Thursday, July 21, 2016

Tantrums, Fussing, and Whining, Oh My!

Parents and nannies often find the most frustrating discipline problems during early childhood to be managing tantrums, fussing and whining. Here are some ideas to help get a handle on them.

Emotional Control: Most often these behaviors are caused by a child’s inability to express or control his emotions. Tiredness, hunger, boredom, frustration and other causes can frequently be avoided or modified. Observation of those underlying issues will help you get your child back to their happy self.

Choices: You may be able to avoid problems by giving your child more of a say in his life. You can do this by offering choices. Instead of saying, “Get ready for bed right now,” which may provoke a tantrum, offer a choice, “What would you like to do first, put on your pajamas or brush your teeth?” Children who are busy deciding things are often happy.

Eye-to-eye Communication: When you make a request from a distance your child will likely ignore you. Noncompliance creates stress, which leads to fussing and tantrums – from both of you. Instead, get down to your child’s level, look them in the eye and make clear, concise requests. This gets their attention.

List of DO’s: Instead of focusing on misbehavior and what you don’t want them to do, explain exactly what you’d like your child to do or say instead. Give simple instructions to follow and then praise results. Remember “thank you” goes a long way.

Validate Feelings: Help your child identify and understand their emotions. Give words to feelings, “You’re sad. You want to stay here and play. I know.” This doesn’t mean you must give in to the request, but communicating that you understand can help keep things calm.

Distraction/Redirection: Children can easily be distracted when a new activity is suggested. If your child is whining or fussing try viewing it as an “activity” that your child is engaged in. Since children aren’t very good at multi-tasking you might be able to redirect them with a recommendation of something different to do.

Call on the Imagination: If a child is upset about something, it can help to vocalize his fantasy of what he wishes would happen: “I bet you wish we could buy every single toy in this store.” This can become a fun game.

Prevention: Review desired behavior prior to leaving the house, or when entering a public building, or before you begin a playdate. This might prevent the whining or tantrum from even beginning. Put your comments in the positive (tell what you want, not what you don’t want) and be specific.

When It’s Over, It’s Over: After an episode of misbehavior is finished let it go and move on. Don’t feel you must teach a lesson by withholding your approval, love or company – or with a lecture. Children bounce right back, and it is okay for you to bounce right back, too.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Taking Care of the Caregiver

Those who live or work with young children know how physically and emotionally draining it can be at times. For many child-centered people, one aspect is neglected — themselves. Here are some ideas to help you take care of yourself so you can be the best possible caregiver for the children in your life.
Set aside time each day for yourself. When children are napping or in quiet time, resist the urge to catch up on dishes, do laundry, or pick up toys until you have had 15-30 minutes of uninterrupted time for yourself. Remember, lunch hours are a standard in the business world because people need a break during the day.

Eat healthy foods that you enjoy. If the kids like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day for lunch, that doesn’t mean that you need to eat that, too! You will be happier if you eat your favorite foods.

Get enough sleep. Most people need at least seven or eight hours of sleep each night, but many people don’t get that much. An idea for parents: go to bed when your kids do. It will improve your physical stamina as well as help you keep a positive outlook.

Exercise. Go to the park and play with the kids. Push the stroller or pull the wagon around the neighborhood. Go ice-skating or sledding. Put in your favorite CD and dance. Not only will you feel better, but you will teach the children to enjoy being active.

Take time for the things you enjoy. Just as we can’t fulfill all of our children’s needs, they can’t fulfill all of our needs. Listen to music, enjoy a hobby, call a friend, or do whatever it is that you enjoy.

Hopefully these ideas will help parents and nannies take care of themselves. In turn, we will be better companions to children.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Full disclosure: what does this mean?

by Mary O'Connor

Full Disclosure: What does this mean? Why is it important?

I recently did a Google search on this term and found many definitions:
• The need in business transactions to tell the “whole truth” about any matter which the other party should know in deciding to buy or contract
• The requirement to disclose all relevant or material facts to a transaction
• The need in certain situations for both parties to tell the whole truth about all information relevant to the transaction
• The act of providing all material information about an article or property intended or proposed to be transferred, which may influence the decision making of the buyer.
While some of these definitions are geared to certain business transactions, the principle of full disclosure is extremely critical in hiring a nanny to care for your children. At Nannies from the Heartland, we have a policy of full disclosure when working with families and nannies.

We’ve had several experiences that concern me about the business practices of some other services when screening nannies and making referrals to families.
• One nanny came in to interview with our service and had worked as a nanny for two different families where her duties in both jobs involved transporting children. When we ran her driving record, we found four recent moving violations. Two of which were alcohol related - careless driving and implied consent. I seriously doubt that the families using this nanny’s services through an agency they had paid to screen her were aware of this driving record.
• Another nanny was very upset that we would not represent her and refer her to client families. Although she had some previous nanny experience, she had an eight month gap in her employment history which she explained was due to working with a family that was “not a good employer” so she didn’t want them contacted for a reference. When I explained that we couldn’t consider her as a candidate if she didn’t provide a complete employment history with contact information, her response was that several other nanny services locally were accepting her as a candidate. They had told her not list this employer and/or alter her dates of employment so there was no gap. They apparently took at face value what she told them about the employment situation. Eventually, she reluctantly provided us with the name of this employer but said she had no contact information for them. What she didn’t know, is that this family had since become one of our clients and I knew they had terminated a previous nanny. When I contacted them, they explained this was the same person they’d terminated and for some serious infractions. I’d be very surprised if any family would consider hiring this person if the agency had done their due diligence, learned what I had and then disclosed this to the family.

We would not have considered referring either of these nannies to our client families. However, there are occasions where the nanny has excellent credentials and good references with perhaps one exception. I feel confident referring the nanny but would never consider concealing this reference’s comments. It may hurt her chances of getting a job and I know we may lose out on a placement, but our commitment to full disclosure is important to us.

Not only can families rest assured that we provide complete information on the nanny, but nannies can be confident that we are working with their best interest at heart. Full disclosure to nannies can be illustrated in several ways.
• Sharing with the nanny candidate anything we know about the family employment history that would impact placement consideration.
• Providing complete details about the position expectations and duties, hours and benefits offered by the family prior to interviewing with the family.
• Being assured that we work with families who agree to pay legally and provide appropriate compensation.
We’ve hear stories from nannies working with other services that concern us deeply. Agencies providing sketchy descriptions of the family, misrepresenting job details or appearing to give the “ok” for the family to pay under-the-table, are just some of the experiences nannies have shared. Telling the nanny one thing and the families another only leads to frustration, confusion and a waste of everyone's time during the interview process.

Nannies from the Heartland, is committed to providing complete information to both families and nannies so that the interview, selection and placement process is a positive experience for everyone. For more information please visit our website at