For Nannies For Parents

Why Does My Child Behave Better for Other People?


When my children were young, we had a fantastic nanny. She did all the typical things, like taking the kids to their activities, and they loved her. 

Sometimes, I took the children to their activities. One day at gymnastics, the coach approached me and said, “Your daughter behaves better when the nanny’s here than when you’re here.” I was heartbroken. This is so hard to hear as a parent when you’re spending time with your children and taking them to their activities and feel like you’re doing a horrible job. 

But that’s not the whole story. There’s more to understand about this situation. 

For a more in-depth discussion on this topic, check out our video on YouTube here. Don’t forget to subscribe to our channel for more helpful tips and advice!

Let’s uncover the science and psychology behind what’s happening here.

Attachment theory, developed by John Bowlby, provides significant insights into children’s behaviour in situations like this. 

Secure Base

Parents provide a secure base for their children. This means children feel safest with their parents, allowing them to express their emotions, true feelings, and even defiance. It’s not just a sign of bad behaviour but a secure attachment.

Emotional Release

Sometimes, after a long day of behaving well for either a nanny or a school teacher, children may release their pent-up emotions as soon as they reunite with their parents.

Consistent Routine

Nannies often maintain a structured routine and clear boundaries, which can lead to better behaviour. Nannies who follow a consistent routine help children know what’s coming next, which helps them feel secure.

Professional Distance

Nannies can often maintain a professional relationship with children. Maintaining a certain distance can lead to more respect and adherence to the rules. This doesn’t mean that nannies and children don’t have very close relationships; it’s just a different relationship.

Parental Guilt and Overcompensation

Many parents feel guilty about leaving their children and going to work all day. This can lead to overcompensation in the form of leniency or indulgence, undermining discipline. 

Parents might relax rules and discipline to make up for lost time, leading to inconsistency. I know many nannies talk about this when they say the family doesn’t allow TV, not even a minute during the day, and as soon as the parents come home, they give in and let the child sit and watch TV. Understanding why this is happening might help nannies be a little more compassionate in this situation.

Parents may also seek their children’s approval or avoid conflict, which can lead to inconsistencies in behaviour and discipline. Parents also feel extra stress and fatigue, impacting their ability to follow rules and discipline methods. 

After a long work week, parents might not have the energy to deal with a temper tantrum or to enforce the rules. Again, letting the child sit in front of the TV is easier than dealing with them crying. Fatigue can shorten a parent’s patience, which, as we all know, leads to giving in faster.

Studies and Insights

Studies have shown that parental stress and inconsistent discipline correlate with increased behavioural issues in children. It is crucial to understand why children often behave better for nannies than their parents, looking at attachment, routine, parental guilt, and stress. 

Parents must recognize these factors and strive for consistency and structure while providing their children with a loving and supportive environment. 

It’s also important for nannies to understand the stresses and attachment theory that children experience when switching between caregivers, nannies, and parents.


For more resources or personalized assistance in your nanny search in Canada, visit The Nanny Solution. Let us help you find the perfect nanny to support your family’s unique needs and lifestyle.

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