September To-Do List for Nannies and Au Pairs

Avoid Slow Ears Syndrome
Slow Ears Syndrome is what I call it when children talk to me and I hear the words, but not the underlying meaning of what they are trying to say. Slow Ears Syndrome is also when I speak to my charges and they don’t listen to me. Slow Ears Syndrome is when kids and their caregivers feel misunderstood.

A red flag of Slow Ears Syndrome is when you find yourself repeatedly asking your charges, “Why don’t you listen to me?” and the child often whines, “But, I didn’t hear you.”

Another red flag is the same problem in reverse. Do you often hear your charges asking, “Why don’t you listen to me?” when you thought you had heard them? This often happens when nannies are simply too busy multi-tasking when their charge is trying to talk to them.

I know my charges suffer from Slow Ear Syndrome when they are playing a board game, a computer game, or basketball outside when I try to speak to them. They simply aren’t capable of multi-tasking. I need to make them stop playing for a moment, look me directly in the eye, hear what I’m saying, and repeat it back to me to ensure they hear what I have to say.

I know I suffer from Slow Ear Syndrome when I’m cooking dinner, the baby is hungry, and the older boys are trying to explain something that happened in school to me. I hear some of what they are saying but often miss the underlying  issues they are trying to share. Then, they boys complain I don’t listen to them, because it’s true, I didn’t give them 100% of my undivided attention.

The September To-Do List is to actively listen to what is said to you by the children in your care. Pay attention to the words and and the tone of the children to better understand if they have underlying anxieties or problems.

Listening makes children feel worthy, appreciated, interesting, and respected. When we listen to children, we also act as a good role model for positive and effective communication.

September To-Do: Turn on your fast ears. Listen carefully and listen actively.


  1. I struggle with this at every nanny job. Why do I seem to connect better with the younger child? I have a much harder time understanding older kids. I want to hear them but it goes in one ear and out the other sometimes because I'm so busy.

  2. I listen to the children completely, but I know for sure that they don't listen to me. I'm constantly repeating questions to them and always asking more than once for them to do something. Basically when I ask them for help with something they ignore me, but when they ask me for help, I'm right there for them. It's a little frustrating, but sometimes it is what it is. I think the kids picked it up from the parents, because I have to ask more than once when I need help doing something!!

  3. Ha! I agree anonymous! I can't post this on FB because I don't want my boss reading the same feelings you expressed anonymous! Exactly same thing in a different home! No they never follow through what is asked of them. It goes way beyond not listening to not respecting me too! They talk back! Is this To Do list suggesting if we listen better the kids will too! LOL?!

  4. Stop what you are doing. Look at the child. Give your full attention. Listen to what is said. Comment on what you think you heard.

  5. While I have always viewed myself as a good listener, I am reading a book right now Powerful Interactions, How To Connect With Childen to Extend Their Learning. And well listening is sometimes a part of learning something about functioning in life. I got the book because of NAEYC, I get them every few months and I have no choice in what is in the mailbox. While it relates to the classroom setting there are many ways for me to re-tool their suggestions to fit what I do as a nanny. So Stephanie, if you are reading and need a blog topic — review or series on Powerful Interactions by Amy Laura Dombro, Judy Jablon, and Charlotte Stetson.

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