Teaching Kids to Respect Their Nanny

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No kid is a perfect angel 24/7. Even the best-behaved kids have their moments behind closed doors. And while a child’s behavior is always a work in progress, that’s no excuse for hurled insults or cereal bowls when they don’t get their way. 

Raising a child to be respectful to other people–parents, peers, and of course, nannies!–along with the world around them is important to prioritize at a young age. With the right guidance these insolent behaviors are temporary, but feeling disrespected as a nanny can leave a permanent mark. 

Here, the signs your child is being disrespectful to your nanny, plus what you can do at home to teach your child to be thoughtful, considerate and polite–even when you’re not around! 

Signs your child does not respect your nanny: 


  • Ignoring repeated requests 
  • Not listening to directions 
  • Won’t accept “no” 
  • Refusal to follow rules
  • Frequent tantrums 
  • Shouting or yelling back
  • Treating  nanny like a peer 
  • Demanding exceptions
  • Manipulating situations 
  • Mocking behavior 
  • Name calling 
  • Being ungrateful 
  • Throwing things
  • Physical attacks  

Outline the expectations 

First, explain that your nanny’s job is to care for your child when you are working and/or can’t be there so your child understands this person is acting on behalf of you. Then explain what your nanny’s responsibilities are, such as bringing the kids to school or activities, preparing meals, helping with homework, etc. Next, emphasize that your house rules always apply, no matter who’s in charge. But don’t stop there. Kids can’t be expected to know exactly how to act when you’re not around if you don’t spell it out for them in an age-appropriate way. Younger kids may need you to paint the picture of what a day will be like, capturing the good behaviors they should replicate and the bad behaviors they should avoid. (If you want them to say please and thank you at mealtime, say that. If there’s no running or jumping on the couch when you’re home, tell them that goes for when the nanny is in charge too.) Make it clear that your nanny needs the same manners and listening from your child that you expect, or else they’ll be given the same consequences.

Create the right level of comfort  

Listening to a stranger is counterintuitive for kids. That’s why it’s important to encourage bonding between your child and your nanny in the beginning of their relationship and along the way. Set up time for your child and your nanny to get to know each other better by choosing an activity inside or outside of the house that allows them to focus on fun. Over time your child and nanny’s interactions will help build mutual respect, communication and understanding–the building blocks of a healthy nanny-child relationship! These first interactions are also an opportunity for parents to observe the nanny’s behaviors and get comfortable handing over the baton themselves. It may take time on both ends, but with some encouragement and support the transition can be less stressful for kids, which leads to less questioning and ultimately more respect. 

Support your nanny’s decisions 

Contradicting what your nanny has said or done has serious consequences in the respect department. You may not always agree (which parents of course always have the right to), but going against your nanny in front of your kids will only lead to confusion and, ultimately, disrespect. To avoid a power play, reinforce how your nanny handled the situation and hold your child accountable by sticking to any given consequences–or even provide your own. That said, if you find that your nanny is often handling things incorrectly, then you need to be sure you’ve aligned (or make time to realign) on your parenting philosophy and approach to discipline. This boils down to communication and having a clear plan. 

Show respect yourself

Children are constantly learning by watching and listening, which is why parents need to remember to lead by example. If kids see any signs of tension or weakened bond between parent and nanny, their own trust and respect may start to diminish. Never speak negatively to or about your nanny in front of your kids no matter how frustrated you are. If you’re not happy with your nanny’s performance, schedule a conversation to work through it and keep all aspects of the issue between adults. If your kids hear you undermining your nanny’s decisions, they will naturally start to do the same. Instead, aim to be a united force for the kids and use the same manners and behaviors that you expect of them yourself. 


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