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Breaking the Ice: Ways Nannies Can Introduce Themselves to Children

April 30, 2014

nannymeetIt can be daunting for a child to meet his or her nanny for the first time. He may be hesitant to trust him or her. She may be shy and scared about being away from mommy and daddy at times. On the other hand, children can be very flexible and resilient when change occurs in the household.

In order to make a smooth transition into a new family’s home, it’s important for nannies to proceed slowly, get creative with introductions and build a trusting relationship through nurturing.

The First Meeting

According to Robert Nickell, parenting expert and founder of Daddy & Co., a gift and apparel company dedicated to celebrating fatherhood, nannies are an essential part of a family, but it takes time to acclimate the children to a new care provider.

“When we bring a new nanny into our home, we start with a two to four hour day and have either mom or dad at the house,” says Nickell. “We start with a slow acclimation, but our little ones are used to having nannies around and instantly warm up to them.”

Most children, though, need some time to warm up to a new nanny. “Whenever you bring a new nanny into the home, a child is going to see that person as a stranger,” says Nickell. “They’ll need some time to get to know the new nanny, figure out what they can get away with and generally adjust to having a new parental figure in their lives.”

Your children may each react differently, too. “Some might feel anxious, confused or even angry, while others might express feelings of excitement and joy,” says Nickell. “It’s hard to say a child will react in one specific way to the new experience as every child is different.”

As the father of seven children and a regular employer of nannies, Nickell has seen this first hand. “I have seven children who are all as different as can be,” he says. “When bringing a new nanny into our home, we want to see a natural bond being formed and we like to see a playful, insightful, helpful, confident individual. The kids will pick up on this immediately.”

If everyone passes the first day, Nickell recommends extending the time period to gradually build the bond between the children and the nanny.

Meet and Greet

Before the first meet and greet with a new nanny, it’s crucial to prepare your child for the encounter. “Let them know who the person is, why they’re going to be part of your child’s life and how your child will be expected to treat the new nanny,” says Nickell.

Parents should also give the nanny tips about the children beforehand as well. “Tell the nanny about your child so he or she knows what to expect and then make the meeting positive and fun,” recommends Nickell.

If possible, nannies can also shadow parents during the first meeting. “I’ve had success having nannies meet my children at my own home while ‘shadowing’ me to learn the routine and get to know the children,” says Nickell. “I’ve also had success meeting a new nanny at the park where they can show their playful side and make a fun first impression with my children.”

When introducing yourself to the new family, nannies can offer reassurance to both the children and the parents by expressing interest in the children’s likes and dislikes, passions, activities and typical play patterns.

For instance, host a game of questions and answers so the children can find out more about you and you can learn how they communicate. Also, consider bringing activities that will help them explore your role in the household, such as a story making kit or video camera to act out scenarios or play games that you all enjoy so you can be playful with each other from the start.

“I like when the nanny gets down onto the child’s level, which means sitting on the floor, playing, asking the kids questions and listening to the answers,” says Nickell.

Most importantly, show the children your true personality and let them see your fun side while communicating how you would like to care for them on a regular basis.

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Hannah says:

Whenever I’m meeting a new charge I try to do something fun with them and the parents – we’ll go to the park and play together or to a museum, etc. It’s a good way to get to know each other and the kids can take a break if they’re feeling overwhelmed by playing on the playground or looking at exhibits.