Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category

Talking to Children About Race – Where to Begin

March 26, 2015

Originally posted on Nanny Magazine.

When we encourage children to ignore the ethnic and racial differences around them, we often hope that this will result in creating a “color-blind” child.   There’s nothing wrong with wanting children to recognize the shared humanity in one another, but this “color-blind” approach is flawed for several key reasons.  First, it ignores the fact that children notice difference all the time.  Young children often sort their toys and other materials into color groups, and children of all ages are asked to engage in this kind of sorting and categorizing in school.  The lack of open discussion around race can also inadvertently contribute to the formation of biases and stereotypes.  On the one hand, children are told that race is a superficial difference that should be ignored.  On the other hand, they observe real inequities across racial lines, such as more people of color living in impoverished neighborhoods in their communities.   They are left to draw their own conclusions, which will most likely not be based on a historic or systemic understanding of racism.   In order to promote equity and inclusivity, we would do better to give our children a basic understanding of race and racism from early on.

Developmental guide to talking about race for ages 3-8.

3-4 year olds

At this age, children are full of curiosity about the world. Read picture books that celebrate all the different shades we come in.  Some of my favorites are: The Skin You Live In by Michael Tyler, All the Colors of the Earth by Sheila Hamanaka and Skin Again by Bell Hooks. Emphasize that the diversity of skin tones makes the world a richer, more beautiful, and interesting place!  Go to a paint store and get all different colors of paint chips.  Compare your skin tones to the paint chips and use these names as inspiration for poetry or artwork. Use the book Tan to Tamarind by Malathi Michelle Lyengar to explore poems about the color brown, a color often left out of children’s poetry and songs.  After reading the poems, use brown spices such as cinnamon, cloves, coffee grounds, and nutmeg to make art.  Help children come up with descriptive language around how these spices feel and smell.  The result is a collection of beautiful associations with the color brown, and this activity can work to combat and prevent any biases that may be forming. 

5-6 year olds

At this age, children begin to voice their questions about why we are the way we are. Read books that give a more scientific explanation of where skin colors come from, such as All the Colors We Are by Katie Kissinger.  This is also the time to give children language they can use to be inclusive with one another, and to build their empathy around differences.  For example, when a child expresses curiosity about a friend or classmate’s hair, take the opportunity to read books about different hair types in order to teach about why we have different hair and why it’s important to appreciate and respect this difference.  Two good books for this are Hair Dance by Dinah Johnson and Hairs/Pelitos by Sandra Cisneros.

It is also important to talk explicitly about racism, so that children can recognize situations of bias and racism when they occur.  Use puppets to act out scenarios of exclusion around skin color and engage children as problem solvers to come up with inclusive solutions.  As they learn about the Civil Rights Movement, help children make sense of the larger themes around social justice by connecting these themes to something familiar and personal.  Read children’s books that have “change-makers” in them.  The Lorax by Dr. Seuss is a good one!  Also, seek out stories of key figures of the Civil Rights Movement of all races, genders, and ages, in order to help children appreciate that diverse groups work together to bring about big changes, and to allow all children to find anti-racist role models.  Learn about Claudette Colvin, the black teenager who refused to sit in the back of the bus, James Reeb, the white pastor and Civil Rights activist in Washington D.C., and Ruby Bridges, the young black girl in New Orleans who attended an all white school in 1960.

7-8 year olds

At this age, children should have a basic understanding of where skin color comes from, how to be inclusive with one another, and how to recognize bias or racism when they see it.  If they don’t have this basic understanding, go back to the section on 3-4 year olds and start there!  Think of it as how you might approach helping a child gain a basic understanding of math in order to be prepared for higher math classes.  There’s no shame in “skilling up” in any important learning area, whether it be math or learning about race, racism, and empathy.

Help children find books to read that feature characters of all different races, and not just the books that tell stories around racism, though those are important.  It is also important that children see characters of all races in “every day” books, experiencing relatable problems and situations.  This will help expand their ability to empathize with all different kinds of people.  This is especially important as children begin to pay attention to, and receive more, messages about people of color in TV shows, advertisements, and movies that are not always positive or affirming.

It is also important to monitor the media that children are watching, and to point out instances of stereotyping when they occur.  Ask children to think critically about the characters in the movies, television shows, and music videos they watch, or the video games they play.  Are there an equal number of characters of color and white characters?  Who are the “good” characters and the “bad” ones?  Who gets to be the main character?  One of the best ways to prevent or combat biases is to become critical thinkers, rather than passive absorbers, of the often explicit, and at times, implicit, media messages about race.

Continue to create space for children to ask their growing questions about race and racism.  And if you don’t know the answers or how to respond, it’s okay to say, “I need to think about that and get back to you,’ and then do some reading to increase your own knowledge.


10 Things You Should Never Say to Your Kids

March 20, 2015

l_101765248Originally posted here.

You probably wouldn’t use old-school phrases like “Wait until your father gets home” or “I wish you were more like your sister” with your kids. But there are lots of less obvious ones that you should avoid, for their sake and yours.

1. “Great Job.”

Research has shown that tossing out a generic phrase like “Good girl” or “Way to go” every time your child masters a skill makes her dependent on your affirmation rather than her own motivation, says Parents advisor Jenn Berman, Psy.D., author of The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy, Confident Kids. Save the kudos for when they’re truly warranted, and be as specific as you can. Instead of “Super game,” say, “That was a nice assist. I like how you looked for your teammate.”

2. “Practice makes perfect.”

It’s true that the more time your child devotes, the sharper his skills will become. However, this adage can ramp up the pressure he feels to win or excel. “It sends the message that if you make mistakes, you didn’t train hard enough,” says Joel Fish, Ph.D., author of 101 Ways to Be a Terrific Sports Parent. “I’ve seen kids beat themselves up, wondering, ‘What’s wrong with me? I practice, practice, practice, and I’m still not the best.'” Instead, encourage your child to work hard because he’ll improve and feel proud of his progress.

3. “You’re okay.”

When your child scrapes his knee and bursts into tears, your instinct may be to reassure him that he’s not badly hurt. But telling him he’s fine may only make him feel worse. “Your kid is crying because he’s not okay,” says Dr. Berman. Your job is to help him understand and deal with his emotions, not discount them. Try giving him a hug and acknowledging what he’s feeling by saying something like, “That was a scary fall.” Then ask whether he’d like a bandage or a kiss (or both).

4. “Hurry up!”

Your child dawdles over her breakfast, insists on tying her own sneakers (even though she hasn’t quite mastered the technique yet), and is on pace to be late for school — again. But pushing her to get a move on creates additional stress, says Linda Acredolo, Ph.D., coauthor of Baby Minds. Soften your tone slightly by saying, “Let’s hurry,” which sends the message that the two of you are on the same team. You can also turn the act of getting ready into a game: “Why don’t we race to see who can get her pants on first?”

5. “I’m on a diet.”

Watching your weight? Keep it to yourself. If your child sees you stepping on the scale every day and hears you talk about being “fat,” she may develop an unhealthy body image, says Marc S. Jacobson, M.D., professor of pediatrics and epidemiology at Nassau University Medical Center, in East Meadow, New York. It’s better to say, “I’m eating healthy because I like the way it makes me feel.” Take the same tack with working out. “I need to exercise” can sound like a complaint, but “It’s beautiful outside — I’m going to take a walk” may inspire her to join you.

6. “We can’t afford that.”

It’s easy to use this default response when your child begs you for the latest toy. But doing so sends the message that you’re not in control of your finances, which can be scary for kids, says Jayne Pearl, the author of Kids and Money. Grade-schoolers may also call you on this claim if you turn around and make an expensive household purchase. Choose an alternative way to convey the same idea, such as, “We’re not going to buy that because we’re saving our money for more important things.” If she insists on discussing it further, you have a perfect window to start a conversation about how to budget and manage money.

7. “Don’t talk to strangers.”

This is a tough concept for a young child to grasp. Even if a person is unfamiliar, she may not think of him as a stranger if he’s nice to her. Plus, kids may take this rule the wrong way and resist the help of police officers or firefighters whom they don’t know, says Nancy McBride, executive director for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, Florida Regional Office, in Lake Park. Instead of warning her about strangers, bring up scenarios (“What would you do if a man you don’t know offers you candy and a ride home?”), have her explain what she’d do, then guide her to the proper course of action. Since the vast majority of child-abduction cases involve someone a kid already knows, you might also adopt McBride’s favorite safety mantra: “If anyone makes you feel sad, scared, or confused, you need to tell me right away.”

8. “Be careful.”

Saying this while your child is balancing on the monkey bars at the playground actually makes it more likely that he’ll fall. “Your words distract him from what he’s doing, so he loses focus,” says Deborah Carlisle Solomon, author of Baby Knows Best. If you’re feeling anxious, move close to spot him in case he takes a tumble, being as still and quiet as you can.

9. “No dessert unless you finish your dinner.”

Using this expression increases a child’s perceived value of the treat and diminishes his enjoyment of the meal itself — the opposite of what you want to accomplish, says Parents advisor David Ludwig, M.D., Ph.D., director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital and author of Ending the Food Fight. Tweak your message along these lines: “First we eat our meal and then we have dessert.” The wording change, though subtle, has a far more positive impact on your child.

10. “Let me help.”

When your child is struggling to build a block tower or finish a puzzle, it’s natural to want to give him a hand. Don’t. “If you jump in too soon, that can undermine your child’s independence because he’ll always be looking to others for answers,” says Myrna Shure, Ph.D., professor emeritus of psychology at Drexel University in Philadelphia and author of Raising a Thinking Child. Instead, ask guiding questions to help him solve the problem: “Do you think the big piece or the little one should go at the bottom? Why do you think that? Let’s give it a try.”

Love Language: The 5 Love Languages of Children

February 12, 2015

imagesOriginally posted here.

Storybooks and television tell our children that love is a mushy, wonderful thing that’s all butterflies and romance and rainbows. But as adults, we know that loving others—whether a spouse, a family member, a friend or simply your neighbor—is more often an exercise in self-sacrifice and putting others first. Butterflies are optional.

Dr. Gary Chapman says knowing your child’s love language can make all of the difference in your relationship.  Here, he shares descriptions of the five love languages. Look over the 5 Steps for Discovering Your Child’s Love Language.

1. Physical Touch. Hugs and kisses are the most common way of speaking this love language, but there are other ways, too. A dad tosses his year-old son in the air. He spins his seven-year-old daughter round and round, and she laughs wildly. A mom reads a story with her three-year-old on her lap.

For children who understand this love language, physical touch will communicate love more deeply than will the words, “I love you,” or giving a present, fixing a bicycle, or spending time with them. Of course, they receive love in all the languages, but for them the one with the clearest and loudest voice is physical touch. Without hugs, kisses, pats on the back, and other physical expressions of love, their love tanks will remain less than full.

2. Words of Affirmation. In communicating love, words are powerful. Words of affection and endearment, words of praise and encouragement, words that give positive guidance all say, “I care about you.” Such words are like a gentle, warm rain falling on the soul; they nurture the child’s inner sense of worth and security. Even though such words are quickly said, they are not soon forgotten. A child reaps the benefits of affirming words for a lifetime.

3. Quality Time. Quality time is focused attention. It means giving a child your undivided attention. Quality time is a parent’s gift presence to a child. It conveys this message: “You are important. I like being with you.” It makes the child feel that he is the most important person in the world to the parent. He feels truly loved because he has his parent all to himself. When you spend quality time with children, you need to go to their physical/emotional level of development. The most important factor in quality time is not the event itself but that you are doing something together, being together.

If quality time is your child’s primary love language, you can be sure of this: Without a sufficient supply of quality time and focused attention, your child will experience a gnawing uneasiness that his parents do not really love him.

4. Gifts. The giving and receiving of gifts can be a powerful expression of love, at the time they are given and often extending into later years. The most meaningful gifts become symbols of love, and those that truly convey love are part of a love language.

Most children respond positively to gifts, but for some, receiving gifts is their primary love language. You might be inclined to think that this is so for all children, judging from the way they beg for things. It is true that all children—and adults—want to have more and more. But those whose language of love is receiving gifts will respond differently when they get their gift. Remember, for them this is love’s loudest voice. They see the gift as an extension of you and your love.

5. Acts of Service. Some people speak acts of service as their primary love language. If service is your child’s primary love language, your acts of service will communicate most deeply that you love Johnny or Julie. When that child asks you to fix a bicycle or mend a doll’s dress, he or she does not merely want to get a task done; your child is crying for emotional love.

If your child’s primary love language is acts of service, this does not mean that you must jump at every request. It does mean that you should be extremely sensitive to those requests and recognize that your response will either help fill the child’s love tank or else puncture the tank. Each request calls for a thoughtful, loving response.

Taken with permission from The Five Love Languages of Children by Dr. Gary Chapman.

8 Things Teachers Wish Parents Knew

October 8, 2014

Originally posted here.

The parent-teacher relationship is indeed a special one. When you’re both on the same page, you can pave the way for a (hopefully!) smooth school year. But often parents don’t realize it’s their own common misconceptions that are causing bumps in the road. So we asked teachers what they’d tell parents point-blank if they had the chance — and some of their answers might surprise you.

1. “Attending back-to-school night can really help us both.”
It’s not just the same spiel every year. Often, your child’s new teachers will also have new policies and procedures to tell you about. If you miss out, you might not know to look in your kid’s backpack for important papers each day (like information on picture day or the school play) or what sort of homework schedule to expect.

2. “If your kid’s having a bad morning (or a bad week, or a bad month), let me know when you drop him off.”
You don’t have to go into detail, but it can make for an easier day if your child’s teacher knows that he might be feeling a little bit off.

3. “I can tell when your kid isn’t getting enough sleep.”
Teachers are noticing that kids just don’t have bedtimes like they used to. If your kid stays up too late watching TV or playing on the computer, it can affect how he feels and acts during the day.

4. “I buy school supplies (with my own money) for a reason.”
It’s a sad truth, but many schools just don’t provide teachers with the budget they need to help their classroom activities run smoothly. So take care to not lose that sturdy folder (filled with helpful memos) that the teacher sends home with your kid every day. And if he or she asks you to chip in for classrooms supplies, do what you can.

5. “If you have younger kids, you can’t trust them to tell you everything that happens at school.”
So check their backpacks for homework assignments, permission slips, or notes home. And take advantage of parent-teacher conferences to get some undivided time with the teacher.

6. “When your kid gets older, it doesn’t mean you can start being less involved.”
In high school and middle school, you might be tempted to ease off the gas when it comes to checking in on what your child does at school. But teachers report that setting a positive example, and taking interest in your kid’s education, is still critical in the later years.

7. “I work on the weekends.”
If you still believe that teaching is a part-time job, educators would like to remind you that they regularly put in extra long days and catch-up on classroom prep on the weekend.

8.  “You can ask me anything.”
If there’s one thing teachers want from their students’ parents, it’s more communication. Teachers view education as a collaborative process between them and the parent, so if you have a question or concern, definitely speak up! The clearer you are with other, the easier and more productive the year will be.

10 Tips For Easing Separation Anxiety

August 28, 2014


Originally posted here.

There comes a point in every child’s life when she’s forced to face the world without the parents she depends upon so fiercely. While painful for everyone involved, this rite of passage is an essential one along the road to a healthy, independent adulthood. In the meantime, however, managing the worst aspects of separation anxiety can be a trial for kids, parents and childcare providers alike. Whether you’re a parent forced to leave your hysterical child behind for the day or a childcare provider looking for ways to ease the worst of a child’s pain, these tips can help make managing separation anxiety easier and more effective.

  • Practice Separation – If a parent is returning to work after a long absence, introducing their child to a preschool environment or getting ready for the first day of kindergarten, it’s wise to start practicing separation on a small scale well in advance of the big change. In the weeks or even months leading up to a shift in routine, start talking to your child about what she can expect and practicing small separations. Leaving her in the care of a grandparent while you go to the grocery store or running errands while she’s home with a trusted adult are small ways you can help prepare her.
  • Create a Goodbye Ritual – Establishing a goodbye ritual and a complimenting reunion ritual helps your child to not only prepare for an imminent separation, but also to realize that there are two sides to the situation. If you’re performing the goodbye aspect, she knows the reunion is coming. As a result, she may feel more confident that you will be back for her.
  • Discourage Lingering – Childcare providers and educators helping kids to overcome separation anxiety and parents preparing to leave their little ones alone with a new childcare provider should discourage lingering or bargaining. Your child needs to learn that you’ll be back for him, which is often the root of his fears. In order to do that, he needs to know the boundaries. Stalling and lingering only lengthens the anxiety he feels over an impending departure, and teaches him that there is leeway in the routine.
  • Stay Upbeat and Confident – When a parent is tearful or anxious, they telegraph those feelings to a child, who can easily pick up on them. If you’re scared, your child knows that she should feel afraid, too. Even if you’re miserable, keep a smile on your face and stay cheerful when you say your goodbyes.
  • Use Comfort Items – Some kids are better able to soothe themselves when they have a beloved plush toy or a favorite blanket. Whatever your child’s comfort item is, be sure that he has access to it when he’s upset and anxious.
  • Be Honest With Kids – Telling a child that you’ll “be right back” when you’re heading off for a full day of work leads your child to believe that you should be back any moment for her, and that you’re late or have forgotten her. Be honest with your child, telling her that she can expect you to return at a certain time and that you’ll be back for her at the end of the day.
  • Build a Reliable Routine – Part of separating without pain or overwhelming anxiety is the knowledge that you’ll be back, just like always. In order to help your child process that, make sure that there’s a reliable routine in place. The more your child knows what to expect and can depend upon each day to resemble the next, the less likely he is to panic.
  • Don’t Get Bogged Down by Guilt – Leaving a howling child in the arms of a relative stranger is never a good feeling, but it’s important to understand that you’re not harming or neglecting your child by leaving her at school or with a caregiver. Guilt will only make you feel worse, which will in turn exacerbate the anxiety for your child.
  • Be Prepared for Setbacks – Just when it seems like your child is adjusting to her new routine, she has a new setback and you’re forced to start the process all over again. Be prepared for a few hiccups along the way, and understand that these situations are normal.
  • Know the Signs of Severe Anxiety – There’s separation anxiety, which is a normal part of your child’s development, and then there’s the more serious side of that developmental coin, separation anxiety disorder. Separation anxiety disorder strikes approximately 4% of kids, usually between the ages of seven and nine, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Excessive anxiety, extreme homesickness and refusal to separate from a loved one calmly are all symptoms of this medical condition, and are signs that you should consult with his pediatrician or family doctor.

13 Things That Make a House a Home

May 10, 2014

Originally posted here.

A house provides shelter, but a home is where you weather all of life’s little storms— and revel in the sunshine. Here are a few of our favorite things that transform a mere shelter into a safe haven.

1. The people – and other creatures – you share it with
Your kids are in the backyard playing fetch with the dog and your husband’s tinkering with something in the kitchen. Meanwhile, the cat’s napping on your keyboard, again. Everyone going about their business gives your home the unmistakable buzz of life. And that’s just as it should be.

2. All the noise
A house full of creatures, furry and human, doesn’t come without its fair share of racket. Your kid’s practicing the same three chords over and over (and over) and the TV’s blaring from the other room. Pots clanging, dogs barking, doors banging, kids shouting, and even the occasional arguing. The sounds of togetherness aren’t always soothing, but your house can feel empty without them.

3. … And lack thereof
Then sometimes, there’s peaceful, blissful silence. Everyone’s asleep or absorbed in his or her own activities. Even better, you’re home alone. Come in and shut the door against the din of your bustling town. Now take a deep sigh. Ahh. That’s better.

4. The rituals you create
From standing Saturday movie nights complete with popcorn to your annual Independence Day bash, the traditions you keep with family and friends create fond memories — and get everyone looking forward to making more.

5. The smells of good food cooking
For many folks, a house isn’t a home until it’s been cooked in. From the wafting aroma of slow-cooking stew to the mouthwatering smells of baking cookies, every meal you stir up in your home is nourishment for both body and soul.

6. The dings, scratches, and flaws
No, you’ll never be able to get the wine stains out of your linen table cloth, nor will you ever get around to buffing those rings out of the coffee table. And that’s okay, because a perfect house is just staged, after all. It’s an empty showroom where no one actually lives. You work hard. You play hard. Be proud of all the evidence.

7. The endless to-do list
Speaking of imperfections, your house always seems to be one or two projects away from being complete. Once you get that light fixture changed out and that bathroom renovated, you’ll finally be able to relax, right? Keep dreaming. As long as you’re interested in making your mark on something, those project ideas will keep coming. And that’s a good thing.

8. And the constant mess
No, you probably won’t be able to walk across the living room floor without stepping on a Lego or little plastic dinosaur. And, yes, your kids are guaranteed to muddy your newly mopped floors within moments. Getting the house in order is a Sisyphean task, but, hey, we all need dreams.

9. Comfy corners
It may be that reading chair you’ve moved into every place you’ve lived since college, or your memory foam mattress with the plush covers you splurged on. No matter how clean and modern your style, every home needs at least one or two cozy spaces where you can just lounge and let loose.

10. The collections you’ve built
This is the rug you picked up in Peru, and hanging there on the wall is the painting you bought on your honeymoon. Whether it’s your old record collection or the vintage plates you’ve found at flea markets, all the stuff that proudly adorns your home tells the story of who you are and where you’ve been.

11. And the family heirlooms
That story can stretch far into the past, too. Whether it’s your grandmother’s quilt draped over the foot of your bed, your parents’ wedding china, or your great aunt’s Chippendale dresser now standing in your bedroom, these objects root your home in the past while you make new stories in the present.

13. Never having to wear real clothes
The moment you walk through your door, you make like Mr. Rogers and change into comfier attire. There’s no place for shapewear, pointy shoes, and constricting waistlines in your home. Yoga pants, forever!

Above all, it’s about the memories you make
This is where you were standing when you found out you were pregnant with your first child. Here are the marks on the wall measuring your children’s growth. And it was at this dinner table that you celebrated your last big promotion. Every cocktail party, Christmas Eve, or simple Sunday afternoon leaves its impression, making your house a repository for every experience of a life well lived.

Nannies: The Best Childcare Option

April 23, 2014

Originally posted here.

Parents have to make big decisions for their young children starting even before they are born. Will they name the baby after crazy Grandpa Cornelius or wacky Grandpa Walter? What kind of diapers will be used? Will the nursery be painted yellow or green? While the effects of having a unique name may last a lifetime, there is one decision that will make a huge impact on how a child develops: what kind of childcare to use? According to the National Network for Childcare, “quality child care has the capability of promoting trust, autonomy, and a true sense of happiness and well-being in children. It can lead to positive social, emotional, intellectual, and physical development.” What more could a parent ask for?

More than two thirds of children in America have working mothers and therefore are in need of childcare. Most parents must choose between finding an opening in a daycare center or hiring a nanny to care for their bundles of joy. As with most major decisions, many factors must be taken into consideration. However, after closer inspection, it is clear that nannies can offer everything a daycare does and more.


Gaining social skills is crucial for children to grow into intelligent, compassionate adults. However, a daycare may not be the best way to accomplish this as many would assume. A good nanny knows how important socialization is in a child’s development and will cater to those needs. The nanny can accompany her charges to early childhood classes and play groups where they can interact with the same children repeatedly and build relationships. They can also attend fun outings such as the playground, library, or the grocery store. Taking turns with others on the slide, asking the librarian for help finding books, or putting groceries on the conveyer belt for the cashier are all forms of socialization. Being exposed to a variety of people, environments, and situations will broaden a child’s skill set and knowledge of the world.


Children who are cared for by nannies receive more one-on-one attention than those in daycare centers. According to, “one of the most important quality indicators for child care centers is its staff to child ratio. The fewer children served by each staff member is critical to higher quality care.” Depending on a child’s age, the staff-to-child ratio in daycare centers may be anywhere from one adult for every 3 to 15 children.

Nanny Joy Schreiber of Des Plaines, Illinois, recalls her days working in a childcare center. “Having worked in infant classrooms, I would say that for infants it would be much better to hire a nanny. There is no possible way for an infant in daycare to get the one-on-one attention that they need. Some days all you can do is meet basic needs of feeding, diapers, and naps. By the time you get done with one round, it’s time to start the next.” Only being able to meet the basic needs of infants is sufficient. In addition to food and sleep, babies need physical, emotional, and mental stimulation.

For older children, one-on-one attention is just as crucial. Nannies can tailor activities to a child’s individual interests. Nanny Carrie Corbin of Chicago, Illinois explains, “I come up with age-appropriate activities that I know the child I watch will enjoy. At a daycare, where there might be a variety of ages in one setting, those age-appropriate stimulating activities may be harder to come by.” Toddlers have their own interests and preferences, which nannies can use to enhance learning opportunities.


Another great reason to hire a nanny is convenience. Many parents do not work nine-to-five jobs, which means the cookie-cutter start and end times of daycare centers will not meet the family’s needs. A nanny can start and end her workday at any agreed upon time. Many nannies will also be flexible with their schedules as we all know things don’t always go as planned when there are little ones involved.

Having children be able to spend their days in the comfort of their own home is an attractive idea to many parents. After all, home embodies all a child really knows about the world. There are favorite toys for entertainment, loveys to wipe away tears, food chosen by Mom and Dad, and a familiar bed for naptime.

A nanny also means there is an adult at home during the day. This allows a world of tasks to get done that would not with a daycare. Nanny JoAnna Ryan Becker of Perkasie, Pennsylvania, lists “children’s laundry, homework help, meal preparation, grocery shopping, accepting deliveries, and being home for service people” as some of the many ways she helps make her NannyFamily’s life more convenient.


Consistency means that rules and expectations are the same at all times. Consistency makes the child’s world predictable and less confusing. Hiring a nanny allows the parents to choose a caregiver that will be consistent with their style of parenting. For example, new mother Haley Williams of Olympia, Washington, explains why she hired a nanny. “We knew that going with a nanny would allow a constant in my daughter’s life instead of the constant turnover of other daycare kids and teachers. Ideally, we’ll have the same nanny for several years so that she’ll become close with us, understand our family, and ultimately care for my daughter the same way that we would as her parents.”

All children learn at a different pace and go through phases that require special attention. Whether it’s potty training or transitioning to sleep in a big kid bed, nannies and parents can work together to provide consistent encouragement and learning experiences while helping kids meet developmental milestones.


Hiring a nanny is the best childcare option. Nannies can provide children with everything a daycare offers and more. With individual attention, socialization, and consistency between parent and nanny, children can grow into confident, happy people.

Six Steps to Happy Playdating

March 5, 2014

Originally posted here.


Do you have a playdate planned for the week ahead with a new family, and are not sure what to expect? Not to worry! Follow our six step guide to happy playdating. Both you and your child are sure to make a lasting positive impression, and receive an invite back!

Plan ahead:  Exchange contact information with the host family or nanny in advance.  Confirm a head count for the number of children you will be bringing to the playdate, arrange a drop off and pick up time, and stick to planned times.

Bring a bag of supplies: Prepare a bag for your child with emergency information, extra clothing, and any other necessary items the child may need such as medications or special food items

Manners matter: Arrive on time to the playdate. If you are running late call the other nanny or parent. Make sure both you and the child use “please” and “thank you” as often as possible. In fact, you really cannot say it enough!

Pitch in: Offer to bring a healthy snack or lunch items. When at the home, offer to help host nanny or parent with meal prep or clean up. Encourage your child to help the host child with clean up at the end of the playdate.

Gossip and play don’t do hand and hand: This one may seem fairly obvious, but in the event that you are asked a question that makes you uncomfortable, never speak of your nanny family, other nannies, or parents in a negative light. Be mindful of what you say. You never know how others will spin your words. Remain a positive ambassador to your family at all times

Be respectful: Of the other family’s rules and also of your child’s space. If something arises that calls for disciplining, do your best to wait until you and your child are in a private place, such as the car ride home to discuss the matter in detail.

To Friend or Not to Friend: That is the Question

October 9, 2013

Originally posted here.

As nannies, we have unique personal relationships with our bosses and we face a controversy when it comes to whether or not to friend them on Facebook. I interviewed 30 nannies regarding the pros and cons of friending their bosses on Facebook. While some nannies prefer to maintain a professional relationship with boundaries, others think online friendship is beneficial to their relationship.

All nannies against friending their bosses on Facebook reported that it is important to maintain a professional relationship. They said your boss is not your friend and should not know what you are doing in your free time.

“Facebook is just for us. Once you open that door for your employer you have let them into every facet of your life,” says Taylor Greaves, a nanny in New York City. While you are always conscious of what you post, you have no control over the content that you are tagged in by friends. Greaves warns that “that picture of you having cosmos with your girlfriends from last weekend may not sit too kindly with your boss.” Greaves has a point. If you’re friends with your boss on Facebook, you can never complain if you had a frustrating day at work. You also may have personal information posted that you do not want your boss to know.

“It blurs the lines. There may be things I don’t want to share with my boss!” Anita Flynn, a London nanny exclaims. Your Facebook friends see many parts of your life: photos, posts, events, relationship status. The list goes on. Do you want your boss’s opinion of you to change based on what they can see on Facebook?

Julie Swanson, a sales and marketing associate at a media company, discussed why you should not friend your employer on Facebook, regardless of what field you work in. “I believe in keeping your professional and personal life separate,” she says. “This may be difficult as a nanny where you are in someone’s home and your personality and playfulness is a large part of your success. Even though the line is blurred, I would not recommend inviting the family you nanny for into your world outside of your job.”

Nannies who are in favor of being Facebook friends with their bosses also weigh in with their opinions. “Being Facebook friends with my MomBoss allows me to share pictures of her kids with her and her family. It allows them to keep up to date on their kids’ lives,” says nanny Kelsey Shores.

Another benefit reported by a nanny was the ability to check into places, which allows parents to know where you are with their child. It also serves as another means of communication to supplement emailing and texting. “We are Facebook friends because there is nothing for me to hide. We are like family,” reports Brittany Jefferson, a live-in Connecticut nanny.

743 people were polled in a survey on with the question “Should you be friends with your boss on Facebook?” 595 people (80% of those polled) said no and 148 people (20% of those polled) said yes. In a survey on, nannies were asked if they were Facebook friends with their boss. Out of 35 nannies who participated in the poll, 21 voted no and 14 voted yes.

It’s clear that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to this conundrum. Nannies, make the decision that is right for you. Weigh the pros and the cons to decide if it is better or worse to be Facebook friends with your boss. Do you want your bosses in the social media part of your life? Make an educated decision regarding whether or not to click the “add friend” button.

Top Ten Ways to Care for Your Nanny

May 15, 2013

Originally posted by The Nanny Doctor, here.

In an effort to maintain a healthy, loving and long relationship with your nanny, its important to start the relationship off right and to care for your nanny throughout your relationship. Here are some tips!

1. Encourage your nanny to attend a nanny support group. Your nanny needs an outlet and it can really help them to process their experiences with other nannies who are having similar experiences.

2. Always have a daily check-in but certainly have a 6 month and annual check-in about overall job satisfaction and experiences.

3. Value your nanny: Remember important anniversary dates: birthdays and date of hire. Celebrate & acknowledge these dates.

4. When you travel longer than a regular work week, utilize hotel sitters to give your nanny some respite.

5. When your nanny first shows up to your house for employment, welcome her into your family. Decorate her room, bake a cake, have a special dinner. Make sure the children are included!

6. Reward your nanny when they do something that stands out.

7. Treat your nanny as part of the co-parent team

8. Don’t assume, always inquire. Consult with professionals when issues arise. Don’t jump to conclusions!

9. Offer Benefits such as – medical/dental, cell phone, occasional paid day off. Plan for an annual raise and holiday bonus.

10. Use language that empowers and educates your nanny – avoid language that is shaming or judgmental.

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