How do we address favoritism with our nanny?

Discussing an issue with your nanny—such as your nanny favoring one child over another—can be challenging for nanny families. Learn tips for navigating difficult conversations with your nanny from expert Martha Tyler.

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We hired a nanny about 6 months ago for our two children—our teen daughter and our 3-year-old daughter. We’ve noticed that our nanny seems to prefer spending with our teenager over our little one. She will sometimes send the 3-year-old off to play by herself while doing an activity with our teen. We understand that some people can work better with children of different ages, but it is upsetting both our toddler and us. We hired this nanny because we felt confident in her ability to manage to care for both our children, and it doesn’t seem to be happening. What should we do?


Wow, it must be both heartbreaking and frustrating to see this happening, especially since you brought someone into your home to provide the same quality of care for both your children. And I’m sorry your 3-year-old is so hurt by this. You are absolutely within your rights to want your nanny to play with and offer the same level of care to both your toddler and your teen. And while this can be a tricky conversation to navigate, here are some tips that might help you.  

I would begin by finding time to connect with your nanny when the children aren’t around. If you are approaching a time when you can include this in a conversation, such as meeting for a 6-month review, this would be a great time. This will also allow you to focus on other issues as well—both the positives and opportunities for improvement. Alternatively, ask for time to connect with your nanny, and while in-person is best, it can be more difficult to achieve, especially when you don’t want the children to overhear. If in-person isn’t possible, you can hold the meeting on Zoom after the kids are in bed. I would also suggest paying your nanny for this time.  

Once you have scheduled the meeting, sit down and write out all of your feelings unfiltered. This will help you sort through them and know where you feel strongly. After you write your unfiltered feelings, make a list of talking points you want to raise with your nanny, and how you might frame them in a way that is both constructive and empathetic.

When you actually sit down for the conversation, start with something positive. This will let the nanny see that you recognize some of the positive things they are doing. For example, “We see that you are spending a lot of quality time with our teenager, and we know she values having someone to talk to.” Here is when you can bring up the issue you want to address. Continue the conversation by saying, “We’ve also noticed that our youngest has been feeling left out. We’d like to make sure she is included in all activities, especially since she is so young and still learning. We’d also really like to help our oldest learn to include our youngest in activities. There’s such an age difference between the two, but together, I hope we can find ways to help her engage her little sister. We are happy to brainstorm ideas for activities that include both children.”

Be sure the language you use doesn’t blame or shame your nanny and instead focuses on the problem at hand and engages the nanny’s input for building solutions. A lot can be resolved y simply bringing an issue to someone’s attention—and now that your nanny is aware of the issue, she can work to address it.

We hope this helps navigate the conversation with your nanny and that together, you can come to a solution that works for everyone. Please reach out with any additional questions. We are here for you!

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Meet The Expert

Martha Tyler

Martha has her Masters in Education and is a certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator. She has worked as a sitter, nanny, tutor, or teaching artist over the past 20+ years. In addition, Martha has hosted a child care podcast, Chronicles of Nannya, for several years. She is also the co-founder of Compassionate Childcare LLC and is thrilled to be able to share her experience, knowledge, and resources with CareNectar!