Sunday, May 10, 2009

Working Together to Prepare the Children

In a perfect world a parent and a nanny can sit down and talk about the upcoming transition and plan for it together.
Realistically, this is not always possible.
If the new person is starting, or your new job needs you sooner or the money for the parents to keep you there is just not available it creates a stressful work environment.
Even when the nanny and the parents are trying to work together to make it a good parting, it often ends badly.

If the nanny chooses to leave:
sometimes the parents can feel hurt or betrayed,
If the parent decides to end the relationship:
sometimes the nanny can feel hurt or betrayed,
but no matter who chooses to end the relationship, it is always highly emotional and difficult especially for the nanny and the child who form very close bonds.
This is a time when emotions are running very high. One of the things that nannies yearn for at this point in the transition is validation that they have done a great job. At a time when the nanny wants the parents to say "You are so wonderful, how will we ever live without you?" the parents actions are saying "We are going to be just fine without you here."
It is very important to remember that this is not the time you are going to be validated for a job well done.
First of all, you aren't gone can they miss you?
Secondly, if you look at this situation from the parents perspective, their goal at this point in time is to send their children a very strong message that "it's all going to be ok" Most of us work for very strong, very intelligent, successful families and at this point in time, they want their children to know above all else, it will all be fine.
Even though this may feel insulting to you at the time, you have to remember, these are not your children and their parents will be caring for them long after you are gone and it is still our responsibility to set the example for them, and to help them believe that it will be ok. Remember that you are a professional and that teaching these children how to say goodbye, is one of the most important life lessons they will learn.

Since emotions are running rampant at this point, the best thing that all of you can do is focus on the children and helping them get through this situation.
I have created a tip sheet using information that I have gleaned over the years from other nannies on how to prepare the children.
How do you prepare the children?

First and foremost, the nanny and the parents need to discuss who will tell the children, when they will be told and whether or not the nanny will be present. They should also discuss what they will tell the children so that they present a unified front.

Here are ways that you can prepare the children that will also help you prepare yourself.

1. Educate children from the day you begin caring for them, so that they understand that you will always love them and they will always be in your heart, but you will not always be there on a daily basis.
2. It is important that they understand that you are there to do a job and when you leave, it is not because of anything that they did wrong.
3. Make sure that if you are still going to be able to see them, that they know that.
4. If you will still be having visits with them, it is a good idea to set up a future visit and mark it on the calendar so they understand that they will see you again.
5. If you are moving away, leave them your picture, your new phone number, your email address and a way to get in touch with you.
6. Give them certificates that recognize how much they have grown and what they have learned.
7. Make a picture album together
8. Transition with the new nanny if at all possible.
9. Make friends with the new nanny.
10. Speak positively about the new nanny.
You can say things like “You and ----- are going to have so much fun together. Did you know that she can …………..
11. If you accept the new nanny, it gives your child permission to accept them too.
12. Never promise to stay forever
13. When they are old enough to understand, talk about past charges...Like, "When I was E---'s Nanny we used to………..."
14. If your current charges see you keeping in touch with your past charges you can use that to teach them that at some point you will be needed to help another family just as you moved on to help them.
15. Adopt a natural circle of life philosophy.
16. Point out when their friends change nannies.
17. Always remind them that they will have their parents to care for them.
18. Don't lie to them.
19. Make sure that they know it is nothing they have done.
20. If the children are old enough, share with them when you go on an interview,and tell them about the kids you met and what they thought and if they had things in common. This makes them feel like more of the transition process.
21. Talk in a positive way about the good things that are to come. How you can come and visit them.
22. If mom will now be at home, try to help them see how much fun that will be.
23. Set up emails and I show them how to email you and remind them that you can 'talk' all the time via email and they can call and write.
24. If there are special traditions they want to carry on, try to do that for them.
25. One nanny said that her charge was going to miss her Rice Krispie Treats - so she taught her how to make them her “special way”
26. Make an extra effort to remember their birthdays and Holidays
27. Have a special picture made together
28. Talk about the great memories

Remember that you are the adult in this situation and always take the high road.

Gentle Transitions ©Glenda Propst 5/10/2009

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