Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How do I tell my child that his or her nanny is not coming back?

HumpDay Dilemma 

When a nanny or caregiver leaves a family it can be heartbreaking for both children and parents.  A sudden and immediate removal can make the situation even more challenging.  The most important emotional step you can take is to make sure your children get to see the nanny at least one more time.  This may seem counterproductive especially if the nanny has acted blatantly unprofessional or done something illegal.  

However, most situations are not that black and white.  Unless there has been some kind of abuse it may be in the best interest of your child to meet up with the nanny at a coffee shop or other public place in order for your child to see the nanny once more.  

Regardless if the end came quickly, there was an event preventing you from seeing the nanny again or the situation was mutual and positive, you will want to prepare your children for the transition.
Do not underestimate how attached your child is to his or her caregiver.  Children easily become attached to those who spend significant amount of time with them, even if that person doesn’t give exceptional care. 

This relationship can often seem threatening but it is rarely the intention of the nanny to take over and be the parent.  Most nannies are simply trying love and care for your children the best they can.  Because the job of a nanny is to comfort and reassure, this requires a strong connection.  Though it can be very scary for a parent to see this relationship with the nanny evolving, you must try hard to not act threatened.

In my 15 years as a nanny, it has always been clear to me that the children in my care had a unique bond with their mom and dad that I as the nanny could never have.  And now as a mom myself, I understand this bond to a greater degree.  As long as you are working hard to connect with your children when you are there, the nanny could NEVER take your place, no matter what you have seen in TV or movies.  

In order to help your children deal with the transition you will have to have this perspective when you break the news to them.  Honesty is always the best policy.  Avoid telling your children anything negative about the nanny unless there was some kind of abuse in which case I would advise you to tell them you will not let someone hurt them.  Also make clear to them that what the nanny did was not their fault.  

·   Sally loves you very much but isn’t going to be able to take care of you anymore.
·   I know that you have not only loved doing fun things with her but you have also grown to love her.
·   It is going to be hard for us all to not have her in our life every day. 
·   I will miss her too.
·   What are some of your favorite things to do with her?
·   We hope to see her again to say goodbye. (Say this only if it is true)
·   You will get to see her every once in a while but just not every day.  (Again, only if you will get to see her from time to time.)
·   Perhaps we could make or buy something special for her that she can remember you by.   (This can be done even if you will not get to see her again.  It is mostly therapeutic for the child and if you want you could mail it to the nanny.)

You don’t need to give a reason that the nanny is leaving but most children will eventually ask.  When that happens be honest.  You obviously will want to avoid making it sound like it is your children’s fault but they may feel like it anyway.  It is best to avoid distracting them or trying to fix the problem by giving them things.  Instead allow your children to feel sad about the situation and be sure to be transparent with your own emotions in order to let them know it is a normal.  If you try to stop your children from grieving the loss , those feelings will come out in other behaviors.  

Depending on your child’s age and temperament he or she may or may not react strongly at that very moment you break the news.  If your child does not have a strong reaction right then, it will most likely come later or those feelings will come out in negative behaviors.  Be ready for them and be extra understanding.  Let your child say what he or she wants and do your best to not see it as personal attack on your own parenting.  Remember that even if your child has a strong connection to his or her nanny that does NOT mean that the bond he has to you is not even stronger. 

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