Here's a post from our partners at BabyCenter! Every week, we bring you the best parenting and lifestyle stories from the experts at BabyCenter, including this post about choosing the right child care provider.
Choosing a child care provider, whether it is a full-time nanny or a part-time babysitter, can be a stressful process. The stakes are high and the landscape utterly lacking in transparency or standards.
I don’t know about you, but the story that broke last week of a dog that alerted parents to an abusive baby sitter sent chills down my spine.
If you are unfamiliar with the story, here it is in a nutshell.
A family from South Carolina had employed a babysitter who turned out to be verbally and physically abusing her son. She had been in their employ for five months when their dog began exhibiting aggressive behavior whenever she would approach their 7-month-old son. Fearing the worst, but afraid to act on merely a hunch, they hid a camera phone between the couch. Within a day their worst fears had been confirmed.
But what if the couple had not had a dog? What if all they had to go by was her behavior in front of them? It is easier than you might think to be snowed if someone is a good pretender.
Their child could have suffered under this woman’s care for much longer — until he was able to verbalize what was going on.
As a working mom, that story made me want to pack it in at work permanently — or at least until my boys are fully grown.
But that isn’t necessarily the best or most feasible response. Working is part of the fabric of life for the majority of mothers today.
So what, beyond agitating for some clear-cut national standards, is productive? Answer: taking the time to screen well. Yes, interviewing applicants can seem exhausting. But organizing an in-depth screening process and taking your time upfront to find the right person can really pay off.
Keep reading for the six questions you should ask candidates.
In addition to going over resumes and speaking with references (both of which are supremely important), here are six questions that can help you identify red flags (and standout applicants). Keep a sheet and track how each candidate answers the questions so that you can compare apples-to-apples at the end of the process:
- Describe the most challenging babysitting experience you have ever had and how you handled it. You're listening for the situations they find stressful or challenging. Do these happen regularly/are they within the "norm" for a typical child care position (e.g. frustrated and crying child)? The more basic the situation, the redder the flag.
- When was the last time you were angry? What happened? Probe specifically for triggers and frequency. What sets them off? In a typical week, how many times do you get angry? Someone who gets frustrated by normal baby behavior is not a good fit, nor is someone who gets angry frequently.
- What would you do if your best friend did something hurtful to you? Listen for a sense of vindictiveness or a need to get her back or cut someone off completely without an opportunity to discuss the issue like adults. You want the person watching your child to have a high degree of emotional intelligence and be able to navigate emotionally charged situations without losing her cool.
- What 3 adjectives would your best friends & family use to describe you? Keep an ear out for descriptors like "spontaneous" (a euphemism for impulsive) and "hot-headed" or "jealous."
- How would you handle _____? Give as many tough real-life scenarios as you can to see how they would handle them.
- How do you handle conflict with your parents/spouse? Again, listen for emotional intelligence and the ability to work through frustrations. How they behave with others in their life is a good indicator of how they will behave with both you and your children.
The worst case is when you have an abrupt (and unexpected) change in caregivers. In those instances, I highly recommend finding a day care option that will enable you to continue to work and yet adequate time to line up a replacement. Just as the worst time to make a corporate hire is when you desperately need somebody, the worst time to select a new caregiver is when you’re desperately in need of one.
How do you screen for your child’s caregivers? What are your favorite interview questions & why?
More great reads from BabyCenter:
Tips and tricks for dealing with lice
Lessons learned from a horrible flight
8 things you shouldn't say to a mom of a large family
5 adorable, handmade baby costumes
The "dos" and "don'ts" of moving with young kids