Nannies, Au Pairs, Children, and Privacy

Respecting the Privacy of Children While Teaching Them to Respect Privacy

To get back to the topic of privacy that we have been discussing, children must learn to respect privacy and caregivers must respect children’s privacy when possible. By the time children are ready to enter school, they must have a well developed respect of the privacy of other children and of adults.

To provide proper care for children, nannies and au pairs need to monitor the children’s space in the bedroom and bathroom.

The issue of privacy is part of the larger conversation of treating others with respect. Privacy, while acting kindly and mannerly to family and friends, are all part of the discussions of respect and empathy to the needs and feelings of others.

Children must learn to show respect of the privacy of others to allow a lifetime of smooth social interactions. The lessons learned and practiced as children persist throughout life.

To accomplish these goals, nannies and au pairs should set good examples for children to imitate. As role models, au pairs and nannies should be aware of children’s feelings and not embarrass children in front of parents or friends by discussing or remarking about things kids find uncomfortable.

Privacy means that children and caregivers should keep things confidential that they find inappropriate to discuss outside the home.

Au pairs and nannies should use, and teach children to use, a respectful tone of voice and avoid swearing and obscene gestures.

Interrupting a conversation is ill-mannered and considered an invasion of privacy. Distractions and disruptions discourage social interactions among friends and family and, if it happens to children, they find it frustrating.

Polite conversation by children demonstrates a respect for privacy and an interest in family and friends. Gossip and unkind remarks show a lack of respect. These are skills au pairs and nannies can help teach.

Children (not infants) should be allowed to play with their friends without adults hovering during playtime. Play-dates should be supervised discretely by insisting that playroom and bedroom doors remain open, and baby monitors or intercoms can be used to monitor playtime.

Children must learn that when a bathroom or bedroom door is closed, they must knock before entering. Yet, children should never lock doors inside the house to prevent them from getting stuck inside unable to get out, or to allow an adult to provide assistance if needed.

Children must also understand that the privacy of live-in nannies and au pairs is absolute in their private areas of the house.

Respect of privacy also extends to personal property. Just as au pairs and nannies cannot give away the children’s toys without permission, children may not violate any personal belongings of nannies. Children must learn not to damage or abuse the property of others.

When nannies are working all potty-trained members of the family should shut the door while using the bathroom. Even if the parents and children typically share a bathroom while someone is using the toilet, it is socially unacceptable to leave bathroom doors
open while using the toilet by the time that children attend school.

Some families are comfortable with nudity in the home. But, when nannies and au pairs are working in the home different rules about nudity and privacy should be followed.

For example, even if the children see their parents dress and undress, children should never see nannies and au pairs dress or undress. Even if children typically walk to and from the shower naked when cared for by their parents, kids should use bathrobes before and after showering when nannies and au pairs are working.

Have you had privacy issues working as a nanny?


  1. My problem has been slightly gross so I certainly will repsect the privacy of the family. The 4 year old is obsessed with his private parts. I’ve read all these articles and they say it’s no big deal and it isn’t unhealthy for boys to “handle” their privates, of course. But I think it is bad manners to do that publically. I have been working really hard at getting him to learn what private vs public is and when it is OK and not OK to do that type of touching. But it’s getting ridiculous. I’ve worked with 6 other boys ranging from newborn to teen and no others have done this. He says it’s not itchy or hot. There’s nothing wrong. He says it tickles. So it’s a huge issue of learning manners and about privacy. But I’m at my wit’s end with this problem.

  2. My biggest pet-peeve is that nannies are so often disrespectful of the parents and talk badly about the parents in front of the children. Also nannies shouldn’t speak about problems at work with each other. They need to speak to the parents about their problems to help resolve the issues. It’s disrespectful.Farrah, Nanny, Cambridge MA

  3. I am a live-out nanny and I honestly think that the parents I work for must be nudists on the weekends. The 9 yr old walks to the shower completely nude and then back to his room naked as if it’s normal. I’ve been asking him to use a robe or a towel and he yells at me that his parents do it all the time. The younger boy told me flat-out that he sees his mother naked. I told him he probably just means they walk around in their undies or with a robe or towel or something and shrugged it off. But it’s the little one described a breast perfectly to me? Gross. It’s too difficult to discuss with them. I won’t share any of our names but it’s upsetting me. I wasn’t raised that way. Granted my mother saw me naked maybe a handful of times after I was about 7 yrs old. But we usually kept it only same sex parent with same gender child and only in cases of illness or emergency, I think. My brother and I bathed as infants and toddler together but once we were in Kindergarten I’m sure that was done with. I feel like its an invasion of my privacy. The kids don’t go naked around school or leave doors open when using potty at school. So why am I forced to deal with these poor manners?

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