It's not always easy to know whether your child's caregiver is doing the job she's supposed to. To find out, you may have to do some sleuthing. Some parents who suspect something may be amiss rent nanny surveillance equipment. But it's often possible to tell whether something's wrong without going to that extreme.
You may have trouble on your hands if:
• Your toddler isn't happy to see the nanny or babysitter and has become anxious and withdrawn. A regular caregiver can never replace Mom or Dad, but a child needs to trust and love his nanny or babysitter completely. Perhaps your toddler and caregiver haven't bonded, or the nanny or babysitter just isn't providing the kind of warmth and comfort your child needs. As in every human relationship, having the right chemistry is important. (If you suspect something more serious is wrong, educate yourself about the signs of child abuse.)
• Your nanny or babysitter seems secretive about the daily routine. How your toddler and his caregiver spend their time shouldn't be a secret . When you come home, you're probably eager to hear about your child and what happened while you were apart. If your caregiver isn't forthcoming about it, either she's not good at communicating with you or she has something to hide. Even a caregiver whose English is limited should be able to convey the ups and downs of your toddler's day, and will understand why you want to know.
• Your child has been in one too many easily avoidable accidents. A nanny must keep her eye on your child, and know what he's doing at all times to prevent injury. She may be leaving your child unattended as he sleeps or plays.
• You notice your requests aren't followed. Both of you are working together to care for your child, so a caregiver shouldn't act as if she knows more about him and childrearing than you do.
• She seems critical of they way you're raising your child. Again, you're supposed to be a team. And you should welcome constructive suggestions from your child's caregiver — especially if she spends a lot of time with your ever-changing toddler. But if you get the sense that the two of you just aren't on the same page when it comes to basics like food, sleep, and safety, the relationship might not work out in the long run.
• Your nanny or babysitter often shows up late. An undependable caregiver will leave you in a lurch time and time again. Find someone who you know is committed to the job and considerate of your needs. Tardiness and unexplained absences may mean she's unreliable in other ways as well.
• Your toddler often looks unkempt and dirty. If your little one's caregiver can't take care of the basics, it may be a sign that she's not on the ball when it comes to meeting your child's needs.
• Her stories don't add up. Never tolerate someone who steals, lies, or deceives you in any way. You have to be able to trust your caregiver for the relationship to work.