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Avoiding Problems - How to avoid conflicts throughout the Au Pair stay

Problems / Conflicts / Misunderstandings between Host Family and Au Pair – Solutions, Compromises, tips

You think you have found the perfect Au Pair / Host Family but then you happen to find out it is not working as good as expected? So what can you do now?

Avoid problems beforehand!

If Au Pair and Host Family discuss and settle everything before the stay begins, fewer problems may occur. Wrong expectations are a big problem most of the times so try to get an idea of the person by collecting the most important information and discuss the main points before departure!

Write down all the important terms on the stay in the Au Pair contract, sign it and send it to the Au Pair / Host Family. On you can find a list with important aspects that you should have checked and discussed before signing the contract.
Don't forget the Au Pair will be staying abroad for a long time in a foreign country and may experience a huge culture difference by living with a native family. That is not an easy situation and it will probably take some time to get adjusted to the whole new situation for both Au Pair and Host Family.

Due to the new situation, there may be some misunderstandings . provides you with useful tips, so that you can keep up a friendly, functional relationship.

Which Au Pair problems may occur?

There are different problems you may be able to anticipate:
  • Language difficulties: The Au Pair isn´t familiar with the language or cannot it well enough to understand to communicate.
  • Unfamiliar situation and settling-in-period: Especially in the first week’s both Au Pair and Host Family need to get used to the new situation.  Most things are questionable and not self-evident.
  • New culture, new people: the habits in the foreign country need to be explored and slowly be taken over
  • Conflicts and misunderstandings concerning duties, rules etc: The Au Pair cannot deal with the tasks as the family desires and needs some time to get familiar with their lifestyle.
  • Overload: The Au Pair is overwhelmed by his / her responsibilities
  • Insecurities: tasks aren´t explained or described in detail
  • Lack of trust: there is still a lack of trust between Host Family and Au Pair

How can you solve these conflicts?

You can anticipate some conflicts and prevent misunderstandings, but therefore both Au Pair and Host Family have to contribute their part.

As a Host Family you should:

  • Prepare the kids for the new situation with a new family member
  • Be understanding with the Au Pair´s language difficulties. Try to speak clearly and slowly
  • Allow and respect the settling-in period in the first few weeks
  • Set family rules for an organized family life
  • Consider the Au Pair's strengths and weaknesses of  when assigning tasks
  • Solve conflicts or problems through open and honest conversations
  • Organize weekly family meetings
  • Show the Au Pair how to handle the children and make clear how your educational methods work
  • Don´t overwhelm the Au Pair with house chores
  • Abide by the work times and free times, that the Au Pair program sets
  • Prepare a detailed week plan and describe the Au Pair's tasks in detail
  • Show interest for the foreign culture and accept and respect it
  • Be open an considerate

Keep in mind: The Au Pair is not a professional nanny but a child-loving young person willing to experience a time abroad with a native Host Family. 

As an Au Pair you should:

  • Commit yourself to the Host Family needs and respect the family's privacy
  • Adapt to the new situation (f.e. food)
  • Inquire if there are misunderstandings or insecurities
  • Stick to the parents' educational methods
  • Handle all tasks the way the family wishes, but feel free to propose improvement
  • Address your problems and excessive demands to the family. You should also talk about feelings and needs, even about the smallest problem!
  • Be honest so that the family can trust you
  • Never neglect your responsibilities and duties
  • Make decisions together with the family
  • Try spending time with the Host Family
Keep in mind: HONESTY and OPENESS = TRUST
Trust will make the Au Pair stay an amazing experience!

Open, honest and immediate conversations can solve a lot of problems.

Keep in mind how to correctly pass criticism:

  • Your statements should be concrete and include examples or refer to specific situations
  • Use the “I”- Perspective
  • Describe the qualities you want to criticize without being judgmental
  • Criticize the action and not the person
  • Stay objective and positive, even when addressing wishes
  • Also express praise
Don't forget to be objective and hear the person out. Try to accept and implement the criticism or to find a compromise.

If you want to make sure your conversation is successful, stick to these rules:

  • listen carefully
  • avoid long monologs
  • have a balanced conversation
  • hear each other out
  • have a positive attitude towards your conversational partner 
Dissolving the Au Pair relation should always be the very last possibility! Try to find solutions and compromises instead. Give the Host Family / Au Pair to settle in and adapt to the new situation! Searching for a new Au Pair will not only lead to a new searching process but may also create an unstable situation for the children!

If you feel you will not be able to make it work out with your current Au Pair / Host Family, do not forget about the agreed notice period in order to terminate the contract. 

Pro Aupair