Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ringing in the New Year with Kids

This week we discussed what to charge on New Year’s Eve, kid-friendly cocktails to serve, and arts n' crafts to do with children on New Year's Eve. Here are more ideas to use with children as midnight approaches.

If possible, rent some holiday movies such as How the Grinch Stole Christmasor The Polar Express [Blu-ray] so kids can watch movies if they start to get tired. Be prepared to supervise games such as Wild Planet Hyper Dash, Pictionary Junior, Twister, or Guessing Resolutions (see below). Print out free coloring pages and age-appropriate word searches from children’s web sites so children can color when they first arrive or at anytime during the party.

Games to Play with a Group of Children

Jack Frost: Have everyone stand in a circle and chose a volunteer to play Jack Frost, who will stand in the middle of the circle. Jack Frost runs around the inside of the circle and picks someone at random to touch. The person that Jack Frost touches must then start shaking that body part, such as the left hand, and cry out ‘Jack Frost nipped my hand.’ That person must keep shaking their hand for the rest of the game.Meanwhile, Jack Frost continues to run around the inside of the circle touching people’s hands, feet, arms, and legs. Each person must cry out which body part Jack Frost nipped and start shaking it. The game is only over when Jack Frost has managed to nip the arms, legs, hands, and feet of someone in the circle, so that his or her entire body is shaking.

Guessing Resolutions:
Make each of your guests write down five resolutions, each on its own slip of paper. Pull one slip of paper out of a basket at a time and read it out loud. Everyone has to write down who they think made each resolution. At the end of the readings, the person who guessed the most correctly wins a prize. Read some of the wrong guesses out loud for fun!

This is a hide-and-seek game in which only one person hides at the beginning. As the others find the hiding person, they squeeze into the hiding spot. The last person to find everyone hides in the next round. If you have a big, nook-filled backyard, and it’s not too cold outside, this is a great game when everyone needs a breath of fresh air.

What to do as Midnight Approaches

Candlelight Resolutions: Set a kitchen timer for 30 minutes. Turn off all the electric lights. By candlelight, talk about your hopes and resolutions for the year to come. Of course if there are young children at the party use flashlights instead of candles. When the bell rings, it’s midnight, and everyone flips the lights back on to toast to the new year.

Bubble Wrap Stomp: FamilyFun's Parties: 100 Party Plans for Birthdays, Holidays & Every Day (FamilyFun Series, No. 3) suggests doing “The Bubble Wrap Stomp.” Pick up several yards of the large-bubbled Bubble Wrap used in shipping packages. Just before midnight, unroll the wrap on a hard surface, such as a wooden floor or driveway. When the New Year’s countdown concludes, your party guests can stomp on the bubble wrap to make a lot of noise.

Gather Alarm Clocks: Gather all the alarm clocks in the house and set them to go off at exactly midnight.

What games or activities do you recommend for nannies and au pairs working on New Year's Eve?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Year’s Eve Party Ideas for Sitters

Kid Friendly Cocktails to Toast in the New Year

Drink # 1

Kid Friendly Pink Champagne Punch
1 12-ounce bottle white grape juice
1 6-ounce can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
1 16-ounce pkg. frozen whole strawberries, thawed
1 12-ounce can lemon-lime soda, chilled
8 cherries (optional)

Combine 1/2 of the grape juice, lemonade, and strawberries in a blender. Whirl until smooth and pour into drink container. Repeat steps 1 and 2 with remaining juice, lemonade, and strawberries. Add soda and stir well. Pour into 8 fancy plastic glasses. Add a cherry to the glass for garnish. Variation: You can substitute regular grape juice for white grape juice. Add more soda if you want a less slushy drink. Use plastic champagne glasses; they look great and won't break.

Drink # 2
Kid Friendly Champagne Punch
32 oz. Club soda
12 oz. frozen white grape juice concentrate -thawed

Stir together club soda and grape juice concentrate. Pour into two soda bottles. Cap tightly and chill. Serves 8 to 10.

Drink # 3
New Year’s Sunrise
4 ounces seltzer
6 ounces orange juice
1 orange slice
1 lemon slice
1 Maraschino cherry
Plastic toothpick

In a tall glass, mix the seltzer and orange juice. Slow pour the grenadine into the center of the glass, allowing the syrup to settle on the bottom. Garnish with the orange, lemon, and cherry, stacked and skewered with the toothpick. Serves one.

Drink # 4
Triple-Red Shirley Temple
1 ounce grenadine syrup
6 ounces cranberry juice
4 ounces cranberry ginger ale
1 paper umbrella
3 Maraschino cherries
½ orange slice

Mix the syrup, cranberry juice, and ginger ale in a tall glass. Open the umbrella and slide the cherries on the handle. Balance the umbrella on the glass rim in front of the orange slice. Serves one.

Drink # 5
Starry, Starry Night
4 ounces papaya juice
2 ounces pineapple juice
4 ounces ginger ale
Lemon and lime peel
1 or 2 slices of star fruit

In a tall glass, mix the papaya and pineapple juices and the ginger ale. For the garnish, use a small, star-shaped cookie cutter to cut star shapes from lemon and lime peels. Slide the slices of star fruit onto the glass rim. Serves one.

Drinks # 3 - 5 from FamilyFun's Parties: 100 Party Plans for Birthdays, Holidays & Every Day (FamilyFun Series, No. 3)

Click here to tell us how much you charge to work on New Year's Eve. What are your favorite recipes for kids for New Year's Eve?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Children's Arts N' Crafts for New Year's Eve Party

On Sunday we discussed that nannies and au pairs should charge more when working on New Year's Eve. Click here to see article or to let us know how much you charge on New Year's Eve.

In preparation for New Year’s Eve let the children that are hosting the party help you decorate their playroom with streamers, a sign that reads "2010" or "Happy New Year," and balloons. You might like to have the kids make their own paper party hats as an activity on New Year’s Eve (see below) but you can also purchase silly hats and tiaras at any party store.

Make Party Hats
You will need:
12-inch by 18-inch construction paper
Hole punch
Yarn or elastic cording
Decoration supplies

Draw a triangle onto the construction paper. Use a 12-inch edge for the height of the triangle, and an 18-inch edge to encircle the child’s head. Once you have the triangle shape made, make the bottom edge of the triangle more of a curved edge and erase the straight edge. Cut out the shape. Allow the children to decorate the paper with markers, paint, crayons, string, and glitter glue. Encourage them to write the number 2010 on the paper. After the paper has dried, form a cone shape to fit the child's head. Then staple the shape securely. If using yarn to hold the hat on the child’s head punch two holes in the hat near the bottom and knot 5-inches of yarn to each side of the hat. If using elastic cording, attach 5-inches of elastic cording by stapling the cording to the hat so it will stay on the child's head.

New Year’s Bells
You will need:
Craft bells
Styrofoam cups

Have the children decorate their Styrofoam cup with markers. Cut a piece of yarn, no longer than the height of the cup. Tie the yarn to the bell. Then poke a small hole on the bottom of the cup. Thread the yarn through the hole so the bell is inside the cup. Tie the yarn in a knot (or a couple of knots) so it will not come loose.

Cocktail Shakers
You will need:
Clear plastic cocktail glasses
Beans, rice, buttons, or colorful beads
Colorful electrical tape

FamilyFun's Parties: 100 Party Plans for Birthdays, Holidays & Every Day (FamilyFun Series, No. 3) describes how to keep young revelers busy assembling these simple noisemakers. The rattles are conveniently fashioned from clear plastic cocktail glasses. To make the shakers, pour a generous handful of beans, rice, buttons, or colorful beads into a cocktail glass. Place another glass on top. Match the cups rim to rum and tape together securely with colorful electrical tape.

Make Confetti Balloons
Fun idea but prepared to vacuum confetti
You will need:
Construction paper
Hole punch
(Store bought confetti for back up)
Fortunes on small pieces of paper

FamilyFun's Parties: 100 Party Plans for Birthdays, Holidays & Every Day (FamilyFun Series, No. 3) recommends setting up the kids to work punching out circles out of brightly colored construction paper with a hole punch (and to buy store-bought confetti as backup). Write fortunes on small pieces of paper to include in the balloons as well. Stuff the confetti into deflated balloons using a funnel. Blow up the balloons and hang them high, but within reach of the children. A few moments before midnight, hand each child a pin and, on the stoke of midnight, let the confetti fly.
What activities do you like to do with children on New Year's Eve?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Are You Working New Year’s Eve?

What Nannies and Au Pairs Should Charge for New Year’s Eve
A nanny can charge more when her services are likely to be in higher demand, such as on holidays. We recommend you charge more than your usual rate if asked to work on New Year’s Eve.

First, check your work agreement to see if New Year’s Eve is considered a paid vacation day in your contract. If you are supposed to have New Year’s Eve off then you should definitely ask for time and a half overtime pay or double your standard rate, since it is a holiday.

Ask yourself if you even want to work on New Year’s Eve. If you would rather have the evening off simply say, “I’m sorry I already have plans that evening.”

If you would like to work New Year’s Eve determine the rate you would feel comfortable making. Asking for a higher rate when you haven’t previously is easier said then done. So, prepare yourself ahead of time. Would you like an hourly rate (such as $30 per hour) or would you prefer a flat rate (such as $200 for the night)? The proper response would be, “Yes, I’d love to work for you on New Year’s Eve. I typically charge $30 per hour when asked to work on holidays like New Year’s Eve.” Or, “Since you aren’t sure when the party will end I would be happy to accept $200 for the entire evening.”

According to the The New York Times a decade ago, babysitters were earning up to $100 an hour, some $250 for five hours, with a 13-year old charging $135 per child. If sitters could earn that much ten years ago, nannies can certainly ask for more than the usual rate when working on New Year's Eve in 2009.

If you plan to charge double your typical rate, or a high flat rate, you ought to work hard and be prepared to keep the kids busy. Have fun with the kids by planning activities, crafts, games, and recipes for them to enjoy. By embracing the evening and making it fun for the children the parents will be thrilled to have hired you, even at a higher rate.

This week we will post fun ideas and recipes to do with children when working on New Year’s Eve.
Do you charge more per hour for babysitting on New Year's Eve? How much do you charge?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Kwanzaa for Nannies and Au Pairs

Weekly Trip to the Library

The Black Candle
By M.K. Asante
Narrated by Maya Angelou

Written and directed by M.K. Asante, the movie is narrated by former U.S. Poet Laureate Maya Angelou and features contemporary interviews with Karenga, rapper Chuck D, pro football Hall of Famer Jim Brown and numerous other luminaries who weigh in on the value of Kwanzaa and its seven principles: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (Faith).

Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration held in the United States honoring African heritage and culture. It is observed from December 26 to January 1 each year. Kwanzaa consists of seven days of celebration, featuring activities such as candle-lighting of a kinara and pouring of libations, and culminating in a feast and gift giving. It was created by Ron Karenga and was first celebrated from December 26, 1966, to January 1, 1967.

The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa," or Nguzo Saba (originally Nguzu Saba - "The Seven Principles of Blackness"), which Karenga said "is a communitarian African philosophy" consisting of what Karenga called "the best of African thought and practice in constant exchange with the world."

These seven principles comprise Kawaida, a Swahili term for tradition and reason. Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa is dedicated to one of the following principles, as follows:

Umoja (Unity) To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.

Kujichagulia (Self-Determination) To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.

Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility) To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers' and sisters' problems our problems and to solve them together.
Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics) To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.

Nia (Purpose) To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

Kuumba (Creativity) To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

Imani (Faith) To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

How are you celebrating Kwanzaa with children?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Books for Children

How the Grinch Stole Christmas
By Dr. Seuss

Everyone's favorite Christmas story. Mr. Grinch is a grouch. He tries to ruin Christmas for the happy Whovilles in Whoville. But is he rotten enough to ruin Whoville's Christmas Whobilation this year? Based on Dr. Seuss's wacky and wonderful classic picture book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and the motion picture screenplay of the same name, this novelization elaborates on the story of a holiday gone awry. Little Cindy Lou Who, her cheerfully dopey dad, Lou Lou Who, her semi-delinquent teenage brothers Stu and Drew Lou Who, the Martha Stewartesque Martha May Whovier, and the nastiest, most cynical, evil-hearted Grinch around star in this Christmas comedy.

The Polar Express
By Chris Van Allsburg

One couldn't select a more delightful and exciting premise for a children's book than the tale of a young boy lying awake on Christmas Eve only to have Santa Claus sweep by and take him on a trip with other children to the North Pole. And one couldn't ask for a more talented artist and writer to tell the story than Chris Van Allsburg. Allsburg, a sculptor who entered the genre nonchalantly when he created a children's book as a diversion from his sculpting, won the 1986 Caldecott Medal for this book, one of several award winners he's produced. The Polar Express rings with vitality and wonder.

God Gave Us Christmas
Lisa T. Bergman

As Little Cub and her family prepare to celebrate the most special day of the year, the curious young polar bear begins to wonder… "Who invented Christmas?" Mama’s answer only leads to more questions like "Is God more important than Santa?" So she and Little Cub head off on a polar expedition to find God and to see how he gave them Christmas. Along the way, they find signs that God is at work all around them. Through Mama’s gentle guidance, Little Cub learns about the very first Christmas and discovers that…Jesus is the best present of all.This enchanting tale provides the perfect opportunity to help young children celebrate the true meaning of Christmas and to discover how very much God loves them.

A Christmas Carol
Jan Brett's interpretation of Clement Moore's poem

With over 600,000 copies sold, Jan Brett’s New York Times bestselling edition of Clement Moore’s classic Christmas poem celebrates its tenth anniversary with a note from Jan and an exquisitely redesigned jacket with red foil trim, making this a delectable holiday treat. A new generation of readers will find Jan’s visual interpretation of this favorite poem, set in a snowy New England village, both familiar, as St. Nick visits a Victorian family, and surprising, with Jan’s addition of two stowaway elves from the North Pole.

What are your favorite Christmas books?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve Traditions

Leaving Santa Cookies

On Christmas eve, the night before Christmas, children expect a visit from Santa and stockings are hung by the fireplace to collect gifts from Santa. It is customary to read children some Christmas stories to complete their evening. The classic The Night Before Christmas is by far, the most popular short story of all. Reading stories in front of the fireplace with some hot chocolate will get the kids settled down and ready for bed. Then leave cookies for Santa and he will leave some crumbs and a note behind.

Make fresh cookies. Whether you plan on leaving chocolate chip or Santa's favorite, frosted sugar cookies, Santa prefers homemade to store-bought cookies. Put the cookies on a decorative Christmas plate. Leave at least ten cookies. Make sure that there will still be cookies for Santa after Mom and Dad have eaten a few themselves.

Leave a glass of milk or eggnog with the cookies. Keep the milk or eggnog in the refrigerator and have Mom and Dad put it out before they go to bed. Santa loves icy cold milk.

Leave the cookies in a place where Santa will see them. Place them on the fireplace hearth or near the Christmas tree. Leave a note to tell Santa where the cookies are if you have to hide them from the dog.

Leave a napkin for Santa to dab his mustache. Santa loves festive napkins, but a plain napkin will do as well.

Leave a note by the cookies. Let Santa know how thankful you are for his visit to your house. Sometimes Santa has been know to write notes back to good children.

You can also have the kids throw Reindeer Food out in the yard for the reindeer before bed. See our recipe posted yesterday by clicking here. If the reindeer do not eat it the squirrels and birds will.

Click here to see original article at

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Reindeer Recipes for Nannies and Au Pairs to Use with Kids

Magic Reindeer Food

Many families leave cookies and milk for Santa, but what about his reindeer? Sprinkled on the lawn on Christmas Eve, Magic Reindeer Food leaves a glittering path--and a sweet snack--for Rudolph and friends. Package Magic Reindeer Food recipe in zipper food storage bags. In a small zipper food storage bag or empty shaker container, mix:

1/2 cup uncooked oatmeal
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup red
or green sugar crystals (as used for cake decorating)

Add this poem to copies of the Magic Reindeer Food gift tag:
Be sure to take this magic food and sprinkle on the lawn,On Christmas, Santa's reindeer travel miles before the dawn.The smell of oats and glitter path will guide them on their wayAnd you'll wake up to Santa's gifts next morn on Christmas Day!

Note: many recipes for Magic Reindeer Food call for craft glitter, which can harm birds or wildlife if ingested. For safety, substitute colored sugar crystals and be kind to animals!

Reindeer Mix Recipe for Kids to Eat:

Reindeer Mix for Kids:
3 cups of Rice Chex
3 cups of Corn Chex
3 cups of Cheerios
3 cups of stick pretzels
2 cups of dry roasted peanuts
16 oz bag of M & M's
(3) 12oz packages of white chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients, except for the white chocolate chips. Melt those in the microwave, one bag at a time, until soft. Be careful not to over do it, they burn easily. Pour melted chocolate over the mixture and work together. Lay snack mix out on a wax paper to set. Once it's hard, break up into chunks.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Making a Gingerbread House with Kids

We made the gingerbread house in the photo with a kit. The kit has the cookies already baked and in the shapes needed to make the house. The kit also includes icing, candies, and coconut to use to decorate the house.

But, if you want to make a real gingerbread house from scratch here are the directions from

6 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 Tbsp) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup dark molasses
1 Tbsp water


Make the Gingerbread Dough
1. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl, set aside.

2. Using an electric mixer, beat on medium speed the butter and brown sugar until fluffy and well blended. Beat in the eggs, molasses and water until well combined.

3. Beat half of the flour mixture into the molasses mixture until well blended and smooth. Stir in the remaining flour. Knead (or use your mixer's dough hook) until well blended. If dough is too soft, add a little more flour.

4. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least two hours, preferably overnight. You can make it up to 3 days ahead of time. Let sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes before rolling out.

To see the rest of the directions, including how to decorate the gingerbread house visit

Monday, December 21, 2009

Making Garland with Kids


You will need:
Construction paper
Glue sticks


1. Simply cut out long strips of construction any colors you like about four inches long and one inch wide.

2. Place some glue on one end of the first strip and overlap it over the other end to form a loop

3. Place glue on the second strip of paper and insert it through the first loop then create a loop just like you did for the first one.

4. Continue adding new loops until the garland is the length you desire.

Click here for original link to this project.

You can make this as easy or elaborate as you want to. For the easiest version the nanny can cut out the gingerbread man garland and allow kids to just use markers to decorate the garland. For older children let them cut out the garland and decorate with anything they like. Some suggestions below.

You will need:
Craft Paper
White glue (tacky or Elmers)
Glitter glue
Fabric paint in squeeze bottles
Googly eyes
Scraps of fabric

1. Fan fold the sheet of paper. The paper should be folded back and forth like an accordion or fan.

2. Draw the shape you want on one part of the folded paper. If you want the garland to be all boys or all girls, just draw one child. If you want boys and girls, draw both children. Make sure their hands are touching at the folded edge.

3. Cut out the shape for your garland being sure not to cut the fold lines under the hands. Open up your garland. Depending on the size of your paper, you may need to tape or glue together a few pieces to make a long garland.

4. For the youngest children they can use crayons or markers to decorate their garland. Glitter glue or fabric paint in squeeze bottles can be used to draw the icing. Scraps of fabric or colored paper can be cut into vest, skirts etc and glued on. Googly eyes, ribbons, raffia, buttons, pompoms and beads can all be glued on.


You will need:
Tapestry needle
Pasta in various shapes
Paint brushes

1. Gather all the necessary supplies. Select different shapes of pasta. Any pasta with a hole works well. Also get some yarn, a tapestry needle, acrylic paints, paint brushes and a dish
of water for rinsing the brush.

2. Spread out newspapers or paper towels on the work surface to make cleanup easy.

3. Give the kids paint brushes and let them paint the pasta shapes.Use any colors at all; there are no rules. Sprinkle on some glitter before the paint dries for a little extra sparkle. Let this dry before continuing.

4. Measure out the desired amount of yarn. Add on extra length for tying off later.
Thread the yarn onto the tapestry needle. Slide the first piece of pasta onto the yarn. Go back through the pasta shape a second time in the same manner to make a loop and pull it tight to hold the pasta on the yarn. This keeps the project from sliding off the yarn. Knot it off, if necessary.

5. Hold the tapestry needle while letting the kids put the pasta shapes on. Use this as an opportunity to teach smaller children patterns with colors and shapes.

6. Make another loop through the final piece of pasta just like with the first piece, then tie it off with one or two knots.


Makes one 10-foot garland

You will need:
Wide-eyed needle
Fishing line or thread
15 cups popped popcorn
6 cups gumdrops
3 cups colorful Life Savers

1. Decide on the length of garland you want. Thread the needle with the length of fishing line or thread.

2. Tie a large double knot at the end of the line. Put the needle through as many popcorn kernels as you like, then move on to the gumdrops or Live Savers, threading them through the middle.

3. Keep threading the items until you are nearly done, remembering to leave room to tie off the garland, You can nibble at this garland for the first three days; after that it should be purely decorative. When the holiday season is over, you should throw it away.

4. It is fun to come up with patterns you would like to repeat, such as five popcorn, three red Life Savers, two green gumdrops, and two white gumdrops. Repeat.

Tip: Use a dampened paper towel to clean the needle in between threading items.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Top 10 Worst Toy List

On Wednesday we discussed what to buy the children you care for this holiday season. Click here to see our suggestions.

In this month's issue of Be the Best Nanny Newsletter we recommend nannies and au pairs choose safe, age-appropriate gifts that encourage creative play rather than passive play for children.

Instead of choosing electronic toys, electronic games, and DVDs, give gifts that from the child's interests and abilities. The best way to do that is by choosing simple toys like: blocks, costumes, puppets, balls, sand and shovels, clay, stuffed animals, and generic dolls which invite children to create their own scenes. It’s the process of using their imagination, literacy, or physical exercise that’s important in creative play.

Giving children safe toys should be your number one priority. World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc. (WATCH), works to educate the public about life-threatening toys and other children’s products, including children’s furniture, clothing and playground equipment. Each year WATCH provides their Top 10 Worst Toy List.

Here the WATCH 2009 Top 10 Worst Toy List:

Manufacturer or Distributor: Disney/Hoop Retail Stores, LLC

Manufacturer or Distributor: Big Time Toys, LLC

Manufacturer or Distributor: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company

Manufacturer or Distributor: Mattel

Manufacturer or Distributor: Hasbro

Manufacturer or Distributor: JC Toys Group, Inc.

Manufacturer or Distributor: Kmart Corporation

Manufacturer or Distributor: Toy State International Limited

Manufacturer or Distributor: Battat Incorporated

Manufacturer or Distributor: Wild Planet Entertainment, Inc.

What toys have you found to be unsafe for children?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Children's Books About Hanukkah and Christmas (Interfaith Stories)

Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs
By Interfaith Nanny

I loved growing up with parents of different faiths. My father was raised by Jewish parents, yet enjoyed celebrating Christmas and Easter with my mother (his Christian wife) and children. My entire family love attending Passover at my paternal Grandparent's house or a Great Aunt and Great Uncle's home. Having family members to share both faiths was a blessing for me and I have learned there is more in common in the faiths of Judaism and Christianity, (including the Old Testament of the Bible), than there is different. I strongly believe that there is no harm in children learning about all religions. In the process, children will learn to love their own religion, customs, and traditions even more. Here are my suggestions for children to learn more about other holidays. Here are my selection of interfaith Christmas and Hanukkah children's books to share with children this holiday season.

Light The Lights! A Story About Celebrating Hanukkah And Christmas by Margaret Mooman

Interfaith families and families that aren't religious crave materials that validate the observance of holidays from the traditions of different faiths. In one of a very few such picture books, the author focuses on a household's joyous celebrations of Hanukkah and Christmas, two festivals that frequently occur close together on the wintertime calendar. The book's title reflects a motif common to both: candles in a menorah glow brightly in Emma's house during the eight days of the Jewish holiday; later, lights shimmer beautifully from her family's Christmas tree. The family's celebrations are purely secular, and Emma's response to everything -- be it getting presents or playing dreidel -- is sheer delight, which the author captures nicely in her bright, unpretentious paintings. The story, however, is very slight, and there's no sense of the origins of the holidays, which are very different.

Elijah's Angel: A Story for Chanukah and Christmas by Michael J. Rosen

A child's vision of religious tolerance is exquisitely played out in this story about an elderly Christian barber and a Jewish child who befriends him. As a hobby, the African American barber makes elaborate woodcarvings -- many of which refer to events or characters in the Bible. Michael, a 9-year-old Jewish boy, often visits the barbershop just to admire old Elijah's carvings, especially that of Noah's Ark--a story that belongs to Jewish as well as Christian teachings. One day when Hanukkah and Christmas coincidentally overlap, Elijah gives Michael a special gift, a carved guardian angel. Immediately Michael is filled with a jumble of feelings -- gratitude for such a beautiful gift, concern that his parents might disapprove, and an even greater fear that God may frown upon a Christmas angel, "a graven image," in Michael's home. The thick sweeps of paint, the heavy uses of wood-tones, and primitive images make the settings and characters look as though Elijah carved them himself. When Michael finally reveals the carved angel to his parents, they help the young boy understand how expressions of friendship, love, and protection can be carried into any home, regardless of the household's religion. Michael J. Rosen based this story on the real-life Elijah Pierce (1892-1984), a lay minister, barber, and woodcarver from Columbus, Ohio, whose award-winning woodcarvings are now owned by the Columbus Museum of Art.

Holiday Miracles: A Christmas/Hanukkah Story by Ellyn Bache

This heartwarming story is truly an interfaith tale, a profile of a family in which the mother is Jewish and the father Christian. (This is a roman … clef: Bache has lovingly drawn from her own experience as a member of a Jewish-Catholic family.) As the parents perform the annual negotiations of latkes and parties and wrapping paper (red or blue?), their five-year-old son becomes seriously ill, making the entire family realize anew the central message of both Hanukkah and Christmas: Miracles are possible. The novella is simply and beautifully presented Bache, a Willa Cather Prize recipient, clearly knows how to tell a story. What could be cloying or manipulative is instead full of honest emotion.

Stop by next Saturday for another Weekly Trip to the Library for nannies and au pairs.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Best Nanny Newsletter in The Wall Street Journal Again

Holiday Nanny Bonus: Cash Is King, But How Much?
By Sue Shellenbarger

As the holidays draw near, many parents are trying to figure out the best year-end gift for a nanny or sitter. While these caregivers might seem like family members much of the time, it is best at holiday-bonus time to think of them as employees.

Although it may seem old, currency is both the most useful and the least risky gift. Some 57% of sitters surveyed recently by the caregiving Web site said cash is what they want most. And 93% of nannies surveyed by “Be the Best Nanny Newsletter,” which caters to full-time professional nannies, said they expect at least a week’s salary as a holiday bonus, plus a thoughtful gift from the children.

For a part-time sitter, SitterCity recommends doubling the care provider’s pay for the last job he or she has before the holidays. For a regular sitter or nanny working more than 20 hours a week, consider doubling the weekly salary for a week before the holidays, SitterCity says.

The “Best Nanny” newsletter reports some eye-popping bonuses — $1,200 on average, ranging as high as $8,000, or even a car leased for the nanny’s personal use.

If you can’t dig that deep – and most parents can’t — explain this to your nanny so she isn’t insulted or wondering if her performance has fallen short, advises Stephanie Felzenberg, executive editor of “Be the Best Nanny Monthly Guide.” Nannies talk with each other and compare bonuses, and some are hurt or offended if their holiday gifts fall short of average. Also, make sure your behavior matches your words; nannies can become hurt or resentful if they see their employer families spending big on themselves or other people, then pleading poverty with them, Ms. Felzenberg says.

Gift certificates and gift certificates were nannies’ second choice in the SitterCity survey – but make sure you know your sitter’s preferences before buying one. Gift cards for a favorite restaurant or store, or free tickets to a movie, are useful.

If you can’t afford such payouts, consider other gifts that could be considered a benefit of the job, such as occasional personal use of a family car, frequent flier miles, a good laptop you no longer need, a week at a time-share, or an extra day off. One-third of the sitters surveyed by SitterCity aren’t expecting anything, the survey shows.

And don’t underestimate the value of a heartfelt “thank you” and lots of support on the job. Both SitterCity and a survey by Bob Nelson, an author and speaker on employee motivation, show employees value personal praise, and increased autonomy and authority when they are working, over almost all other kinds of rewards.

Readers, how do you handle the year-end bonus question with your nanny or sitter? Any gifts that have hit the mark? Or fallen short?

Read our post about holiday bonuses and comments by clicking here.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Holiday Bonuses for Nannies: Parents Don't Give Less Than Last Year

Parents: What to Give Your Nanny for the Holidays

Yesterday we discussed what gifts nannies and au pairs can give this holiday season. Now for parents, we will discuss what employers should give their in-home childcare providers for holiday gifts and bonuses.

The most important word to remember when giving your nanny a gift this holiday season is "cash."

Be the Best Nanny Newsletter asked nannies what they expect for their holiday bonus and gift this year. Ninety-three percent of the nannies replied that they expect at least one-week salary as a holiday bonus and a thoughtful gift from the children.

The average bonus expected from those that participated in the poll was about $1,200 or f0r those that did not leave a dollar sum they answered about two-weeks salary. The highest bonus expected was $8,000. The most expensive gift was a car leased paid by the employers entirely for the nanny's personal use.

Paying the bonus in cash is important for nannies who would prefer their bonus given as a gift rather than part of their taxable salary. But, parents are obliged to report that sum as part of your employee's income. It is vital not to give the caregiver a bonus for less than last year, or the employee will be disappointed.

During these tough economic times, if you cannot afford at least one-week salary, or if the bonus will be lower than last year, you should speak to the nanny so that she isn’t insulted or left wondering whether her performance has fallen short. Do not think nannies will notice if their bonus is less than the year before.

Nannies also like any gift that could be considered a benefit of the job such as a cell phone with cell phone coverage or help with the car or health insurance. Memberships to professional nanny organizations or a subscription to a nanny trade publication like Be the Best Nanny Newsletter are great gifts to give your nanny.

Other wonderful gifts include: frequent flier miles, a tuition payment, a week at your time-share, or a laptop computer. If your budget won’t stretch any further, consider a gift of time; such as a few paid hours off (or even days off) from work.

Gifts from the children need not be expensive. Nannies prefer the gifts from the children are heart-felt. A scrapbook or photo album, jewelry, or handmade gifts are great gifts for nannies to receive from the children.

To see a list of nannies favorite holidays gifts is available in the December 2009 issue of Be the Best Nanny Newsletter.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday Gifts from Nannies and Au Pairs

Giving Holiday Gifts on a Budget

When you are strapped for money but want to give holiday gifts make a list of how much you want to spend per person.

Since Christmas is next week there might not be enough time to buy gifts online. But, check the Internet for the best prices for stores that are close to you. Making the list and determining your budget beforehand makes it easier to not overspend. Once you go to the store you will find hundreds of great gifts to give that you had not thought of when making your list of gifts. Only buy the items on your list.

One of the most popular and easiest gifts to give the parents you work for is the gift of time. For example, nannies and au pairs can always make homemade gift certificates to give to the parents for one evening or overnight free babysitting.

You can also make gift certificates promising gifts for the future, such as a dozen homemade cookies per month, for a year. Anything handmade such as knitted mittens or home baked treats are always appreciated.

Another inexpensive but heartfelt gift is to help the children make presents for their parents. The craft project made by the children will be your gift to your employers. Plan a trip to the craft store with the children, give them a budget, let them choose the craft, then help them make and wrap the gift.

You can also create child-centered gifts, such as photo albums or calendars from pictures you have taken of the children over the year. The family will love a casting of a child's hand print or footprint as a garden decoration using a kit from a hardware store.

When giving individual toys to each child choose safe, age-appropriate gifts that encourage creative play rather than passive play. Instead of choosing electronic toys, electronic games, and DVDs, give gifts that from the child's interests and abilities. The best way to do that is by choosing simple toys like: blocks, costumes, puppets, balls, sand and shovels, clay, stuffed animals, and generic dolls which invite children to create their own scenes. It’s the process of using their imagination, literacy, or physical exercise that’s important in creative play.

Another low cost idea is to give the entire family a theme basket, rather than individual gifts. For example, you can make use game-night as a theme. Include a board game, a puzzle, and cards in the gift basket. Or, create a hand-assembled basket containing a family movie, hot chocolate mix, and microwave popcorn.

See what nannies are giving as gifts this holiday season in the December 2009 issue of Be the Best Nanny Newsletter.

What are you giving the family you work for this holiday season?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Easy Star of David Craft

Make a Star of David for Hanukkah

The Star of David is named after King David of ancient Israel. With the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 the Star of David on the Flag of Israel has also become a symbol of Israel.

You will need:
6 Popsicle sticks
Yarn or ribbon


  1. Glue Popsicle sticks into two triangle shapes.

  2. Place one triangle upside down on the other. Spread glue at the points where the triangles meet.

  3. Let dry.

  4. Paint the Posicle sticks or dab glue onto the star and sprinkle on glitter.
    Use yarn or ribbon to hang.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Make Latkes for Hanukkah

Potato Pancakes for Everyone!

Many families are still celebrating Hanukkah. Latkes, or potato pancakes, are the traditional Hanukkah dish for Eastern European Jews. But, all children like latkes so all nannies and au pairs should consider making the children latkes during Hanukkah.

Latkes are a traditional Hanukkah dish because of the oil the latkes are fried in. When the Jerusalem Temple was recaptured and reconsecrated by the Maccabbees, only one night's worth of oil remained to light the temple. Miraculously, though, the oil lasted eight nights, or enough time to make more oil. That's the miracle of Hanukkah. This recipe makes about two dozen small latkes.

We adjusted the recipe slightly but the recipe can be found at
  • 3 large baking potatoes
  • salt
  • 2 T. matzoh meal or flour
  • 1/2 onion
  • black pepper
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 egg

1. Grate the potatoes and the onion. The easiest way to do this is using a food processor.

2 . Mix the grated potatoes and onion, beaten egg, salt and pepper, and matzo meal or flour in a bowl.

3. Heat a skillet over a medium flame.

4. Add 1 to 2 T. oil.

5. Form the potato mixture into small cakes of about two or three T. per cake. Don't make the cakes too big since they're easier to turn when small.

6. Flatten the cakes slightly with a spatula.

7. Cook until the cakes are nice and brown on the bottom, then turn and cook the other side. Repeat with the remaining potato mixture.

8. Drain on paper towel and serve warm.

9. Applesauce and sour cream are traditional accompaniments for latkes. To make latkes that are kosher for Passover, don't use flour, only matzo meal.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Best Nanny Newsletter Makes a Great Holiday Gift

Gifts That Last a Year
By Financial Nanny Blog

Thank you to the Financial Nanny Blog for recommending a subscription to Be the Best Nanny Newsletter as a great Holiday gift for nannies.

As a subscriber to Be the Best Nanny Newsletter you receive ten, 16-page issues per year about topics important to nannies and au pairs. We also include monthly poll results in each issue. To be quoted in a monthly survey be sure to take the poll on our blog at:

To read the entire article about gifts that last a year click here to visit the Financial Nanny Blog. Thank again!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Children's Craft & Activity Books for Hanukkah

Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs

Hanukkah, Festival Of Lights: Celebrate With Songs, Decorations, Food, Games, Prayers, and Traditions by Jeffrey A. O'Hare

This book explores the many aspects of the holiday, from the very first Hanukkah in the ancient temple, to today's modern celebrations. Readers will learn about the prayers and traditions that are central to the holiday. The author presents stories, games, crafts, and songs to enhance the celebration. Hanukkah prayers, traditions, stories, games, recipes, crafts, and songs are included to enhance the enjoyment of the entire family during this holiday.

Hanukkah Crafts by Karen E. Bledsoe

This book provides information about the origin and customs of Hanukkah, ideas for celebrating the holiday, and directions for making 10 crafts such as a dreidel mobile, holiday cards, and candle candy holders.

Visit us again next Saturday for another Weekly Trip to the Library to discuss interfaith children's books about Hanukkah and Christmas.

Friday, December 11, 2009

How to Play Dreidel for Nannies and Au Pairs

Everyone Loves Playing Dreidel

You Don't Have to be Jewish to Love Playing Dreidel

Hannukkah starts tonight at sundown. One of the most popular games most children (Jewish or not) love learning to play is dreidel. Here are instructions on how to play dreidel from A Different Light: The Hanukkah Book of Celebration (which can be purchased below) published by the Shalom Hartman Institute and Devora Publishing.

The Hebrew word for dreidel is sevivon, which means to turn around. Dreidels have four Hebrew letters on them meaning, "a great miracle occurred there." Playing with the dreidel is a traditional Hanukkah game played in Jewish homes all over the world, and rules may vary.

Here's how to play the basic dreidel game:

1. Any number of people can take part in this great game.

2. Each player begins the game with an equal number of game pieces (about 10-15) such as pennies, nuts, chocolate chips, raisins, matchsticks, etc.

3. At the beginning of each round, every participant puts one game piece into the center "pot." In addition, every time the pot is empty or has only one game piece left, every player should put one in the pot.

4. Every time it's your turn, spin the dreidel once. Depending on the outcome, you give or get game pieces from the pot:

a) Nun means "nisht"or "nothing." The player does nothing.

b) Gimmel means "gantz"or "everything." The player gets everything in the pot.

c) Hey means "halb"or "half." The player gets half of the pot. (If there is an odd number of pieces in the pot, the player takes half of the total plus one).

d) Shin means "shtel" or "put in." Peh (in Israel) means "pay." The player adds a game piece to the pot.

5. If you find that you have no game pieces left, you are either "out" or may ask a fellow player for a "loan."

Dreidel Song Lyrics
I have a little dreidel, I made it out of clay, And when it's dry and ready, Then dreidel I shall play.

*Chorus: Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel I made it out of clay, Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, Then dreidel I shall play. *

It has a lovely body, With legs so short and thin, And when it is all tired, It drops and then I win.

*(chorus) *

My dreidel's always playful, It loves to dance and spin, A happy game of dreidel, Come play, now let's begin.

*(chorus) *

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Holiday Shaped Sandwiches for Nannies and Au Pairs

It couldn't be easier to make special meals for children in shapes for the holidays.

We rolled out bread with a rolling pin. Then we spread peanut butter and jelly between two slices of bread. Then, we cut out holiday shapes using cookie cutters.

To make grilled cheese sandwiches put cheese between two slices of bread. Spread butter or margarine on the outside of the bread and heat in a pan. After cooking the grilled cheese use the cookie cutters to make holiday shaped sandwiches. Cut out the grilled cheese shapes after heating the sandwich or the cheese will bubble out the sides of the sandwich and not keep the shape of the cookie cutter.

For breakfast, make holiday shaped pancakes in the same manner. After cooking the pancakes, use cookie cutters to make the pancakes into the shapes of the holidays.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Books About Teaching Autistic Children to Use Potty for Au Pairs and Nannies

Toilet Training for Individuals with Autism or Other Developmental Issues by Maria Wheeler

Individuals with autism are reportedly one of the most difficult populations to toilet train. This second edition offers effective strategies that take the child's physical and emotional sensitivities into account instead of trying to force traditional methods. Easy-to-read bulleted lists offer more than 200 do's and don'ts, along with over 50 real-life examples, to help make the process more of a lesson and less of a battle for all involved. The young trainee will learn to overcome fear of the bathroom, properly use toilet paper, flush once, wash hands, and more. The toilet trainer will learn how to overcome challenges caused by communication needs, sensory sensitivities, motor challenges, anxiety levels, etc.

Teach Toileting: A Revolutionary Approach for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Other Special Needs By Deborah Bialer

With this approach you will conquer your potty challenges right now. The change to the location of the bathroom is difficult for your child, not purposeful resistance to toileting. These ideas are unconventional and may seem strange. Stick with the program; have confidence. This method of toilet training works for children who are Autistic as well as children with Fragile X, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, PDD, Non-Verbal and other developmental disabilities.

The Potty Journey: Guide to Toilet Training Children with Special Needs, Including Autism and Related Disorders by Judith A. Coucouvanis

Toilet training children with autism and related disorders is fraught with countless challenges stemming from the very core of their unique characteristics. The communication and sensory issues alone can create formidable barriers. As a result, typical strategies are frequently ineffective when used with children with special needs. Using a no-nonsense, often humorous approach, Judith Coucouvanis, MA, APRN, BC, shares strategies that have produced remarkable results for parents of children with autism and related disorders nationwide. Promising no "quick fixes," The Potty Journey systematically guides you through the entire toileting journey, step-by-step, to the ultimate destination - dry pants.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

10 Winners of Free Dunstan Baby Language

10 Winners!!!

Dunstan Baby Language has generously chosen 10 winners of their Black Friday Giveaway! Dunstan Baby Language is happy to announce the winner of 10 free DVD's.

Here they are:
1. Andrea Flagg
2. De-Shaun Silas
3. Greta Schraer
4. MaryAnn X. Meddish
5. Michelle Lawlor
6. Sara Carlson
7. Heather Donovan
8. Lisa Werth
9. Fiona Littleton
10. Au Pair Debbie

Dunstan Baby Language would also like to offer Be the Best Nanny Newsletter readers an special online discount on Dunstan Baby Language DVD's which they can use themselves or pass onto their employers who can also purchase online at a discount.

Use the discount for a great Christmas or holiday gift for expectant parents!

Dunstan Baby Language

Monday, December 7, 2009

Potty Training Autistic Children for Nannies and Au Pairs

By Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication-Handicapped (TEACCH)

We have been discussing different methods of potty training for the past few weeks. But, what about children that are not developing typically?

The Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication-Handicapped (TEACCH) explain that even in typically-developing children, toilet training is often a difficult skill to master.

While the child may have good awareness and control of his body, there are other factors, such as social factors, that determine how easily toileting skills are learned. Small children do not feel an intrinsic desire to become toilet trained. Rather, they acquire this skill in order to please their parents and to gain the social status of 'big boy' or 'big girl.' This social motivation is a critical factor in determining "readiness" for toilet training.

How might the characteristics of autism contribute to a child's difficulty in learning to independently use the toilet?
  1. The child's difficulty with understanding and enjoying reciprocal social relationships would certainly interfere with this process. While other 2- or 3-year-olds might be proud of their "big boy pants" and might be happy to please their parents, this type of motivation is rare in a child with autism.
  2. Given the characteristic difficulties in understanding language or imitating models, a child with autism may not understand what is being expected of him in the toilet.
  3. A child with autism typically has significant difficulty organizing and sequencing information and with attending to relevant information consistently. Therefore following all the steps required in toileting and staying focused on what the task is all about are big challenges.
  4. Further, the child's difficulty in accepting changes in his routines also makes toileting a difficult skill to master. From the child's point of view, where is the pressing need to change the familiar routine of wearing and changing a diaper? After 3, or 4, or 6 years of going in the diaper, this routine is very strongly established.
  5. A child with autism may also have difficulty integrating sensory information and establishing the relationship between body sensations and everyday functional activities. Therefore he may not know how to "read" the body cues that tell him he needs to use the toilet. He may also be overly involved in the sensory stimulation of the "product"— smearing feces is not uncommon in young children with autism. The child may also be overwhelmed by the sensory environment of the toilet, with loud flushing noises, echoes, rushing water, and a chair with a big hole in it right over this water! A further consideration is that the removal of clothing for toileting may trigger exaggerated responses to the change in temperature and the tactile feeling of clothes on versus clothes off.

To continue reading about teaching developmentally delayed or autistic children to potty train, click here to visit the TEACCH web site.

Have you ever potty trained a developmentally delayed or an autistic child? What tips can you share with other nannies and au pairs?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Books About Potty Training

Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs

Stress-Free Potty Training by Sara Au and Peter L. Stavinoha, Ph.D. explains just like every child has a different personality, the successful method to use to potty train each child will be different.

Dr. Jim Sears shared his potty training tips for working moms on television series, The Doctors. The first thing caregivers need to do is to watch for signs of readiness. Dr. Sears mentions that the child must be physiologically ready to potty train and have the motor skills, cognitive skills, and social skills to potty train. His familiy's potty training method is described in The Baby Book, a very popular book for parents worldwide. To read our article about this method click here.

In No Cry Potty Training Solution, Elizabeth Pantley explains that potty training can be natural, easy, and peaceful. The book tells caregivers and parents how to determine the right time to start potty training, create a simple and effective potty plan, increase the child's self-esteem and independence, motivate a reluctant potty user, and includes complete bathroom safety checklists and childproofing strategies.

The American Academy of Pediatrics Guide to Toilet Training is similar to many other potty training books explaining that each child is an individual therefore no two children will learn to use the potty in the same way. The book is factual and covers how to make potty training as positive as possible for both you and the child.

Dr. T. Berry Brazelton has a calm and positive approach to child rearing. He is credited for the child-centered potty training method and includes studies of different toilet training methods proving the positive approach is more successful than reprimands or punishments. His book series, The Brazelton Way, explains that the child decides when she is ready to use the potty.

Dr. Benjamin Spock method of potty training is similar to both the Child-Orientated potty training method and Dr. Sears method in potty training in that they all encourage caregivers not to force children to use the toilet.

Click here for our summary of Elimination Communication. The terms elimination communication and natural infant hygiene were coined by Ingrid Bauer and are used interchangeably in her book, Diaper Free! The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygeine. The method is a form of infant potty training.

Infant Potty Training is described by author Laurie Boucke in her book Infant Potty Training: A Gentle and Primeval Method Adapted to Modern Living. She reports a surge of interest in gentle, natural methods of potty training used for centuries in Asia and Africa.

In their book Toilet Training in Less Than a Day Azrin and Foxx emphasize the importance of timing. In their book, the authors specify that kids should be 20-months or older, and they should meet several developmental criteria. They use rewards and negative consequences. Click here to see our summary of the method. Television host Dr. Phil uses ideas from this method.

We have discussed how the Azrin and Foxx potty training method is used in Potty Train Your Child in Just One Day by Teri Crane which outlines a three-step program that includes role playing with a doll, practice runs with the child, and a “potty party." Dr. Phil recommends the potty party too.

The Naked and $75 Method is described in Dr. John Rosemond's book Making the Terrible Twos Terrific. He recommends keeping children naked for a few days until they are trained.

Potty Training Bootcamp by Suzanne Riffel combines Dr. Rosemond's naked and $75 approach to toilet training, timer potty training, and one day potty training methods. You can purchase this book by clicking below.

What to Expect the Toddler Years by Arlene Eisenberg, Heidi Murkoff, and Sandee Hathaway has a chapter discussing potty training. They list the Do's and Don'ts of potty training and discuss training pants. This is a very popular book.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Naked and $75 Toilet Training Method

Dr. Rosemond considers it ''a slap to the intelligence of a human being that one would allow him to continue soiling and wetting himself past age two.''

Dr. Rosemond offers a toilet-training technique called,''Naked and $75,'' in which he recommends that parents use with two-year-olds.

''You stay home from work with your child for a few days,'' he says and ''you let the child walk around the house naked all day long.''
The parent puts the potty where the child spends most of his time, and moves it when necessary to keep it nearby. Every so often, the parent reminds the child to use the potty when needed.

''Children at this age do not like urine and feces running down their legs,'' Mr. Rosemond says.

''When they have an accident, they stop and start to howl, and the mother comes along and says, 'Well, you forgot to use the toilet.' She puts him on the toilet, wipes him off, speaks reassuringly to him. And within three days, or five days, he's doing it on his own.''

The $75, he added, is for the carpet cleaning.

Have you ever tried this naked type of potty training?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Potty Training Boot Camp

A combination of a few methods is used for The Potty Training Boot Camp by Suzanne Riffel. Potty training takes place in phases. First is the preparatory work. Then, the caregiver has a training day called "boot camp." Finally, the caregivers provide reinforcement and maintenance.

The focus of the preparatory work is to encourage familiarity of the toileting process including using pee-pee dolls.

The "boot camp" day is a modified one day potty training method, the timer potty training method we discussed yesterday, and Dr. John Rosemond's "Naked and $75 Method" we will explain tomorrow. The child stays naked to allow for increased awareness of bodily function, and the timer allows the caregiver to still maintain some control over the training. Rewards on the training day are increasingly more desirable for the toddler to help maintain motivation.

The reinforcement phase is handled like any other training program -- frequent reminders and positive reinforcement consisting of hugs, praises, and stickers.
Have you tried this potty training method? Did it work for you?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Timer Method of Toilet Training

Another Potty Training Method for Au Pairs and Nannies

The timer method of potty training involves keeping the child out of diapers entirely during training. It is the training technique endorsed by Dr. John Rosemond. He believes that toilet training should be simple and no-nonsense.

The child is empowered to basically train themselves. Training begins with an explanation of how and what is expected of the child. Parents show by example and explanation, and then tell their children, "Now it's your turn. Mommy and Daddy expect you to use the potty from now on."

The child is left naked for three to seven days while they learn how to use the toilet. When a child is naked it helps to teach awareness of bodily function. It is much easier for a child to realize they are pooping and peeing when it is running down their leg rather than having it land in an absorbent diaper. The parent or caregiver provides assistance if needed, but remains hands-off during the training process.

The caregiver sets a timer for specific time intervals, and when the timer goes off the child is brought to the toilet for a potty session. Small rewards, praises, and hugs are given if the toddler is successful. The only negative reinforcement for accidents is an expression of disappointment. As toileting skills become more reliable, the interval between timer setting becomes longer and longer.

Although this method can be accomplished in three to seven days, it is slower than the "train in a day" methods and difficult if you are working with a particularly stubborn child. Motivation needs to be kept high for the entire training process. Often, a child loses interest in the novelty of "potty time!"
before they actually catch on to the pottying process.