As a parent, nothing is more important to you than your children’s safety and happiness. So when it comes to entrusting your kids with a new caregiver, it should be their greatest concern too.
That’s why when it comes to hiring a new child caregiver, ‘mother’s intuition’ is crucial. Even with those candidates who bring years of experience along with excellent references and top qualifications, trust your instincts! If they tell you something is wrong, listen to them.
Below are five questions to ask yourself about your instincts during the hiring process.
1. Can I Trust My Instincts?
Kathy Kolbe, an expert on human instincts and author of “Powered by Instinct: 5 Rules for Trusting Your Guts,” says that our “instincts are rarely wrong.” And when it comes to maternal instinct, your initial impressions should have a greater impact on how you react to a person or situation.
Tokyo based researchers recently published a study using the results of MRI scanning to illustrate how maternal instincts are hard wired into a mother’s brain.
If, when interviewing a nanny, you feel that something is ‘off’ or not right, don’t ignore it — this is your instinct kicking in to protect your child.”
2. Should I Ever Doubt My Intuition?
“By and large, instincts are a wake-up call that something doesn’t quite feel right — and I have yet to meet a person that said ‘Golly, I wish I hadn’t trusted my instincts,'” Where kids are concerned, erring on the side of conservatism — of being overly cautious, especially when outside caregivers are concerned — is just good sense. You could do all of your homework on someone, but if your spider senses say, ‘This doesn’t feel right,’ then not only is communication critical, sometimes you just need to jump in.
That said, if you find yourself continually turning away caregivers and being overly suspicious of everyone you come across, you may need to evaluate your reactions.
Start by asking yourself if it is truly instinct or a conflict about something else such as not wanting to lose your role as mom. However, by and large — those instincts tell us something — so trust them.
3. Why Do I Second-Guess My Gut Reaction?
Kolbe notes that it’s difficult to distinguish between internal, instinctual messages verses messages that have been pounded into us from childhood. “That internal voice is often replaced by the recording of messages that were drilled into us often from a young age,” she says.
Another reason many people don’t listen to the inner voice is that a fear of looking foolish, judgmental or rash overpowers the drive to act. Far too often we ‘talk ourselves out’ of our instincts — feeling that we are being ‘too critical, too judgmental’ — and those are often famous last words. Our brain’s ability to suss out harm in the environment can be quite prodigious.
4. How Do I Respond to My Instincts?
When interviewing a potential caregiver, their responses or the way they delivered them, may trigger gut reactions. During the interview process be sure to be thorough. Ask follow-up questions and prompt for further explanation if you don’t fully understand an answer or approach.
If you’re still uneasy after asking questions and communicating you should trust both your head and your feelings. If your gut says there is something wrong, don’t hire and/or continue using this person to watch your child.
5. How Do I Communicate My Concerns?
Communication is key and you should never assume your caregiver interprets safety as you do. Spell it all out and write it all down. Stay in regular contact until you are sure your standards are being met. Over time, your instincts will allow the delicate dance of letting go happen — but initially — too much information is fine.”
Never make any assumptions – it is those unclear communication spaces where problems happen. And if something doesn’t feel right, address it immediately, it’s the only way to create lasting change.
Read about A Safety Checklist for New Babysitters »
Despite thorough background checks, references or even trial days where you’re home observing a new sitter, if your inner instinct is still waving red flags, you shouldn’t ignore it. After all, nothing is more important than making sure your children are completely safe.