10 Signs of Physical Abuse by the Nanny

Bumps, bruises and spills are all a part of growing up, especially for toddlers who are new to walking. When you come home each day, you’re likely to be greeted with Boo-Boo Show and Tell as your child displays all the battle wounds of the afternoon. Not all injuries point to physical abuse, but some might. Here are some of the signs that your nanny may be abusing your child in your absence.

  1. Unexplained Injuries – As previously stated, injuries are part of growing up. However, a child whose injuries are severe or suspiciously frequent may be the victim of physical abuse.
  2. Persistent Diaper Rash – One of the classic signs of physical neglect is the severe and persistent diaper rash. Nannies who leave little ones in soiled diapers all day long, causing this painful affliction, are inflicting a form of painful, neglectful abuse.
  3. Uncontrollable Crying – Some children are naturally a bit weepier than others, but if you notice that your child is crying much more than was previously normal for them or is moved to tears more easily, this could be a symptom of anxiety from abuse.
  4. Reluctance to be Left With Nanny – A child that doesn’t want you to leave is usually normal, but frantic pleas for you to stay or a general reluctance to be left alone with the nanny should be looked into immediately.
  5. Sleep Disturbances – The sleep patterns of young children are easily affected by stress and anxiety. Nightmares, night terrors or problems sleeping can all point to an abnormally high level of stress, which should be investigated.
  6. Sudden Changes in Weight – Sudden weight loss can be a sign of either a decreased appetite from stress, or a nanny that routinely withholds food as a form of punishment. A significant weight gain can also be a sign of stress-related eating for comfort, or that the nanny uses food to  control behavior.
  7. Aggression – A meek, mild-mannered child that suddenly becomes aggressive or violent is generally exhibiting classic signs of acting out as a result of abuse. These extreme changes in temperament and impulse control should never be ignored.
  8. Excessive Anger – If your child begins showing signs of excessive or explosive anger, it should not be taken lightly. This is a frequent red-flag for abuse.
  9. Shrinking From Physical Contact – A child that is being physically abused may instinctively shrink from contact of any kind, out of fear that the touch will be a painful one. This is especially worrisome if your once-affectionate child begins shunning contact.
  10. Destructive or Disruptive Behavior – Disruptive and destructive behavior can often be a cry for attention from an abused child. If your youngster is suddenly the terror of the playground with no explanation, it’s a good idea to look into the causes.

Leveling accusations of abuse is very serious, and should never be done without extremely strong evidence. Though it’s not generally advised to install nanny-cams without your childcare provider’s knowledge, exceptions can definitely be made in the event of suspected abuse. If your nanny is proven to be subjecting her charges to mistreatment, you should immediately file complaints with any nanny agency she may be affiliated with and contact the police.

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