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How to avoid hiring the wrong nanny

August 7, 2011

Recently a nanny was caught hitting and kicking a baby. It’s hard to understand how someone could do something like that to a child. Thank goodness the family had a nanny cam and caught it and fired her immediately.

I’m sure that many parents are thinking after reading about this incident, “Here we go again, another nanny hurting an innocent child. We can’t trust a nanny with our children.”  This event is alarming and disturbing to all of us and probably more so to those of us in the online nanny business.

Rather than going into a defense of online nanny services, I want to talk about what could be done to possibly prevent this from happening. I’m not going to address the particular circumstances of this sad event since I don’t know enough about the details to make a comment, and I certainly don’t want to say anything that could imply parents are at fault when something like this occurs, they most definitely were not.

I believe that hiring and vetting a nanny is a complex, difficult task and that the difficulty is underestimated by many families who believe they can go by their “gut” when hiring a nanny. Of course our gut is the primary line of defense for all of us adults when making important decisions, but gut is built on experience, which few families have in this arena. Are we all experts in human nature and do we all have great interviewing skills when hiring a potential caregiver to our child? Do things like time, pressure to hire quickly so that mom and dad can get to work, and money not impact our judgment? Of course they do. Have you have heard about Malcolm Gladwell’s rule of 10,000 hours to be an expert in an area?

It may sound strange coming from the owner of an online nanny service to say this, but the best line of defense for families hiring a nanny is using a full-service nanny agency. They have the skills and discipline to get it right. Nanny agencies have tough standards on experience and references that eliminate most candidates so families aren’t exposed to them. They know how to find phony references and they interview thousands of nannies-and as we know with experience comes expertise.

In the next installment I’ll discuss tools that families can use when hiring on their own without an agency.


5 Responses to How to avoid hiring the wrong nanny

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Veronica P. says:

It’s sad to hear about something like this happening, but I hope that most people realize that this is far from the norm. Most nannies are loving, wonderful caregivers who would never harm a child!

Naomi says:

I agree. It’s important to remember that we’re far more likely to hear about the bad things that happen than the good things that happen! There’s a bad apple in every bunch.

John H says:

This is an interesting topic – I look forward to reading the next installment on this.

carolina s. says:

i think anyone who is going to take on the vetting process needs to also be willing to take on the responsibility that comes with hiring the nanny. not saying the parents are at fault here at all, just that if they did hire her without checking her references or running a background check, that’s a serious error on their part…

Lisa B. says:

I think it’s easy to let things like time and money start to factor into a decision, but ultimately you have to remember that you’re hiring someone to care for your child, and there’s really no price you can put on that.