who I think is awesome and enjoy spending time with, NEVER cries when I leave. Sometimes he'll scream "bye!" and give me a crazy wave and a big grin, sometimes he'll give me a high-five, or sometimes he's so absorbed in his trains/trucks that he doesn't notice I'm getting in the elevator. That said, I have a great relationship with the parents, so I doubt they're using a "test," and I've also known them three years, so it's been a while.

givelove said...

Some children are not physically affectionate. I would love to hug my charges more, but it feels awkward and almost unwelcome. So I take my cues from them. They always run to me for magical healing kisses when they get hurt, and we sit nice and close on the couch when we watch a video together. But it feels largely like the boy doesn't need or even want physical attention. The girl often spontaneously hugs me, or tells me she missed me or loves me. Sometimes they hug and kiss me goodbye, sometimes they don't. I rub their backs at bedtime and kiss them goodnight. I hold their hands when crossing the street. But that's about all it seems they want from me in terms of touch.

My point is this: the end-of-day display is not a great gauge of how good a job your nanny is doing. Talk to your child about the things they do together. Pay attention to how much your child talks about her time with the nanny when she's not there. You could even flat out ask your kid if she thinks the nanny is doing a good job. Have a friend tail your nanny and kid for an afternoon. There are lots of ways to gauge your nanny's job performance, and you should definitely try a few ways to see if the info you gather from different sources all seems to match up.

mimi said...

I don't know....I think you have to play it by ear. My three 2 year olds run to me in the morning,and I usually hear stories of them screaming for me when they wake. I shower them to the fullest with hugs and kisses all day. I have about a million toys but they tend to climb all over me and sit on my lap to read. BUT then there's the almost 4 year old who has been with me since 18 months. Lately we have hit quite the "stage" where she won't come to me in the morning without some sort of prompt "come be my helper cooking breakfast" "come help me mix the batter" "come see what we are making today" etc...etc... Frankly this gets old. Mostly because I know this child better than she knows herself and this is all for show for mom and dad...and she holds out until I say the Very thing she wants to hear, so with every attempt I have to sweeten the pot...Basically if I were her mother since I KNOW shes fine I would tell her to get a move on and not try to suck up to her. But because I worry about the parents pulling the whole "oh my god she doesnt like mimi anymore" card....I suck up to her and get her to make a tear free brake from mom and dad. Sucks...but ya gotta do what you gotta do!

mimi said...

*break* sorry...


One to many drinks with dinner :)

Anonymous said...

Charlie Chan,
Transitions are difficult for toddlers. The hand off at the end of the day can be especially difficult because they are tired and winding down. Crying when the nanny leaves is a normal stage many children pass through, and is not a bad reflection on the parents!
A Nanny

chattynanny said...

When I interviewed for my job with my current family, the first thing they told me was that they were firing their current nannay basically for this same personality. I thought that was kind of intense and a little unfair to the other nanny. However, they made it very clear what they wanted: someone warm, friendly with the whole family, and easy to communicate with. Because they told me this, I was able to go into the job knowing I had the right personalit to fit the family. It helped me know that sometimes it was good to talk about my personal life if I wanted to, because they like that.

What I am trying to say is that each family finds different aspects of the nanny more important than others, and each family gels best with different personalities. Since you have recently figured out that your nanny's pesonality is not ideal for your family, you do need to address it if you want to make it better.

The most fair thing to do is try to talk to her. You could say," I feel like I harly know you - maybe we could go to lunch sometime." I think she needs to bond with you one-on-one - assuming your the mom. You should make sure to tell her that it's important for her to show her feelings and talk to the whole family somewhat.

Not everyone is big on hugs and kisses though. I think it's most important the kids get that from you. You just can't force someone else to be affectionate. If she can't do it you might have to just leave it alone. Or if you really need her to be that way you'll have to find someone else. :( That's sad but what else can you do?

Anonymous said...

Not all kids like hugs and kisses. I was the nanny for a 2 year old boy a while ago. I took care of him 16 hours/day (including nights if he woke up), and he was a lot closer to me then his parents. And yet, we almost never cuddled up together -because he's simply not that kind of person.
If your child seems to be secure and happy with the nanny, I think that shows that it's a good nanny.

lucy said...

Wow. I wonder what kind of child wouldn't want to cuddle or be affectionate?
I'm thinking it's probably because mom left him in his crib and didn't nuzzle him often when he was a newborn. Didn't have eye contact when she fed him. Didn't coo to him so that he felt comforted. Didn't hold him very much ......

LindaLou said...

lucy,
that ridiculous. each child has his own temperament. my middle son has never been big on cuddling. even when he was a baby, he'd nurse quickly then be done with me. he's almost 8 now and swoops in for quick hugs throughout the day and that's about it. he expresses that he loves everyone in our family all the time, he just doesn't enjoy a lot of physical contact. some people are just like that. it doesn't mean they were neglected. you have to follow the child's cues about how much contact is wanted.

5.23 said...

Lucy, first of all, the boy's mother stayed home the full year of maternity leave (we lived in Switzerland) and would die for him. She loves him with all her heart and would do anything for him. His lack of physical contact has nothing to do with his mother and everything to do with his personality. Secondly, I wonder why you are talking only about his mother? Why not trash the father too? I am so sick of everyone who thinks it's just the mother's responsibility -TWO people make the child, TWO people are responsible for bringing it up. It's the father's child just as much as the mother's.

lucy said...

My comment was not ridiculous. I'm sorry if I have never been unfortunate enough to have come across a less than affectionate child. I can only question what would make a child behave that way, and if you say it's temperament, I'm fine with that answer.
But to 7:37, you are right. I shouldn't have been so thoughtless with that comment.

5.23 & 7.37 said...

Lucy, I'm glad for you -I love guddling with kids :) Sorry if I bashed you too much... just so sick of everyone who says that it's entirely a mom's responsibility and not the father's too.

lucy said...

1:07
I'm fine! Don't worry about it.
You were %100 right.

a(special)mommy said...

My high-functioning autistic daughter never enjoyed cuddling or kissing. Coming form a very affectionate family, it's been a difficult adjustment for me.
She does show her affection in other ways. For Social Studies class, she was given an assignment to write an essay on a strong woman you admire. The kids were given an example list of people like Harriet Tubman, Amelia Earhart and all the usual suspects. My daughter went to her teacher and asked him if she could choose me. He thought it was a wonderful idea. When she brought it home and I read it, it was worth a million hugs and kisses plus.

As for your nanny, if your children love her and she's doing her job well, please keep her. Maybe you can help her come out of her shell by inviting her to lunch. She may also be the type of person that keeps things very professional between herself and the boss. That's not really a bad thing. Good luck.

mrsg said...

your child loves her... she's a great nanny!

LindaLou said...

i don't consider it *unfortunate* that another human being has a different personality and needs than what i might prefer.

egan said...

I think at a certain point the children should always be happy to see the nanny arrive and greet her. But there are other factors involved, what is going on when she arrives? And I wouldn't think too much about the absence of teary goodbyes. Usually when nanny leaves, it's because mommy is home so the child probably doesn't feel like crying. If the child cried when the nanny left for the day, I would reexamine my own relationship with my child.

seattlenanny said...

UGH! Mimi, I know exactly what you're talking about! I was a preschool teacher for 9 years before I became I nanny. I for sure don't miss drop off time. I used to tell the parents to peek in the window when they leave so they could see their child was fine.

OP if your daughter is close to the nanny and you see her (the child) growing emotionally, academically and socially then I think there is no reason to look for someone else. Some caregivers are a lot better with children than adults.