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How to Work with Mom and Dad to Establish Consistency

March 3, 2014

talkingparentsIt’s bound to happen. As the nanny, you tell the kids “no” when they want candy before dinner, but as soon as mom or dad gets home, they divulge the children in your care with sugary sweets, ultimately spoiling their dinner appetite.

Beyond caving in with sweets, when mom and dad fail to back up the nanny or vice versa, it can lead to confusion and frustration for both the children and the adults. Instead of feeling like the “bad guy” when mom and dad give in, prompt a discussion to make a change in the household so you are all on the same page.

Uncovering the Inconsistencies

It’s no secret that parents and nannies want home environments and rules to be predictable for children. According to Deliberate Motherhood authors Saren Loosli and April Perry, co-founders of PowerofMoms.com, children need to know that there are clear expectations, regardless of who is caring for them at the time.

“If we had to obey one set of laws on weekdays and another set of laws on the weekends, and if we never knew what was legal or illegal in our country, how would we feel?” asked Loosli and Perry.

Even though it’s impossible to be 100% consistent all the time, the dangers of being regularly inconsistent can significantly impact your children and family. Gradually, your child will become confused when rules change or are not enforced and as a nanny, you may become frustrated, tired and worn down.

Children need and crave consistency. Consistency helps both children and adults to learn expected behaviors in order to make informed decisions. Children quickly learn that behaviors lead to outcomes, both favorable and unfavorable.

According to the experts at Nemours KidsHealth, teaching consistency to children also helps them learn self control, even though they may test the limits. For example, if your toddler hits a sibling or another child, consistent discipline, such as time out or loss of a toy for a period of time, ultimately teaches him that the behavior comes with a consequence. If you are inconsistent with discipline, the child will continue to test the limits because the consequence is not clear.

Speak Up and Establish Expectations

If you are frustrated with the inconsistencies in your home, begin by taking note of the rules that differ between you and the parents. Create a log of the instances when the children were indulged after you had been instructed to limit or discipline them. Keep in mind that the log is not to be used as “evidence” to present to the parents but rather provide examples to begin a discussion about consistency and rules in the home.

Many times, parents are unaware of behaviors that are interfering with the care of their children. As the family nanny, it’s important for you to speak up and ask for clarification on expectations and household rules.

“It’s important that the nanny and the parents sit down together and talk through the family rules and consequences together,” says Loosli and Perry. “It would also be a good idea for them to map out a general routine for the week, depending obviously on the age of the child.”

Once the routine is established and the nanny is clear about what is expected of him or her, it’s time to clarify and set expectations.

“They should sit down the children and discuss rules, consequences, schedules and expectations so that everyone has a chance to give input and can be on the same page,” says Loosli and Perry.

Allowing your child to have a say in the rules and expectations can be empowering. Your little one may be more eager to follow the rules if he or she had a part in creating these rules.

The open communication between the nanny, children and parents can also strengthen the bond of the family and help minimize the inconsistencies that exist on a regular basis.

“If rules, consequences and routines are impacted and discussed by everyone involved, then it doesn’t become the nanny’s job to make the house work,” says Loosli and Perry. “Instead, it becomes a team effort.”


2 Responses to How to Work with Mom and Dad to Establish Consistency

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Julie says:

“If we had to obey one set of laws on weekdays and another set of laws on the weekends, and if we never knew what was legal or illegal in our country, how would we feel?” Nailed it.

kathleen k. says:

what if the parents seem closed off to discussing any inconsistencies?