15 Ways Parents Can Screen For Abusive Behavior In Babysitters

There are many things to consider when trying to find someone to take care of one's child. Parents always want to be there for every second of a child’s upbringing, but, especially with a family, somebody needs to work and bring in financial support. These days, often two somebody’s, the parents, need to be gone all day to support the child and family. When that happens, it is important to find somebody who will not only take good care of the child, but who can also help aid in the child's development. It’s important to find somebody who the child will like, who will properly take care of them, and who will genuinely care about the child.

With all that in mind, know that it is important for the nanny to be properly compensated. The quality of applicants will decrease if you do not offer all of the benefits that the nanny would be able to get somewhere else. That includes the possibility of a raise, vacation time, and complete trust. That last part can get pretty tricky, especially if a slew of applicants are walking through the front door just trying to impress the parents. People can get pretty desperate for work, and some are willing to say anything to get a job.

It’s important to find someone who not only likes kids, but who is properly trained in raising children, who has the right availability for what the parents need, and is somebody that the kid gets along with. Here is a list of actions the parent can take to ensure all of those things are addressed.

15 Record And Confirm All Contact Info

This one may seem like a no-brainer, but a fair amount of people take the information they receive at face value. It is important to fact check anything for a potential caregiver. One should check for a home phone and address, character references, and professional references. It is also a good idea to get contact information for the applicant’s next of kin as well.

Simply seeing these things isn’t enough, however. To properly screen an applicant, there should be a good deal of follow-up involved. To confirm the home address, a utility bill with their name on it or a visit to the address is a good idea. Confirm the phone number by calling it and see if it checks out. Call all of the character references, and visit the home of the professional references, just to make sure they really have kids. Anybody who objects to these confirmations is probably not the best choice for a new caregiver.

14 Be Wary Of Overqualified Applicants

This one might seem a little expensive. Think about it. If the applicant has been in the field for twenty years, then their resume is bound to be pretty impressive. However, jut because they look good on paper doesn’t mean it’s going to be a good fit for the particular position. A good résumé often gives parents an unfair impression of experience, even if that experience has not been all good.

It’s also not unfathomable that these people have been to many different interviews. Like anything, interviewing is a skill that can be worked on. These applicants know exactly what a new parent wants to hear, they know the right time to say it, and they know the right way to say it. Of course, they are going to come off as a good fit in the interview; they’ve learned exactly what to say. Just think of the old saying “a stranger with a résumé is still a stranger.”

13 Check For Proper Certifications

This is another seemingly no-brainer, but it’s something that is overlooked sometimes. Many people ask to just see a driver’s license, but it’s a good idea to check beyond that. Asking for a social security card and a birth certificate is not unreasonable, and anyone who acts like this is too much is an immediate red flag. This is also the time to ask for any relevant certification, such as a degree of completion of nanny courses.

It’s also a good idea to require that applicants have CPR training, and it’s not out of line to ask to see the certificate of completion. This is also a good opportunity to ask for proof of physical exam from the past two years. It’s important to make sure this caregiver is in good physical condition; if they are not, and something happens to them, then think of what could happen to the kids. It’s also a good idea to make sure they can keep up with the stress of raising children.

12 Identify Red Flags

It’s a wonder some of these people think that they can get a job taking care of other people’s kids. If an applicant refuses to present their driver’s license, a social security card, or their birth certificate, then move onto the next applicant. If they don’t give you any numbers for their references, show them to the door. If they have a bunch of unexplained gaps in their work history, then that could be a good indication that they are not very responsible, and they should probably be passed over.

It’s also a bad sign if they are willing to take a huge pay cut from their last job, or if they are asking for very little money. That is a good indication that they feel they cannot find work anywhere else, and feel as though this particular position is their last chance. While it can be hard to turn away someone who is having a rough time, it’s important to stay diligent when it comes to the care of children.

11 Do A Background Check

Another thing that is not unreasonable at all when choosing a new caregiver for a child is to have them sign a background check release form. There are many online resources that allow you to do so, and a cursory google search will give plenty of resources. Most of these will allow you to check for aliases, check for a lot of addresses over a short period of time, and obviously check to see if there is any criminal history.

It’s also a good idea to try and find any past complaints that the applicant may have had from past employers, and then to follow up on them. If you’ve heard that the person that could potentially be taking care of your kids used to neglect or abuse his or her past children in his or her care, then you certainly want to be aware of that. It is then a good idea to get in touch with the people who made the complaint and hear the whole story.

10 Watch How They Interact With Kids

If the applicant has passed the interview part of the process, then it is a good idea to sit them down with the kids they will be taking care of and see how they interact with them. The nicest person in the world, the best interviewer ever, may just not have what it takes to care for children. Some people are disingenuous, or they just can’t relate to the kid.

It’s important to choose someone who can engage in the kids, and get them excited about playing, or learning, or whatever the current task at hand is. Some people just aren’t very good with kids, and although they are certainly in the wrong field, that doesn’t mean their awkwardness around youngsters would come out in an interview. Some kids are more difficult than others too, so just because this person has taken care of kids before, doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to be good with yours.

9 Set A Trial Period

So, the applicant has made it through the interview process, and they’ve interacted positively with the kids that they will be taking care of. Now is the scary part: leaving for the day while the new caregiver takes over. This is a nerve-racking thing for a lot of parents, so it’s important every possible step has been taken before the real deal. What a lot of parents like to do at this point is leave the new person with the kids, but while one of the parents stays in the house, too.

Now, this doesn’t mean the parent has to watch over the new nanny or even be in the same room as them. In fact, it might be a better idea to sort of go around the house doing their own thing, so as to try and simulate what it is going to be like when the nanny is working for real. Then, the parent can sort of keep their eye on things, while the child and the caregiver get a chance to warm up to each other.

8 Count The Number Of Diapers

Alright, the trial period went well, the kids and the new person seemed to be hitting it off, let’s see how this really goes. Before leaving the children for the day, it is a good idea to count how many diapers there are, and then count them again at the end of the day to compare. The idea here is that it’s possible the new person won’t change the baby or change it enough, so this is a good way to check on them without really checking in on them.

Say the kid usually goes through four diapers in a day. If there are 20 before the day started and there are only 19 left in the stack at the end of the day, then the child wasn’t changed nearly enough. It can go the opposite way too though. If there are 20 at the beginning of the day and 10 at the end, then the nanny could be going overboard, and that’s just wasting diapers.

7 Check Baby From Head To Toe

One reason parents often miss bruises or marks on their baby is the mere fact that they never see him or her naked. When they get home the baby is in his or her pajamas, and when they leave for work the baby is still in pajamas, or the nanny has already dressed him or her for the day. This simple fact allows many caregivers to strategically mark up the baby, as there is never any time where the parent sees all of the skin.

Once a day, it is a good idea to either change the baby, or at the very least take a peek at what’s going on. It’s a very easy mistake to make, but it’s a big one. Many nannies have gotten away with abusive behavior just because the warning signs weren’t obvious enough. Side note: it’s a good idea to do this checking during something like bath time, or during a changing, as just going into the baby’s room and stripping them might freak the child out.

6 Be Aware If The Child Becomes Too Clingy

Anytime a child is left alone with a new person, there is going to be some amount of clinginess once the parent returns home. However, there is a difference between “Mommy I’m happy to see you!” and “Mommy please don’t go, I don’t like this person.” It’s important to know the normal behavior of the child, and to be able to recognize when that changes at all.

If the child wasn't initially interested in your "grown up" tasks, then starts being right by your hip whenever you're home, that is something to pay attention to. If normally the child says hi to dad when he gets home from work, but all of a sudden starts running up to him and begging to be picked up, then that is something to pay attention to as well. It’s important to know your children, for more reasons than one, but seriously keep an eye out for extra clingy behavior.

5 There Are Warning Signs

Again, it’s important to know the normal behavior of the child if he or she is going to be left with a stranger all day long. And it's important to know what is considered a normal change versus what is something to be concerned with. It’s also important to consider what the baby is capable of doing on his or her own. For instance, if he or she doesn’t know how to walk yet, but has a bump on his or her head from “walking into something,” then that is something to address.

It’s also important to be able to gauge the nanny. If it seems like she bolts out of there at the end of the day, that is something to think about. If she avoids eye contact and just gives sort of vague answers, that is a rough sign, too. On the other side of that coin, if she goes too deeply into detail, that is something to look out for as well. Basically, use your instinct, and use your own meter for determining when someone is lying. Chances are if you think the nanny is lying, then the nanny is probably lying.

4 Ask About Their Childhood

Learning about an applicant’s past is a good way to get a glimpse as to how they truly are now. Asking about their childhood, and about their current relationship with their family, is a very good idea. It’s ideal for the nanny to feel as though she is part of the family, but if she hates her family and can’t stand her mom, or anything like that, it might not be a great idea to hire her.

It’s also a good glimpse into how she originally learned how to take care of kids. Someone can take all the courses they want, but there is only so much information to be learned from a class. A great deal of that knowledge comes from how a person was raised, and that is essentially embedded in their DNA. It’s always best to choose someone who had a healthy, loving childhood, and who continues to have a healthy, loving relationship with their family.

3 Check References

Although we briefly touched on this earlier, I wanted to delve a bit deeper into it. Of course, it is a good idea to call up the applicant’s references, to try and get a feel for the kind of person they are. However, there is also a need to take into consideration who these references are. If it is all family members of the applicant, then perhaps that means they don’t necessarily have good relationships with people, and you certainly want someone who people like.

With that said, even if it is a lot for the family, it’s still important to try and get a feel for who those people are. If you can talk to the applicant’s sister or brother, then maybe they can give you a different perspective on how they were raised, and what their childhood was like. It’s a terrible thing to be prejudice, but it doesn’t hurt to get a feel for what kind of life the nanny lives outside of the workplace as well. She could be sweet as pie, but if she is getting blackout drunk every night, is that really someone that should be left in the care of children?

2 Ask How They Handle Frustration

Although this is a fairly easy question to lie about, it is still an important question to ask. If the applicant knows that they throw things around the room and punch walls when they are frustrated, chances are good they are not going to say that outright in an interview. However, this is where the lie detecting skills need to come in. Take note of the applicant’s body language when they answer the question, and pay attention to the level of eye contact.

Some applicants, however, may be honest with you. If they say they never get frustrated, then they are lying, as that is a human condition. However, they may say they like to take a deep breath, count to ten, and then they calm down a bit. It’s important to gauge not only the truth of the answer, but also how that may affect the child.

1 Install A Nanny Cam

The tried and true method to see how people are with children when the parents aren’t around. These can easily be hidden anywhere, from a teddy bear to a mirror on the wall, know that it’s always possible to check on the child when the parents aren’t there. There have been some pretty horrendous things caught on nanny cams, done by people that were fully vetted, fully investigated, and deemed to be responsible with children.

It also gives a chance to see how the child is with the caregiver. Even if the nanny is doing everything right, sometimes the kid just can’t jive with them, and that isn’t a good thing. The kid may not want to say anything to the parents either (if they are old enough to talk) out of fear of upsetting mom or dad, or even inconveniencing them. They may know their safety is not in danger, but they just don’t like the nanny. A nanny cam will allow the parent to see all of these things.

Sources: DonnaMaher.com, ENannySource.com, HuffingtonPost.com, Care.com, BabyCenter.com

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