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Choosing a Carer for your Child

Photography: Lisa Reid
My nanny is my children's favourite person - after two years with us, she's firmly rooted in my children's hearts. To see them together brings a smile to my face... she really is a second mother to them during the day, when I cannot be there.

When I started looking for a nanny, I had very little idea what kind of person I was looking for and, thank goodness, luck was on my side. I ended up choosing a wonderful woman who truly cares for my children and who is able to give them everything they need.

When it comes to choosing someone to care for your child (whether it's a nanny or creche teacher), do you know what to look for? What is the important criteria? How do you know this is the 'right' person?

It is important to remember that this person will have a major impact in shaping your child's personality and (hopefully) nurturing their skills and abilities. With this in mind, we have created a list of qualities you should look for when interviewing or choosing a carer. We hope it will make your job of finding a carer that much easier!

A Vibrant Personality

The carer you choose needs to have the ability to create an atmosphere for your child. They need to bring light and happiness into your child's life. Like intellectual development, 'happiness' is learned through experiences, which are wired into the brain as it develops. Contrary to popular belief, the ability to be happy and experience joy and excitement is not inborn in a baby. A child is born with the potential to be a happy person, but without happy experiences that potential will remain unlocked.

Part of having a vibrant personality is being able to live in the moment with an awareness of what is going on in your child's environment, and a readiness to put these experiences into words. The reason for this is because, as we explained in our posts 'naming your child's world' and 'living in the moment' (if you missed them go here and here) - it is so important that your child be given the words for what he's doing, feeling and experiencing. This helps your child to make sense of his world and develops his language and intellectual skills.

This person is your child's 'tour guide' to life and needs to show your child how to experience his world with energy and enthusiasm.


Eloquence

This goes hand in hand with a vibrant personality. Ensure that the person you choose is eloquent in your home language, because even the most vibrant personality is stifled when it cannot be expressed clearly in spoken language.
On a practical note, remember that you will need to communicate with this person about things such as administering medicine when your child is sick, the kinds of games you want them play with your child and what routine you want them to follow in terms of playing, eating and sleeping. And then there's the 'handover' time everyday when you want this person to describe the day for you - how did your child eat? did they get enough sleep? when was their last nap? were they happy or grumpy? was there an improvement if they are sick? This can only be done effectively if the person understands and communicates eloquently in your home language.


A Learner's Heart

Does this person want to learn, to explore, and become better? Will this person accept and embrace changes in routine? Can this person take instruction well and with an open heart? Will this person offer solutions when you ask what they think of a situation (they will know your child very well after all)? There will be times when your baby is young that routines will change almost weekly (even daily sometimes) and this person has to be able to 'roll with the punches' so to speak.

Remember that you have to manage the relationship with this person, explaining your reasons for wanting things done in a certain way, without feeling as though you might offend her in some way.


Instinct

When you meet this person, trust your mother's (or father's) instinct - it is almost always spot on. If something doesn't feel right when everything looks right 'on paper', then it probably isn't. If you get a good feeling, go with it because it's probably right.

This is perhaps one of the most important relationships you will form in your life - one that is fostered out of the need to do what is best for your child.


Verbal Reference

It is always a good idea to get a verbal reference from a previous employer. Written references can be fictitious. Find out why they left their previous employer and what that person's experience was, but also keep in mind that some people can be negative, so take the reference with a pinch of salt and let your instinct guide you.

Choosing a carer for your child is an important step and one that you cannot take lightly. We hope that these tips will help you to find the perfect fit for your child and your family!

Words: Loren Stow
when we know better... we do better

*Practica Parents: The Practica Program allows you to have 'the best of both worlds' - a nurturing carer to interact with your child on a one-on-one basis which fulfills his emotional needs, and the structured program which provides 'instant' training for your carer and helps her to interact with your child in the right ways at the right times.

If you would like to be notified of all new posts via email, please send an email to lizette@practicaprogram.co.za

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the article. Whilst it is often not possible (and probably assumed) I do think it would be good to state up front that you are the best possible carer for your child. A friend recently lamented that her 2 year old prefers her nanny to her mom. If you have to work, ensure that every day includes one-on-one time with your children as well, lest they start disengaging from you. Maybe a topic for a new article ?

WS

Loren Stow said...

Thank you for your comment WS, we appreciate your feedback on the article.
We agree with you fully that a parent is always a child's best carer and fostering and building a relationship with your children is vitally important.
Great comment and thank you for taking the time!
We will definitely consider another post as you suggested.
Take care!