I need questions to ask... help, please!

Rebekah - posted on 02/14/2011 ( 9 moms have responded )

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Hey Ladies...

My husband got a job - YAY!!!! Praise the Lord on that!!! But I can't come home YET, it will happen, just not yet... so I'm looking for a nanny. I need questions to ask these people, as I've never used a nanny before... can anyone suggest other questions??

Here is what I've been asking...
- Are you a non-smoker?
- What is your previous experience?
- If my son were to a throw a temper tantrum, how would handle the situation?
- If my son were to throw a toy, what would you do?
- How do you keep a kid engaged throughout the day? (I'm looking for an answer other than TV)
- Are you comfortable with reading Bible stories and teaching Christian principles?
- If I were to develop a lesson plan for the day, would you teach it?
- Are you willing to come to my home?
- What are your hobbies and interests?
- Do you have references I can contact?
- Are you comfortable with dogs? (We have a boxer, BIG puppy)
- If my dog were to knock my son down or potentially nip him, how would you handle the situation? (He's never bit our son, but I don't know how the dog would do with someone new in the house as an authority figure.)


Thanks,
Rebekah

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Alexandra - posted on 02/15/2011

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What is your philosophy about discipline?

Exploring this topic will reveal their opinions, and also serve as an ideal segue for you to set forth your house rules on discipline. If you don't want the babysitter spanking your child, this is the time to say so.



Have you ever suspected that a child in your care was being sexually molested by someone?

This question is designed as a bridge into the topic of sexual abuse, but also as a way to test denial, and you do not want a denier as a babysitter or nanny. People caring for children have a duty to acknowledge and recognize reality, even hard reality, and denial is an evasion of that duty. When evaluating a babysitter, put sexual crimes against children squarely on the agenda. If the person you are talking with is a denier, you'll know it quickly (''Things like that don't happen around here''; ''I've never even considered such a thing''; ''I've only worked with good families'', etc.).



1 in 3 females are sexually abused in some manner before the age of 18, and 1 in 4 boys. (These are the stats based on REPORTED cases...the real statistics are probably much more like 1 in 2.) Google a list of types of sexual abuse, the facts about abusers (a great majority of them are actually family members), and the signs of sexual abuse in children and teens, so you know yourself. Ask the nanny for detailed examples of this information, and if they are unaware of the information, this is your opportunity to give those answers.



Be very clear with the nanny that your child will be believed if there is ever an accusation, and charges will be filed. Also instruct them that they are to report to you any suspected issues of sexual abuse, and that you have not tolerance for it in your household.



Do you have children of your own? Do you have younger siblings?

It may be a plus when they answer yes to either question. In any event, the topic allows easy transition to several other areas: Did you take care of siblings when you were growing up? How old were you when you first stayed with them alone? How young do you think is too young?



Why do you do this work?

The answer might be ''For the money,'' ''It allows me time to study/read,'' ''I love children,'' ''It's easy,'' or ''I dunno,'' but whatever it is, the answer will inform your intuition.



Have you ever been in an emergency situation while babysitting? Have you ever been in any emergency situation?

These questions can reveal the applicant's thought processes about emergencies.



What is your opinion of drugs and alcohol?

Many parents look intently at applicants, hoping somehow to determine if they are drug or alcohol abusers. There's a greater likelihood of learning something valuable about the topic by discussing it explicitly.



Describe a problem you had in your life where someone else's help was very important to you.

Is the applicant able to recall such a situation? If so, does he or she give credit or express appreciation about the help? A candidate who is not willing to accept help might not be the best caretaker for your child.



Who is your best friend and how would you describe your friendship?

While many people will name several friends, there are, believe it or not, some who cannot think of a single person. Another benefit to the question comes if an applicant gives a name that was not listed as a reference (which happens often). Ask why the person wasn't listed; ask if you can now have the contact number.



Describe the best child you ever babysat for. Describe the worst child you ever babysat for.

This is a powerful inquiry that can reveal important attitudes about children and behavior. If the applicant speaks for just a moment about the best child, but can wax on enthusiastically about the worst, this is telling. Does he or she use unkind expressions to explain the trouble with a given child (''brat'', ''little monster'')? Does the applicant take any responsibility for his or her part? A follow-up is: Could you have taken another approach?



Other questions might include:



Can you give me some examples of problems you have had with kids and how you handled them?

What if my son fails to obey you when you ask him to do something? What if he is doing something dangerous?

How do you handle fighting between brothers and sisters?

How do you handle tantrums?

How would you react if a child bit or hit you?

What do you do when you become angry with a child?

What if my daughter asked you to keep a secret? What would your response be?

What if she revealed something to you that you knew I wouldn't approve of?

Can you swim? Would you be willing to go in the pool with our child?

At what point would you call a pediatrician or 911?

Do you prefer to work with boys or girls and why?

What would you do if you saw a child fondling himself or herself?

How would you handle a situation of this nature?

During your interview, few things are as powerful as silence. When someone finishes an answer you consider incomplete, don't just accept it and go on. Instead, wait silently; he or she will start talking again and give you more information to evaluate.



Other questions to consider:



Have you ever been fired from a nanny position? Quit? Why? ( Ask for that reference number as well.)



Are you Red Cross Certified in CPR and First Aid Response?



Are you familiar with the NEW Food Pyramid and healthy eating guidelines for toddlers and children?



What would you do if someone tried to break into the house? How would you handle it?



Have you ever had a house fire situation?



How would you describe yourself as a parent?



What are your views about children playing video games, internet time, cell phones? TV?



Are you comfortable watching my child;s friends when they come and visit?



Would you be willing to do housework if you saw it needed done? For instance I didn't have time to wash the dishes, and you needed to prepare a meal?



(This will tell you how well they would be feeding your children on such days (full healthy meals or just PB and J) and also how they might handle WATCHING the child and doing housework at the same time. (I'd look for an answer like "The child would be in the kitchen with me at the table coloring" or "only if the child was napping" etc. This also allows you to gauge how well they might multi-task.



Ask them if they plan on taking your children on outings, which kind, and what they would do if there were ever an emergency outside the house, or a child went missing. (These things can happen.) This allows you the opportunity to share a current photo of the child and give the nanny your own "Just in Case" plan of action.



You can tell a lot about a person by asking them to talk about themselves, and their interests, especially in music, and movies, art, hobbies etc. You can also ask to see their public profile pages (Myspace, Facebook) This request is not an invasion of privacy as these are public pages and they will be in the privacy of your home. You are trusting them with your most precious possession, your child. If they can't trust you to look at a web page about them, they probably have something to hide. If you save this one for last, chances are if they lied about something, you will know it when you look at their profile.



Trust your instincts and the instincts of your child. Do your interview and then arrange a time when you will be home to watch how your child interacts with the nanny, and how the nanny interacts with the child.

Heather - posted on 02/15/2011

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You have thought of far more than I would have! I totally agree with Judy, asking about driving and such. Great list though!

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Rebekah - posted on 02/19/2011

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Thanks for advice everyone. I found an amazing nanny... I'm not quite sure how she actually has time to take it on, lol. She's so much like me, it's absolutely ironic! haha But she's Christian, ambitious, has amazing references, her availability is something we'll have to work around... but she's also affordable. I couldn't believe some nannies actually charged $500/week - that's absurd to me! :P That is like my entire paycheck for week. I'm thinking I'm in the wrong job... MAYBE I should go home and take on other people's kids while they go to work and get paid to play with the little ones! I'm seeing an idea coming together... :D

Gail - posted on 02/17/2011

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Observing others....
I would consider where you seek for help sources.. My best friends daughter did this job before she was married, she was wonderful. Consider asking friends from church and people you trust and admire for leads. If you see characteristics in people that you fellowship with you admire, ask them for leads, as those of us with praiseworthy character also seek to fellowship with others of that sort (iron sharpens iron, says proverbs). I myself have been asked either if I would serve in caring for children, as well as my daughters and if I know someone that could fill that job or friends that may know... check with-in desired circles :)
I helped a friend who was transitioning to come home, and agreed to help care for her children in my home for that season, where as I maynot have accepted the job otherwise. Your children are your heritage...
You also may desire to do the background checks by the police department or who ever it is church kids programs go through now.

Anne - posted on 02/16/2011

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I would ask how she/he feels about your coming home unexpectedly if you are on lunch. Even if you do not think it would never happen if the person watching your child has a problem with you or your husband dropping by unannounced I would NOT hire that person.

Carla - posted on 02/15/2011

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There are sites online to check on a person once you have a couple that you are considering. I don't think I would EVER have a stranger come into my house and be around my child without checking for a criminal background.

I think I would ask:

Do you have children?
What methods of discipline did you use on them?
Where are they now? (You are looking for what kind of adults they became, or if they are not with her, why?)
Any physical or emotional abuse in your background? (self, family member, spouse)

I would also closely watch body language when you ask them questions. Are they figeting or looking away? Do they look uncomfortable? If you have nothing to hide, you should be able to look someone in the eye. I think I would also want, if you take Josslyn's advice and use an agency, to know how long she's been with the agency. What else has she done other than nannying?

God bless, hon

Josslyn - posted on 02/15/2011

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You could call an agency too, they will have a list of competent and fully qualified nannies.........

Judy - posted on 02/14/2011

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Sounds like you have covered the big things.... a couple other things to think about, Will this person ever drive your child? You should ask to see a valid drivers license, and then if you know an insurance agent well enough, they might be able to run a check to see if that person has many or any tickets. Definitely check out their references, ask for three, at least one from former employers if she has ever been a nanny or taught before, and one personal. It will help give you a feel for the kind of friends she has.

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