10 Secret Tricks Nannies Use to Control Kids

It’s easy to be envious of your unflappable and endlessly enthusiastic nanny, especially when she seems to maintain some semblance of order effortlessly. If you’ve ever found yourself watching your nanny in action and wondering how she does it, these might be a few of the tricks in her arsenal.

  1. Confidence – Just like most of life’s challenges, keeping children under control is much easier to approach when you’ve got a boatload of confidence. An experienced nanny who knows her trade and has faith in her own abilities rarely has a problem maintaining order.
  2. Staying Positive – Nannies are human, and have their off days just like the rest of us. However, a nanny knows that letting her mood affect the attitudes of her charges will simply make her day worse. Shouting and threats only escalate bad situations; staying calm and positive can work wonders on a cranky child.
  3. Providing Incentives – Whether it’s a sticker on their chart or an extra ten minutes of playtime, nannies know that giving a child an incentive to behave is much more effective that simply telling them that they must.
  4. Maintaining Structure – Children, especially younger ones, need structure. Temper tantrums and acting out can often be traced back to a break in the routine that leaves a child hungry or tired because of missed meals and naptime. Uncertain situations can often cause a child to act out, simply out of anxiety.
  5. Repetition – Pre-K and toddler-aged little ones absorb skills by repetitive rhyming games, or memorizing simple phrases. By asking, “what do we do when…?” questions at the outset of a new activity and teaching the child to repeat the answer, he or she learns that “we always wipe our feet before we come inside,” or “we never shout in the supermarket.”
  6. Creating Diversion – Bored children are quite frequently misbehaving children. Nannies know that a child who isn’t actively engaged in an activity will often misbehave, simply to break the monotony. Good nannies quickly become adept at creating diversions and making a game of anything. Counting the magazines in a waiting room or picking out colors in the pictures on the walls may not sound like much to an adult, but little minds are stimulated by these things.
  7. Planning Ahead – Having a clear plan in mind that can be repeated to a child as needed or explained completely helps a child avoid confusion, which can lead to anxiety and acting out. Nannies know that a battle plan is a must for each day.
  8. Not Being Afraid to Deviate From the Plan – The plan is important; however, life has a way of not respecting your plans at all. Part of caring for children is learning to roll with the punches, and children who see their nanny calmly navigating unexpected situations will feel secure with sudden changes.
  9. Being Prepared – Long after their charges are out of diapers, you often see nannies carrying large diaper-style bags every time they go on an outing. For the most part, these bags are stocked with non-perishable snacks, portable games and cards, and other odds and ends to ward off crankiness resulting from hunger or boredom.
  10. Recognizing the Warning Signs – One of the reasons that nannies seem to always be in control and have well behaved charges is that they’re well versed in reading the small signs that point to a probable meltdown. Paying close attention to the cues particular to each child, and diffusing the situation immediately, dramatically reduces the number of tantrums or other out-of-control episodes before they start.

There are dozens of tricks up every nanny’s sleeve, but these are some of the most common and effective. By being observant and prepared, you’ll be running a Mary Poppins-style show in no time.

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