Thursday, January 10, 2008

Tattletale Nanny Services, What's Your Opinion?

I’m sure many of you have heard about, visited, or even contributed to the ISawYourNanny blog. For those of you who haven’t heard, ISawYourNanny is a blog that takes reports from citizens who have witnessed good and bad nanny behavior. The blog has been getting a lot of press – and to be frank, the press likes it because it provides the “negative nanny” slant that certain media outlets can’t seem to get enough of.

But does it really work? Does the blog really do its job and protect children from the abusive or neglectful nanny? I don’t think so. How many parents are going to check the blog on a daily basis to see if their nanny has been reported? Is that really an efficient way to monitor nanny behavior? By posting on ISawYourNanny, a witness to an incident may feel like they "did" something. In reality, they have only vented their frustration. The chances of the family actually reading the blog post are pretty slim.

On the flip side, I was recently introduced to a woman who has come up with an innovative service targeting the same dilemma. The company is called, and it too has been attracting a lot of press. Unlike the blog that relies on the tireless will of the worried nanny employer, HowsMyNanny takes the work out of the “spying,” so to speak.

HowsMyNanny, modeled after the “How’s My Driving” bumper sticker on commercial vehicles, is a license plate that can be attached to a stroller. Each plate has an individual number. To report a good or bad nanny, all a witness has to do is visit the website and report the incident using the ID number. When an issue is reported, the family subscriber receives an e-mail with the information from the witness.

This approach has clear benefits. By registering on the site, parents can ensure that they’ll be notified if a report on their nanny comes in. In other words, it takes the guesswork out of witness reporting. In that way, the site avoids sensationalism, instead providing an outlet for direct, useful information.

So, what’s your opinion on these new trends in nanny surveillance? We’d like to know. Leave your comments below.


Sarah said...

I visited one of those sites and was appalled by the spirit of it. Like you said... It doesn't do anything to actually ensure a child's safety or quality of care. If there really is an incidence taking place with a child, then the observer should say something. It's up to society to hold everyone accountable to the extent that there isn't abuse or negligence of children.

Anonymous said...

Do you use a nanny cam? stroller license plate? read the posts on the website of: I saw your and hope some stranger tattles on your nanny?
It's so sad that these "nanny industry products" or websites NEVER tell families on how to screen nannies better!
You may think the idea of a nanny cam, stroller license plate, or a website dedicated to tattling on nannies is a good idea, but in the end-... it's just a band-aid on the problem of families not being confident in the nanny they have chosen.
In my opinion having an outward sign like a stroller license plate just screams out to the public: "HEY I DON'T TRUST MY NANNY!"……I hope by putting this stroller license plate on my child's stroller, strangers will tattle on my nanny, so I can be sure my nanny is not hurting or neglecting my child!"

If parents want to check up on the nanny- there are better ways- than relaying on strangers or busy-bodies to tattle on a nanny.

I think there are several options to nanny cams- and ensuring you have a good nanny.

*Check references yourself- don't rely on nanny agencies to give you all the details.

*Ask to see originals of the nannies: driver’s license, CPR/1St Aid. Cards/Diplomas (a good nanny will be proud to show her accomplishments!)

*Call home at different times during the day to check in.
If your nanny often sounds frazzled or upset or if the children are usually crying- that should be a warning sign.

*Drop by at unexpected times.
*Have neighbors, friends, or relatives drop by unannounced while the nanny is working.

*Ask your child’s teachers what their first-hand feedback is regarding what they see whle the child is with the nanny.

* Meet up with the nanny during the day for lunch or at your child's classes/ OR~ have someone else you know have playdates with them, and then give you feedback on how they feel the nanny and your child interact.

*See how your child responds to the nanny-see how nanny responds to the baby. Are they happy to see each other? (I know there can be certain separation anxiety issues, but on a whole, is the child comfortable with the nanny?)

*How does your home look at the end of the day? Is the nanny able and capable of completing her required duties each day? Does the nanny take care and pride with your child's things? or does she just throw them around?

*Communicate and let your nanny know she/he can talk openly with you at anytime.

*Have the nanny keep a daily detailed written child/nanny log, it does not have to be fancy, a note book works well, with a run down of your child(ren)’s day. It will help greatly to open the lines of communication as well as help you keep an on-going record of your child's day. In addition it will offer the opportunity to write notes back and forth to each other on various issues/topics/reminders.

*Have the NANNY video tape and take pictures.
~A serious nanny will:

~ Continue her involvement in child-related education

~Keep current her CPR and 1st Aid Certification

~Be a member of a nanny support group.

~Be a member of a nanny organization, such as, the National Association for Nanny Care (NANC)
National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

I feel if a parent has a bad feeling regarding the care their child is receiving from the nanny they need to act on that and go with their gut immediately. That is why I strongly feel that families should only hire nannies with at least two full years of nanny experience and stellar references if their children are under 4 years old.

*Other good signs to be certain your nanny and your child are a good match are:

~Is your child thriving under the nannies care?

~Is the nanny enthusiastic to share new developments and milestones your child has reached or gives you feedback on how to help your child?

These are the things that are going to give you peace of mind.

Lisa said...

Ah, but what happens when the parent is using the vehicle, stroller etc. with the bumber sticker on it?

As a nanny, i agree with comment number two completely.

TanyaD said...

As a nanny, I agree with comment number two, but there are a couple of things I would like to point out about these two comments:

*Call home at different times during the day to check in.
If your nanny often sounds frazzled or upset or if the children are usually crying- that should be a warning sign.

*Drop by at unexpected times.
*Have neighbors, friends, or relatives drop by unannounced while the nanny is working.

Whilst there is nothing wrong with suprising the kids by coming home early or turning up to show them you miss them, I think doing this often shows distrust in your nanny.

The family I work for has told me that the kids can call them at any time, so I use this to show them that the kids are happy. Yesterday for example, the littlest one, let's call her Lisa (6 years old), was feeling a bit sad when she came home from school, and said she missed her dad (who works a both parents do), she was hoping he would be home when we arrived so that she could stay with him instead of coming to her older sisters swimming squad training (lets call her Emily, 9). I let Lisa call her father and she invited him to meet up with us at the pool.

Lisa was very happy about it. On the same day however, Emily was misbehaving to get attention. The second she saw her father, she started crying and said I was being mean to her... she does this when she has been told she can't do or have something she wants...
fortunately for me, the father knows that she does this, and has enough faith in me to know I would never "be mean" to his children. But some parents do not trust their nannies (ie. people who have nanny cams etc), and would take this as "anonymous" said, as a sign that the nanny was not behaving appropriately with their child.

Emily threw another tantrum after the father left, to which I firmly told her that her behaviour was not appropriate and she is not going to get what she wants by behaving that way. She sulked for about 10 mins by herself, then realised that she was missing out on the fun that Lisa and I were having, and eventually joined us.

The thing with this is, that I find that BOTH children, throw more tantrums when their parents are present, than when they are absent. As soon as they see their mother or father when I am with them, they will ask the parent if they can do or have something I have already told them they can't have/do, and cry or throw tantrums if the response is no, or if it is yes, they will tell the parent what a horrible nanny I am for not letting them have it.

Obviously they are not like this all the time, or I would not still be there. But the fact is, these are children who crave attention, and they have learned that this is a good mechanism for getting attention, so they repeat it every time.

On my 3rd week with the girls, Emily said to me when her parents left the house "I'm going to get you fired", I said to her "Why would you want to do that? So, you can see your parents more, instead of me?"... she looked at me puzzled, tears welled in her eyes and she gave me a big hug and said "mommy and daddy don't love me", I assured her that they did, and I love her too. It breaks my heart to see that these wonderful girls, feel that they need to misbehave to get the attention of their parents. I think that she was hoping that I would tell her parents what she said, so that she would get their attention.

At the end of the day when the parents come home, the kids are generally happy, of course there will be occasional tears and tantrums some days, but I have built a trusting relationship with the parents of the children. Have dinner with the family, stay a little bit past the time you are allowed to go home and finish playing a game or read a bedtime story, go to the kids sports events etc that are outside your normal hours... not all the time, but occassionally...
these are things that show the parents you truly care about their kids and are not just doing this as any other job.

My point to this big essay is, that by dropping in ananounced or calling all the time, you are undermining your nannies authority, the children can see that, and they will play it up to get the attention they crave. Calling or dropping in all the time can interrupt happy activities that the children are doing and (if they have this kind of separation anxiety) reminds them that their parents are not here playing with them.

Seattle Nanny said...

I recently tweeted and stumbled upon your post. Really your post is very informative and I enjoyed your opinions. Do you use twitter or stumbleupon? So I can follow you there. I am hoping you post again soon.