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How to communicate effectively with your Au Pair

by Genesis Rivas on May 21, 2024
How to communicate effectively with your Au Pair
Your family has probably already developed a communication dynamic that works for everyone. You can communicate effectively with each other, even with nonverbal language. You have already established how to discipline the children or reward them for good behavior, and the household and chore-sharing rules are known to everyone. 

What happens when a new member enters the equation who not only doesn't speak the same language as your family, but also doesn't know your household rules as well as you do? We know it can be frustrating to watch your Au Pair do things she is not supposed to do. How do you deal with it?

Misunderstandings or conflicts are part of any human relationship, including the one you will have with your Au Pair.  How you handle them will determine the type of relationship you will develop with your Au Pair. If you want to know more about the best way to communicate effectively with your new family member, pay attention to these tips we have for you. 

1. Get familiar with the Au Pair's responsibilities and create a work schedule

communicationTo reduce the chances of misunderstanding, it is critical that you create a schedule and a precise description of the work you expect the Au Pair to do. Be reasonable with your expectations, discuss them with the Au Pair via video call before meeting in person, and customize the contract according to the agreement you both parties reach. 

Don't leave out the little details: Do you like the children to have dinner at a specific time? Let her know. Are there rules for the use of appliances? Tell her. Do the same with subjects like time on the cell phone, guests, and shared space. 

2. Prepare your children for the Au Pair's arrival

Explain to them what her duties will be, ask them what kind of activities they would like to do with her, and make it clear that they should respect her and listen to her as if she were you. As for your parenting approach, do not hesitate to talk about it with your Au Pair before and after her arrival. 

3. Be assertive

Assertiveness is the middle ground between passivity and aggressiveness. It is a quality that allows people to communicate with respect and clarity. Speaking in an overbearing, blaming, sarcastic, or offensive tone is considered aggressive and unacceptable. On the other hand, a passive and submissive tone can send the wrong message and cause frustration. 

Here are some tips for communicating assertively:

Be direct and clear with your message. Also, always use “I” when expressing yourself. Example:“ It upsets me to come home from work and find the children's toys scattered all over the house, could you sort them out with them after they play?”

Don't yell or whisper. Use a normal, firm tone of voice that shows that you are in control of your emotions and that you respect your Au Pair. Remember that you are talking to an adult who is your equal. 

Do not exaggerate, or make speculations about what motivates the Au Pair's behavior. Terms like “never” or “always” can detract from your message. Likewise, if you accuse your Au Pair of not doing something because she is careless or lazy, rather than being assertive, you are being aggressive. Instead of: “You always leave the dishes dirty, you are careless”, try “Yesterday you did not do the dishes, please do them every time it's your turn”. 

4. Have weekly meetings with your Au Pair and prioritize face-to-face communication

Don't let frustrations build up. Schedule weekly meetings with your Au Pair to talk about her performance, points of improvement, things you like about her job, and above all, to hear how she feels at your home.

The language barrier may cause problems, but your Au Pair will gradually improve her skills in your mother tongue, thanks to the language course she will attend. Be patient, and always try to communicate face-to-face. Written messages can sometimes be interpreted in different ways and cause unnecessary misunderstandings. 

Don't forget to be flexible and tolerant. You will be living with someone who has a different culture. Allow her to express her customs, take time to include her in your family events, and learn more about her traditions. 

If you feel angry or frustrated, postpone the conversation with your Au Pair and take some time to clear your mind. You will make better decisions. 

Don't forget to visit our Wiki and our blog to learn more about the program. We wish you much success with your Au Pair. 

Challenges when living with your Au Pairby Genesis Rivas on 22 Mar, 2024Read More »
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