Vandenburgh finds it best when parents are proactive and share specific rules and routines with their nanny or sitter. "If the parents don't tell you, then the kids might say, 'Mom lets me do this,'" says Vandenburgh.
Mileska Ortiz, a professional caregiver of several years, says it's important for kids to know that she and the parents are on the same page when it comes to watching TV. "The kids will say, 'I watch TV all day with Mom and Dad,' but you know they don't," she says.
Once Ortiz learns the parents' rules, she follows them—and expects the parents to do the same. After following a parent's instructions and telling a little girl she couldn't have ice cream, the little girl ran to the other room and received permission from her mom—an experience Ortiz says is frustrating for caregivers. Ortiz adds that it's easier for her to maintain authority with the children in her care when the parents leave the home.
Authority: Put Your Foot Down
Parents, once you set a policy or are trying to make one, don't give in to the temptation of exceptions, advises Michele Giannini, who's worked as a nanny for three years and as a babysitter for eight years.
Giannini is especially passionate about establishing firm bedtime routines. She tells the story of parents who were trying to reclaim their bed but frequently allowed their little girl to climb in for the sake of a good night's sleep. Giannini, who often spent the evening or the entire night at the family's home, realized the little girl expected her to give in, too.
"lt became frustrating to me, because I also had two other kids to babysit and put to bed. After a few times of babysitting, I decided we were going to try it my way."