How to interview a nanny/babysitter for your child


You’re about to have a baby. If you don’t plan to use a daycare center, you’ll need a reliable child care resource–a person to whose home you will bring your baby, or someone who will come to your home. How do you know if you can trust the person you’re hiring not to lose her temper or turn abusive or mistreat your child? Impossible to say? Well, no one can ever predict anything with 100% accuracy, but there are ways single moms–and every parent–can increase their chances.

This is not an exhaustive list, but asking some of these questions could be helpful in weeding out a potentially dangerous person when you’re hiring a child care person/nanny. The basic information is from the book The Gift of Fear: Survival signals that protect us from violence. The book was written by a guy who grew up in a violent home and eventually started a business in which he became advisor to stars, politicians and the U.S. government on preventing stalking, violence and murder. He says our intuition is very powerful if we just listen to it.

He cautions it’s important to look not for reasons this person might be good, but instead for reasons to DISQUALIFY when interviewing a person to care for your child. I’ve added a few of my own.

  • Don’t rely on the fact that a person acts like s/he likes animals as a sign of anything. Although a dog does react to fear because it knows a creature who’s afraid is more likely to be dangerous, author Gavin deBecker says that if your dog reacts badly to someone, it’s almost certainly your dog reacting to your own intuition. He says your problem as a human being is that you will use something your dog doesn’t have–judgment–to decide not to honor your perceptions…to ignore your intuition. But he still cautions that you not give any weight to how your animals act.
  • Ask about drug use.
  • Ask about use of alcohol.
  • Ask what her family was like when she was little. People who become violent or abusive as adults were invariably abused as children.
  • Ask “Have you ever mistreated a child?” – Even though s/he can lie about any of these questions, the way s/he answers them will give you a big boost in comfort — or discomfort — with that person.
  • Ask a close friend or trusted relative to be in the interview with you–ask them to suspend their judgment, too, and just listen carefully. If you want to eliminate someone, it can help to have a confirming opinion–and it may be that the other person might even have a stronger feeling than you do that this is the wrong candidate. Don’t ignore that.

Suspend your judgment and listen to your instincts. Start early, because it’s better to have to interview 50 people than to hire the wrong person because you’re in a hurry–or worse, because you didn’t want to be rude.

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