10 Reasons to Fire a Nanny

Hiring a nanny is a challenging process, as is learning to trust a stranger—and welcome them into your family—to care for your child. The nanny/parent relationship is complex and there are bound to be some disagreements and conflicts, but sometimes these issues surpass what is acceptable or forgivable. While most situations can be worked out with open communication and cooperation, there are certain situations when parents should fire a nanny immediately.


Suspicion of Abuse

Girl feeding baby at table

Any signs that point towards physical, sexual, or mental abuse of your child are an immediate reason for termination. If you are concerned or want peace of mind, you may want to install a nanny cam (if your state permits), but don't wait for evidence before separating your child from the nanny if you have any reason to think abuse may be occurring.

While an instance may or may not technically be considered abusive, you may want to fire your nanny for simply being unkind to your child.

Pay attention to mysterious marks or bruises, injuries, or sudden changes in your child’s demeanor or behavior. These can be signs of abuse, but they can also have other explanations. Abuse is a serious accusation that should not be taken lightly. However, it's important to trust your gut, even when you don't have tangible proof. If something feels off, it's better to find a new nanny.



Woman fastening pearl necklace in mirror

If your nanny is stealing from you, this is a reason for immediate termination. If your valuables are missing and never turn up, this could be a sign that you have a thief in your home. However, know that items also often get misplaced and it can be all too easy to point the finger at the nanny. Remember, too, that kids sometimes take things and may be reluctant to speak up for fear of getting in trouble.

Trust yourself if you suspect your nanny is stealing, but try to have proof before accusing and firing them.

If you aren't sure and decide to keep the nanny on, be sure to lock up your valuables until you are certain your nanny is worthy of your trust.


Lack of Attention or Neglect

Crying baby in crib

A nanny who does not pay attention to your child is a problem, but this may not be cause for immediate termination if they are willing to change their behavior. Sometimes, this behavior is from lack of experience or due to different cultural childrearing expectations and can be altered with careful guidance and coaching.

Intentional neglect, however, is a reason for immediate termination. If your children are frequently hungry, dirty, crying, tired, or need to be changed, the nanny may be neglecting them. The same goes if your nanny always seems to be on their phone and the kids are put on devices to entertain them, particularly if you have made clear that these practices are not acceptable.


Substance Use

Woman drinking beer on couch

Use of alcohol or drugs while on the job is cause for immediate termination. If you find unknown drugs or alcohol in your home, terminate the relationship immediately. The same goes if you smell drugs or alcohol on your nanny and/or see signs of excess substance use, such as lethargy, bloodshot eyes, or behavior or appearance that indicates being hungover.



Stunned woman's face

Trust is vital to the nanny/parent relationship. If you catch your nanny repeatedly telling lies, you have reason to be concerned. You may want to share your concerns with your nanny, but try to approach them in a non-accusatory way.

If they are telling small lies, you may be able to mend the situation with open communication. A big lie may create an irreparable break in your relationship that warrants termination.



Man checking the time on his watch

Reliability is an important part of the nanny job description. Everyone is late from time to time, but if your nanny is habitually late or calls to cancel frequently, it shows a lack of dedication and poor time management skills. Plus, if you can't count on them to show up, you always need to have a backup plan, which can be very stressful.

Don't risk your own career or sense of security to hold onto an unreliable nanny. If it's only happened a few times and you are otherwise pleased with the nanny's performance, talk with them about your concerns to give them an opportunity to correct this issue before resorting to firing them.


Child Safety Concerns

Child tricycling in the street

In order to make the most of the time you have your nanny, you must feel that your children are safe and well cared for. Set up clear, common-sense rules for your nanny to follow, particularly around safety. These may include holding hands while crossing the street, always buckling babies into high chairs and car seats, placing babies on their backs to sleep, and exactly what type of food your baby will consume.

If you do not feel secure in your nanny's ability to take care of your children properly, you may need to rethink this situation. 

Certainly, give your nanny proper training and time to get the knack of things, but if you suspect (or witness) that your child's safety is not your nanny's number one priority or they simply don't have the necessary common sense, it's time to find a new nanny.


Failure to Enforce House Rules

Mother talking to babysitter while kids color in background

It is your nanny's job to follow and enforce your house rules, whether they agree with them or not. If your nanny disregards your rules, they are probably not a good fit. Talk with your nanny about their actions. They might have a good reason, and you could learn from each other. Additionally, they may have made a mistake or misinterpreted your expectations. Give them a chance to right these wrongs if you see promise in the nanny.

However, if your nanny simply doesn't want to abide by your rules and does not have an acceptable explanation for doing so, it is best to part ways. 


Schedule Changes

Woman looking at calendar and talking on phone

Despite a great performance, scheduling changes may be a reason for a nanny contract to end. When children go to school, parents usually need to cut nanny hours. In this case, the nanny might be the one to dismiss themselves to find another position with more hours. If you get a new job with different hours and need to change your nanny's schedule, your nanny has the right to walk away as well. 

But if your nanny is the one calling the shots and their schedule changes don't work for you, then it's appropriate to find someone who's available when you need them.



Homeowner moving a box

If your family is moving, it's likely that your nanny relationship will need to change. Depending on the situation and the nanny’s ability to move, the contract could come to an unexpected, early end. If it can't continue, be sure to do your best to help your nanny find another position, particularly if you were happy with their performance on the job.

It can help your children with the transition if you provide a positive way for them to say goodbye to their nanny.

2 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Child Welfare Information Gateway. What Is Child Abuse and Neglect? Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms.

  2. Cleveland Clinic. Hangover.

By Jill Ceder, LMSW, JD
Jill Ceder, LMSW, JD is a psychotherapist working with women, children, adolescents, couples and families.