They say that those who can’t do, teach. Well, those who have decided to wait to have their own kids, nanny! Over time, you will love your kids like you were the one who brought them into the world. You will want the best for them. Seeing them progress – learning the alphabet and colors, working on fine motor skills, or just having fun – will make your day. Feeling this way, is a sign that you have built a great relationship with them and you are becoming an awesome nanny. Their progress will motivate you and the parents to set up a system that helps the child reach new goals. You do this by implementing systems that make it easy for the child to reach this goal.
Goal of the system
Having the open communication mentioned in my first article will mean that the parents are probably feeling the same way you are about the children’s progress. If you haven’t already, talk with the parents about the areas that you want to help the child improve. Then, together, make a list of goals that will naturally follow one another.
There are an infinite number of potential goals you may wish to establish for your child’s early development. In this article, I will use a behavior goal as an example: The parents want their children to hang their coats and put their shoes away when they come into the house.
- letter recognition
- sight words
- word association
- saying please and thank you
- sitting at the table to eat
- using inside voices
- using words to communicate emotions
- picking up toys
- hanging up clothes or putting them in the hamper
- getting dressed by themselves
- asking for things
- potty training
An example of sequential academic goals:
- learn to sing the alphabet
- learn to recognize upper and lower case letters
- put letters together to form words
- combine words to make sentences
Who decides on a system?
How do they decide?
When the parents mention this goal to you or you approach the parents with this goal, first give them the option to come up with a plan. Remember, they are the parents, they are the boss. They have a right to try whatever system they feel is best. Ask them if they can think of or know any way to solve this problem. If they do, that’s wonderful! Try their idea.
If they don’t have an idea, Pinterest and I are your best friends. If you haven’t already, you should definitely subscribe, so you are one of the first to know when a new article comes out. If you don’t already have one, I recommend that you get a Pinterest account. It’s quick and easy to get set up and use. (And you can find and follow my Nanny boards!) You can make a specific board for each family you work with or just have one “A Day in the Life of a Nanny” board where you throw all of your ideas together. Pinterest is a great way to organize systems that you want to implement in the houses you work in because if you make specific, private boards for each of your families, you can invite the parents to collaborate with you. Before you buy your supplies, assuming you will be expecting reimbursement, make sure you have ran this past the parents or have an allowance included in your contract.
Remember: Whatever system you choose, make it easy, simple and clear. This will encourage everyone to CONTINUE to use it!
Let’s get back to our example of the system we need to implement for the kids who need to put away their coat and shoes that are piling up in the entryway. The system the parents in this situation agreed to go with is to hang a few command hooks on the back of the coat closet or on a wall by the door that are low enough for the kids to reach. Then, find a shoe crate, rack, or set up suspension rods in the bottom of the closet to hold their little shoes.
Getting The Kids Onboard
Now, the hard part: how do I get the kids to apply this new system?
- Shout it from the rooftops
- Tell everyone about it
- Communicate Communicate Communicate!
Show the kids how the new system works and get them to practice with you. If you also get them to help set it up they will feel more a part of it, making them eager to use it. However, the kids aren’t the only ones you need to get onboard with the new system. Even if you’ve discussed it with the parents already, they may need some help remembering the system. For example, you can snap a picture and send it to the parents with a brief explanation of the idea. If it isn’t already, this would be a good time to suggest that this behavior become a house rule. This way, the rewards and consequences that apply to the rest of the house rules will also apply to this new goal.
What happens when a parent isn’t helping enforce a new system?
I’ve been asked this question before. First, it’s important to remember the truth: you are the hired help. Sometimes they feel like your kids and you think you know best, but you are the nanny. These are still their children.
It is not your job to tell the parents how to raise their children.
Things you can try: remind the parents of their goals for their kids. Remind them that their children were doing well with support from both you AND them. This is one of those times the paper trail comes in handy (see: Communication: Nanny/Parent Cooperation > “Leave A Trail”). These goals should be written somewhere for all to see that you can physically reference when having this quick chat before or after your shift. If that still didn’t seem to do the trick, that’s OK. Sometimes, a system we think will help ends up being more stressful than helpful. Don’t take it personally. Think about it: you didn’t really invest any unpaid time or any of your own money into it. Still feeling frustrated? Remember what grandma always says, “It’s not the end of the world. This too shall pass”.
In most cases, parents are totally cool with and supportive of you trying to better their children and help them reach their goals. Try your best to make whatever system you choose as simple as possible!