Friday, March 29, 2013

Taming Tantrums

If you think only toddlers have tantrums, think again. Tantrums can start before the child turns two and can last well into the young adult years. They may look different but they are tantrums none-the-less. How we react to them is the key to minimizing their length and occurrences.

Toddlers - 15 to 30 months - are the most common tantrum age bracket. They are focused on building autonomy, learning new skills and stretching their boundaries at an amazing rate. This can lead to frustration, lack of control and stress - all ingredients of a melt down. Tantrums at this age vary from crying jags to the full nuclear fusion variety of lying on the floor kicking and screaming. Typically they will last from a minute to several minutes in length. However, on occasion these can take a life of their own lasting far too long.

Preschoolers - 30 months to 5 years - are the next group of children who can have fairly frequent tantrums. Because this age bracket is more verbal, their ability to talk about what is bothering them may help parents and caregivers deal with episodes more quickly. Often their outbursts are crying, screaming and refusal to do anything until either they can deal with their feelings or an adult intervenes.

Older children and teenagers can have some of the most explosive tantrums. While typically few and far between they usually come out when the child who has been holding in frustration, anger, stress, disappointment and the like, until they simply cannot manage it any more. Then outbursts are more likely to be yelling, stomping feet, door slamming or personal verbal attacks. Often these verbal attacks are focused on the person who could probably help them the most. I've found they frequently are yelling about a subject which has no relation to the real issue, so some detective work is going to be necessary when they are at a calmer place.

No matter the type or length of a tantrum, how you respond to it will make a huge difference both for you and for the child. In all cases you will want to remain calm during the tantrum. Escalating the energy level already in the room does nothing to help the child get out of the tantrum cycle.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

1) Keep Calm - while tantrums are upsetting to everyone, and sometimes embarrassing, it's important that you keep calm and not add to the energy. Take a deep breath and when you are ready to talk with the child do so in a mellow voice. Lowering the tone of your voice helps as well to bring down the energy level and calm the child.

2) Speak to the Issue - all discussions with the child should be about the behavior or feelings and not about the child as a whole. For children who have limited verbal skills try to interpret their frustration, providing understanding while being clear that certain behaviors are unacceptable. Older toddlers and preschoolers will be able to verbalize their concerns which offer you an opportunity to listen. Ask open ended questions about the problem to get more insight. Older children and teens should be able to express to you other options for bringing their concerns to you other than having a melt down.

3) Melt Downs Happen - admittedly we've all had them - we may call them by another name but they are simply emotional expressions of our frustration or disappointment or loss or some other very real feeling. Children don't have an adult’s ability to control themselves and it's up to us to help them find other avenues of expression. An emotional release is very therapeutic, as we know, but having the ability to put parameters on those releases are important . . . and this is where adults can help the child.

4) Talk about Options - this is best done when there are no issues at hand. When everyone is calm, with no immediate pressing concerns, that’s the time to do some brainstorming and talk about options. Discuss appropriate ways to express frustration or stress or anger. How do they recognize those feelings before they overwhelm them? This can be very helpful, because then they are able to begin to anticipate when they may need help. Using role playing can be a fun way of practicing skills – the adult can be the child and the child can be the adult.

Just remember we have an opportunity to redirect, teach, encourage and support children as they grow and develop. It’s not surprising the there are struggles along the way, so our attitude and approach are vital to moving forward.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Buttons, Buttons, Buttons

My mother used to keep a large container of buttons around. We loved digging around in the buttons, sorting with them and making up games. As I grew mom showed me how to sew buttons onto clothing and even make some jewelry with buttons. So I started my own collection of buttons. When I became a nanny I noticed the children loved to get those buttons out as much as I did when I was little. If you aren't a button collector you can purchase buttons at craft stores. You'll find mixed buttons as well as color or shape specific buttons. Here are some ideas on ways you can use buttons that are fun and educational.

Button Sorting
This is a great activity for older toddlers and preschoolers. You can make this work for sorting out colors, shapes or size differentiation. Using a muffin tin or egg carton can make it easy for younger ones to drop the button into the right space. To add fine motor skills you can use tweasers or tongs, spoons or scoops to move buttons from one container or space to another.

Button Letters
What a fun and creative way to support letter recognition! Placing the buttons onto the letter that can be written onto a larger piece of paper or you can have a letter cut out. If you glue each of the buttons down you have a nice art piece that can be framed and put in the child's room. Not only does it provide small motor skills and letter recognition but it's creative as well. If you are gluing the buttons down you may need to use glue dots rather than a white craft glue. Glue dots are typically clear and firmly hold heavier or larger items to paper very well. If you do plan to use this as an art piece I would recommend a heavier base paper like card stock or tag board.

Button Stringing
Another small motor activity that can result in a bracelet or necklace is button stringing. For smaller hands and younger children choose larger button with large holes in the center. If you purchase buttons from a craft store you'll see that they offer some that are perfect for this activity. I also liked to use pipe cleaners for children if this is their first time with this type of activity. Pipe cleaners maintain a firm base that allow children to get buttons on. Once they have stringing mastered with pipe cleaners you can move to heavy weight string or yarn. There are dull ended needles available to make this process easier. The button to pipe cleaner process is a good one to know as they can then make button flowers.

Button Flowers and Trees
Creative art activities are wonderful using buttons. Here are two that give lovely results, even for the youngest child.
Flowers are made using pipe cleaner or wrapped wire stems and button petals. Children can load the stem with several buttons or one. The finished flower can be put into a pot, made into a 3D display or glued down to a poster board background. They can add leaves, grass or other fun springy items to their finished product.                                                                   Trees are made by gluing down buttons to a poster board base that has a trunk and branches already painted or drawn on it. The example here uses the child's hand/arm print in brown paint. Or children can paint or draw their own trunk and branches. The buttons serve as leaves or flowers. Wherever the buttons land on their tree is fine - - - it's their creative choice.

Button Counting Game
This is similar to the sorting activity but we're introducing number recognition and counting into the mix. In this example you'll see drawn jars with a number assigned to each. The child then places buttons on each jar coordinating with that number. I've done this by placing the numbers in egg carton spaces. It's good for reinforcing sequencing as well - two comes after one, followed by three, etc. Once a child understand each number and their relationship to the amount of buttons you can mix things up and see if they are connecting the concepts. This sequays into simple addition or subtraction activities. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

What Sets Us Apart?

Caring, Supportive and Professional Placements

Who We Are:
• Premiere Full Service Agency with a customized and selective approach
• Only Minnesota nanny agency accredited business BBB member (A+ rating)
• 22 + years in business
      o 1,884 Long term placement since 1990, over 1500 temporary placements annually
      o Staff are industry experts and currently working in the nanny field
      o Very experienced at what we do
      o Excellent reputation and name recognition in the nanny community
      o Large network of nannies and families as referral base
      o Full Service which includes long term, short term, full time, part time and temporary placements
• 1 of 3 International Nanny Association member agencies from Minnesota, the longest standing MN agency member. The only local agency member of Twin Cities Professional Nannies supporting nannies in the Twin City area.
• Only local agency to provide a Blog with multiple weekly postings as a resource to all families and nannies

How We Operate:
• Our Business Model: we are the search and referral service also providing ongoing support and resources, family is the employer
     o Advantages include:
              potential financial benefit to family
              security in hiring a committed long-term employee
              family and nannies have control of employer/employee decisions and work agreement
             we have a one time placement fee not an ongoing fee structure
• Office staff is readily accessible by phone or email and responsive to all in a timely manner
• We maintain organized, detailed, accurate records and files
• Website is updated and complete including all documents, pricing, rates and extensive nanny hiring information
• Personal interviews with nannies
• In-home consultations with families

Our Service Commitment:
• Customization
     o Customized recruitment, marketing and referrals
     o Search is based on family’s / nanny’s needs and requirements
• Quality over Quantity
     o Our prescreening and referral process aligns family’s and nanny’s needs
• Honest and Complete Disclosure
    o What we know, you will know
    o Complete, accurate applicant files sent to families

We Stand Behind What We Do:
• Replacement Guarantees
    o Primary guarantee: Replace nanny, no charge to family, within first 120 days of employment
    o Extended guarantee: Replace nanny, prorated credit to family, after first 120 days of employment up to one year
• Repeat client families receive 10% discount on placement fee
• Replacement Rate
   o For the past 22+ years it has been 5 – 7 % annually
• Temporary Service
   o No additional registration fee for long term placement families and nannies

Outstanding Nannies:
• Minimum age 21 years old
• Average age of nannies placed is 41 years old
• Education: over 50% of nannies placed have a 2 or 4 year child specific degree and 87% have some type of post secondary training relating to child care
• Average placement longevity is 3+ years
• We specialize in referring experienced child care providers who view this as their career

Unique Resources and Support:
• Website includes current job openings and nanny profiles
• Blog, Facebook, Twitter
• Customized job postings on select high traffic sites including, and
• Placement Resources include
      o Interview Guides, Household Employer Handbook, Employment Agreement, Information on becoming an employer and how to handle taxes
• Post-placement and Ongoing Support
     o Quarterly Newsletter
     o Kids Play List (for nannies and children)
     o Performance Review Form
     o Daily Logs
     o Medical Release Forms
     o Annual Nanny-Child Picnic
     o Access to staff via phone or email to offer guidance and information

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I'm Ready for SPRING!

I know that I'm not alone in looking for any sign that Spring is coming! I mean today, March 20, is the day Spring should appear, but there's no way with the unseasonable cold temperatures and piles of snow still on the ground. It's enough to make anyone despair - unless . . . you make a little Spring yourself. Here are a few ideas to get that springy feeling even if the weather isn't cooperating.

Get Growing
In Minnesota we can't always wait for the weather to provide optimum growing conditions. Why not start something growing inside today!
Grass - grass seeds take root and grow quickly. You may have seen grass coming from an egg shell or potato like hair from your head. Those are whimsical, simple and fun to do. But you can also grow a larger patch of grass in a basket or deep dish. What's fun about the larger container is you can grow more than one variety of grass and see their progress. Once the grass was really established we'd get out our scissors and give the grass a trim. Each child had their own basket of grass. We took photos of our grass garden, propped small plastic items in our grass garden and later when the weather was warm our garden came outside to continue growing. You'll need grass seed - several varieties if you want to go that route - good potting soil, a container that can be lined, drainage of rocks and gravel. If you want to use a pot made for plants you don't need the drainage items.
Terrarium - these clear container gardens are wonderful for indoor enjoyment. A variety of plants do well in these containers including succulents. You'll need the container - glass or plastic, rocks and gravel for drainage, good quality soil and several plants. Don't overcrowd when planting as each plant needs room. Place in a window so it gets some good light each day and enjoy. We would occasionally put in a toy animal or character which made them look like they were in a jungle. It's interesting to watch not only plant growth but see the roots taking hold. Placing a lid or plastic cover over the container will do a variety of things including raising the temperature in the space and providing "rain" inside the terrarium. The lid or cover should be removed as plants grow larger and to allow for air flow to the plants.

Paperbag Kite
Using a lunch size bag is easiest for small children to manage but you can also scale this up to a grocery sized bag. Have the children decorate their bags with stickers, markers, crayons, etc. Punch holes in all four corners of the open side of the bag, tie a length of light weight string to each corner through the hole (you may want strengthen the corner of the bag before punching the hole by using a piece of tape on the inside and outside of the corner), gather all four lengths of string from the corners and tie together. As the child runs the bag fills with air and flies. You can tie the four corner strings to a another string so that the child can have it trail after them. Light weight streamers can be added - crepe paper or light ribbon works best. This kite flies well outdoors too!

Jumping for Joy
How about a bubble wrap hopscotch game! Doesn't that sound fun and exciting? We made bubble wrap spaces for hopscotch and then using gentle painter's tape secured them to the floor. They actually worked well on carpeted floors or over rugs as well. No matter the person's skill level at hopscotch everyone got a lot out of jumping on the bubble wrap. It's a sensory and physical release that satisfies the longing for the days spent out in the spring sun . . . at least for a little while. Great for rainy days or anytime!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Safe or Unsafe?

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is working on behalf of consumers everyday to keep us safe. You'll find all kinds of information about the safety of children's toys and equipment, items for the home, the latest recalls and legal actions being taken. Take a few minutes to visit their website which is full of current information - You may find this a valuable site for "go to" information on products you are considering to purchase or items you currently have. I've been amazed looking through the site how many items are recalled that I didn't see on the news or through another source of information. The CPSC also asks for your help in reporting products that have issues relating to their use and operation. You can connect with them directly on their website.

From their website - 

CPSC is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of the thousands of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $900 billion annually. CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard. CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products - such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters, and household chemicals - contributed to a decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 30 years.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday, March 8, 2013

Truth About Lice - Part 2

Here are some more tips regarding care of personal items and your home should you have a lice outbreak. All information comes from Ladibugs, Inc. -

Nannies from the Heartland does not endorse any product or service. This source is for information only.

Tips and Tricks
1. If it's not dirty, don't wash it. It is not the water that will kill the lice it is the high heat in the dryer. When using the dryer use the highest heat setting for 40 minutes.
2. After have vacuumed and/or wiped down the couch and chairs in your living area, cover the furniture with a flat sheet. At the end of each day you can remove the sheet and put it in the dryer for 40 minutes.
3. Keep long hair back in a pony tail or braids.
4. Encourage your child not to share sporting gear, hats, coats, combs, wigs, dress up clothes, helmets, goggles and headphones.
5. Freezing for 12 hours is another method to eliminating lice. If there is a large item that cannot go in the dryer, place in the freezer for 12 hours.
6. If your child plays in their closet or drawers and you feel that the clothes could be contaminated, take out outfits for the next 5 days and put them through the dryer on high heat for 40 minutes. Then tape off the closet and/or drawers for 5 days. (Lice die after 48 hours without a host)
7. If there are areas of you home that are rarely used, vacuum them and tape them off as an "off-limits" area for 5 days.
8. Inform the parents of the children that your child plays with frequently. Also, inform your children's teacher so they can make arrangements to get your child a single locker while going through the treatment process. Bagging your child items is also an option.

Environmental Cleaning
1. Dry all linens, hats, coats and clothes on high heat for 40 minutes.
2. There are many items that are not washable or cannot be put in the dryer and you don't want to or cannot freeze then you can bag them up and put them away for 5 - 10 days.
3. Clean the car and car seats by vacuuming or wiping down with a damp cloth.
4. Boil hair brushes for 20 minutes or run through the dishwasher on the sanitize cycle. Label all hair brushes so they are not shared.
5. Do not share beds, pillows or other items that touch the head.

Diagnosed with lice, now what?
1. Check all other family members.
2. Notify those that have been in close contact with the infested person so they can be checked for lice.
3. Notify the school or daycare or other groups that they attend.
4. Clean your environment.
5. Person treated for head lice or nits should be checked for lice and nits everyday and a thorough comb out should be done to remove any debris from the treatment for 5 days.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Truth About Lice

Understanding about head lice isn't fun but it is important to know so you can be ready should your child be diagnosed. The following information comes from a local company Ladibugs, Inc. Their website is where you'll find more information. Ladibugs also has products that are chemical free, made from natural products which is a potential solution to the problem. 
I have to confess even talking about lice makes me itch. However, unpleasant it may be we all should know more so we can be prepared. Having been a nanny for children and a preschool teacher, I've experienced some lice outbreaks so I know it's good to know more.
Nannies from the Heartland does not endorse any particular product or service. This source is for information purposes only.

What are Head Lice?
Lice are tiny insects that make their home in human hair and feed on the human scalp. Head lice multiply rapidly and will lie up to 8 - 10 eggs per day. These eggs are called nits. The nits are glued to the hair shaft approximately 1/4 inch away from the scalp for warmth and have a tear drop appearance. They are dark in color and cannot be "flicked" off the hair shaft; they need to be "scraped" off. After 7 - 10 days the nits will begin to hatch. Once they have hatched with louse is called a nymph. Nymphs will not lay eggs until they are mature which will take an additional 7 - 10 days. Once the nymphs have reached maturity they will begin laying eggs to continue the cycle. During the life of a louse they can lay 80 - 140 eggs.

1. How is Head Lice passed from one person to the next?
Lice do not jump or fly. It takes only 30 seconds of head to head contact for transmission of head lice to occur. Sharing hats, helmets, goggles, clothing, etc. from someone with head lice can also contribute to head lice transmission.
2. Can my pet get head lice?
No. Pets do not get head lice. A louse may be transported through the home by the pet but the louse will not lay eggs on a pet.
3. What are the differences between over the counter (OTC) products and those available through Ladibugs?
The OTC products contain chemicals and pesticides that the lice have become resistant to. Ladibugs products are all natural and work by suffocation and breaking down the protein that adheres the egg to the hair shaft.
*There are prescription solutions from your physician but these do come with a list of warnings.

How to diagnose Head Lice?
The best way to catch lice early is to do frequent head checks. Try to check your children daily while there is a known outbreak happening. When doing a head check, look closely at the nape of the neck, behind the ears, crown and bang area. Live bugs move very rapidly through the hair and are hard to detect but you can see the nit that is attached to the hair shaft. Children with head lice may sometimes complain of intense itching. They may even have small red bite marks at the nape of the neck and scalp. The most reliable way to check for head lice is to do a thorough comb-out using a special comb which is available through Ladibugs.

We'll follow this information up with another posting about managing  your home and personal items if you do have a break out.