One of the scariest things about hiring a nanny is the thought that your child will not like her and will be miserable under her care while you’re away. When your child is still a toddler there’s a good chance that she won’t have a strong enough grasp of language skills to give you a detailed account of the time that she spends with her nanny, leaving you on your own to determine much of how she feels. If your nanny arrives just before you leave the house and is out the door as soon as you walk in, evaluating the relationship she’s formed with your child can be even more difficult.
- Read Behavioral Cues – Observing how your child behaves when her nanny arrives or leaves is an effective method of gauging her feelings about the situation. Refusing to engage with her nanny when she arrives, fleeing from her when you return home, and showing little interest in any sort of goodbye at the end of the day might be an indicator that she’s not warming to the nanny. If your child is particularly prone to separation anxiety and has trouble when you leave the room, however, this method of evaluating the situation might not be as effective for you.
- Watch Them Interact With One Another – Ideally, your nanny will report to work early enough that you can observe how she interacts with your child before you leave and will remain in your home after you return to give you a summary of the day. It’s natural for your child to be more interested in your presence than that of a new nanny, but if she seems standoffish or hesitant to engage with the nanny, it could be an indicator that their relationship isn’t developing well.
- Ask Verbal Toddlers Questions About Nanny – While even verbally gifted toddlers aren’t likely to be advanced enough to offer you a discourse on the nanny’s methods and temperament, a few pointed questions posed to a toddler with some verbal acuity should give you a basic idea of her feelings regarding her nanny. Keep in mind, however, that a toddler isn’t always able to distinguish fantasy from reality and may inadvertently tell some tall tales along the way. Keeping your questions direct and to the point is the best way to make an attempt at uncovering your child’s feelings toward her nanny.
- Talk With the Nanny – Setting aside a bit of time each evening to ask your nanny for the highlights and big events of the day will allow you to get an idea of how they spend their time together, and how the relationship between them is progressing. An experienced professional will almost certainly address any issues regarding trouble they may be having in terms of establishing a bond, and may offer her own suggestions for ways that the situation might be remedied. A nanny that seems disinterested in your child’s opinion of her, however, simply may not be making any effort toward establishing a connection with her charges.
- Follow Your Instincts – Ultimately, no one knows your child as well as you do, even if she’s not able to verbally express herself very clearly. Following your own instincts regarding the nanny and any relationship that they may or may not be forming is one of the best ways to establish your own peace of mind in regard to the situation. If you don’t feel right about your nanny and suspect that your child doesn’t either, it may be best to end the relationship at the end of her trial period.
While it’s certainly disheartening to think that your child is being cared for by a nanny that she doesn’t like, it’s not necessarily cause for immediate concern or alarmist behavior. A personality clash is rarely indicative of abuse, and may resolve itself as your child becomes more accustomed to her nanny. This especially holds true if your child has never been cared for by anyone outside of her family or is mourning the loss of a beloved former nanny. Assuming that there are no signs of abuse and your nanny seems to be genuinely trying to win your child over, it might be best to take a wait-and-see approach before making any rash decisions. Some children are simply wary of new caregivers and require more time to adjust to a new situation than others.