Positive Attention For Nannies and Au Pairs

The Power of Positive Attention

To continue the conversation about discipline we have posted an article about positive attention below. http://www.daic.org/Tips.html

Positive attention reassures children, builds self-esteem, and creates a happier environment for the whole family.

[Caregivers] should:

1. Make positive attention specific: Tell [the] child exactly what he or she did that you liked.

2. Give positive attention right away: Give [the] child positive attention while good behavior is happening and right after good behavior occurs.

3. Use powerful rewards: Be sure that the reward is something the child likes. Sometimes, let [the] child choose one reward from a list of rewards. Rewards can be those things you already give [the] child no matter how they behave.

4. Avoid criticism: When [the] child learns something new he or she needs a lot of positive attention. First, talk about the good part of the behavior, and then tell him or her how to do better next time.

5. Carry out promises: When [caregivers] promise rewards for good behavior, they should carry out their promise.

6. Don’t give in: [Caregivers] should not give in ‘just a little’ when the children don’t obey all of the instructions. When [adults] give in sometimes, the children learn that they can get away with misbehaving sometimes.

7. Catch [the] child being good: [Caregivers] should watch for times their children are being good, and praise and reward them right away. If the children are rewarded often for good behavior, they learn that they don’t have to misbehave to get attention.

8. Praise frequently: [Caregivers] should praise their children as often as possible. Spend time with your children. This allows you more opportunity to reinforce and praise them.

9. Use play to enhance positive communication: By sharing activities with children, parents can enhance communication. Activities should be child-directed rather than parent-directed. This involves parents commenting on the child’s behavior in a positive or neutral way during play. Avoid instructions and criticisms.

How do you encourage good behavior in children by using positive attention?


  1. It’s really really hard to never criticize children. When the daughter hits her brother I’m not supposed to criticize? Sarah B. from Upstate NY

  2. It’s the parents that determine the style of discipline, not me the nanny. They are negative and criticize, not me. I feel as if my hands are tied when it comes to discipline. We can try to make a difference, but the parents are always in charge. They influence how the children feel and develop more than me.

  3. In response to comment #1-Does the criticizing help? Does it change her attitude? behavior? does it get her to behave in the manner you’d like?If the answer is no…than- NO- my answer to you is that- NO- you should not criticize.But help her find ways to show her frustration other than hitting her brother.(People are not for hurting!)That is my #1 rule- no one is allowed to put their hands on anyone in a disrespectful or hurtful manner. If you do- you need to leave the room – RIGHT AWAY! and come back when you are calm. I will be here if you want to talk about how you are feeling.In response to comment #2I agree- parents are parents for life-and overall they do have more influence on the children, as a nanny is just basically around for the younger years. However, as a nanny I feel it is my duty and responsiblity to be a postive role model. Children follow more what they see- than what they hear.My discipline style is firm, but loving, and VERY consistant. The children soon learn what type of behavior is acceptable when they are with me- therefore, they behave better for me than their parents most times.If they choose to misbehave- they know the consequence- as it it swift and the same every time.I also agree- that it’s the parents who dertermine the discipline style. That is why it is so important for the nanny to ask detailed questions regarding discipline styles-as well as many other questions and “what-if” situations and how the parents handle them- so that the nanny knows beforehand what is expected.I personally only accept employment with families who are on the “same page” as me with child rearing. That way it all comes naturally. (As I don’t think I could ever do something that I did not beleive in- just because the parents told me to do so.)I love it when the children say-OH, Nanny- you sound just like Mom/Dad.~Andrea- Professional Career Nanny of 8 years.

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