EXPERT Q&A

The parents I work for don’t follow their own rules. What do I do?

Being a nanny comes with challenges, especially if parents don’t seem to be following the rules they set for their children. CareNectar expert Martha Tyler provides tips on how to speak with parents to make sure you’re all working together as a team!

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Question

The family I work for gave me strict rules for their children, specifically rules that their 3-year-old son needs to follow. But both adults in the family are constantly breaking them. Without consistency, the 3-year-old is acting out, making it more difficult for me to do my job well. What guidance can you share that can help me navigate this situation?

Answer

What a difficult situation you’re in! I’m sorry you’re having to follow rules that the parents aren’t following.

As a starting point, I would highly suggest asking for a meeting with the parents without the children around. It can be difficult to find time for all the caregivers to talk without the children. If you’re struggling to find a time in person that would work, sometimes meeting on Zoom or FaceTime after the kids are in bed can work well. Try saying, “I’d love to touch base and talk over a few things with you all. I’d really love to find a time where we could talk without the children around. Here are some times I’m available. Would any of these work for you?

Once you’ve found a time to meet, approach the meeting with as much kindness and empathy as you can. You’re all on the same team and you’re working together toward a common goal. Prepare your best compliment sandwich. That’s where you compliment them on something specific, state the area you’d like to improve, and then close with another compliment. It might sound like, “I love working with your family. [Child’s name] is so full of joy and is a bright spot in my life. I know there are certain rules you’re working on getting your child to follow and I’ve really been struggling with it lately. Can you help me understand what you do to help him follow the rules? Or have the rules changed? I want to help as much as I can to give your child the tools they need to be successful. I know nannying works best when we’re all on the same page. I appreciate so much how you all support me.” Then help them brainstorm ways to work as a team with you to all follow the same rules.

Go into the meeting with the mindset of working with the family to help create consistent boundaries for the child. Avoid any blaming or shaming and approach it with an open heart. You deserve to have the same rules to enforce as the parents. By having this conversation, the parents may see that they are enforcing different rules or are letting some rules slide, and this will hopefully ensure you are all are on the same page.

Remember that it is sometimes difficult to break habits, so check in with the family as time passes to see how their child is doing at home and if the system you put into place is effective. These aren’t easy conversations to have, but since you have already laid the groundwork for setting and refining the rules, they should become easier with time.

Good luck and we’re here to help if you need us!

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!