7 Habits of Successful Nannies

It’s hard to define exactly what traits a nanny should have because different caregivers work best in different situations. A proactive, take charge nanny may be perfect for Family A, but come off as bossy to Family B. A nanny who has a gentle discipline approach may be a wonderful compliment to Family A’s parenting approach, but be in direct opposition to Family B’s parenting approach. However, even though there isn’t a set list of personality traits that every great nanny has, there are certain habits that successful nannies share.

  • They have a genuine love and enjoyment of kids. Every nanny job, regardless of the specific job description, focuses on the child. For a nanny to be truly successful in her position, she has to love the core component of her work. She must get real enjoyment from spending her days with her charge and be able to make a deep and lasting connection with him. That relationship is what matters the most, it’s what gets her through the hard times and motivates her to do her best each and every day.
  • They understand and accept the unique aspects of working as a nanny. Working in a private home is different than being in a family care center or working in a daycare. There are challenges that a nanny faces that no other type of childcare provider does. The successful nanny accepts this as part of the job. She doesn’t spend time railing against the things she’s missing out on, like a regular, kid-free lunch break or a co-worker to share responsibilities with. She feels the unique benefits of the job far out way the unique difficulties.
  • They approach challenges with a positive attitude. Seeing the glass as half-full rather than half-empty is a key trait of a successful nanny. She’s able to take challenges with both her charge and her employers in stride and work towards finding solutions that work for everyone involved. She doesn’t get bogged down in the things that have or could go wrong. Instead, she focuses on what has and could go right.
  • They respect the parents’ rights and preferences. Part of being a nanny is bringing your expertise to the job. A quality caregiver can offer spot on advice and resources for behavior issues and ages and stages transitions. However, a successful nanny recognizes that although she’s a childcare professional with a lot to offer, ultimately the parents have the right to parent how they want. She fully supports their choices and preferences, even when they differ from her own. She offers her expertise with the expectation that the parents will take what’s useful to them and leave the rest. And she’s fine with that.
  • They’re natural problem solvers. Being a successful nanny is all about being able to deal effectively with the ongoing flow of problems you face throughout the day. How should you deal with a two year old who’s throwing a temper tantrum? Should you wash Bunny before naptime and deal with the backlash or try and sneak her out once your charge is asleep? What are you going to make for lunch now that Rover has stolen the last of the turkey off the counter? Successful nannies don’t get bogged down by the issues that pop up throughout the day. They simply find a workable solution and get back to the work of having fun.
  • They don’t take things personally. The nanny/family relationship is a tough one. There are many things employers do and say that, if taken personally, can leave their nanny feeling angry, frustrated, unappreciated or taken advantage of. A successful nanny recognizes that her employers’ slights are usually about something that’s happening with the employer rather than with the nanny. If Mom forgets to say thank you for running a last minute errand, the successful nanny assumes it’s because Mom has a lot on her mind and not because she’s unappreciative of the extra effort. If Dad comes home 10 minutes late, the successful nanny assumes traffic was heavy or the train was late rather than thinking Dad doesn’t value her time.
  • They communicate effectively with their employers. Good communication is the foundation of the nanny/parent relationship. A successful nanny is able to bring issues to her employer, clearly articulate what the problem is and how she feels about it, and actively problem solve with her employer. She doesn’t let things pile up. Instead, she’s proactive about working through problems as they arise.
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3 thoughts on “7 Habits of Successful Nannies

  1. Sometimes it can be hard to not take things personally and I’m kind of iffy on your point about it – sometimes the nanny IS being taken advantage of, and continually brushing it off can make you appear weak and allow the parents to think that they can walk all over you…

    • That’s a good point. I think that if the parent only comes home late on occasion, etc. that it’s OK to brush it off as just an accident and that it can be harmful to your position to get overly upset. However, if it’s a consistent issue, it needs to be discussed with the parents calmly and professionally to help resolve the issue.

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