Looking back at my early parenting years, the most stressful part – hands down – was trying to find the right caregiver for my son. If I’d only known about parenting expert Tammy Gold’s foolproof process for matching the perfect caregiver with my own needs and those of my son, I could have prevented a string of mismatches and one close call when choosing whom to entrust with my precious boy.
In her book, Secrets of the Nanny Whisperer: A Practical Guide for Finding and Achieving the Gold Standard of Care for Your Child, Gold, a licensed therapist and popular guest on such shows as Good Morning America and Today, shows how the usual “cart-before-the-horse” way that parents hire caregivers so often leads to disaster.
We base our decision on location, availability or other logistical considerations, without first taking into account personality types, communication styles, the child’s developmental needs and other factors that could actually cause harm to our child due to a poor nanny-child match.
Gold is one of the first psychotherapists to focus on childcare as a factor in the developmental health of the child. She shares with readers the need to start with a Family Needs Assessment – a questionnaire she provides in the book’s appendix – to help determine what traits and conditions in a caregiver are “must-haves,” are “added pluses” or are nonnegotiable “deal breakers.” Parents can then use this list of qualities to quickly weed out unqualified candidates, be it a kindly relative or a live-in au pair.
Gold also details what to ask over the phone and in a face-to-face interview, how to structure a trial run (she deems this essential), and what to spell out in a Nanny-Family Work Agreement – yet another useful tool included in her book.
In the unregulated world of childcare, when anyone can parade herself as experienced and qualified, it’s vitally important that parents do their homework. According to Gold, reference checks and background checks are a must.
But beyond verifying qualifications, finding the right match can have long-term implications for your child. Gold points out that 90 percent of human brain development occurs by age 3. This means that the person caring for our children during these formative years plays an important role in shaping their attitudes and emotions. If the chemistry isn’t right – if the nanny is checked out or neglectful, or the relationship with the parents is strained – it can have a lasting impact on the child.
Secrets of the Nanny Whisperer is a godsend for parents looking for a caregiver who not only tends to their child’s basic needs, but nurtures the whole child – mind, body and spirit. It also will hopefully keep you from a nightmare scenario, such as my discovery that our caregiver neglected to put my 3-year-old in his car seat when she ran out on an errand!