10 Ways Kids May Challenge the Authority of a New Nanny
Aug 24

10 Ways Kids May Challenge the Authority of a New Nanny


The hiring of a new nanny marks a new chapter in a child’s life; often, this development is the result of a major change in which a parent enters the workforce for the first time in that child’s life or a nanny that they’ve already known and become comfortable with has moved on. For many kids, the adjustment period is a time of acting out to show their anger at the change while also testing the boundaries set by their new caregiver. Here are ten of the ways that kids exhibit those feelings.

  1. “You’re Not My Mom!” – This phrase is a favorite of both nannied kids and those with new step-parents; in either context, it can be both frustrating and quite hurtful. In an attempt to establish a pecking order from day one, kids can use this phrase to be sure that Nanny knows who’s really boss.
  2. Refusal to Eat at Mealtimes – Another classic way of testing boundaries is the refusal to eat at mealtimes, then asking for food later to gain control of the schedule and, by extension, the new nanny’s rules.
  3. Bedtime and Naptime Struggles – Fighting sleep is such a normal part of childhood behavior that it’s become the stuff of parody. However, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t frustrating for both tired kids and nannies struggling to find their stride in a new post.
  4. Deliberate Defiance – Flagrantly doing the opposite of Nanny’s instructions is a child’s way of finding out exactly how much they can get away with before she intervenes. The nanny’s reaction to this behavior in the first few days will establish the tone of the relationship for the duration of her time at the post.
  5. Disregarding Rules – It’s not unusual for a new nanny to find her charges doing things that they know are forbidden, then feigning ignorance of the rule when they’re caught. This is almost invariably done to test a new nanny’s reaction to disobedience.
  6. Scare Tactics – Hiding and pretending to run away, or even actually running to a nearby friend’s house without telling anyone are all scare tactics that kids use in order to gauge a new caregiver’s reaction.
  7. Temper Tantrums – No childcare giver is a stranger to the emotional meltdown that is a temper tantrum; in fact, it’s something that happens even with parents and nannies that have been at their post for years when kids get tired or aren’t feeling well. For new nannies, however, temper tantrums are usually a sign of an angry, confused child that isn’t sure where he or she stands with the stranger that’s caring for them. This frustration manifests in the only way that young children know how to express it: a tantrum.
  8. Mimicry – Parroting a nanny’s every word in a taunting tone of voice while completely disregarding what she’s saying is another favorite weapon in the kid arsenal. It can be one of the most infuriating ways that kids challenge the adults in their lives, but it’s a phase that usually passes in a relatively short time.
  9. Name Calling and Insults – Though they may not be as sophisticated as insults from another adult, some kids still let them fly with both barrels just to see what sort of reaction they’ll inspire.
  10. Not Acknowledging Their Nanny When She’s Speaking – Acting as if they can’t hear their caregiver when she’s speaking to them is one of the most common ways that kids can show their refusal to acknowledge her role of authority.

With careful handling by an experienced nanny and supportive employers, many of these behavioral issues can be resolved in a fairly short time. As children begin to feel more comfortable and secure with their new caregiver, their attitudes usually become much more positive.


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