When you enter a new household, it’s common for children to be shy, resistant or even apprehensive to your presence. Finding ways to bond with the children is a key strategy to gaining trust and building a relationship with the little ones you will be caring for on a daily basis.
From games to interactive adventures, find the heart of each child through bonding activities that will leave an impression and have them begging for you to return the next day.
Working Through the Challenges
Before attempting to bond with the children in your care, it’s important to recognize the challenges you may face. “A child might try to see what he or she can get away with, which can be difficult for a nanny – especially a new nanny who is unfamiliar with the family’s routine,” says Robert Nickell, parenting expert and founder of Daddy & Co., a gift and apparel company dedicated to celebrating fatherhood.
A child might also be angry, disrespectful and unwilling to listen to you because he or she is upset by the new situation. Parents will need to provide the nanny with tips and suggestions to solve problems that may arise, build credibility and abide by the family’s parenting plan.
“Kids like to know their boundaries, so the nanny needs to be able to quickly instill the boundaries and at the same time engage the children in fun, inspirational and educational venues,” says Nickell.
Getting Active with the Children
Most importantly, nannies should engage the children by learning more about them and getting on their level right away. “Nannies should get on the floor, talk to the kids, see what they’re playing with, join in, ask questions and listen to responses,” says Nickell. “They should view whatever they are doing as the most important job of the day and immediately immerse themselves in the activity.”
Nannies can also come equipped with a binder full of creative ideas and activities. “Our nannies enjoy looking through the binder when they need a new activity or idea to keep our kids engaged,” says Nickell.
Get the kids active and away from technology periodically with exploration walks where the kids can count the number of bugs they see or collect rocks and leaves. Take a trip to the park so the children can release excess energy.
Make bonding an educational journey, too, with educational posters. “Our kids love to make posters with crayons, markers, glitter and glue,” says Nickell. “We like to make them educational by making posters of the alphabet or numbers.”
Nannies can bond with children by taking an interest in their favorite pastimes. Find out if the children enjoy dancing, sports or art and create activities that appeal to their interests. The key element is to engage in activities together so the children can get to know your likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, and especially your personality.
Encourage the children to join you in any of the following activities:
- Clean out closets in search of clothes and toys to donate
- Create an impromptu story as a group to foster creativity
- Play word games or word searches together
- Host a hula-hoop competition with prizes for the winners
- Cook a meal together – chocolate chip pancakes are always a hit
- Solve a puzzle with everyone contributing one piece at a time
- Bake cookies or sweet treats for neighbors or classmates
- Host a play with each child representing his or her favorite cartoon character
- Record a music video, switching roles as on-camera talent and the producer
- Play dress up and host a fashion show
- Volunteer at a senior center and encourage the children to show off their talents with a music performance or magic show
“Learning a new game or sport is always entertaining and fun, too, as is planting flowers or drawing with chalk,” says Nickell. If your teenager is a baseball enthusiast, spend some one-on-one time with him tossing the ball around or attending a game at a local high school or professional sports arena. If your toddler loves blocks, construct a giant skyscraper together to see how high you can build it before it tumbles over. If your school-aged child is an artist at heart, foster this love by creating crafts and masterpieces together.
“The ideas and opportunities for fun are endless,” says Nickell.