Call now on 0207 183 0309
October 28th, 2023
By Faith McNamara

Nanny Attachment VS Boundaries

Attachment between a nanny and a child is an important part of the child's development and can be beneficial in many ways. However, it is important to recognise when an attachment has crossed boundaries and become unhealthy.

Healthy attachment between a nanny and a child is characterised by a strong bond that is based on mutual trust and respect. The nanny should be supportive and understanding of the child, while also providing structure and guidance. A nanny will be able to provide emotional support and be able to recognise the child's needs and feelings. This type of attachment can be beneficial to the child's development, as it can help them to feel secure and loved when their parents are away.

On the other hand, an unhealthy attachment between a nanny and a child can harm the child's development. The nanny may be overly controlling or demanding, be uncaring and the child may feel that they are unable to express their feelings or opinions. These types of attachment can lead to feelings of insecurity and a lack of autonomy.

Attachment styles

Attachment styles between a nanny and a child are a crucial component of a successful childcare relationship. Attachment theory, developed by John Bowlby, suggests that the quality of the relationship between a child and caregiver is essential to the child’s development.

John Bowlby, a British psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, developed the concept of attachment theory in the 1950s. The attachment style between a nanny and a child can vary depending on the individual personalities of both the caregiver and the child. Bowlby identified four types of attachment styles: secure, anxious-ambivalent, disorganised and avoidant.

Secure attachment

Secure attachment is the ideal attachment style between a nanny and a child. This is when the child feels comfortable exploring their environment while also feeling secure in the knowledge that the nanny is nearby and will be there to provide comfort and security when needed. A secure attachment style allows the nanny to be responsive to the child’s needs and create a trusting relationship.

People with a secure attachment style are confident in their relationships, communicate openly, and have a strong sense of self-identity. By providing a secure attachment children can develop into independent, happy adults who are more likely to engage in healthy intimate relationships, both platonic and romantic.

Anxious-ambivalent attachment

Anxious-ambivalent children are those who develop a distrust of their caregivers, leading to an exploration of their environment with trepidation rather than excitement. These children are constantly seeking approval from their caregivers and are constantly observing their surroundings for fear of being abandoned. This insecurity can lead to difficulties in forming relationships in adulthood.

People who develop attachments under this style often have difficulty expressing love and connection to their partners and feel unloved by them. This is because they carry the insecurities they developed in childhood into adulthood. As a result, they are often emotionally dependent on their partners and may struggle to feel secure in their relationships.

Disorganised attachment

A disorganised attachment style is characterized by a lack of clear strategies for managing the relationship between the infant and the caregiver. This type of attachment is often seen in children who have experienced trauma, neglect, or abuse.

Disorganised attachment is the least common of the four attachment styles and is marked by a lack of clear strategies for managing the relationship between the infant and the caregiver. This type of attachment is often seen in children who have experienced trauma, neglect, or abuse. The child may appear confused or frightened when the caregiver is present, and may also display contradictory behaviours such as aggression and submission. In some cases, children with a disorganised attachment may even display self-harming behaviours.

Avoidant Attachment

Children who have developed under the ‘avoidant’ style have learned to accept that their emotional needs are likely to remain unmet and continue to grow up feeling unloved and insignificant. This type of parenting style is characterised by a lack of warmth and responsiveness from the parent, leaving the child feeling neglected and isolated. As a result, these children often struggle with expressing their feelings and find it hard to understand emotions.

In adulthood, those who have grown up with an avoidant parenting style tend to avoid intimate relationships, as they have learned to accept that their emotional needs are likely to remain unmet. They may also be more prone to anxiety and depression, as they have not had the opportunity to learn healthy coping skills. Additionally, they may have difficulty trusting others and forming meaningful connections.

Crossing Parental Boundaries

Parents need to establish clear boundaries with their nannies from the onset of the working relationship. If a nanny is found to be crossing these boundaries, parents must take immediate action to address the issue.

When caring for an infant a lot of care, love and time is put in from the nanny and so boundaries may blur when a nanny becomes emotionally attached. In many cases this depth of love and care is a good sign; it means your child is in good hands. However, some push the boundary in terms of crossing from a nanny service to acting as a parent. When boundaries are pushed or crossed a conversation needs to happen.

Parents should first communicate their expectations to the nanny clearly and directly. If the nanny continues to cross boundaries, parents should take disciplinary action, such as reducing hours or terminating the working relationship.

It is important to remember that the nanny is an employee and a human and as such should be treated with respect and professionalism. Parents should also ensure that they are providing the nanny with clear instructions and expectations to avoid any confusion or misunderstandings. By taking these steps, parents can ensure that their nanny is respecting their boundaries and providing the best care for their children.

When working with a nanny it is important to understand the array of attachment styles there are and to maintain avoidance of the styles that will have a negative outcome for the child. To remain certain of your child’s treatment by a nanny implement regular check-ins with both the nanny and the child into your schedule. If at any point you see an attachment style you are uncomfortable with or a nanny that consistently crosses parental boundaries it will require immediate action to ensure your child’s development isn’t hindered.

Request Information
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Once you have completed your enquiry Little Ones will contact you on the details you have provided with information about the services we provide in order to assist you. Your information will not be shared with anyone outside our companies group.

At any time you may cease to receive communication by contacting Little Ones to delete, update or transfer for your information at no cost to yourself. Simply email with the name and email address you provided on this form.

Please see Little Ones data protection and privacy policy for further details how your information may be used. You will receive an email confirming how your information is used.

Browse by type