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New nanny: can I ask her to be less strict?

(17 Posts)
Maybejustme Thu 31-Dec-15 17:24:11

We have a new nanny for my toddler DD. DD is pretty lively and can sometimes be a bit challenging - I'm under no illusions that she is an absolute angel who never plays up - but I don't think any more than the average toddler.

Our new nanny is, I think, fundamentally a nice lady. She is friendly towards DH and I and helpful around the house. She is really experienced and came with glowing reviews. This makes me think that it must be me who is getting the situation wrong and I really would like this to work out if I can manage it so that everyone is happy. We had other candidates for the job but at the interview stage she was our favourite by some way, so I'm not sure that there would be lots of other great options.

My concern is that she is, I guess, quite a bit stricter with DD than DH or I would be. She quite often seems quite cross with her in situations where I don't necessarily feel it warrants it (or where, in some cases, I feel that this is just DD being a small child and that the vast majority of small children will display the behaviour in question such that distraction etc would be a more effective strategy). I don't feel I'm a total walkover - I'm pretty firm myself on manners and safety issues etc and obviously I always back up whatever our nanny says in front of DD. DD doesn't seem specifically upset by these incidents and doesn't display any concerning behaviour when I say that our nanny is coming in the morning etc. but I am a bit worried. All the activities in the world aren't going to help if someone is just generally a bit snappy with DD.

Please could you share the benefit of your experience? Does this fall within "management" of the employment relationship or is this just a fundamental mismatch of styles that can't ever be reconciled? If an employer asked you to be a bit less cross/more gentle with your charge, would that ruin the working relationship forever or could it be done? Would you write off the job and leave, or do you think that this can be adjusted into a working relationship which is mutually respectful and enjoyable? I don't think she's a nasty person or anything - as I say, she is really nice with DH and I. I think it is probably a matter of different styles. Any suggestions as to what might constitute a constructive approach would be really very welcome indeed. Thanks!

thelaundryfairy Thu 31-Dec-15 17:30:11

I would keep watching how your daughter reacts to the nanny. If your daughter is happy, I don´t think you need to do anything.

Carers who aren´t parents do need to be stricter, firstly to build up a relationship with the child that gives the carer authority and respect, and also for reasons of safety - the child must know that when the carer says NO, it means no (e.g. don´t touch that hot thing, don´t run into the road, etc.) She has to set the boundaries and expectations very clearly. She can´t become more strict in the future but she can become more relaxed as the relationship with your daughter develops.

SleepyRoo Thu 31-Dec-15 17:33:55

I've found that a good nanny often is more strict/consistent that I'm able to be. However when you mention the words "cross" and "snappy" that is a red flag. She should be able to communicate with and care for your child while keeping any "snappiness" in check. Sounds like she may not have a great temperament. Have you got her on a trial basis? I would certainly speak to her about her "style" and see if it could be adjusted.

Maybejustme Thu 31-Dec-15 17:34:30

That's a very good point; I hadn't looked at it that way. Thank you!

Brokenbiscuit Thu 31-Dec-15 17:38:13

What sort of thing is she getting snappy about?

nbee84 Thu 31-Dec-15 17:44:40

Can you give us some examples on what you feel she is being too strict about or things that she is 'cross' and 'snappy' about with your dd.

Blondeshavemorefun Thu 31-Dec-15 18:16:02

agree with fairy, if dd is happy then dont worry, nanny is new and needs to show dd boundaries that can be relaxed in time, but hard to make them stricter iyswim

tbh i have been more firm then all of my employers, most nannies are

Callaird Fri 01-Jan-16 00:34:40

We don't get the tug of the heart strings when they look all pitiful to make mum/dad give in! I am stricter with my charge than my boss, she's not a walkover but she hates telling him off if I'm/granny/next door neighbour is around and boy doesn't he know it!! Also, she lets him squeal which I hate as I have pretty sensitive hearing, as soon as she walks in the door, he starts squealing and I have to be very firm to get him to stop because it really hurts my ears!

That said, she is firmer with things I'm more laid back about! She will sit at the table with him for an hour cajoling him to eat, feeding him, bribing him. He's generally a good eater, if he has an off day then I give him 20 minutes and then get him down. He can have fruit later if he wants it. Can't think of what else off the top of my head but remember thinking 'lighten up, he's two' a few times!

If you think she's being to harsh talk to her about it, it's not going to change if you don't make it! The main thing about nanny/employer relationship is communication!! I've been doing it 29 years now, I'm rubbish at talking to my employer so I say at interview that I'm rubbish and that I prefer to communicate via notes/e-mail. It's mainly about money or being late/taking the piss but thankfully my bosses are very good not being late/taking the piss/paying late so there have been no notes. Yet!!

florentina1 Fri 01-Jan-16 09:37:32

If it is not causing distress to your DD, I would wait and see. Children are very adaptable and it is a good idea for children to get used to a range of parenting styles.

I have witnessed in my own family how children behave differently, depending on which adult they are with.

She is a professional woman and needs to act with your child in that capacity, especially where safety issues are involved. Unless you really wanted a 'mother replacement' I would say nothing at the moment. I think the rougher edges will rub off as the nanny and the child get to know each other better.

Maybejustme Fri 01-Jan-16 09:58:54

That's interesting, Callaird, because actually lots of the things that have made me a bit nervous have been mealtime-related. However, I am very aware that I may be projecting here - I've had issues with food for much of my life and really want to avoid the same for DD - hence why I wanted to ask for a third party opinion, in case I am being completely unreasonable. DD has always been a pretty good eater and I know we've been really lucky, so I really want to avoid turning food into a battle. At her age, I am more concerned with making sure that she eats her vegetables then with whether she is also wriggling/trying to get away with not using a fork/drinking "too much" of the drink that our nanny has given her etc. (I just feel that we could perhaps avoid the argument by giving her a smaller drink, for example.) I would really like this to work out and for DD and our nanny to be happy so don't want to put my foot in it if actually it is me who has it wrong.

littleladyluna Fri 01-Jan-16 10:08:48

I'm a super strict nanny (but also loving and lots of fun) and my boss has raised a few eyebrows at the way I discipline my charge because it is a far cry from her style. She also has standards for behaviour and would consider herself strict but to be honest my charge either knows she's not serious, or gets bored of being talked at and nagged to behave better. Sometimes short and sharp is what is needed. Snappy doesnt sound great, but how is your nanny when your child is relaxed and behaving well? do they laugh and play/read together?

Some behaviour is not on, age appropriate or not. As a parent you may well have become immune to the whiney tones, be relaxed about things that your nanny considers important eg screaming in the house, being asked 10 times to do something etc, or are less of a stickler for discipline than you thought.

My charge behaves beautifully for me, people comment all the time. I love him to pieces, and we regularly have tears when it's time for me to go home at the end of the day. He gets away with very little though. If your child is happy then it is likely that she is beginning to know your nanny's boundaries and is modifying her behaviour (healthy, consistent rules and boundaries).

If it's really bothering you then please talk to her about it, but it may be worth getting her take on the behaviour too? After all, she has spent her career with toddlers.

Also, if a parent asked me to modify my "style", then I'd have to leave. I am flexible about lots of things, but I have been doing my job a long time and I'm good at it. That being said, if my charge was upset in the mornings or becoming withdrawn, I'd want the parents to tell me straight away. This has never happened though smile

Karoleann Sat 02-Jan-16 09:20:32

I think its important that the nanny you employ has a similar style to you when it comes to discipline as littleladyluna says if a nanny has a fundamentally different style to you, she isn't going to want to change it and you're not going to be happy either.

Of course, you can't morally just get rid of her without having a chat with her about your differences. Next time when you interview ask about how she would discipline a child if she did certain things and make sure you get someone who is more compatible with you.

My three are very well-behaved (I also get positive comments about their behaviour), but I'm not overly strict and I think a constant reinforcement of strong behavioural modification on little ones can be very stifling and could potentially damage their character development.

Callaird Sat 02-Jan-16 12:51:51

If feeding is the biggest problem and you can live with the other'strictness', please talk to her. I hate to see children being force fed.

Just say to her that you would rather nanny just let her eat what she wants as she will eat when she's hungry. Maybe they could do a timer thing, I just give my charge 20 minutes to eat, he is usually done way before that but if he's not eaten it in 20 minutes, he either doesn't like it or is not hungry/coming down with something. I'll give him some fruit after his nap (I do anyway but if he's eaten well he'll get a cereal bar/fruit bar/fruit pouch/biscuit/crisps (if I'm feeling generous!))

I always tell parents that none of my 22 charges have staved to death because they didn't eat all their lunch!

However, I hate too much wiggling/arm flinging/being silly as I will always end up covered in food and/or drink. I always tell my employers don't let them do something at the dinner table that you wouldn't do while eating. One of my charges used to eat his dinner with his mum cupping his cheek, used to get really cross when I wouldn't do it!

Excited101 Wed 06-Jan-16 20:59:28

If the child is happy then let her crack on, her methods will have worked for x amount of other children and nannies are almost always (much) more strict than parents, it's generally a very good thing.

dotdotdotmustdash Sat 09-Jan-16 21:37:00

I think very few of us are as good at boundary-setting as we would like to be. We get tired, distracted and sometimes just give in because it makes life easier. If you're paying a professional to care for your Dd, you trust her and she has consistent boundaries then you should benefit from that.

Have you met any of her previous charges? That might help you to see what her methods do for children.

Audreyhelp Sun 10-Jan-16 12:07:01

Surely if you employ a nanny and not a childminder the advantage is you can have more say on how your child is brought up. I would say something .

Blondeshavemorefun Sun 10-Jan-16 12:13:54

if your dd isnt bothered then dont worry, nannies generally cant stand bad manners at the table and i def dont feed children who can feed theirselves

tbh most nannies i know are a lot stricter/dont give in to meal time battles

i will never force a child to eat something but i also wont sit at the table with them for hours while they dither with food

also have a timer which is rare i have to use but its usually the 4/5yr who plays with their food rather then a toddler iyswim

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