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What Am I Doing Wrong? Why Your Kid Acts Better For The Nanny.

It happens every time the nanny arrives.

Tears. Flailing limbs.

A demand to be picked up or a full-on temper tantrum. “Don’t go!”

Sound familiar?

Goodbyes for parents can be a long, painful process. 

Some studies have claimed that a bad goodbye in the morning sets the tone for a bad day.

As a nanny, I see what happens once you close the door behind you. I’m the one sending the photo of the suddenly happy, smiling child.

Your child behaves for me. And not just for one picture…it’s All.Day.Long.

fot. Bartosz Ostrowski/

He lies still on the changing table and takes long, uninterrupted naps. He sweetly eats every bite of his breakfast and lunch.

He doesn’t shed a single tear. At all. (Not even after falling!)

You arrive home, excited to spend time with this darling little angel/alien that’s moved into your child’s body. Unfortunately (for you), you’re greeted with a repeat of the morning’s festivities.

Tears. Screams. Whining.

What gives?

It seems backward doesn’t it? Many children behave better for nannies, daycare providers, or teachers.

Why do they behave better for caretakers than they do for their, you know, actual parents???

Why Your Kid Acts Better For the Nanny Than You

There’s a sense of familiarity that comes with being with Mom and Dad. After a long day at preschool or with the nanny, many children will simply let loose once they (or you) get home.

Your baby missed you, that’s all. 

But, children have a keen sense of observation. If he behaves well for the nanny but not you, it could be a sign that he senses which one of you is the real disciplinarian.

Newsflash- it’s not you.

Kids are smart.

They know what they can get away with, and how far they can push different people. Mommy and Daddy are symbols of unconditional love!

Nannies have a job to do.

Hired help is also less likely to play fast and loose with the rules in the face of wails or crocodile tears. This sends the (healthy!) message that out-of-control behavior is unacceptable with the nanny. While, with his parents, acting out is fair game.

Mom and Dad will often give in when a nanny would stand firm.

How do you take back control without becoming the ‘bad cop?’

(Because nobody wants to be the bad cop.)

Two words: be firm. That’s it. When you say, ‘No,’ mean no. When you say, ‘Don’t do that,’ mean don’t do that.

Don’t say it if you don’t mean it!

You’ll find yourself saying ‘No’ a lot less.

Which lets you say ‘Yes’ a lot more.

Eboni H.

Eboni is a long-time nanny turned pre-school teacher living on the East Coast. With more than 10 years of child experience under her belt, she still learns something new about kids every day!

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  • richard says:

    great read, she really knows her stuff

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