Sunday, August 30, 2009

Nanny Websites Allowing Parents to Offer Less than Minimum Wage

Why do nanny websites allow parents to post jobs offering less than minimum wage?

"Nannies are on their own when interviewing with families found on nanny websites. They must not accept jobs offering salaries lower than the minimum wage."

De-Shaun Silas, a nanny from Memphis, TN brought to our attention that some nanny websites allow parents to post jobs for less than minimum wage. Since Ms. Silas exposed the problem to us, other nannies have contacted Best Nanny Newsletter about the same issue.

Most nannies that contacted us were outraged that there were jobs offering $5.00 per hour on nanny websites. But, for live-in nanny positions the federal minimum wage is merely $4.35 per hour.

So, it is important for nannies to determine if the wage is for a live-in or a live-out position before determining the website is posting jobs offering less than the minimum wage.

As of July 24, 2009 the minimum wage increased to $7.25 per hour for all live-out employees. Employers are legally allowed to deduct up to 40% of a live-in employee’s wage to cover the cost of room and board. Therefore, the legal federal minimum wage for live-in caregivers is only $4.35 per hour.

If a parent is posting a wage for a live-in job for less than $4.35 per hour, then that wage is lower than minimum wage. If they are offering less than $7.25 per hour for a live-out employee, then it is less than minimum wage.

But, some states have higher minimum wages. In cases where an employee is subject to both state and federal minimum wage laws, the employee is entitled to the greater of the two wages.

States with higher minimum wages than the federal minimum wage include: California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington (see their minimum wages below).

For example, since Ms. Silas works in Tennessee she should not accept jobs offering less than $7.25 per hour for live-out nanny jobs or $4.35 per hour for live-in nanny positions. But Micky Harrington, a nanny from Los Angeles, CA that contacted us about jobs being offered for less than minimum wage, should not accept jobs offering less than $8.00 per hour for live-out nanny jobs or less than $4.80 per hour for live-in nanny jobs because she lives and works in California.

When a nanny on our staff contacted nanny websites about jobs posted for less than minimum wage the nanny websites stated that they are a bulletin board allowing nannies and parents to post what they wish.

One nanny website stated, "We at [name of website] do not have the control on the salary ranges that the care seekers put in their job post, the same thing that the care providers include this information on their profile. Care seekers may seek the services of a care provider through the use of the Site and care providers may submit proposals to care seekers regarding their services. In the event that a care seeker and a care provider agree on the provision of services such agreement is solely between the care seeker and the care provider; [name of website] is not a party to any such agreement. Any issues concerning the services received by the care seeker or payment due to the care provider must be resolved directly by the care seeker and the care provider."

Perhaps, if nanny websites were capable of pre-screening all posts on their websites no jobs would be allowed to be posted offering less than minimum wage. But, they clearly do not have the resources to pre-screen every job posting by parents or postings of caregivers.

Nannies are on their own when interviewing with families found on nanny websites. They must not accept jobs offering salaries lower than the minimum wage.

But, reputable nanny placement agencies do pre-screen both parents and caregivers. Reputable nanny placement agencies inform both parents and caregivers about labor laws, including minimum wage.

Before contacting the Better Business Bureau or sending angry messages to nanny websites you must first show examples that the site is truly allowing parents to post jobs offering lower than minimum wage. Do they post live-in jobs lower than $4.35 per hour? Do they post live-out jobs lower than $7.25?

Then, look for a definition on the website that provides the correct federal and state minimum wage rates. We have mentioned previously in articles about misleading nanny website advertising that the websites should clearly state that parents are on their own and must do the work of pre-screening nanny candidates themselves. The sites should also clearly state labor laws and the minimum wage and that nannies are on their own when negotiating salary.

In reality, it seems impossible for nanny websites to pre-screen all job offerings, even though some may suggest they do. If a nanny website posts live-in jobs for less than $4.35 per hour or live-out jobs for less than $7.25 per hour it clearly proves they are not pre-screening the family postings.

We also have found that since the increase in minimum wage in July, even the most reputable nanny placement agency websites, nanny websites, and even some nanny tax websites have not yet edited their websites to the new increase in minimum wage. Most likely it is just an oversight and if you contact the websites to notify them of the misprint they should be more than willing to make the edit. It is only fair to allow businesses some time to edit their websites.

Why are so many jobs posted for less than the minimum wage? Most likely the bulletin board style nanny websites haven’t the resources to actually pre-screen all posts.

You must know the minimum wage in the state you work in to be certain you do not accept job offering less than minimum wage. If your employer has not increased your salary to reflect the minimum wage increase in July, 2009 tell them of the increase because they are legally obligated to pay you at least the minimum wage.

State minimum wages greater than the federal minimum wage per hour include:

California: $8.00 live-out; $4.80 live-in

Colorado: $7.28 live-out; $4.37 live-in

Connecticut: $8.00 live-out; $4.80 live-in

District of Columbia: $8.25 live-out; $4.95 live-in

Illinois: $8.00 live-out; $4.80 live-in

Massachusetts: $8.00 live-out; $4.80 live-in

Michigan: $7.40 live-out; $4.44 live-in

Nevada: $7.55 live-out; $4.53 live-in

New Mexico: $7.50 live-out; $4.50 live-in

Ohio: $7.30 live-out; $4.38 live-in

Oregon: $8.40 live-out; $5.04 live-in

Rhode Island: $7.40 live-out; $4.44 live-in

Vermont: $8.06 live-out; $4.84 live-in

Washington: $8.55 live-out; $5.13 live-in

Labor Law Center
United States Department of Labor

What advice to you have for nannies using nanny websites? What are your thoughts on the topic of parents being allowed to post jobs lower than minimum wage?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Weekly Trip to the Library

The Baby Bistro Cookbook by Joohee Muromcew

Yesterday we posted Part 1 of Brenda Nixon’s essay “Feeding Finicky Toddlers” from her book, The Birth to Five Book.

Below is part II of the essay in which Brenda Nixon recommends The Baby Bistro Cookbook.

The Baby Bistro Cookbook
by Joohee Muromcew advises [child caregivers] not to cook a separate meal for their tot; rather give him a “dumbed down” version – for instance, a less spicy one – of what the parents are eating. Packed with 150 kid-tested recipes, The Baby Bistro Cookbook offers directions for preparing an entire week’s supply of dishes and pediatrician-approved information on adapting recipes to suit [the] tot’s age and tastes.

Most baby and toddler cookbooks contain outdated nutritional advice, lack menus for kids with special dietary needs, or offer unpalatable dishes that hold little appeal for your child. Joohee Muromcew was inspired to change those dismal options when she began to cook for her son. Armed with her expert culinary skills and her desire to create healthy, delicious foods with a sophisticated flair, she developed a cookbook that is without equal.

Teaching children at an early age to appreciate and enjoy the same fresh, delicious meals you find so delectable is easy. Once you experience the simple pleasures of knowing that your young one is eating happily and healthfully, you'll never want to touch, or feed a baby, another jar of bland baby food again!

Be sure to stop by again next Saturday for another Weekly Trip to the Library. If you have a book idea you would like to share with nannies and au pairs email us and let us know.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Feeding Finicky Toddlers

By Brenda Nixon, Author of The Birth to Five Book

In her book, The Birth to Five Book, Brenda Nixon discusses how to feed a finicky toddler. Below is the first part of her essay on finicky eaters.

Got a toddler who’s shy about new foods? Are you struggling to get [a] young one to eat nutritious meals? Testy toddlers can have timid taste buds. And by the time they’re two, no is a favorite word. One study shows that boys tend to be fussier than girls about new foods.

Avoid stressing out about feeding your toddler. Keep mealtimes social and relaxed. If [the] tot refuses something, don’t force, cajole, or say, “Sit there till you eat!” These negative stigmas on eating make meals a battleground with food as the weapon and can usher in eating disorders.

Many well-intentioned parents make the mistake of running back to the kitchen for a different dish if their child turns up his nose. The better way to handle this situation is to prepare and serve tiny portions frequently along with favorite foods. Just the familiarity of the rejected food makes it less intimidating and more enticing to a toddler’s curiosity.

It can take up to 15 tired for a child to accept the new food. However, when he samples something of his own accord, chances are he’ll be open to trying other new foods.

Also, be a good role model. Sit with [the] toddler and nibble new foods yourself. As [the] tot watches you, he’s gently nudged to try new dishes.

Start early offering food variety; it’s easier to get a one-year-old than a two-year-old to try a strange dish. By the time I was 17, it was too late for me to sample the new dish. Grandma prepared – cow’s tongue.

Another great artcile by Andrea Flagg can be found on the Regarding Nannies blog about finicky eaters.

Stop by again tomorrow for more from Brenda Nixon about Feeding Finicky Toddlers.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Too Many Sweets and Junk Foods?

By Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D., Author of Healthy Foods, Healthy Kids

Remove cakes, cookies, donuts, ice cream, and salty snacks from the house. That does not mean you must deprive children of treats all together. Offer healthier alternatives such as mini muffins, graham crackers, animal crackers, fig bars, and gingersnaps. Popcorn, pretzels, and flavored rice cakes topped with peanut butter or humus are kid-friendly snacks. Make trail mix by combining semisweet chocolate chips, raisins or dried cranberries, and nuts (for children four years old and older given the risk of chocking for younger children).

Don’t use snack chips or cookies as bribes or rewards. Instead, include them as part of meals and snacks, and stay low key about it. When kids get wind that you think certain foods are special, they start blowing their value out of proportion.

Do the children you care for eat too much junk food?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Childhood Eating Disorders: What the Nanny Should Know

In July we began the teaching children to respect themselves and others. Anna P., a nanny from Bethesda, MD cares for a teen-aged girl that hurts herself. She explains, "I work for a blended family and one of the teen daughters is anorexic. Nothing is more important than helping children develop self-worth and self-respect. Do you have any articles about eating disorders?"

Kids are notoriously fussy and unpredictable when it comes to eating. Some children will only eat a peanut butter and jelly if the peanut butter is a certain brand, the jelly is spread a certain way, and the bread is cut just so.

Others will eat only a certain food for each meal, such as macaroni and cheese. Most often, these kids are healthy, energetic and growing well, and merely going through a phase. These types of cycles, while frustrating to the nanny, are not a threat to the health of the child and should not be of undue concern to the nanny.

Our focus will be on those behaviors that signal the possibility of eating disorders that negatively impact the health of the child and can plague the child into adulthood.

Eating disorders can be treated by trained medical practitioners. Treatment is easier and more likely to succeed if a diagnosis is made early and the approaches to treatment are coordinated.

The nanny can be the first to spot problems and the first to issue an alert to the parents.

There are a multitude of factors that influence the eating habits of youngsters. Among the pressures exerted on youth are those of the media, the family, and by peers. The emphasis by media on celebrities and sports figures can cause a child to have unrealistic expectations and poor self-esteem. Thoughtless remarks by parents about their own bodies or about the appearance of others can influence the body image of children. Cruel teasing by peers and the desire of kids to “belong” can also lead to bad eating habits.

As we are all well aware, boys and girls are different, and those differences sometimes extend to eating disorders and the reasons for those aberrant habits. While individual differences exist, girls tend to eat less in public and binge at home in private. Boys are less likely to be concerned about overeating in public and sometimes delight in bulking up to look like a wrestler or favorite athlete.

Both sexes tend to be more inactive than previous generations; spending more time on the computer, in front of the television, and on the cell phone. For some kids, eating differently than desired by the nanny or parent is a form of rebellion. Others like to defy societal pressures and be part of an” in group” by eating unhealthy and fattening food.

Girls tend to more sensitive to remarks about weight than boys. They are more likely to discuss it among friends Girls become embarrassed about their weight and body shape more intensely and more quickly than boys do.

Behaviors that indicate eating disorders might include regular bathroom trips after each meal (to purge} and suddenly wearing baggy clothes {to hide weight loss}. Another flagged behavior might be eating little or nothing outside the home while bingeing at home in private. Constant complaints by young girls about the kind and the amount of food served at home are another warning sign that nannies should watch. Adoration of a too-thin celebrity can also be troublesome.

Conversely, some girls may overeat because of fear. Overwhelming shyness, sexual abuse, or profound unhappiness may propel a young girl to overeat to render herself unattractive and avoid uncomfortable social interaction. The girl will find solace in the preparation and eating of food substituting mastery of the “accepted” female activity rather than facing the more stressful process of exercising and addressing underlying behavioral problems. The challenge to the nanny is to recognize that there is a problem and urge the parents to seek professional help.

Ninety percent of anorexics are female. Anorexics tend to be very thin and look unhealthy because of dry skin and dull hair. Bulimics, by contrast, seem to eat normally and maintain somewhat normal weight. The binge and purge cycle of bulimia causes dehydration, dental problems, and a series of internal chemical imbalances.

Childhood eating disorders usually start when a child starts attending school. For the school-age girl, the student’s perception of her social status plays an important role in determining eating habits and weight.

Girls with lower perceived social status at school have long term weight gain and seem to increase the risk for eating disorders. Especially dreaded is the prospect of getting weighed in public, as in the school nurse’s office or in gym class.

School age boys tend to eat more at school because friends and society are more accepting of a “manly meal” and of a diet that includes overeating among males than among females. Additionally, boys may feel that extra bulk provides them protection from bullies or others that they believe threaten their safety. Overeating is also a way that some boys feel erases the stigma of the student’s family being less affluent than other families.

The nanny should be sensitive to changes in behavior and to unexplained weight gain or weight loss so that eating disorders can be recognized and treated as soon as they appear. The eating habits of the child’s friends can alert the nanny to possible problems as kids like to imitate their friends. That penchant for imitation underlines the importance of the nanny and parents to act as role models in all matters relating to eating and body image.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The ABC's of Helping Children with Social Conflicts by Ann Rasmussen, PsyD

Each social conflict a child brings home offers an opportunity for you to serve as a child’s own loving guide, wisely listening, reflecting, and questioning. We hold up a mirror to reveal features that children can’t see within themselves which obstruct their own path, converting adversity into a deepening opportunity, and coaxing the best out of who the children can be. If parents and childcare providers don’t do that, who on earth will?

Here are my alphabetical list of ideas to help us help the children for whom we provide care.

A — Actively Listen.
B — Beware of Adult Urges to Prematurely Rescue or Solve a Child’s Problem.
C — Convey Your Complete Empathy.
D — Develop Naivete.
E — Examine the Child’s Contribution to the Conflict.
F — Foster the Development of Own Problem Solving,
G — Generate the Final Plan of Action.
H — Hugs and Humor.
I — Inventory Your Own Intervention Options.

A — Actively Listen.
Actively listen uninterrupted, with open-ended questions, without editorializing, by not judging, and only reflecting back statements to clarify and convey your understanding.

B — Beware of Adult Urges to Prematurely Rescue or Solve a Child’s Problem.
While helping to solve the child’s problem might relieve your tension, it may rob the child of the learning potential embedded in the conflict.

C — Convey Your Complete Empathy.
Convey empathy for their distress in a forthright manner before doing anything about the problem. Even if the situation sounds petty to you as an adult, the landscape of catastrophes looms much larger from their elementary school perspective. For example, “So you felt really hurt when Johnny shared his chocolate marshmallows with Freddie but not with you.” Refrain from sneaking in corrections on how they should have viewed the situation, as that only detracts from the empathy you offer. For example, it wouldn’t be wise to say, “why would you want to eat such sickening junk food anyway?”

D — Develop Naivete.
Develop a naivete about the child’s feelings to maximize their expression of their feelings. The more they articulate their feelings and interactions, the more astute social observers and responders they become. If verbalizing their troubles is difficult, suggest looking at a book about feelings. In your day-to-day life at home, develop a language for feelings by labeling them as they come up, as they’re observed in books, on television,
and between siblings. This can help children become more fluent in the language of feelings for the times when they are in the throes of strong feelings.

E — Examine the Child’s Contribution to the Conflict.
Step out of the biased and devoted, “my charge is never in the wrong,” nanny perspective and adopt a detached, (still loving), observer role to ask some tough questions. Does the child keep initiating contact with a peer whom she should know by now is really better to be avoided? Is the child developing a persona as the consummate victim? Is the child exhibiting a pattern of not sharing with other people? Or not tolerating losing? Or not standing up for himself? Is the child acting something out on the playground that reflects some trouble she feels at home, with siblings, or with parents? Tuck it away, look for a pattern, and think about how to address the child’s contribution to his own social conflicts later on, striking, “when the iron is cold.” Look for books with characters who struggle with the same difficulty. For example, read Bargain for Francis by Russel Hoban to a child who lends herself out to be exploited or bullied. See more children’s book suggestions from last Saturday.

F — Foster the Development of Own Problem Solving.
Foster the development of the child’s own problem solving capacities by coaxing them to generate viable approaches to the problem, rather than supplying the solutions for them. When you withhold good ideas and urge them to exercise their resources in each new interpersonal challenge, you expand their skills, you enhance their self reliance, and you bolster their sense of competence. Talk to children about your own tricky situations and
brainstorm about what to do. You may be impressed with their thoughtful solutions.

G — Generate the Final Plan of Action.
Include the child’s strategies in a problematic situation, and your own interventions on the child’s behalf. Should the situation be resolved nicely, you then have the opportunity to explicitly support the child for struggling through and mastering a tough dilemma.

H— Hugs and Humor.
Hugs and humor are always important and especially when the tough times roll.

I — Inventory Your Own Intervention Options.
You can be included in a meeting with a team of concerned adults to address your concerns about a child’s hardships. The parents, (not you), draw up a plan of action with concrete goals, getting referrals for a child therapist, obtaining an evaluation of any facet of neurological, psychological, or educational functioning that may be impinging on their child’s maturation. You may introduce new positive contexts such as volunteer activities, YMCA classes, sports, art classes, music lessons, yoga, religious youth programs, and so on. Your devoted one on one time with children helps replenish and sustain them through the turmoil.

What social conflicts do the children you care for experience?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Weekly Trip to the Library

How to Say it To Your Kids by Dr. Paul Coleman

Dr. Paul Coleman, a family therapist and father, reveals the six fundamental approaches to talking with children. Forming the mnemonic TENDER -- Teach, Empathize, Negotiate, Do's & Don'ts, Encourage, and Report -- these six basic ways of communicating cover every conceivable issue of concern.

Each short chapter opens with an anecdote, followed by related factual information, a section on how to respond to a child on the subject, and a warning section on how not to respond on topics such as how to speak to a child about dawdling, bullying, or self confidence.

Each chapter consists of practical, how-to advice based on various scenarios, sidebars with new insights to the issues important to caregivers. Some of the short and sweet tips included include: the best reward for a child is a responsive parent, don't respond with a tone of voice more intense than the child's, and if anxiety is high it is not a time to lecture or give advice

This is a reference manual for nannies to turn to again and again as the children age and new problems, and tougher questions emerge. Loaded with ready-to-use-information, this is a great reference for nannies can come to for a new idea or strategy that can be instantly applied.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Are Nannies and Au Pairs Being Bullied?

We have been discussing kids that are bullied. But what about nannies that feel bullied by their employers?

Photo from ABC television series What Would You Do?

In February, 2009 ABC’s "What Would You Do?" television series asked what you would do if you saw a nanny being mistreated. Would you speak up or look the other way?

In a monthly poll conducted by Best Nanny Newsletter we asked nannies if they are bullied by their employers. Their responses are summarized below.

1. Have you ever been bullied in the nanny work setting?
Of those who responded to the poll just 54 of the 172 nannies, (31%), answered that have been bullied in a nanny position. For the rest of this poll summary we will only calculate the responses from those 54 participants who said they had been bullied in the nanny work setting.

2. If so, who bullied you?
Forty-two of the participants, (78%), answered they felt the father was the bully. Five of the 54 nannies, (9%), said the mother bullied them. While four nannies, (about 7%), said that the children had bullied them. Two nannies mentioned other household employees were being nasty towards them and two others wrote that other nannies in the neighborhood had been bullies.

For example, Maria, a nanny working just outside of Boston explained, "The children call me fat, make fun of my boyfriend, and boss-me around. My friends and family say I am ridiculous to feel bullied by a four-year-old child and her older brother. But, the parents do not allow me to punish or discipline the children. In another situation I would punish such nastiness, but the parents don’t think it’s a problem. I work for them."

3. What form of bullying were you a victim of, (for example, verbal, physical, or relationship bullying)?
Forty-eight, (89%), of the 54 nannies who have been bullied in the workplace, said the bullying was verbal in nature. Only two women answered that they felt that they had been sexually harassed.

4. What did the bullies do?
The top tactics the bullies used ranked from most to least frequent were: blamed for errors, criticism of work ability, threats of job loss, yelling and screaming, and two participants felt that unwanted sexual jokes were made in their direction.

5. How has, or did, the bullying affect job performance?
All of the 54, (100%), participants have had thoughts of wanting to find another job. Fifty of the 54 participants, (93%), felt anger towards the bully. Forty-three participants, 80%), of the poll said the bullying created stress and anxiety in the workplace, 32 said they had self-doubt in their work ability, (59%), while some mentioned losing sleep making them tired at work.

6. What did you do about the bullying? Did it work? Did the bullying stop?
Most important is that 40 of the 54 participants, (75%), of those who reported that bullying had stopped said it did so only because they left the job.

For example, Sandra from San Diego wrote, "At first I would make sure the kids and I were busy away from the house as long as we could whenever the father was home. I used to try to defend myself which made him even more sarcastic and bitter. I also would argue to defend the mother and children when they were blamed or accused of things too. But, I finally realized that I can’t change him. If the mother wants to stay with the father that is her problem — not mine — and I looked for, and got, another job."

7. What would you suggest to other nannies about bullying in the workplace?
Iman from California wrote, "Everyone is on their best behavior during an interview but do the best you can during the interview to discuss discipline styles and listen to how the family members communicate with one another. If you have a bad feeling during the interview, just keep looking for a family that seems nicer to work for."

Genevieve, a nanny working in Montreal explains, "If your employer is a bully, leave. There are plenty of friendly parents who would love to have a great nanny care for their children."

To see complete monthly poll summaries subscribe to Best Nanny Newsletter.

How would you answer the questions above? Are you bullied at work?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Is Your Charge a Bully?


Are you a bully and don't know it? Maybe you know you're a bully, but don't know how to change your ways?

Ask yourself these questions:
1. Does it make you feel better to hurt other people or take their things?

2. Are you bigger and stronger than other people your age? Do you sometimes use your size and strength to get your way?

3. Have you been bullied by someone in the past and feel like you have to make up for it by doing the same thing to others?

4. Do you avoid thinking about how other people might feel if you say or do hurtful things to them?

If you have bullied other people, think about why. Think about how or what you were feeling at the time. Think about how you felt afterwards.

How can you stop being a bully?

1. Apologize to people you've bullied, and follow it up by being friendly to them. They may not trust you right away, but eventually they'll see that you're for real.

2. If you're having a hard time feeling good about yourself, explore ways to boost your self-esteem. Pick up a new hobby, do volunteer work, or get involved with a sport.

3. If you feel like you're having trouble controlling your feelings, especially anger, talk to a school counselor about it.

There are many reasons to kick the bully habit. Many bullies grow up into adults who bully their families, friends, and co-workers, causing all sorts of problems with relationships and careers. It's hard to think about the future when you're feeling something here and now, but take a moment to see how your behavior may be laying down some pretty negative groundwork.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

For The Kids: About Being Bullied

We have been discussing that adults must never consider bullying in any form as unimportant. To a child, being bullied in any form (verbal, physical, or relationship) is devastating.

Once kids have spoken to you, their teacher, and parents about being bullied, there are lots of things children can do to prevent future bullying. First we suggested children learn to stand up for themselves assertively click here to see what children can say to bullies to help stand up for themselves.

Here are some more tips from By Lois Flaherty M.D. of the American Psychiatric Association:

1. Don't walk alone. Travel with at least one other person whenever you can.

2. Avoid places where bullying happens. Take a different route to and from school. Leave your house or school a little earlier or later to avoid the bully.

3. Sit near the bus driver on the school bus or walk with a teacher to classes.

4. Don't bring expensive things or money to school.

5. Label belongings with permanent marker in case they get stolen.

6. Avoid unsupervised areas of the school and situations where you are by yourself. Make sure they are not alone in the locker room or bathroom.

7. Act confident. Hold your head up, stand up straight, and make eye contact.

8. Brainstorm bully comebacks ahead of time, and practice them in the mirror. That way they will have them ready when they need them!

Reference: Public Broadcasting System, PBS ONLINE® and, 1320 Braddock Place, Alexandria VA 22314.

What advice would you give to children who are being bullied?

Monday, August 17, 2009

There are no innocent bystanders when being bullied.

Nannies must teach children to help stop a bully.

Last week we started the discussion of bullies. In a bullying situation, there are usually bystanders, but they aren't exactly innocent. Bullying usually happens with other kids around. Having an audience is very important to a bully. She wants people to see what she's doing, and that she has power over the person she's bullying.

It's usually because a bully wants a reputation for being tough or strong, or because she thinks it'll make her more popular.

So what about the people watching the bullying? Why are they letting it happen? Here are some possible reasons:

• The bully is someone other people look up to and want to hang out with.
• They want to "side" with the bully because to do that makes them feel strong. Siding with the bully's victim, on the other hand, would make them feel weak.
• They're entertained by the bullying.
• They don't think speaking up will help.
• They're afraid that if they say something, the bully will turn on them.
• Watching the bullying is a way to bully vicariously. This means that they feel like they're getting their frustrations out by hurting someone even though they're not doing the hurting, just watching the hurting.

Research shows that if one person watching a bullying situation says, "Stop it!" half the time the bullying will stop?

This can be hard to do, but it's important to try. When standing by and do nothing, that's saying that bullying is okay. It makes the by-stander no better than the bully himself.

Remember the Golden Rule: to treat others the way you would like to be treated. Stand up for someone when he needs it, and when you need it, someone will stand up for you.

Reference: Public Broadcasting System, PBS ONLINE® and, 1320 Braddock Place, Alexandria VA 22314.

Has a child you care for seen a child being bullied and not stepped-in to help the victim? What advice would you give to a child that sees another being bullied?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Lessons You Can Teach Children About Bullies

Are school bullies bothering the children you care for?
By Dianne Hadaway, The New York Times Company

When children are bullied, physically or mentally, they may be fearful of talking about it. They don't want to make the situation worse, or could be afraid no one will help or take it seriously. If a child has ever witnessed emotional or physical bullying in her own home or with other family members, she may react grievously to this kind of treatment from peers.

Teaching children how to assert themselves effectively and how to cope with their feelings is essential. The child who bullies also needs to be given caring guidance, along with discipline, because the problems won't just go away without some kind of intervention.

Here are some lessons you can teach a child:

Teach Children the Difference Between Assertive and Aggressive Behavior.
Children should be taught to ask nicely for things and to respond directly to one another. They need to know that it's okay to say, "no," to an unfriendly demand. Allow children to role-play with you, with each other, or with dolls.

Teach Children How to Ignore Routine Teasing.
Help children understand that they do not have to respond to rude remarks or mean questions. Many times a bully will give up if they are ignored or don't get the reaction they expect.

Help The Child Label Different Behaviors.
Help children think of effective ways to respond to bullies. Help them recognize and label different behaviors as acts of aggression, jealousy, bossiness, or just attempts to get attention, then discuss appropriate ways to respond to each kind of behavior.

Encourage Children to Express Feelings in a Positive Way.
Role-play with children to help them think of ways to work out problems with classmates. This kind of "rehearsal" can help children to remain calm and confident when facing a similar situation in school. Responding with a simple, "I'm sorry you feel that way," to someone who is insulting or rude can disarm the bully and help targeted children control their own reactions and emotions.

Teach Common Courtesy Skills.
Children should know how to ask nicely and to respond politely to reasonable requests. Have the children you provide care for pleasantly suggest using good manners, such as, "I'll be happy to share my markers with you if you just ask politely."

Teach Children to Trust and Value Their Own Feelings.
Teach children to take pride in not giving in to bullies, and to handling problems in a positive, respectful manner. This will build self-esteem, which helps children reject negative peer pressure. Children who feel secure and confident in standing up for themselves and others are less likely to be targeted by bullies.

Teach Children About Respect and Rights.
Kids need to understand and know that they have a right to their personal space, their belongings, and that they should not to give up possessions or territory to bullies. Discuss what children should do if other children take their things, invades their personal space, or threatens them physically. Tell children that they should ask an adult in charge to intervene when someone is threatening or disrespecting them. Give children examples to help them understand that bullies need to face consequences of their actions.

Encourage Children to Ask for Help.
Assure children that they can and should tell someone they trust when they feel scared, threatened, or so annoyed that they cannot concentrate on their work. Even at the risk of being reprimanded for disturbing the class or interrupting the teacher, it is important not to allow a bully to exert that kind of control.

Pay Close Attention to Each Child's Behavior.
Watching for changes in a child's natural emotional rhythm will alert you to possible difficulties.

Most Important of All -- Listen to the Child.
Let children know that you are interested in what they have to say and that you support them. Listening to children is vital in building a sense of self worth. Create a comfortable atmosphere for talking with you about both the good and bad things going on in their world. If teenagers can trust you to listen to their latest drama, or if younger children get some undivided attention to ceaseless chatter, or if you can feign interest as children repeat their favorite movie dialog for the 100th time, then when it comes time to tell you about a problem, children will feel safe to do so.

Confessions of a Nanny

Jonathan Bender, AOL Find a Job

Anne Arnold was fresh out of college and a nanny. She thought she could handle 15-hour workdays and being one of the six servants in an Italian manor. It was when she suspected the family of laundering money that she decided there were easier (and less dangerous) ways to become fluent in Italian. 'The Nanny Diaries,' brought the seedy underbelly of polite society to the forefront through the experience of an au pair.

While Hollywood tends to exaggerate, it turns out the nanny profession is full of true horror stories, the kind that could provide the movie industry with unbelievable plots for years to come.
Not Quite Like 'Mary Poppins'
The expectations aspiring nannies have going into a job are often quashed when they learn what their living situation will entail. Working in someone's home can often mean sacrificing your privacy and personal space. The Runaway Nanny, an anonymous blogger, found that she'd be sharing her bedroom with two children and had been given a total of three drawers for her clothes only after she arrived at the family's home. "My first thought was to not even bother unpacking, run down to my car and drive away as quickly as possible," she wrote of the twin bed and tiny closet that she'll be using for the rest of this year.

See rest of article by clicking here.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Beyond Parenting Basics

Caring for a child is a big responsibility. From the moment a caregiver takes charge, the responsibility of the child's safety, health, and general well being rests with the childcare provider.

Beyond Parenting Basics: The International Nanny Association's Official Guide to In-Home Child Care was developed to help prepare caregivers and parents for the responsibility that comes along with being a primary caregiver.

Co-authored by Sara McCormack Hoffman, director of the Professional Nanny Program at Minnesota State College and International Nanny Association (INA) Credentialed Nanny and author of Nanny to the Rescue!, Working Mom's 411, and A Mom's Ultimate Book of Lists, Michelle LaRowe, Beyond Parenting Basics is the perfect resource for anyone who desires to become a better caregiver.

Designed for use by those wishing to expand their knowledge of childcare, Beyond Parenting Basics is perfect for those preparing for a career as an in-home childcare provider or those already working in the field who wish to take the International Nanny Association's (INA) Nanny Credential Exam to become an INA Credentialed Nanny.

Beyond Parenting Basics also serves as an important resource for parents who wish to improve their parenting skills through the expansion of their childcare knowledge. Beyond Parenting Basics gives expert advice, presents up to date, reliable information and shares tried and true tips for providing the best childcare on topics including: health and safety, language, literacy, physical development, social development, emergency preparedness, emotional development, professionalism, nutrition, and more!

Beyond Parenting Basics will be available for purchase through the International Nanny Association at on September 1 and will be available in the Fall through and other fine booksellers for $19.99. Discounts are available to nanny support groups, training programs and nanny placement agencies that wish to purchase in bulk. Contact the INA office at 888-878-1477 for more information.

Friday, August 14, 2009

How Nannies Can Teach Children to Stand Up to Bullies

We can teach children that are being bullied to respect themselves by standing up to bullies.

There is a lot of new information about dealing with bullies all over the Internet, journals, and textbooks. The current belief of many child psychologists, teachers, and guidance counselors today is to teach children to stand up for themselves.

The best way to teach children to stand up for themselves is to role-play with the child to practice speaking assertively to the bully. Have the child practice telling the bully to stop.

Here are some things Lois Flaherty M.D. of the American Psychiatric Association says kids can do about being bullied:

1. Tell the bully to stop. You can say, "Cut it out! That's not funny,” “You are being mean,” or “Don’t speak to her that way!” Children should do whatever they can to let the bully know that what he or she is doing is stupid and mean. Many bullies may not realize their words and actions are mean and once confronted will stop.

2. If you feel like you can't speak up, walk away from the situation and tell the nearest adult.

3. Make sure to tell your parents and teacher.

4. Involve as many people as possible, including other friends or classmates, parents, teachers, school counselors, and even the principal.

5. Do NOT use violence against bullies or try to get revenge on your own.

In How to Say it to Your Kids, Dr. Paul Coleman says what not to say to kids who are being bullied is:
  • "Just ignore him. He’ll go away eventually." It is impossible to ignore a bully unless you spend your time in hiding, Fear is best overcome by teaching assertiveness.

  • "But you’re so tall and strong! You don’t have to be pushed around by anyone." Size and strength are less a factor than [a] child’s personality. Shyer or more sensitive children can easily be intimidated. It is better to coach him in effective responses and praise that performance.

  • "You're getting older now. I can't solve all your problems for you. I'm sure you can figure this one out [yourself]." The consequences of being bullied can be devastating. At best, kids are humiliated. At worst, they harbor deep resentments and may take matters into their own hands by finding a weapon. [Children] need your full support, the support of the school, and sensitivity to the feelings of humiliation or anger that can result.

  • "He didn't hit you, he just called you names," of "He didn't tease you, he just stared at you." Don't underestimate how intimidating non-physical forms of bullying can be.

  • Best Nanny Newsletter would like to add, "Just hit him back next time." Violence is never an appropriate way to solve a problem or deal with anger or frustration.

What do you tell children to do if they are being bullied?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Types of Bullies

We started discussing how important it is to help teach children to respect themselves and others in July, 2009.

Michelle D. a nanny from Fort Lauderdale, FL is trying to help a child to respect herself and stand up to bullies. Michelle explains, "One of the girls I care for is very heavy and is being bullied at camp this summer. She is so timid and insecure and won't swim now because she is embarrassed to wear a bathing suit."

Each and every person has the right to feel safe in their lives and good about themselves. So, It’s My Life web site put together a guide to share the basics of dealing with bullies.

The different types of bullying are:

1. Physical bullying means:
• Hitting, kicking, or pushing someone, or even just threatening to do it,
• Stealing, hiding or ruining someone's things,
• Making someone do things he doesn’t want to do.

2. Verbal bullying means:
• Name-calling,
• Teasing,
• Insulting.

3. Relationship bullying means:
• Refusing to talk to someone,
• Spreading lies or rumors about someone,
• Making someone feel left out or rejected.

The reason why one kid would want to bully another kid is that when someone makes another person feel bad, they gain power over him. Power makes people feel like they're better than another person, and then that makes them feel really good about himself. Power also makes the bully stand out from the crowd. It's a way to get attention.

There is much more to share about bullies, why children bully, and how to cope with bullies tomorrow. Are the children you care for bullied?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

When Problems Arise Keep a Non-judgmental Attitude

By Anne Merchant Geissler, Author of The Child Care Textbook

We have been discussing respect. To be respectful of your employers you must try not to judge the parents. The ability to be non-judgmental is a necessary factor in maintaining an open line of communication.

An empathetic professional acknowledges and accepts the feelings and emotions of another person. An empathetic person is non-judgmental and is objective in the way that they respond to others.

Nannies should refrain from forming a personal opinion on the actions or feelings of their employers. This is especially important in instances when our opinion of how a situation should be handled is different than the parents.

For example, you may not agree about how to respond to the bullying treatment of a younger child. Being non-judgmental means that we don’t “glorify” ourselves in the communication process by telling the person about how we handled a similar situation and did this or did that.

Allowing others to exercise their free choice about how a particular situation should be handled—especially the parents, is one of the hallmarks of the good nanny.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Reduce Stress -- Don't Overreact

To Respect Parents, Nannies Must Reduce Stress and Not Overreact

On Sunday, we began discussing nannies that gossip about their employers. It is not respectful to gossip about others.

Another common obstacle for nannies when they need to communicate with their employer's in a respectful manner is the tendency of some caregivers to overreact. Anne Merchant Geissler says in her book The Child Care Textbook, "When issues are blown out of proportion communication is blocked."

"This occurs when nannies focus on the negative aspects of an issue, compounding them, rather than dealing with them directly, honestly, and in a timely manner," says the author.

Ms. Merchant Geissler continues, "Some people can work themselves up to a negative, non-productive state of mind when the issues are exaggerated. It is far better to focus on a solution to an issue right from the start."

She explains "A good example of blocked communication is the nanny who feels that her boss doesn’t appreciate her. She can easily escalate her anxiety about a situation."

"Directing your attention towards a solution right away requires much less energy. By doing so you will feel better psychologically since you will be positive and feel better," says Merchant Geissler.

Another tip to keep from overreacting is to reduce stress.

To help reduce nanny workplace stress:

1. Make sure your basic needs are being met. Eat healthy, get plenty of sleep, and exercise. Nannies spend hours bottle-feeding newborns and preparing healthy snacks and meals for children, yet often neglect sitting down themselves to eat with the children. If your basic needs are not being met and you feel tired, hungry, and cranky you are less likely to deal with problems at work effectively.

2. Focus on one task at a time.
Multi-tasking is good. All in-home childcare providers juggle many responsibilities. Nannies wear many different hats simultaneously. But beware of burn-out from too much multitasking over an extended period. Work at maintaining a balanced schedule and don't over commit yourself. It is perfectly okay to say, "No," to a playdate if you feel you cannot handle the extra work of having the visitor at the house.

3. Take short breaks. While babies nap, nannies use the time to wash and fold laundry and tidy kitchens, children's bedrooms, and playrooms. But, sometimes nannies need to rest too. There is nothing wrong with closing your eyes for 15-minutes, reading a book, having a healthy snack, writing in a journal, or even emailing friends back home (but check the clock or set a timer so you do not spend too much time on computer during working hours), to give yourself a chance to recharge on a long, busy day, caring for children.

4. Resist negative thinking. If you see the downside of every situation and interaction, you'll find yourself frequently irritated and this will eventually drain you of energy. Consciously try to be positive and find humor where you can. It works.

5. Take care of yourself on time-off. Get out of the house and socialize with friends (especially important for live-in caregivers). The better you feel, the better you will be able to manage work stress without becoming overwhelmed. The better you feel the better you will communicate with your employer's when problems pop-up.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Don't Gossip About Your Boss

Nanny Do's and Dont's of Speaking with Parents

In July we started the discussion of teaching children to respect themselves and others. Click here to see the first post on the topic. When discussing respect we must also consider how nannies respect children and parents.

We already talked about Ariel T., a nanny that admitted the boy she cares for does not speak to her in a respectful manner. Then, Marilyn C., confided that the child she cares for simply has no respect for her valuable possessions because all material possessions she wants are given to her. We also considered what Maria F., should do about nannies that are disrespectful towards children. In fact, we posted all last week about nannies that yell at children and ways to overcome that disrespectful behavior.

Today, we hope to help a nanny, Erin S. of Englewood, CO, who has issues with disrespectful caregivers. Erin says, "It irks me when nannies gossip negatively about the parents that hire them. I feel like if the parents are paying them and trusting them to care for their children and home the nanny should respect her employers and keep intimate information private."

Nannies often rationalize that they do not have a human resources department to air their job grievances, so they have no alternative but to complain to their peers about their jobs. But, the reality is many job positions do not have human resource departments. All employees (no matter their job title) should be careful not to gossip about their employers or they risk their employers hearing about the gossip.

Whenever you have an issue with your boss you must communicate directly to your employer to resolve the issue. Speaking to a third party doesn't help you deal with the issue directly.

According to Anne Merchant Geissler author of The Child Care Textbook, one of the most common obstacles to good communication is the inability or reluctance to deal with issues directly, honestly, and in a timely manner.

Ms. Merchant Geissler recommends that nannies speak directly to their employers about any problems with the job rather than gossip to their peers when they have an issue with their job.

She suggests setting an agenda before speaking to your boss. Determine the topic for discussion, ask the parents for a time to talk about the topic, and agree on how much time will be allotted with the understanding that there may be future meetings.

Ms. Merchant Geissler recommends the following when speaking to your employers about a problem:

Begin with something positive. Acknowledge the positive aspects or qualities of the situation or individuals involved before addressing frustrating or difficult issues.

Focus on positive results. Believe that everyone’s needs can be met in a satisfactory way. There are solutions that can work for everyone. The challenge is to honor everyone involved in the communication and to be open to all possibilities.

Be patient. Allow the parents to speak without interruption. Listen to what each person has to say with an open mind. Let go of judgmental thoughts. This allows each person to express their feelings freely and comfortably.

Be empathetic. Acknowledge each other’s feelings and concerns. Practicing empathy instead of opposition or intellectual feedback can bring remarkable results in creating nurturing, and mutually supportive relationships.

Talk honestly about your feelings and concerns. You have a right to express your feelings but do so without accusing others or making others feel they are wrong. Take a few moments so that you can state your feelings clearly and directly without being overly emotional.

Develop an inquiring attitude. Ask open ended questions — not statements hidden within questions. For example, "Why do you always so that?"

Use "I" statements. Avoid defensive reactions by coming from your own personal experience. Instead of beginning with accusations that begin with "you," shift the tone by stating how you feel. For example, "When I heard what you did, I felt angry because I felt like my input was ignored."

Paraphrase and use expanders. For example you might say, "You felt sad. Tell me more." This conveys understanding, interest, and inquiry.

End on a positive note. Always end conversations with parents by thanking them for their time and effort for participating in the communication process.

Do you know nannies that gossip about their jobs? Do you have any advice to share with nannies about talking with their employer's about problems with their jobs?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Weekly Trip to the Library

Playwise: 365 Activities for Building Character, Conscience, and Emotional Intelligence in Children
By Denise Chapman Weston and Mark S. Weston
Published by Penguin Group. August 1996.

Children learn by playing. Playwise describes fun activities to play with children to help them develop confidence, caring, and sense of honor they'll need to make their way in a the world.

Playwise offers a wealth of creative and entertaining activities to help instill basic virtues and emotional intelligence in children. Whether you're parent or caregiver this book has hundreds of games and projects you can do with children to lay the foundation of self-worth upon which character and integrity are built.

In the tradition of Playful Parenting, this book uses proven techniques based on the psychological principle that children learn best through play.

The activities focus both on elements of character-building such as unconditional love and acceptance, stability, and good role-modeling, and on developing character skills such as personal potential, moral awareness, and resourcefulness.

If you live with, work with, or care about children, this book is your one-stop source of playful ways to imbue them with a steadfast sense of right and wrong.

We quote this book in Best Nanny Newsletter and on the blog often. In just the past two weeks we quoted the book when we discussed teaching children to respect material possessions here. We also recently posted their chart of age-appropriate respect here.

We highly recommend this book to be a part of nanny and au pair libraries.

If you have a book you would like reviewed please contact stephanie @ Stop by next Saturday for another Weekly Trip to the Library.

Friday, August 7, 2009

How to Keep from Yelling at Children

On Monday we started discussing when nannies yell at children. To continue the discussion Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D., the international peacemaker and founder of the Center for Nonviolent Communication in Cleveland, Ohio, has created a simple model to follow for effectively communicating with compassion.

Listen: Listening with compassion and empathy strengthens your connection with children and minimizes the likelihood of creating a defensive reaction.

Use I Messages: Using "I" messages creates an atmosphere of understanding and mutual respect.

Use Compliments: Communication tips for positive self-esteem include saying, "Good job" and "I knew you could do it."

Be Empathetic: Ask, "What’s wrong?" Let children know their feelings are important.
Work out problems together.

No One is Perfect: Pick children up when they are down by reminding them that one mistake doesn’t mean they’re not smart or capable. Make time to help them learn so that they can succeed the next time.

Be Honest: When children ask you a question answer it right away. Don’t be afraid to say, "I don’t know." Look up the answers together.

Be Patient: The key to effective communication with children is patience and understanding. In a typical day, you are challenged by many different situations that require on the spot responses.

By becoming familiar with personality types, active listening skills, and constructive communication, your esteem will improve to the benefit of the children.

Learning to pause and to take a deep breath before responding, can help you implement the best possible action for any given event. If mistakes are made, review them in a non-judgmental way. Think of how the situation might have been handled more effectively.

It can be helpful to visualize familiar scenarios to see yourself reacting in a manner that would promote the most positive outcomes.

You can apologize anytime you react in a less than a desirable manner. Doing so teaches children how to be honest, how to apologize, and that everyone makes mistakes.

Do you have any advice to share with other caregivers to help them communicate effectively with children instead of yelling?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Yelling is Your Problem, Not the Child's Problem

Respecting Children By Staying Calm

When you yell it is your problem, not the children's problem making you lose control. It is natural that kids will occasionally "get under your skin." Yelling at a child for something that is affecting you will not resolve the problem.

Before responding to children in anger, take a deep breathe and count to ten. Give yourself a few minutes before responding.

In the book 365 Ways to Raise Great Kids, Sheila Ellison says, "Instead of you joining in with [the kids] screaming, here's an alternative. Go to where the children and commotion are and have everyone stop, sit on the floor, and take three deep breaths. After the breaths, talking may resume in a sort manner. This will slow everyone down for a few minutes, and at the same time teach [children] a new tool they can use on their own."

"Yelling at a child who is trying to annoy you gives the child the upper hand by getting a reaction out of you. Instead, calmly tell the child what you have to say. Constantly reacting to behavior contributes to misbehavior for the sake of getting attention," says Ellison.

Let the consequences of their actions teach children. If you have a reward and punishment system in place let the rewards and punishments modify the children's behavior rather than yelling.

For example, if the child knows they get a star on a star chart for making their bed and lose a star if they don't, you don't need to yell or criticize the child. Just give them the start they earned or take away the star they lost. If kids know they will lose a privilege if they yell at their siblings, then enforce the discipline instead of yelling.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Speaking to Children with Respect

Non-empathetic responses that contribute to feelings of low self-worth in children.

Last week we began discussing teaching children to respect themselves and others. Monday we started discussing how children react to being yelled at or criticized. Yesterday, Anne Merchant Geissler, nanny educator and the author of The Child Care Textbook and The Nanny Textbook, explained how the verbal environment makes or breaks a child's self-worth.

To continue the discussion, Merchant Geissler suggests reading Full Esteem Ahead by Diane Loomans. The author writes about some common non-empathetic responses that contribute to feelings of low self-worth in children. These common responses are:

"Stop that ridiculous fussing! Do you want our company to think you are a baby?"
The result of shaming is that the child is judged and labeled and may feel anger and shame.

"There’s nothing to be sad about. You’re blowing this way out of proportion. Dry those tears right now."
The result of discounting the child’s feelings causes children to feel frustrated, angry, or doubt his/her own feelings and reality.

"Come on, let’s play with the dog until the company arrives."
The child is distracted and may feel puzzled or confused.

"If you are polite while the company is visiting, I’ll take you for some ice cream later."
The child is likely to feel confused or frustrated.

"I’ll give you something to really cry about if you don’t stop this nonsense!"
The child is threatened with violence, and most likely feels scared or angry.

"Go to your room and stay there. I don’t want to see you when you act this way."
The result is that the child is isolated and feels lonely, scared, or sad.

Through practice and conscious attention, you can learn to avoid these common mistakes and replace them with a positive and productive approach.
Do you ever find yourself making these type of comments?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Verbal Environment

Making or Breaking a Child's Self-Esteem

Yesterday we began discussing Maria F., a nanny who is disturbed when she sees nannies yelling at children. To continue the discussion, Anne Merchant Geissler, nanny educatior and the author of The Child Care Textbook and The Nanny Textbook, explains how the verbal environment makes or breaks a child's self-worth. See a book review of The Child Care Textbook by clicking here.

Ms. Merchant Geissler explains, "Probably the most insidious and prevalent factor in whether a child possesses high self-esteem has to do with the verbal environment, such as the way that family members talk to one another."

"Although the ability to communicate well can play a huge role in enhancing self-esteem it does not in any way guarantee that the verbal environment is free of the subtle nuances that either make or break the developing child’s sense of worth," says Merchant Geissler.

She continues, "An adult that relies on giving orders or makes demands hurts the child’s self-esteem. When adults ask questions for which there are no real answers that can be given demeaning to a child. For example, 'What do you think you are doing?' or, 'When will you ever learn?'"

Ms. Merchant Geissler admits, "Few adults, and certainly not those who care for children as their profession, would intentionally create a negative verbal environment. However, it is a common occurrence in many settings."

She continues, "We get busy and don’t think about the impact our words have. Positive verbal environments usually don’t happen by chance. They are intentionally implemented by thoughtful, caring adults who want the best for the children in their care."

In the book, Full Esteem Ahead, Diane Loomans writes about some common non-empathetic responses that contribute to feelings of low self-worth in children. They convey the message that the child’s feelings are unimportant or not acceptable. The child may then internalize the message, "I am not important or acceptable."

Some common non-empathetic responses that contribute to feelings of low self-worth in children convey the message that the child’s feelings are unimportant or not acceptable. The child may then internalize the message, "I am not important or acceptable."

Stop by tomorrow when we will list the common responses that contribute to feelings of low self-worth in children.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Nannies that Yell at Kids

Speak Respectfully to Children to Build Self-Worth

Yesterday we discussed a nanny named Ariel who is upset that children speak to her without respect. But what about nannies who do not speak respectfully to their charges?

Maria F., a nanny in Staten Island, NY has issues with nannies that are disrespectful towards children. Maria says, "I see nannies yelling at their charges when we go to the playground. It angers me. Not only are they hurting the child's feelings by yelling at them, they are embarrassing the child by scolding them in public too."

In her article, Language for Growing Children of Peace, Anita Remignanti, Ph.D. agrees with Maria F. The author writes, "Typically, adults do not speak to each other in commands and directives unless they are softened in some courteous manner. 'Close the window' is softened to 'Would you please close the window?' or 'Let the dog out,' becomes, 'The dog needs to go out.'"

"An adult who speaks to other adults in commands and directives usually feels superordinate or is unaware of the necessity to speak courteously," says Remignanti.

She continues, "Unfortunately, the rules for softening commands are often omitted by adults when speaking to children. There are times when danger is present that adults must use quick commands with either a child or an adult."

Remignanti says, "Children are not subordinate to adults although they are weaker, less knowledgeable, and in great need of guidance."

"Children can exasperate the most patient adult and it is understandable that we command them harshly at times for the sake of expediency," she says.

"In principle, however, children should be spoken to in the way they are required to speak to other people," says Remignanti.

She continues, "Modeling is a powerful force of childhood, and there is no doubt that children will speak in the way they are spoken to."

Pam Leo of Connection Parenting (™) says in her article Teaching Children Respect,"We often make the mistake of thinking that since children are smaller than we are and have less information and experience than we do, that they don't have all the same feelings we do. But they do."

She continues, "The same kind of treatment that would embarrass, humiliate, or hurt us, embarrasses, humiliates, and hurts children. When human beings are being hurt emotionally, our thinking shuts down."

"When our thinking is shut down we cannot learn, we can only record. When adults try to 'teach' children by criticizing, lecturing, shaming, ridiculing, giving orders, screaming, threatening, and hitting, it shuts down their thinking so they can't learn what the adult intended to teach them to do or not to do; they can only record what is being modeled," says Leo.

Yelling at children is disrespectful and only hurts their sense of well-being and self-esteem.

Have you found yourself yelling at children during your work day?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Child that is Bossy to their Nanny

Teaching Children to Speak Respectfully

"Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them." -- James Baldwin

Last Sunday we began the discussion about teaching children to respect themselves and others, (click here to see that post).

One of the nannies we spoke to was Ariel T., a nanny working in Charleston, SC. Ariel admits the boy she cares for often speaks to her disrespectfully. Ariel says, "The eight-year old boy I care for barks orders at me. His parents speak to me kindly when asking me to do things. But, I feel like the eight-year-old orders me around."

Ariel understands that speaking respectfully to others is an important life skill. "My charge won't be able to speak to a boss that way when he gets older, or he'll be fired," says Ariel.

Looking at the developmental stages of learning respect listed by Denise Chapman Weston and Mark S. Weston, (click here to see the chart), Ariel's charge is in late childhood and at the perfect age to learn important social skills, such as speaking appropriately to others. The developmental chart explains that during this developmental stage you should not expect the child to pay attention to these issues if the topic is not brought to his attention. Plus, he should not be expected to learn to speak respectfully towards others if those actions are not modeled by his caregivers.

Most likely, the eight-year-old boy is mirroring what he is hearing and saying. Children simply mimic what they hear.

Are you or the parents barking orders at the child? Is he viewing movies and television programs, playing video games, or listening to music that casually introduces unacceptable language or a disrespectful tone into their vocabulary? Even in his classroom, sports teams, and summer or after school activities, are there children who use backtalk against teachers, coaches, and classmates? If he is seeing this style of communication, then he has come to believe that this is okay, even normal.

Stovie Jungreis-Wolff explains that to teach children better ways to communicate you must first be involved in what the children hear and see. Then he recommends you listen to how you speak to children.

He explains that too often, caregivers take a laissez faire attitude and allow children to set their own standards. Kids are deciding which television shows and movies they watch, surfing the web unmonitored, and programing their ipods as they wish. Caregivers must see what the children see, hear what they are listening to; and if you don't approve you cannot be afraid to say ‘No'.

Pam Leo of Connection Parenting (™) says in her article Teaching Children Respect, "Children are mirrors; they reflect back to us everything we say and do. We now know that 95% of everything children learn, they learn from what is modeled for them. Only 5% of all they learn is from direct instruction."

Ms. Leo says, "Human beings are like tape recorders. Every word we hear, everything we experience, is permanently recorded in our subconscious. Whenever adults speak, we are being role models for the children in our presence. What we speak is what we teach. Children record every word we ever say to them or in front of them. The language children grow up hearing is the language they will speak."

She continues, "The most common criticism I hear of young people these days is, 'they don't treat anyone or anything with respect.' Ironically, adults often try to teach children to be respectful by treating them disrespectfully. Children learn respect or disrespect from how we treat them and how we treat each other. When children live with disrespect, they learn disrespect. We can teach respect only by modeling treating each other with respect and by giving children the same respect we expect."

So, if you are in a situation like Ariel, remember that children pick up your language, your attitude, and your tone. If you desire children who speak respectfully, who are kind with their words, then you must first speak respectfully yourself.

Do you have issues with how the children speak to you? Share your story (without stating the family's name to respect their privacy) by clicking "comments" below.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs

365 Ways to Raise Great Kids: Activities for Raising Bright, Caring, Honest, Respectful and Creative Children
By Sheila Ellison and Barbara A. Barnett
Published by Sourcebooks, Incorporated. October 1998.

Although this book is written for parents it is a great fun resource for nannies and au pairs. It is small in size (fits easily into a nanny's carpet bag), and easy to follow.

Use the "Table of Contents" as an index to find an issue you need to address with your charges. Most likely there will be an activity in the book to use to help teach your charges to develop self-esteem, self-motivation, respect, cooperation, manners, patience, tolerance, humor, forgiveness, and so much more.

Each page is dedicated to one activity to do with your charges to help develop bright, caring, honest, respectful, and creative children.

This past week we included excerpts from the book so nannies can help teach children an attitude of gratefulness and helpfulness. Click here to see some of the ideas included in the book on our blog.

We will certainly continue to refer to the book in the future. See if you can pick up a copy of this book or some of the other great titles by Sheila Ellison such as newer editions of this book or other titles such as, 365 Ways to Raise Confident Kids, 365 Smart After-School Activities, 365 Games Smart Babies Play, 365 Days of Creative Play, and many more.

They are all great, easy-to-use, resources for in-home childcare providers.
Do you have a great book to share with nannies and au pairs? Simply email with your book ideas. Stop by again next Saturday for another book review.