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Discussing Tough Topics with Parents

Good afternoon!

Have you ever had a time where you knew you needed to discuss a tough topic with parents/employers and didn't know where to start or what to say? I know that many of our nannies have had challenges with discussing things like asking for a raise, how to discipline their children more effectively and even how to discuss improving job performance or household management. Thus, this week's topic for our Nanny Tip of the Week revolves around how to handle those tough conversations and what tips are helpful before you decide to have challenging discussions. 

1. Sit down and write out talking points ahead of time - Too often one can find themselves tongue-tied when they need to talk about something that is uncomfortable. But, taking the time to write down topics of discussion ahead of time can help you be level-headed and to see everything you want to discuss on paper before you go before your employer. Also, have a close friend or loved one help you out if necessary! For example, if you are aiming to discuss a sensitive topic like asking for a raise, having an objective party to help you write out your concerns before you voice them can be very helpful in clearing your head and preparing yourself as much as possible.

2. Find an appropriate time and place to discuss - Attempting to discuss a plan to improve homework time with the parent as soon as the kids rush in from school is probably not the best time as you will likely have a thousand tasks to complete. Whether you want to meet after your shift one day when the kids are asleep or at the Starbucks down the street on a day you are not working, scheduling a time and place that works best for you, the parents and the kids can make all the difference when discussing tough topics (especially if they have the potential to take a while!).

3. Use the "Sandwich Effect" - My mother gave me this advice years ago and I always offer this as my best tool for discussing concerns with others. The formula goes like this: Provide a positive statement, State the meat (or the "tough topic") next, Follow up with another positive statement. This is a great way to approach concerns in a non-threatening way and to "lessen the blow". Here's a sample script of how to discuss a concern with a parent regarding a child has been unwilling to listen to you:

"First of all, I have to say that Johnny has been doing so well with learning how to trust me as his nanny and I think that has a lot to do with how you have raised him. However, I've noticed that he has had a hard time listening to me and has become more unwilling to do things when I ask him to. I was hoping we could talk about a way to figure out how to approach this as a team and what recommendations you have as I have a few suggestions as well. Overall, I think Johnny is a great kid and I want to bring out the best in him and help him to be the best he can be."

In that script, you can see the "Sandwich Effect" being used in a way that isn't condescending, blaming or negative, but in a way that states the concern effectively and confidently. Give this tip a try next time you need to discuss something challenging -- It has certainly helped me and has made talking about those things less difficult!

4. Be confident and respectful - Talking about awkward or "tough topics" can certainly be hard, but always exhibit confidence and respect. You are a professional nanny so don't be afraid to live up to that expectation of professionalism! If this were any other type of job setting, these discussions might take place in a conference room with fluorescent lighting and an HR representative might be present and documenting everything; however, working in a childcare capacity is a unique career and discussing these types of topics should become a normal part of your job so don't be afraid! Be confident--and above all, respectful.

Use these tips next time you have to talk about something tough and see if it improves your outcome! Also, don't hesitate to provide comments on what has also worked for you in this past for all of our readers. Lastly, check out the link below for more tips on how to discuss concerns with parents as it is a great resource as well!

Best of luck,

Samantha Carney

Resource: http://articles.extension.org/pages/28228/tips-for-child-care-providers-to-communicate-with-parents-their-concerns-about-a-childs-development

Photo Credit: (Parker Knight, https://flic.kr/p/buq5aF)