Introducing a nanny to your child is one of the most important steps when onboarding a new nanny to the home.
Building some strategy around introducing a nanny to your child can be the difference between a smooth transition or a rocky start. Encouraging an early bond with a new nanny is essential for your child’s wellbeing but it isn’t always as simple as putting them in the same room together. There is a lot you can do to set your nanny up for success in their role but the following tips focus on how you can help set up a strong bond between your nanny and child early.
Get to know the nanny together.
Set up a couple of shifts with you in the home so your child can get to know your nanny while you’re around. Rather than putting the nanny straight to work, consider using these earlier shifts to socialise and hang out. These relaxed moments in a comfortable and familiar environment allow you to get to know your nanny on a personal level. Your child will be watching these interactions very closely and it will demonstrate to them that the nanny is someone safe.
Throughout these early shifts, remove yourself for small periods to duck to the shops, go for a walk etc. This will help the nanny and child build a bond and reassure your child that you always come back.
Hanging out could include:
- Grab a coffee and head to the local park for a chat and play locally.
- Visit the library together to pick out some new books.
- Jump in the car together for a drive to show the nanny your local area.
Play is the universal language of childhood.
It’s through play that children learn about the world and themselves. Your nanny will be experienced so play is part of the job but it can be hard to plan/set up an activity in a new home. Before your nanny starts, stock up the craft supplies and have a new toy rotation ready. Then make sure you hype up your child about how great the new nanny is at play. Doing an activity together can relieve the pressure when introducing a nanny to your child, helping their conversations be more natural and organic. If you introduce a nanny to your child with some great activities they will associate the nanny to mean fun is about to happen.
Check in with your own emotions.
You aren’t just introducing a nanny to your child, you’re introducing a nanny to your life as well. The transition to bring someone else in to care for your child is a huge step and you may have to navigate your own emotions around the change. It’s completely normal for you to feel uneasy, anxious, or guilty but kids are smart and can quickly pick up on your vibes. If you start to feel these emotions build, take a moment to check yourself. Understanding and processing these emotions early will help you relax and have a positive effect on your children’s comfort level as well.
Dealing with separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety can be a big hurdle when introducing a nanny to your child. You can slowly bring in the separation prior to the nanny starting so that they don’t associate the nanny with you leaving them. This could be a family member babysitting or hanging out where you pop in and out. Removing yourself for a short period to help your child become comfortable with you leaving.
Exit plan tips
- Settle your child into a fun activity with the nanny prior to you leaving.
- Tell your child where you are going, what you will be doing, and when you’ll be back.
- Always say goodbye but make it brief. Trust me, dragging it out doesn’t help anyone, but not saying goodbye can make things worse.
- When you leave, make sure you look relaxed and happy (even if your heart feels like it’s going to break). Your child will be reassured they are safe, even if they are having a full-blown meltdown.
Raising Children offers further tips and practices when navigating separation anxiety.
Empower your child and their independence.
It’s normal for parents to speak on behalf of their children in social situations. As you introduce a nanny to your child, avoid making excuses for your child “She’s a mummy’s girl… He is very shy…” These words are powerful and your child will associate themselves to those labels. You don’t have to feel bad or awkward about your child having a negative reaction to this new arrangement, it’s so normal. Instead, use the power of words for good to help your child feel capable and confident in their independence.
Let them know you’re proud that they are brave before you leave and speak about all the fun things they did when you return. Share these moments of positive affirmation as they come naturally. And try to avoid bribes for separating, this can create the expectation that the nanny arriving always means a treat!
Introducing a nanny to your child with these simple steps helps make the new arrangement feel comfortable for everyone. If you have taken the right steps during the recruitment stage, you’ve vetted this nanny’s safety and have the right reassurances that they are likely to be a good fit for your children. Professional nannies have been through the transition process before and will be confident to navigate this and may have their own methods to suggest. A good nanny will be gentle and understanding to your child getting used to the new face in the home and will work with you to make the transition as smooth as possible.
Finally, remember no one knows your child like you do. If you feel there are deeper issues with their separation anxiety, consider talking to your GP to seek out further support.