We’re proud of the community we have at Sittercity. Babysitters and nannies regularly check in with each other to share info and ask questions in our Facebook group. Everyone is so willing to share their experience and advice to build up others and the profession as a whole. It’s really a beautiful thing.
To continue supporting our sitters and nannies in their professional development, we asked our community, “What advice would you give to other sitters about how to talk to parents about behavioral issues with their child?” Thank you to everyone willing to share your thoughts and make us stronger for it!
It’s important to let the parents know, but it’s also important for the sitter to handle situations correctly. Remember that disciple does NOT teach a child. Sitting them down and explaining to them the situation is most important in their behavior development.
Alexis W. | Sacramento, CA
I always believe honesty is the best policy, no child is perfect and open communication with a parent to make sure everyone is on the same page is key for any longer duration issues. I like to give a quick recap of how the day/evening went when the parents get home for anything run of the mill. I generally text an update or two while sitting as well just so they know how it’s going, and reserve immediate phone calls for anything more major since we always lay out clear expectations on discipline/behavior correction methods of the household.
Marie M. | Bensalem, PA
It’s important that you try and find out all you can about a family before working for them. I have had families who were not honest about their kids and knew they struggled with behavior issues. Make sure any conversation you have is in private with the parents. Take notes throughout the day. Try and offer positive feedback about the day even if there was more negative. Come up with helpful ideas and solutions.
Linda S. | Tewksbury, MA
I would say, “Well Johnny had a little problem today but we seem to have worked it out. How do treat Johnny when he acts this way?”
Patty S. | Media, PA
Approach it with love. Inform the parent of how awesome their kid is, and how you love watching them. Then politely say “I do want to bring some concerns to your attention. It may be nothing, but..” and just explain the situation. And make sure to end with love too. By saying something along the lines of, “Again, I really love watching them, I just want to stay in communication and make sure you know everything on the table.”
Bridgette K. | Flower Mound, TX
The sandwich method, all the time. Begin with a positive, talk about the issue and ideas YOU have in how YOU can help, and finish with something positive.
Caitlin B. | Chesapeake, VA
In the beginning, I ask how discipline should work. I make them put everything away and do time out. The behavior should fix itself. When it gets bad, I involve parents. I send a text and when they come home we sit down and talk. We make a plan together on how to tackle the situation going forward.
Nickita C. | Mansfield, TX
Be tactful. No parent wants to hear that their child misbehaves. Describe the behavior rather than label it. Ask how the parent wants it handled when they are not there? Follow through and then communicate to the parent(s).
Gail W. | Gilbert, AZ
Be upfront and objective. Rather than offering unsolicited opinions offer the facts of what issues have arisen and ask how they would like to address handling them.
Kim G. | Philadelphia, PA
Conversations about child behavior are sometimes awkward, but absolutely essential in this line of work. The key to these conversations is coming to the parents with clear examples of the behavior you’re concerned about, how you handled it at the moment, and how you and the parents would like to address it moving forward. This is a challenge because when you work with children in this role, you become like a parent to them, but ultimately, those parenting decisions have to be the parents’ choice. It’s important to coordinate with the parents about how behavioral issues should be addressed.
Hannah B. | Austin, TX
Keep the line of communication constant and open. That way if behaviors start to come up, they will be noticed earlier and no one will be kept in the dark about them. In an interview, it’s always helpful to ask the parents how they prefer discipline or unwanted behavior to be resolved. That way the nanny is able to decide if they are comfortable following the parents’ wishes and everyone will be on the same page from the very start. Hiding issues or not addressing them at all is only going to hurt the child(ren) in the end.
Jamie M. | Weymouth, MA
Give objective, observable facts, free of interpretation. Ask them if they have observed anything similar to this. Behaviors are symptoms of root issues. Make sure it is discussed with respect and no shame, blame, or judgment. Ask questions to understand. Show a heart that seeks to understand and has empathy. Be sure you are clear on what the parents’ boundaries are.
Jenna S. | Santa Cruz, CA
I always start by asking if they’ve noticed it. If they have, I try to stay focused on how it has disrupted the day or worn on my patience. It’s important to demonstrate the reason for raising the problem so that it doesn’t come off like I am gossiping or just complaining to be difficult. I always have a plan ready for how to deal with it when I address it with the parents but I ask if they have any ideas first in case theirs is drastically different and we need to compromise.
Rachel D. | Chicago, IL
“I’ve noticed … has been doing … lately, is this something they do with you as well?” Knowing what is behavior they think they can get away with in front of you and behavior they exhibit on a daily basis is the first step. It can be awkward bringing this up because you don’t want to seem like you judge their parenting style or you don’t want to seem not in control of the situation, but any time I’ve brought something up the parents thank me for bringing it to their attention.
Shannon N. | Williamstown, NJ
Do not talk about the issue in front of the child(ren). Be specific about the problem (no sweeping generalities). Keep you cool and your voice level. Do not accuse and certainly do not exaggerate. Ask if this has happened before and how they handled the problem and how they want you to handle it. If this is something new. Try to determine if something has changed or happened (like having a new nanny/babysitter) and with them to determine how to proceed and correct the problem. But be warned, not all parents are receptive to any kind of talk concerning the behavior of their child(ren). Their children are well behaved and do no wrong in the eyes of the parents. That is when you decide if you can handle the situation yourself, how you are really prepared to put up with, and whether I or not this job is for you.
Terri S. | Warrenville, SC