Nanny Needs Attention Getters

I start a new nanny job on Monday. Three boys, ages 8, 6, and 1. The older boys both have a hard time listening or paying attention. I have my week planned and the activities we'll do, MB says art projects and outings hold their attention and they will be into it. I'm not sure how to gain the boys' respect though, I really want the boys' to like me and look forward to me coming over. But I also need to look forward to watching them. What are phrases to get them to pay attention? Stop doing something inappropriate? - Respectable Nanny


Bethany said...

Do they not obey or follow directions?

Or are they easily distracted and have short attention spans?

Molly said...

How does mom handle them when they are being inappropriate?

I have found using funny phrases or code words is a good way to get attention with speaking. SOmething like eyes up or fingers on your knows if you're listening.

I cared for a set of 6 your old twins and our code word was turtle. Whenever I said turtle they knew they were to stop whatever it was they were doing and listen to me. Try it as a game first if you want like who can stop the fastest.

As for a behavior outline your behavior expextations for them. These shoulde be brief . Think 5 or less. Make sure mom backs you up and decide ahead what the consequences will be for rule breaking and follow through. At their ages they are old enough to help come up with some rules.

That's how you earn respect imo. Yes have fun, but they should know from the start that you mean what you say and will follow through on whatever it is.

If they're just wigglers try and have plenty of activites where they can move about in a structred way, and don't plan activities that require them to sit for long periods of time.

Find out what they are into if they love science plan trips to the kid's science museum or nature center. Maybe a gymnastics class twice a week would be a good fit.

nycmom said...

Challenging kids are challenging and that is not easily changed. Also, I firmly believe nannying for older/elementary kids is much harder because the bonding and mutual respect is a longer process.

As a mom of older kids, here's what not to do:
1. Try to be too accommodating to please the kids.
2. Try to be too strict to get them to "respect" you.
3. Solicit too much of their input on the day's activities. You can ask once or twice, but then you make the choices.
4. Avoid power struggles. If they don't listen after a warning, write it down for Mom to deal with in a pre-arranged way.

What does work often:
1. Engage the parents and make sure they offer their FULL support to you on a daily basis on all matters.
2. Parents need to discipline kids immediately if they are rude to you when you are around.
3. Parents need to ALWAYS support you in front of the kids, even if they actually disagree and have the real discussions privately.
4. Parents need to provide the disciple methods.
5. For my kids, having a written expected behavioral chart is very helpful. Older kids often try to cajole the caregiver and claim different household rules. Having it in writing prevents this.

Most of all, just don't act like you are their to entertain or please them. You are there to provide childcare, which includes games and food, but also includes them still having personal responsibility. Kids smell weakness and it will be very hard to earn back authority later.

Northwestnanny said...

I would advise reading a book on positive guidance. This will give you lots of great hints on how to approach challenging behaviors. One huge technique that has worked for me is providing choices when faced with "no" ie: you can have an apple or a carrot, rather than mentioning the muffin they asked for. Also don't ask questions when you are stating an expectation. Ie: can you clean up those toys? Can be replaced with "I need you to clean up these toys now please" it's hard to drop the ok we add to the ends of sentences but it is amazing the difference it makes in your own confidence.. Good luck!

RBTC said...

older boys who are rambuctious can be really a challenge! Try some of the above great suggestions and do another OP later telling us how it went!

This story would not apply to you but it illustrates the challenge: a guy i know would do magic presentations for 7/8/9 year old boys - and you better believe the parents made a fast get a way so they were not there

if the boys acted up to him

1. he would do something scary - you know a typical scary trick - fire or chopper - they would become transfixed!

2. if they really acted up he would say in totally as snotty a way as them - " You can either do the trick with me or not because I AM GOING TO BE PAID ANYWAY BY YOUR MOM ! "

that worked ! these boys would get really tired of the sing songy women's voice

but anyway - you have a creative row to hoe ! let us know what happens

Lyn said...

NYCMom: I always enjoy your comments. I think you would be a great employer.

RBTC said...

she IS a great employer - we all want her to write some columns - but her brilliant posts will have to suffice!

nycmom said...

Lyn and RBTC,

The feeling is mutual! Thank you for your kind words.

Regarding a column, I don't know what I could add that all you knowledgeable nannies have not already shared! Especially since I tend to overshare all my stories in my posts anyway : )

RBTC said...

you haven't just fallen off the turnip truck, you have driven it, bought it, loaded it up, unloaded it down, planted the turnips etc!

katydid said...

nycmom has always seemed like a reasonable employer to me.

I always wonder why she seems to have trouble keeping and hiring professionally acting nannies.

Do you hire on your own or go through an agency?

Seems like a professional nannies would want to work for you.

RBTC said...

that would be a very interesting question for her to answer - if i can remember from the past - nycm goes thru cycles - she will have AWESOME nannies for extended periods, then situation changes and then she has to look for a fit again

pretty normal in business

she is gracious enought to take her time to go thru very informative detail with us from the perspective of a nice MB

Flick said...

I had a 7yr old charge who was uncontrollable once. I had him help me make a reward chart where he got a quarter for every sticker. We chose the things to put on it together. The threat of not getting a sticker worked well. He loved Lego and if he misbehaved it was taken away from him. Time outs didn't work to well but down time in his room did. After a month he was a totally different child with regular discipline and a schedule he was settled and listened all the time was polite and almost never miss behaved

nycmom said...


I don't think I have trouble hiring and keeping professional nannies, though I don't know what constitutes "trouble." I do not use agencies. I use a variety of sources, but mom's postings are the main resource. I had a nanny full-time for about 4.5years, who then went to school (with our encouragement and while working for us) and segued into teaching. She continued to work occasional date nights for us for another 4 years for a total of almost 9 years.

I then trialed a few nannies and ended up hiring one who we employed for 4 years until we moved out of state. She was also wonderful. She continues to help us whenever we return to NYC for any reason. Our current nanny, hired shortly after moving, was also the result of trialing a few nannies and she has been with us since we hired her which is now about 8 months.

I have had minor issues and negotiations with each caregiver, and learned a lot along the way about contracts and communication. But I had no major issues with any of the long-term nannies, none quit, none fired. RBTC is correct that the cycle of having to hire again after parting is a pain, but it is the nature of the field and life.

I have lots of horror stories of au pairs, whom I used primarily prior to switching to professional nannies. That may be what you are thinking of and it certainly was a difficult set of experiences years ago.

I'm glad to try to answer any questions you might have about these situations.

RBTC said...

as usual - class act nycmom - it's always a joy to see your name as we know the post will be very helpful and nice !

katydid said...

You are correct I must be thinking of your au pair stories.

I'm glad to hear things are working for you now.

The hiring process is a pain in the neck for everyon involved.