Au Pair / Nanny Etiquette

Here’s how to be successful in Childcare:

Have fun – responsibly

Balance fun with responsibility and a vigilant awareness of the children’s safety. For instance:images (5)

  • Ensure that they are dressed appropriately for the weather.
  • All toys and games should be age-appropriate.
  • Never leave the children alone, especially when bathing, or near a swimming pool or a street. Always hold their hands when crossing a street.
  • Drive safely when transporting the children anywhere.
  • Keep your First Aid/ CPR qualification up to date. Have one First Aid kit in the home and a small one in the car

 Focus on the children

Give the children your undivided attention. Switch off your cell phone when at work, and do not use the employer’s phone to make personal calls. Do not watch television while on the job – with or without the children. Never invite personal guests to the home.

 Follow the children’s routine

Stick to the children’s routine, as required by the parents. Follow it as smoothly as possible. Ensure that meal times and nap times adhere to this routine.2

Feed the children according to the parents’ wishes. Do not give them any food of which the parents disapprove. Try to follow this diet yourself when eating in front of the children.

 Encourage learning

Read with the children and set aside time for homework and free play. Shower them with positive comments and encouragement.

Pay attention to detail

Read through your job description carefully and ensure you fulfil your role. Anticipate opportunities to help and offer your assistance, even if the task is not explicitly under your job description. If it concerns the children, it concerns you.

 Communicate openly with the parents

Keep a daily record of the children’s behaviour activities, homework, meals, schooling etc. to keep parents informed on how they are developing. Inform the parents of any issues that may arise, eg if the children are sick or distressed while they are with you.


Keep a written record of all money spent, along with the slips. Outings should be creative and not involve excessive spending in order to entertain the children.

 Use positive discipline

Reward positive behaviour and provide firm but loving positive discipline for negative behaviour. NEVER punish a child in a physically or emotionally hurtful way.

 Be an example to the children

Treat everyone, including the children, with respect. This means having good manners and talking to the children appropriately. Do not use bad language, or any other negative speak.

Dress appropriately and modestly – Wear closed, flat shoes. No excessive make-up or jewellery, visible tattoos or face piercings.

Clean up after yourself and teach the children to do the same.

Be reliable – arrive at work on time and don’t cancel at the last minute. It is especially important to be punctual when fetching the children from school, extramural activities or play dates.


Respect the values of the family and children. Don’t ever try to impose your own beliefs on the children.

Respect the privacy and confidentiality of the family by being mindful of how you speak about your work to others.

Respect the boundaries of the family. Although it is your purpose to connect with the children and establish a bond with them, be aware that you are working in a private home and that your conduct with regards to the family needs to remain professional at all times.

It is finding this balance between the nurturing aspects of childcare and professionalism that makes a successful nanny or au pair.