Tips for Managing Discipline Boundaries with Your Nanny

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A nanny is a beautiful part of a family, and can be the magical piece of the puzzle that unifies parents and children, and strengthens family ties. A nanny is an extension of the parents’ eyes, ears, and hearts; but with that comes responsibility and accountability.

Discipline is always a hard word for parents or nannies to mutter. No one wants to be the bad cop. But, children need structure and limitations. The only way they will learn right from wrong is by someone setting the example, and these are lessons that will last a lifetime – be very sure about the role model you are right from the get-go!

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Florence Ann Romano author of Nanny and Me offers a few tips to get on the same page as nannies and parents gear up to be a rockstar team.

1) Evaluate your definition of discipline: This definition varies from man to woman to nanny to parent. For example, does this mean you believe in spanking? Or, do you have a hard and fast rule against any physical contact being used as a reinforcement for bad behavior? If so, how do you believe punishment and scolding should be handled? IE: Time-out; a conversation; grounding, etc. The nanny and the parent need to define this for themselves and then expect to talk about it at the first interview. If you cannot get on the same page, you cannot move forward.

2) Observe each child and anticipate behavior: No child is the same and not every disciplinary tactic will work across the board. Your relationship as a parent with each child is always unique and customized – you can expect the same from your nanny and children’s relationship. Depending on the age of the child, spend time figuring out how they respond to directions – see how cooperative they are and what their “triggers” are. For example, if you see that sibling rivalry is a problem, come up with creative ways to promote the idea of sharing.

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3) Transparency: Children are going to resist discipline – this is a given! A typical reaction from your kids will be a sentence like this: “well, I don’t have to listen to Nanny because they are not my parent! They aren’t the boss of me!” Before this sentence even has the chance to fly out of the child’s mouth, have a conversation about what the Nanny is allowed to do and what they are not authorized to do. Make sure you have this EXACT conversation with your Nanny, as well, so the children cannot play you against one another. Everyone needs to be on the same page for the discipline to remain intact and efficient.

4) Safety: One of the hardest parts about leaving your children with a stranger is trust. If you believe in nanny cams, you have every right to do it; and you don’t have to tell the nanny. You also need to talk to your children about what is appropriate and not appropriate – kids need to feel comfortable coming to you with things that are upsetting them. You have to be their safe place, and they must know they won’t be judged or reprimanded for simply talking to you. From the nanny’s point of view, make sure they know you want them communicating with you about the behavior you are seeing in their children. There should be no secrets!

5) Love: This might seem like the most practical tip, but it is the most important. Every parent and nanny needs to lead with love in every situation – everything you do needs to be in the child’s best interest. It’s not about you; it’s about them – keep them safe, keep them smiling, mold them to be gentle and kind members of society. But, the only way to accomplish this is by being firm when necessary. Remember: a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down!