Concern for Child & Fear of Being Fired (Again)

I am wondering of this can be posted anonymously.

  Background.. I was fired from my last nanny job for bringing up my concerns about one of the children. There were significant behavior problems at school and with me so I had kept a journal of all the troubling things I was experiencing and presented it to the parents. I tried to be as professional about it as possible, and I felt that if I didn't say anything to the parents about my concerns then I was doing a disservice to the child. They ended up saying everything was my fault because I wasn't strict enough and fired me, yet gave me a glowing recommendation. In the end the child was diagnosed with autism and is currently receiving help.

I am currently a nanny for toddler twins (age 2.5) and have been at my job for 2 years. This is my 3rd full time nanny job caring for twins. I do not know if I should try to talk to the parents about the issues I am having, or just find a new job. One of the twins is having serious behavior problems. This child has multiple tantrums a day and the slightest thing can set it off. For example, the other day the child was wearing a bracelet and it fell off. Instead of just reaching down and picking it up to put back on, asking for help, or accepting my offer to help, the child had a 20 minute screaming fit. This child does not eat. I believe there may be a genuine problem with feeding because the child regularly gags, chokes, spits out chewed up food and has major tantrums at meal times. This child eats no veggies, no fruit with skin (apples, pears, grapes, etc) and can not seem to handle chewing food very easily. Sleep has never been simple with this child. Bedtime is 8:30 and this child wakes up at 5 every single morning without fail. I have suggested that an earlier bedtime might be beneficial, and even offered 2 great sleep books but my suggestions were brushed off. Naps are atrocious. Maybe an hour at best.

This child is a zombie all day long and I really feel that the toddler needs more sleep, but my suggestions are clearly not wanted and I don't think I should push. Mom and Dad give in to the whining and screaming, and will just give the child anything to prevent a tantrum. Is there any point to me having a talk with the parents about the problems I am having? My fear is that I would be fired in similar fashion to my last job, or completely ignored. Do I just find a new job and give notice? Do I pretend everything is fine and wait it out? (apologies for using "this child" so many times.. Trying to stay anonymous)

ISYN Postings are always anonymous. If you have a problem you are wrestling with or something to share with us, please email


♥ Amy Darling ♥ said...

First of all, your post was written in very small font so it was kinda difficult for me to read. However, it may be my old computer, but just wanted to bring it up to the administrators in case it can be fixed or needs to be.

As both a parent and a nanny, I believe that us nannies have a responsibility to report any suspicions of severe neglect and/or abuse. In fact, I even think it is a law that we are obligated to do so.

However for general parenting advice, it is best to err on the side of caution and do not give any advice unless the parents ask for it.

I know that many parents are in denial regarding their child. Trust me, no parent wants to admit that their child may have a problem that isn't normal. To broach the subject and give advice w/out being solicited will most likely create discord in your job.

I have worked w/many different children and I think I may have seen it all!
I once had a little boy who would hit me, lock me out of rooms and scream and throw fits out of nowhere. I noticed the parents had some Autism library books stacked on their dresser so I told them I thought their son's behavior was extreme and that maybe he should be evaluated by a professional. Let's just say the mother was in denial and not welcoming of my input.

So from now on, I simply keep my mouth shut and do my job as I am told.
If the child has certain issues that I cannot deal w/., then I would leave and let someone else deal w/it.

From your posting it sounds like it is very difficult for you to deal w/this particular child. I do not blame you. He sounds like a handful.

It's a tough call that is ultimately up to you OP.
If you broach the subject, you do risk being let go. Please keep this in mind.
I would just give my notice and leave. Once I get my last check, I might send a friendly e~mail telling the parents my concerns and after that, it is out of your hands.

Good luck.

GraduatingMissDee said...

Interesting. I say that because of the fact that you were fired from a position when you stated you observed some questionable behaviors. As an early childhood professional, I believe you did the right thing by mentioning something to the parents. Many times parents are aware something could be wrong with their child, and they are in denial about this. Their reaction and that fact that they blamed you for not being strict was a poor excuse and IMO, bullshit because being strict with a special needs child does not work. Being strict with any child doesn't work, because there are power struggles that need to be avoided: sleep, food, potty, learning. Special needs children can and will be more of a challenge, thus being a higher risk of a power struggle.

As for the twin, I don't know what to say, other than this child needs to be evaluated, based on the fact they refuse to eat and sleep, plus the tantruming. Are there any birth-to-3 programs in your area? They would be a wonderful resource to start with.

Another resource would be the internet; type in signs/symptoms of autism and sensory processing disorder. Based on information, such as not eating or sleeping, I would most likely say there could be autism. I also mentioned SPD due to textures of fruits and the fact that the child prefers not to eat foods like that.

Hang in there and keep us updated. Remember that this is an adjustment for the parents. Don't blame yourself. You are doing the right thing,

Anonymous said...

Hi, Sorry you're having such a tough time. I disagree with the pp and don't think you should ignore it. But, in my mind, it's possible that this child has something very wrong happening. What if this child has extremely large tonsils and sleep apnea as a result and they physically cannot eat a lot of things, sleep through the night, or get enough restful sleep to make it happily through the day? Disturbed sleep can be a major cause of behavioral problems, and one that should not be ignored when it may be due to breathing difficulties.
Perhaps you could bring up with the parents the idea that she could be having difficulty breathing while she sleeps. You can always use a "friend" whose child had similar problems but got help. Now, as I say that, you won't believe me, but I do actually have a friend whose child had extremely large tonsils and adenoids. She had a sleep study and they found that she stopped breathing TWENTY-THREE times per minute! She could barely breathe, couldn't eat, and was constantly sick, cranky, and tired. She recently had her tonsils removed and has improved so much. Could this be what is happening for your nanny child?
Any parent would be terrified of such a thing, and probably lash out in response to hearing that it's possible, but if you have a good relationship with them and the kids you should be able to discuss your concerns with them without them firing you. If you don't have a good working relationship with them, perhaps you don't really want to be working for them anyway!

Bethany said...

Generally speaking, I think as nannies we do have the responsibility to mention serious concerns to parents.

You have to be careful you don't want to try and diagnose a child even by association ( I have a friend with a child like this and he has autism so...), but you should speak up.

Sometimes it helps if you have I noticed conversations. I've notice little X doing abc. That opens the door for them to share their observations and sometimes can make them more open to taking advice it's not as "confrontational" as handing them a book or saying I think your child has autism. It also works the other way where they can say I've noticed little x doing abc and you can say , yes I've noticed that to it seems to help a little if I do def. Again you are offering helpful advice, but it doesn't feel like you are trying to boss mom & dad about.

Sometimes even when you are able to communicate you concerns effectively they still may choose a different path. This can be hard to deal with especially when the issue is serious, but that is their choice.

That is something that drove me mad as a teacher. I would see an issue that with just a bit of early intervention could be helped, but instead was made worse over years and years, all the time the child suffered because of pride.

However in your case it does not seem like the parents you work for are open to any type of input from you. They want a nanny who comes to work and smiles and never tells them a thing something of a robot.

That's unfortunate it makes for a tough time for you and ultimately it will hurt the child.

In your case I would try to look for resources and try various techniques that might help you out during the day.

It's possible if they observe you doing things that help the child and make interacting with him/her easier they may seek more input for you.

That said I believe open communication between parents and nannies is vital.
You should not have to fear them lashing out at you.
If you feel like you cannot not speak openly with them for fear you will be fired it probably means you do not have the best fit for you.
I'm not saying you should quit, but it will probably be difficult to continue on with them with that kind of stress on you constantly.

GraduatingMissDee said...


I was the poster before you; where in my post did I say that OP shouldn't say something to the parents about her observations?

melissa said...

I'm not quite sure that there is anything to report here. You mentioned that the parents give in to the whining and tantrums at the drop of a hat. For me, that explains a lot of the toddler's behavior. As someone who has worked almost exclusively with that age group, unfortunately I've seen that more than I'd like to say. It's so much easier for the parent(s) to give in than to actually deal with the child. As for the eating, I agree with @MissDee- I'd look for some birth-3 programs in the area. It could be a sensory issue for the child, and some OT might be incredibly helpful. Good luck!

oceanblue said...

She cannot just take the child to an early intervention program.

Those usually have pretty strict requirements including parental approval. At least that's how they are run in my area.

None of us here are qualified to give a diagnosis of this child.

We don't have the proper training, and those of us that might have not observed the child in person.

OP, you have your answer the parents give into your charge on top of that they have no interest in hearing from you. It is unlikely you talking to them will change a thing.

Do a little research online for tantrums , toddler sleep, and feeding issues, Hopefully, you'll be able to get some ideas to make your days easier.

Nanny Franny said...

I have to agree with the first response.
Unless you are a medical professional or a child's specialist, then you really shouldn't give any input to the parents unless they specifically ASK for it.
It just isn't professional to tell parents you suspect something unless you are educated and hold a degree in children's health or behavior.

GraduatingMissDee said...


So because I have ADHD, and because I am not a medical professional, I cannot make any observations to parents on their child's behavior? I cannot present any literature to them?

katydid said...

No Miss Dee you shouldn't unless you have training in assessment and iagnosis and are acting under that license.

Just because I child exhibits similar behavior to a condition you have or someone you know has doesn't mean that your charge has that condition.

Handing them literature for autism or ADHD might setoff uneccessary alarm bells for mom & dad.

If you observe something serious it's best to give a general observation like

"I've noticed that Timmy is having
lots of trouble swallowing his food and napping. Does he have the same trouble on the weekends?"

See how that's different than" Your child is having trouble sleeping and eating. He might have autism."?

katydid said...


I do not think you will have success with these parents as they don't seem to want to change their behavior.

From what you've written they seem to have a hands off approach.

If they give into the toddler's tantrums on everything that behavior isn't going to change it will only get worse.

So your choice is basically to grin and bear it and hope the toddler grows out of it or find a job with a family who have similar views as you as far as behavior modification goes.

MissMannah said...

I just read an article in this month's Parents magazine about sensory disorders. The symptoms seem to describe this child to a T. Having said that, Of Course I am not a doctor and cannot make a diagnosis. I don't think any nanny claims to be. But any nanny worth her salt can recognize the difference between normal challenging behavior and behavior beyond that.

OP, you seem to be worried about this because you were fired last time. It is your job to put the children's well-being first and you seem eager to do a good job. If the parents are not willing to put their own children's well-being first, then they are not the sort of people you really want to work for. I say yes, absolutely bring up your concerns with the parents and if they fire you, it is their loss.

Too many times I see nannies act timidly because they are afraid of being fired. They seem to forget that they can be fired at any time, for any reason. So do the best job you can do and if you get fired, simply move on.

Heather said...

Yes and every single symptom listed could be a symptom for another disorder.

Believe it or not normal challenging behavior can look like a disorder when it's not managed or managed inappropriately especially to an untrained eye.

Take that from someone who has a family member who is qualified to diagnose disorders and often gets panicked parents in office thanks to an article they read or an overzealous caregiver.

Bring up your concerns. But don't label them as possible autism, ADHD, gland issues etc. Leave that to the qualified people.

Any nanny worth her salt knows how to address concerns without jumping to the latest label.

You also have to be willing to accept they may choose to not seek an evaluation.

If they fire you they fire you. At least you can have a clear mind knowing you did what you could.

Hopefully your MB/DB are the type to realize that if their nanny is addressing concerns/observations with them it's something to be taken seriously.

Considering they ignored your input on something minor like suggesting methods for better sleep I doubt they'd care for your input on other matters.