Sittercity.com founder Genevieve Thiers gives us her advice.
A babysitter was arrested in Jacksonville, Fla., last week after a nanny cam caught her being violent with a child. Should you nanny cam YOUR childcare provider?
Sittercity.com's Genevieve Thiers shares with us the three-step monitoring process that she recommends to help parents ensure that they've made a truly great childcare match.
STEP 1: ASSESS THE MATCH.
Sometimes sitters look great on paper, but that doesn't always mean that they'll be the right fit for YOUR family. As soon as you invite a sitter into your home, pay close attention to her relationship with your child.
Here are a few signs that your sitter might not be the best match:
- Child doesn't seem very interested in the sitter when she arrives
- Sitter has a different view on discipline than you do and is reluctant to change
- Sitter lacks energy or enthusiasm
- Sitter develops a patronizing attitude toward you or your parenting preferences
On rare occasions, certain warning signs may indicate something more serious than a simple mismatch.
The following signs are major red flags (do NOT keep this sitter!):
- Sitter blames your child for problems he didn't cause
- Sitter unreasonably demands perfect behavior from your child
- Child's behavior changes drastically (he becomes excessively clingy or aggressive)
- Child consistently cries, screams and begs you not to leave
- Child develops unexplained bruises, cuts or burns
- Child loses her appetite or has recurrent nightmares
Remember: Your gut reaction is all the evidence you need to make an assessment about the sitter-child relationship! Always trust your parental instincts, as no one knows your child better than you do.
STEP 2: COMMUNICATE.
Talk to the Sitter
At the end of each sitting job, take five minutes to run through some quick questions with the sitter regarding the day's events. A few examples:
- How did the day go? What did you do today?
- How did my child behave today?
- Were there any problems today?
In addition to those brief, after-the-job meetings, you should also set aside 15 minutes each month to call your sitter and discuss how everything's been going in general. Consider wide-reaching questions, such as:
- Do you find yourself running into any obstacles on the job?
- How has my child's behavior been in general?
- Do you have any concerns about my child or about the job itself?
Some sitters are unsure how to bring things up to parents, especially any issues they may be having, so setting aside a point in the discussion where the sitter is encouraged to do that can give sitters the opportunity they need to communicate the tough stuff.
Talk to your child
If your child is old enough to speak, go straight to the source and ask him gentle, open-ended questions to help get him talking. Listen with a nonjudgmental attitude and don't try to lead him or talk him out of any feelings. Take any complaints or negative feedback seriously. Some things to ask:
- Did you and [sitter] play today? What did you play?
- What was your favorite part of the day?
- Tell me about something silly or funny that happened.
- Did anything make you worry or make you sad today?
STEP 3: OBSERVE.
- Ask a neighbor to keep an open eye and ear. If the sitter takes your child outside, for example, your neighbor can peek over to make sure things are going well.
- Come home unannounced, either half an hour earlier than planned or try to stop in for lunch. An unexpected drop-in will put you smack-dab in the middle of the sitter-child relationship and will help keep your sitter on her toes.
- Install a nanny cam. Some of the most diligent parents use a nanny cam to confirm their suspicions or alleviate their fears. Many nanny cam services have live feeds that you can watch on your computer or cell phone while you work, such as the one available at http://www.sittercity.com.
|Genevieve Thiers is the founder and CEO of Sittercity.com, the country's largest and most trusted online source for childcare. Through Sittercity, she has been able to transform her vast childcare experience into an award-winning company and the industry leader in online care. She also literally wrote the book on childcare, entitled "Love at First Sit."|