Has your Child Outgrown your Nanny?

October 22, 2012

The other day, we received an email from a Toronto parent who had the following concern. Has this ever happened to you? Do you think it might? Does it worry you?

​We hired Elisa a few years ago and she was our dream come true. She was so loving and gentle with our son when he was an infant, and somehow managed to keep our home in perfect order. She is a true member of our family, and things wouldn't be the same if she wasn't around. Now our son is an active and occasionally difficult pre-schooler, and we're not sure if Elisa can still handle him. She's been unable to get him to do anything around the house lately, and constantly struggles with his school-work. We now feel like when we're not home, things are out of control and she's 'covering' for him. Any ideas?

It's time to sit and talk with Elisa and find out how she's feeling about the situation, and see if there's anything else up. Pick a time where you and she can speak without interruptions from your son, and ask her questions about the day, and how things are going now that your son is older. She may hold back for many reasons, but it's important to gently press her on the situation and let her speak her thoughts.

It's also important that you teach your son that he needs to respect Elisa as his caregiver, and that a person is important for him in the short term and long term. Just because she has a gentle and loving personality, she should not be taken advantage of. Speak with your son about the issues you see and the feedback you've received from Elisa. Discuss it with him, allowing him to give you feedback. If he doesn't mention any concerns about Elisa, set his straight on the importance of your caregiver.

As a team of parents, caregiver, and child, come up with a plan that will be followed every day after school, including consequences. For example, if he gives Elisa a hard time, or refuses to listen to her, he can't watch the hockey game later or loses cell phone or computer privileges. The best thing you can do for your son and Elisa is to empower her to enforce the consequences if the need arises. And if she does, make sure to back her up so your son sees her as part of the team.

Sometimes, your child really has outgrown your nanny. It may make for financial and practical sense to simply hire a housesitter while the parents are out of the house who only comes by the house during certain times of the day to check in.

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