Those who have nannies
I am asking this for a good friend. She has 2 girls who are almost 5 and 3 (my kids' age). She has a full time nanny and really likes her. You know it is difficult to find a perfect match but the nanny has been with them since DD1's birth and has become part of the family. I consider her a friend too because we constantly set play dates since my friend works during the day. I like her a ton. She is in her late 40s, very calm and nice, gentle with the kids, obeys my friend's wishes with one exception. The nanny is overprotective with the kids "don't climb there, wait for me to help you with the ladder; watch out" You get the picture. My friend knows that and thinks that it is already affecting DD1. DD1 is overly cautious, freaks out easily if she falls down, gets frustrated easily if she cannot accomplish something quickly. My friend has found research suggesting that overprotective parenting has some long-term negative effects and wants the nanny to change her ways in that regard. My friend understands that some of it is her DD's personality but she wants the nanny to let go a bit. She has talked the nanny several times before, the nanny would change but quickly go back to her old ways.
My friend asked me what would be the best way to approach the nanny again without hurting the nanny's feelings and without making it sound like an ultimatum of sorts but be firm enough. I thought about it. I believe that the nanny does not see it as hurting the children but as helping them. I suggested that perhaps she should forward her the research, good articles or blogs; maybe select 3-4 (not too many) and then have an open discussion.
WWYD? For those who have nannies, how have you addressed sticky issues (or at least what you thought to be a sticky issue)?
I agree that's the way to do it. The nanny is in a tough position, actually. If she lets the kid take chances and she gets hurt, the mom might not look at it so charitably. Or at least, the nanny might not think so. The mom's best chance is to kind of lead by example, show her what the difference is between prudent and overcautious.
That said, some kids are just cautious by nature. I have one, and no amount of encouragement from anyone to take chances is going to make her.
I don't think that the situation is any different than where one has a friend or relative watching their kid. And with any of those, I'd just talk about it directly, but gently. "We were at the playground this weekend and I noticed that xxx was still calling for me or running away from the play equipment far more than the other kids. Like she was afraid to climb up on her own or too impatient to make the effort to figure a way up on her own. It's really bothering me that she isn't developing like I think she should during this important exploratory phase. We all need to be more proactive in encouraging her to climb higher, take some more risks, etc, even if it means a few bumps and bruises. We all should do x, y, and z (expectations clearly defined)" Or however she wants to frame it.
I would send articles to my nanny, too, but I've done that since day one, with developmental articles, behavior, recall info, etc. I send them to my husband and sister/BIL, too, and our nanny is very receptive (in part b/c she's studying to open a child care business.) So it wouldn't be odd for me to offer something that I saw, too. In the case above, it might, but i don't see why it couldn't be introduced, too, with "A friend recommended that I check out the "free-range kids" book (or Bringing Up Bebe) and I really liked what they said about freedom at the playground and how kids at this age have to test their limits to learn how to respect them. I'll send a piece of that to you and [husband's name] so we're all on the same page about how we should approach xxx's fears."
I'd build in there, too, the chance for the nanny to express her own fears/concerns - which may be, as suja said, that she doesn't want to lose her job if there's a broken bone as a result of a climb on the play equipment or the like. Mom can re-assure her that she trusts the nanny with her kids, especially after all of this time. that she's never going to prevent accidents but knowing the nanny, there's no concern whatsoever that she'll allow the child to juggle razor blades or something irresponsible.
We have had the same nanny fir over 2 years and she is probably very similar to your friends' nanny but that is in line with my approach to parenting ( i am probably overprotecting my kids). I also agree with Suja - my ds is just not a risk taker no matter what i do. I am not sure i agree that its a bad thing- my parents were overly cautious with my sister and i and i dont think that really affected us. Anyways, my ds who is 3, is in full time preschool now because i personally feel that he outgrew being at home with a nanny and he has not changed at all in the last year since going there- his cautiousness is a personality thing that he probably got from my dh and i (is her 5 year old really still at home with a nanny?). Anyways, i don't hesitate to discuss things openly with our nanny so i would probably just be upfront.
Thanks. I copied your responses and emailed them to her. I know she will appreciate your advice.