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It seems like my nanny isn’t listening to me. I tell her one thing and she looks like she is agreeing and then will go and do something else.

June 25, 2010

By, Dr. Lindsay Heller, The Nanny Doctor

As a professional nanny consultant, I hear from nannies and families all over the world about their struggles and daily challenges. The topic of a nanny not being a “self-starter” tends to be quite a common issue, however this topic is a bit more complex than it may seem on the surface. As with all nanny-family relationship issues, we need to look at both parties’ potential part in the problem. Take a look at this article on evaluating nanny success.

Examine how you are communicating your expectations and needs to your nanny. It is not enough sometimes to just tell your nanny to do something.

There are many factors that could affect communication. Ask yourself is there a language barrier issue? Is there a cultural misunderstanding? Are you not being clear in setting the expectations? Are you assuming that they “should know this because they are a nanny”?

These are common contributing factors to the problem of your nanny not following through on one of your requests. The best way to communicate your expectations to your nanny is in a thorough, purposeful manner. This may mean:

1)   Demonstrating how you expect a task to be completed

2)   Writing out directions regarding your expectations

3)   Sitting down and setting aside some time to discuss why it didn’t work, or why it wasn’t exactly how you had requested.

If you troubleshoot and determine that there isn’t a language problem, it isn’t a cultural misunderstanding, you have set clear expectations, not made any assumptions, then it may be an employee behavioral problem. Your nanny may have an idea of how they are going to do something and have rigid beliefs that they have a better way of doing something. This is when you need to sit down and have a talk and explain to her that things cannot continue this way. Assess the current situation. State that you have requested she do xyz, and ask why she hasn’t been able to do xyz. Listen to your nanny, there may be a real reason why xyz is not happening. However, if there isn’t really an answer probe a little further and ask her what you can do to ensure that xyz happens. In other words, find out how you can set her up for success!


7 Responses to It seems like my nanny isn’t listening to me. I tell her one thing and she looks like she is agreeing and then will go and do something else.

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Wendy B. says:

Good points – I think it’s easy to get frustrated and think your nanny should just know what to do… I know I’ve gotten frustrated with my nanny not doing what I wanted before, only to realize I never actually verbalized what was upsetting me.

maria delgado says:

language can be a big problem. i speak english pretty good, but still sometimes dont understand exactly what my employer wants right away.

Tracy Shubert says:

We try to have weekly meetings with our nanny to find out what’s working and what isn’t and why certain things may not be getting done even though we asked – since we started doing that it’s made our relationship much better!

Emma says:

Sometimes, especially at the beginning of a new position, I get nervous about trying to do more than the family asks because I don’t want to step on any toes.

Julia W. says:

You bring up an interesting point! As a parent, I can tell you that I love when my nanny comes to me with ideas she has – maybe you should bring up anything you’ve been thinking about doing with the family and see how they respond!

Larry Lawson says:

Agreed – just talk to your employers. They’ll appreciate the open communication, and you may have ideas they didn’t even think of!

Haley S. says:

It’s so easy to just point the finger at one party without evaluating both sides – great reminder to take a step back before getting upset!