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Discipling with your Caregiver

Working Together as a Team

by Heather Dubuque  |  3889 views  |  3 comments  |        Rate this now! 

Son: “Moooooom! Can I go next door to play with Bobby?”

Mother: “No it’s time to do your homework?”

Son: “Daaaaaad! Can I go next door to play with Bobby?”

Father: “Okay! Have fun!”

We all know the age-old story when a child gets an answer he doesn’t like from one parent he asks the other to see if he can get a better response. What does have to lose?


But how often do we think of the times that we get put in the same position with our caregivers? Who’s in charge during a situation like that? When should a parent discipline and when should your nanny or babysitter take the lead?

Simple Answer: Whoever is watching the child.

Reality Check: There are many times when you are both together with the children.

The fact of the matter is that nothing with children is ever black and white. Whether it’s during an appointment with the pediatrician, at a pre-school function, or a random play-date with a friend, it is inevitable that you will find yourself in a similar situation. And, it is usually more difficult for the caregiver than it is for you as the parent. Should he/she step in, or does the parent want to be in charge? Would the parent be upset by the caregiver’s assertion at that moment or is it expected? Where are the boundaries?

First you have to decide what you want. Whichever you chose needs to be clear to the nanny and, most importantly, your children from the beginning. If your children run to you every time they get an answer they don’t like from a caregiver, they will quickly figure out if it works. If, for example, they still have to pick up their toys, eat their vegetables and stop jumping on the bed, then they will learn that not only are Mommy and Daddy in charge, but so are the other adults in their lives.

Kids are quick and they will soon figure out what is and isn’t going to fly. If there is ever a situation where you disagree with your caregiver’s decisions, talk with him or her privately; get the whole story and together figure out what would work best the next time. Being on the same page is key and always best for the child.


About the Author

Heather Dubuque is a CEO and President of the Lillian Nanny Agency, a firm she founded in Nashville, Tenn.

Read more by Heather Dubuque

3 comments so far...

  • I've experienced this from both sides. As a caregiver, it depends on the time of day. When the child is being dropped off to me, I'm in charge. If it's the end of the day, the parent is. (I've long since learned to say this up front, before we start working together. It simplifies things immensely!) I can only imagine it's that much more complicated when caregiver and parent are together for longer periods.

    If there's a particular behaviour that is causing trouble consistently at the end of the day, I will (privately - not in front of the child) make suggestions and/or ask permission to deal with it the next time.

    You're right: it's difficult for the caregiver. You absolutely don't want to usurp or undermine the parent's authority - but you don't want that to happen to yourself, either! It takes tact and goodwill on both sides.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by MaryP on 13th July 2007

  • This is a great article. It is definitely a difficult situation for parents and your tips were very insightful.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Jessica on 7th May 2007

  • Interesting article

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Jumpin on 7th May 2007