Inviting an au pair into the family home is a wonderful way to provide children with quality child care. Au pairs often form bonds with children that even full-time nannies may not be able to, and parents are often comforted by the knowledge that a child's au pair is a regular presence in their children's lives. However, inevitably, there must come a time when an au pair will leave the family home. This can be a period of adjustment, especially for younger children. Despite this, there are several things that parents can do to help their child transition from one au pair to another.
After finding a candidate through a reputable au pair agency, parents might want to consider inviting the prospective au pair to talk on Skype with the current au pair and children before arriving at the family's home. Introducing a new au pair to children when their current au pair is still with them can provide children with an extra sense of security, and can help kids perceive their new au pair as a friend of their present caregiver.
It is also important for parents to make a methodical transition. Slowly passing increasing levels of responsibility to the new au pair instead of making an instant change to a new authority figure will ease the relationship between the au pair and their children. During the adjustment period, mom and dad may want to spend a little extra time with their kids in the presence of their new au pair, and help them accept the new disciplinary roles. This approach can reinforce the concept that the new au pair is in charge, and that parents approve of her or his methods.
Some au pairs will be more experienced than others. Child care professionals who have worked for several families may be more familiar with the process of adjustment and how difficult it can be on children. If children do not immediately take to their new au pair, it can be worthwhile to spend more time together as a family to establish a greater sense of trust and build on the familiarity that is necessary for stronger bonds to form.
It is important that kids be given the chance to express their feelings, and parents should remember that this transition will likely have a greater impact on their children than it does on them.