As nannies, building relationships is the heart of your professional career. More than your education, impressive childcare experience, and amazing personality, how you connect with your nanny kid matters significantly, and it all starts with creating a great first impression! 

The first time your NK meets you will most likely be during your interview or a trial day, so it’s important to really put your best foot forward and make them feel comfortable with your presence. Even as grown-ups, we can find it awkward to meet and talk with strangers, so it’s understandable when little ones are shy and hesitant when meeting an unfamiliar face. Here are some effective ways to connect with them right from the start.

1. Begin with a smile 

A warm smile goes a long way! As Einstein put it, “light travels faster than sound,” so you’re making an impression before you even speak! Make sure that aside from dressing appropriately, you wear an approachable smile. Every single day, 93% of the communication we do is nonverbal communication, so a big part of connecting with kids is the way you communicate without even speaking.

Other than smiling, you can also try other forms of nonverbal communication to gain their trust and put them in a comfortable setting. This could be through waving your hand, tilting your head, maintaining eye contact, leaning forward, and observing safe physical distance. Ensure that your actions make them feel comfortable and not intimidated.

Watch out! Although physical touch is also a form of nonverbal communication, not all kids are receptive to this, so it’s a no-no for first meeting, especially if there is no consent from the parents. This might make the kids feel that you’re invading their space.

2. Introduce yourself

When introducing yourself, speak to them with a calm and friendly tone so they won’t feel startled or hesitant to answer. Greet them with their name, share your name, and tell a little about yourself. Sharing something about yourself will help establish a connection.

  • You can say, “Hello, Jana. I’m happy to finally meet you! My name is Aby, I’m from Santa Monica, and I have a dog, too! His name is Oreo!”
  • Or, for instance, “Hi, Joey. I’m Ellie, and I’m glad I will be with you today! I used to play chess when I was your age, too!”
  • Or, “Hi, Dom. I’m Lea. It’s nice seeing you today. I like reading books, too! Do you want to read this book together?”

Watch out! Instead of focusing on their appearance and complimenting what they are wearing, tell them that you’re genuinely happy to meet them. This will make them feel that you see them beyond their looks and, subconsciously, that you’re trying to connect on a deeper level.

3. Meet them at their level

Level with the kids, literally and figuratively! When you approach them, avoid towering over them; instead kneel down and get on eye level with them. If kneeling down is not an option for you, you can sit on a chair near their level. By doing this, you get to see and connect with them on a more personal level.

When talking to them, ask about their interests and the activities they usually love doing. Do this even if you’ve already asked their parents ahead of time. Hearing the answers directly from them is best so they know you’re interested in getting to know them.

Steer clear of asking about school-related questions or questions about what they want to be when they grow up because these kinds of questions might put pressure on them. Instead, live in the here and now! Focus on what they’re excited to do for the day. This way, your NK gets to share with you something that currently excites them as they build their trust in you.

  • You can say, “Wow, you have a lot of books. Do you have a favorite book that you want us to read or do you want to read a new one today?”
  • Or, for instance, “Hey, I see you’ve got a rainbow on your shirt. Do you know how rainbows form in the sky?”
  • Or simply, “What do you want us to do today?”

Watch out! Skip obvious questions like, “Is this your mini library?” “Is that a rainbow on your shirt?” Instead, you can give fun facts or share real-life experiences to keep a more authentic conversation rolling.

4. Be okay with being silly 

Being around kids can bring out the kid in you! Using games and activities will definitely help in building a connection, so don’t be afraid to let your guard down and be silly. By doing this, they’ll see you not just as someone who takes care of them but also as someone they can trust and have fun with. You can try making silly faces, playing pretend, imitating funny sounds, or even telling funny stories! The more creative you become, the easier it will be for you to gain not just their attention but also their heart.

Some kids jump into a conversation right away, as they are excited to meet you, but some may not. For kids who are a little more reserved, don’t force a conversation when you see that they aren’t ready yet or interrupt them when they’re playing. Instead, observe them with a friendly smile, slowly start participating in the activity that they’re already doing, and gently ease into it.

  • You can say, “I think I’m having trouble finding a block that would fit this stack. Can you help me find one?”
  • Or, for instance, “This drawing seems incomplete. What do you think could possibly go here?”

Watch out! Not all kids are up for interaction right away; some may be hesitant when meeting someone new. It’s important that you feel the room and make yourself as approachable as possible before initiating fun games and activities.

5. Make them feel you genuinely enjoyed meeting them

You should put as much effort into ending an interaction that you put into beginning it. When it’s time to say goodbye, make them feel that you genuinely enjoyed getting to know them and playing with them.

  • For instance, “It was so nice to meet you, Joey! I really enjoyed playing chess with you. Maybe next time we can look at the book you liked to read together.”
  • Or, “Thank you so much for letting me play with your dog, Jana. Next time, maybe we can try drawing him using all your crayons and colored pencils!”

Final Thoughts

Connecting with kids during an interview or a trial is an important part of landing a job. It may even be the most important part! So when the time comes, make sure that you’re dressed appropriately, punctual, and prepared for everything that may come your way when you meet the kids. And don’t forget to show them your genuinely amazing personality; you’ll surely make a connection and win them over!