March 1, 2021

Ask Margaret - How Should I Talk to My Child's Caregiver About Discipline?

Leaving our kids in the care of others is stressful and tends to bring out a strong need for control. But when it comes to working with a nanny or a day care provider, this may not be the best approach.

Rather than trying to control everything your nanny or caregiver does, try to be clear from the very beginning about your expectations about discipline and any other issues that are important to you. Prepare questions when you interview a caregiver that explore a range of scenarios that may come up.

Some examples:

  • When a child doesn't listen to your instructions, how would you respond?
  • Have you worked with children who you had to discipline repeatedly? How did you handle it?
  • What are your favorite kinds of meals to prepare? What foods do you think it's important for kids to eat?

Once you've employed your caregiver, revisit these conversations often. Strategize at the end of the day about behavior problems that are coming up and how to handle them. Another good idea is to write down your expectations and then prioritize them. For your family, wearing seatbelts and using sunscreen might be non-negotiables, but when it comes to eating healthy, there might be room for the occasional ice cream cone after a day at the park.

Being clear with your own expectations means you don't have to have the same conversations over and over– and allows your caregiver to feel more secure in his or her role with your child. A caregiver is not a computer that accepts "if/then" instructions. Being extremely clear on your absolutes and then allowing your caregiver to function with some degree of independence will lead to a happier relationship for everyone.

In this episode Margaret cites this article from Very Well Family:

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