Saturday, January 31, 2009

What Kindergarten Teachers Know

What Kindergarten Teachers Know
by Lisa Holewa and Joan Rice

This book discusses practical and playful ways for caregivers to help children listen, learn, and cooperate at home. I just love that the book is small in size and a quick read. It includes easy-to-follow suggestions about helping children listen and follow directions, how to the home to help the children become more organized, time-management tips, how to resolve conflicts with children, and making and using rules creatively.

Here are some facts I didn't know before reading page 3 of the book.

"Did you realize that when you...

  • Teach [a] child to line up her shoes, you're helping develop the left-to-right eyes sweep she'll need later as a reader?
  • Help [a] child organize toys into bins and baskets, you're helping him develop the skills needed for visual memory of words during reading?
  • Follow a calendar or schedule, you're working on the basics of telling time?
  • Allow [a] child to set the dinner table, you're providing the spatial awareness needed to set up additional and subtraction problems later in math?"

On page 26 the authors suggest ways to help children with transitions. Here is another quote:

"Children ages three to six need to know what to expect next. They need clear beginnings and clear endings to activities.

They need simple directions, broken down into manageable steps. The more concrete or physical you can make a direction, the better they will hear and remember it."

Make if fun. A natural playfulness keeps young children open to just about any task approached with a sense of fun and , ideally, a time limit."

I just love this positive tone of this simple to follow guide for parents (but translates perfectly for nannies and au pairs) caring for children in the home.

Here are two fun activities from the book:


Ages 3 - 5

Materials: Magnifying glass, white gloves, note pad, pencil
Preparation: Explaining that the "Cleanup Inspector" will check to be sure toys are put away, the floor is cleaned up, etc. This will create a sense of excitement and anticipation as your child cleans.

What to Do: As Cleanup Inspector, your child should use her magnifying lass or put on her white gloves and examine the cleanup! She might look for all the thinks that are well done. She can draw a smiley face on the notepad and leave the paper in well-cleaned areas. She should note any areas that need more attention.

Variation: A parent can use a puppet as a Cleanup Inspector.


Ages 3 - 4

Rubber ducks; permanent marker; bathtub, sink, or basin

Preparation: On the bottom of each duck, write a job for your child to do.

What to Do: Float the ducks in the bathroom sink or a bin of water. Let your child pick a duck (or catch one in a net) and do the job. Best of all, your child may want to choose more jobs once the first is done!

Variation: Write jobs on slips of paper and put them into a jar or wide plastic cup. Let your child choose a few each day to complete.

I highly recommend using the ideas in this book to make working with children both productive and fun.

Share your favorite books with us to share with our readers on Saturdays. Email your book reviews to:

Thursday, January 29, 2009


By Andrea Peyser

Although we agree that many professionals become nannies (click we do not agree with the author that a nanny's job is not mentally stimulating. Is a nanny's work not mentally stimulating? Is there really such a thing as an "overeducated" nanny as the author states in this article? Are nannies offended when she calls us "glorified baby sitters" in this article?

Read the article and comment on your thoughts below.

"WHO'S that gorgeous woman speaking French like Brigitte Bardot and teaching someone else's brats calculus while looking as if she just walked off a runway?

Chances are that chic lady in the park getting puked on by little Gabriel or Tiffany is the most indispensable member of the labor force: the nanny.

The recession has come to the Upper East Side - home to more spoiled, young terrors than you can fit inside Dalton. The position was once the province of domestic workers from Ireland or St. Lucia, but Manhattan is seeing an unprecedented glut of sophisticated, overeducated and underemployed women desperate for work. Any work. And being a nanny has its advantages.

At least, that's what these glorified baby sitters tell themselves.

Take Emily Collins. She came to New York from Florida two years ago to pursue a career. But she was laid off from her job as an executive assistant. Immediately hired by a fashion company, she was laid off again, just before Christmas.

Suddenly, the jobs to which she applied had dozens of applicants, all willing to work for a pittance. "I can't live on $35,000," she said. "I was making 50 before."

A return to Florida beckoned. Then she got another idea. She applied to the Absolute Best Care nanny agency on the Upper East Side, which provides domestic workers to boldfaced names.

"I never dreamed I'd be here," said Emily. "Some days I actually feel ashamed about what I do. I tell someone, 'I'm a nanny.' They say to me, 'Don't you have a bachelor's degree? Aren't you 25?' "

Well, guess what? What Emily loses in mental stimulation, she makes up in salary. Top nannies command anywhere from $650 to a whopping $1,500 a week. That's after taxes. And employers take them around the world.

Whitney Boughton, also 25, worked in sales for Wachovia. Last summer, she quit, betting that working as an assistant to a big macher on Shelter Island might lead to better things.

But summer ended. And banking jobs dried up. "I read 'The Nanny Diaries' in high school," said Whitney. "I used to think, 'Who would do that?' " Well, now she's a full-time nanny.

Among its 9,000 registered nannies, Absolute Best Care has seen a 10 to 20 percent leap in former members of the rat race. "Maybe we would get one or two of these types of nanny a month," said owner Douglas Kozinn. "Now we're getting four or five."

But Jerry Bohne, owner of the Adele Post agency, warns that the glut of applicants drives down salaries, and the glitzier the gene pool, the less child-care experience.

In this recession, it's a buyer's market. Let the buyer beware."

What do you agree with and disagree with about this article?


Using Poker Chips in Lieu Of Money as Reward
By Dr Ruth Peters, Clinical Psychologist and Author

Little kids, little consequences, bigger kids, bigger consequences. That seems to be the key when using negative and positive consequences to motivate children. And, as children grow into their tweens you need to be even more creative, especially if you have more than one youngster to discipline and motivate. Let’s take a look at some imaginative rewards at your disposal to help motivate kids to behave and to act responsibly.

Kids love earning money and these basic suggestions may help. First, try having them earn a daily allowance based upon attitude, (politeness, compliance, cooperation), and behavior, (chore and homework completion in an accurate, cooperative, and timely manner).

Use colored poker chips in lieu of actual money as reward for having a “good day,” (not too many attitude check marks and enough credits for completing chores). For instance, the son can receive a blue chip and the daughter a red one equaling a dollar each. This way, no one is motivated to “borrow” each others chips since they are color-coded.

I would let them spend them as they liked, but only allowed to cash them in once a week so they must save, at least, until the weekend. The only way that an allowance works is to be careful not to arbitrarily buy them items without taking their chips in exchange.

They need to consider whether the magazine or movie DVD is really worth it. If you hold out and have them make their own purchases they will eventually learn the value to a dollar. And, giving a check mark for rudeness or loss of credit due to not completing a responsibility is an easy answer for almost any discipline dilemma.

You don’t have to negotiate, ponder, or be creative in the moment — just give the “bad check” or the “good credit” as the day progresses, and keep track on a calendar.

Kids love to be entertained and hate to be bored, and that’s why electronics usage is so valuable. And, these are privileges, not “givens.” Watching television, playing computer or video games, watching movies, or listening to the radio or CDs all fall within the realm of privileges. Do not forget about “communication” — use of the telephone, cell phone, instant messaging friends, or web surfing, (within parental guidelines), are fun activities to be earned, not just given as part of the child’s day.

Also take a look at some of the activities the family likes to engage in as a family. Perhaps some can be earned and used as rewards. Renting videos, picking the restaurant to go to for dinner, taking in an amusement park, bowling, miniature golf, attending a concert, or even baking creative concoctions are all fun and can motivate kids to take their responsibilities seriously.

Children can earn white poker chips to save up for these larger, (not daily), privileges. You may choose to let only the one who earns the privilege engage in the activity, or you may wait until both have earned enough white chips.

Think outside of the box — how about Wednesday Waffle Night in exchange for some white privilege chips? Or, extra time up on weekends, (or 15 minutes on school nights), with the parents may be enticing. Exclusive parent time in which the youngster determines how the hour will be spent with the parent like bike riding, rollerblading, or playing board games are great. Sleepovers are big favorites, and should be earned not just allowed because the weekend has arrived. Ask the kids — they are the experts on what they’d like to earn.

You’ll never be at a loss for a consequence if you have attitude demerits and chore completion credits at your fingertips. The creative part occurs when determining the value of the poker chips — but that can be devised in a leisurely manner with the kids when you don’t have time constraints or drama on your hands!

Copyright © 2006 by Ruth A. Peters, Ph.D. All rights reserved. Dr. Peters is a clinical psychologist and regular contributor to the “Today” show. She is the author of Laying Down the Law: The 25 Laws of Parenting to Keep Your Kids on Track, Out of Trouble, and (Pretty Much) Under Control (Rodale), Who’s In Charge? A Positive Parenting Approach to Disciplining Children (Lindsay Press), Don’t Be Afraid To Discipline (St. Martin’s Press), It’s Never Too Soon To Discipline (St. Martin’s Press), and Overcoming Underachieving: A Simple Plan to Boost Your Kids’ Grades and End the Homework Hassles (Broadway Books).

Do you work with older children? How do you discipline older children?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Power Struggles Vs. Natural Consequences
By Theresea Hughes

When working with stubborn children the last thing nannies and au pairs should do is to get into power struggles. When caregivers try to show children that they are stronger, they are being as immature as the stubborn children.

Power struggles teach children to be fearful throughout life and to force others to do things against their will. As long as children are in no danger, adults should allow children to experience the consequences of their decision making.

Nannies should keep in mind that they may need to provide for children's change of mind. Allowing natural consequences to occur reduces intense arguing and teaches children that they can sometimes be wrong and not be ashamed of making bad judgments.

Pick your battles. If a child wants to wear jeans on a hot day let her. If you argue, you will both end up angry and frustrated. Guaranteed, after five to ten minutes in the hot sun she will change into her shorts.

Natural consequences will work out her stubbornness without you having to persuade the child.

When children decide to change their minds, caregivers should not say, “I told you so.” Making condescending comments only adds insult to injury and takes the power of learning away from children.

Don't scare or make children comply. Scaring children or forcing them to comply with your rules only makes children fear to their actions. Scare tactics do not help children learn real consequences of their actions.

What power struggles have you had working with children?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Shocking Confessions of a Nanny!

When I click on this story and read posts like the one written by this "nanny" I instinctively feel that the author is not merely exaggerating and that much of the narrative is fictional, but that it isn't even written by a professional nanny.

I want to scream, "It's a free country find another job!" I thought the same way while I was reading Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus.

What are your feelings about such anonymous narratives?

Monday, January 26, 2009


Sweet Rewards You Can’t Eat

Let’s face it, kids are bombarded with food rewards.
Win Math Olympics at school – get a pizza party.
Win the soccer game – ice cream all around.
Come to Sunday school – we’ve got doughnuts!

Unfortunately, we have become a society that uses food for much more than fueling the needs of our bodies. Many schools, churches, and families have made "junk food" the national currency for children’s good behavior. Many kids, especially those who are overweight, are harmed by this type of reinforcement. Even if a child is normal weight, a mindset that "food is a reward" can lead to weight and health problems later in life. Therefore, rewarding your child in creative ways, that don’t include food, is very important.

Below are some non-food rewards that you can consider. Nannies will need to discuss many of the rewards with the parents below.

For other ideas, talk to your kid!

No-Cost Rewards
• Chore relief
• Later weekend bedtime
• Play a game (of child’s choice)
• Listen to "their" music in the car
• Sleep in another room
• Get a book at the library
• Rent a DVD at the library
• Interview the child about their success
• Extra computer time
• Let your child be your personal trainer for a day
• Anything outdoors – together (frisbee, play catch, shoot baskets, kick the soccer ball)
• A pat on the back
• Write a poem highlighting their success
• Take a digital photo representing their accomplishment - use it as wallpaper on the family computer
• Let your child give you a dance lesson
• Listen to their favorite CD with them
• Give your child a foot or back massage
• Give your child one of your possessions – jewelry, paperweights, clothes, pictures, or collectibles

Low/Moderate Cost Rewards
• Go Bowling
• Roller Skating
• Ice Skating
• Putt-Putt golf
• Play Ping-Pong
• Ride a canoe
• Buy some music
• Small item from the dollar store
• New ball (football, basketball, kickball, baseball, softball, etc.)
• Any non-food dollar item from the dollar store
• New Book
• Gift Card
• Magnets
• Jewelry
• Pencils/Pens
• Art Supplies
• Sports Cards
• Clothes
• Tokens that can be collected and redeemed for more costly items (video games, etc.)

To learn more about L.I.F.E. for Kids, St. Vincent’s holistic healthy lifestyle program for children and adolescents, call (317) 338-CARE.

Do you use any fun rewards with the children you care for?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Positive Attention For Nannies & Au Pairs

To continue the conversation about discipline we have posted an article about positive attention below.

Don't forget to take our monthly poll about discipline at:

The Power of Positive Attention:

Positive attention reassures children, builds self-esteem, and creates a happier environment for the whole family.

[Caregivers] should:

1. Make positive attention specific: Tell [the] child exactly what he or she did that you liked.

2. Give positive attention right away: Give [the] child positive attention while good behavior is happening and right after good behavior occurs.

3. Use powerful rewards: Be sure that the reward is something the child likes. Sometimes, let [the] child choose one reward from a list of rewards. Rewards can be those things you already give [the] child no matter how they behave.

4. Avoid criticism: When [the] child learns something new he or she needs a lot of positive attention. First, talk about the good part of the behavior, and then tell him or her how to do better next time.

5. Carry out promises: When [caregivers] promise rewards for good behavior, they should carry out their promise.

6. Don't give in: [Caregivers] should not give in ‘just a little’ when the children don't obey all of the instructions. When [adults] give in sometimes, the children learn that they can get away with misbehaving sometimes.

7. Catch [the] child being good: [Caregivers] should watch for times their children are being good, and praise and reward them right away. If the children are rewarded often for good behavior, they learn that they don't have to misbehave to get attention.

8. Praise frequently: [Caregivers] should praise their children as often as possible. Spend time with your children. This allows you more opportunity to reinforce and praise them.

9. Use play to enhance positive communication: By sharing activities with children, parents can enhance communication. Activities should be child-directed rather than parent-directed. This involves parents commenting on the child’s behavior in a positive or neutral way during play. Avoid instructions and criticisms.

How do you encourage good behavior in children by using positive attention?

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Our friends in the nanny industry are quoted in the The New York Times. Here is the link to the article below.

Doing the Right Thing by Paying the Nanny Tax

The nanny tax issue simply won’t go away.

Ever since Zoƫ Baird, President
Bill Clinton’s first nominee for attorney general, withdrew her name from consideration because she had broken rules relating to household employees, the issue has tripped up public figures every couple of years.

This week, it became part of the chatter around
Caroline Kennedy’s decision to pull out of contention for New York’s vacant United States Senate seat. This month, Timothy F. Geithner’s nomination for Treasury secretary hit a snag over, among other mistakes, an issue relating to a housekeeper.

Every time this happens, it leaves a little pit in the stomach of hundreds of thousands of people who are breaking the law themselves. Various estimates put the tax cheat rate at 80 to 95 percent of people who employ baby sitters, housekeepers and home health aides. In 1997, taxpayers filed 310,367 household employee tax payment forms with the
Internal Revenue Service. By 2006, the latest year for which data are available, the number was down to 225,441.

Given the unease, why don’t household employers pay the taxes and other costs that other larger employers do as a matter of course?

"The chances of getting caught are slim," said Arthur U. Ellis, president of the
Nanny Tax Company in Chicago, which helps clients pay on time. "And why should I pay for something when the vast majority of people are not paying it?"

Some employers don’t want to pay the extra 10 percent or so on top of the employee’s salary to cover the taxes and other costs. The employees often balk, too, because they don’t want taxes withheld from their paychecks. They may demand higher wages to make up for money that an employer takes out, raising employer costs even more.

Perhaps the most daunting part of all of this, however, is how much effort and paperwork it takes to do the right thing. Just how complicated is it to comply? Let us count the ways in the list below, which I derived in part from
I.R.S. Publication 926, the "Household Employer’s Tax Guide." What follows should serve as a good starting guide for anyone who’s finally been scared straight by the news this month.

IMMIGRATION STATUS Employers must make sure an employee is eligible to work in the United States. Employees affirm this by filling out a form called the I-9.

Mr. Geithner got this right, but in an unusual twist, his housekeeper’s authorization to work in the United States expired while he employed her. There isn’t a general obligation to regularly check up on an employee’s eligibility, according to
David Grunblatt, a lawyer who runs the immigration practice for Proskauer Rose. But employers who review a new employee’s authorization document and know that the worker’s eligibility will end must review the employee’s status later.

2. EMPLOYER IDENTIFICATION NUMBER You’ll need one of these to put on tax forms you file for your household employee. It’s not the same as a
Social Security number. You can apply for one on the I.R.S. Web site.

3. FEDERAL TAXES If you pay $1,700 or more in 2009 to a household employee, then you need to withhold and pay Social Security and
Medicare taxes. That amounts to 15.3 percent of the worker’s salary, which is generally split equally between employer and employee. If you pay more than $1,000 in any quarter to an employee, you must pay federal unemployment taxes of another 0.8 percent of wages up to $7,000 a year.

4. INCOME TAX ISSUES You aren’t required to withhold money for federal, state and city income taxes from employees’ paychecks, but they may ask you to do so. Figuring out how much to withhold isn’t easy. The
paycheck calculator at can help.

5. STATE UNEMPLOYMENT TAXES You will probably have to pay them. The I.R.S. keeps a list of state unemployment agencies that starts on page 13 of Publication 926. Look yours up and seek guidance on the rules.

6. WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COVERAGE Many states require you to have it, in case your employee is injured on the job. You can find
a list of the states that do on the Web site of Breedlove & Associates in Austin, Tex., another company that helps people pay household employee taxes and handles payroll.

Getting this wrong can cost serious money. My wife and I struggled mightily to get our workers’ comp account set up through the entity that the state of New York forces you to use. It didn’t happen until weeks after our baby sitter started working. Not long after, the state hit us with a $1,500 fine for our short period of noncompliance, an amount that was more than three times the annual premium. We appealed and ultimately paid $250, which is still insulting given all of our failed attempts to get the agency to return phone calls and answer e-mail messages during the application process.

Kathleen Webb, co-founder of
HomeWork Solutions in Sterling, Va., another service for household employers, said we were actually lucky. "I’ve seen penalties equal to the price of a small car," she said.

home insurance policy may offer some coverage for household employees, too, so it’s worth a call to check.

7. FORMS AND PAYMENTS Depending on where you live and your other tax obligations, you may have to make quarterly filings and payments to your state for unemployment taxes, as well as quarterly filings and payments to the federal government. You’ll also have to file
Schedule H, the household employment tax form, with your federal tax return each April. Miss a deadline, and you could owe penalties and interest.

8. RECORD KEEPING Given the potential for getting any of this wrong, it’s a good idea to keep copies of every employee pay stub, every form you file and proof of all payments from your bank. The I.R.S. suggests keeping records for at least four years after the due date of your tax return or the date you actually paid the taxes, whichever is later.

Exhausted yet? "All of the states and even the federal government make it fairly cumbersome for the average family," said Tom Breedlove, the director of marketing and business development at Breedlove. "These are extremely busy professionals, usually with small children, and they don’t have an H.R. department and a law team to chase all of this paperwork around between 9 and 5 when the government offices are open."

Amen, brother. The fact that this is all so hard is a national embarrassment, one that infuriates those who labor mightily to comply and causes many more to throw up their hands in disgust and flout the tax laws. This costs various governments untold millions in lost revenue at a time when they desperately need it. Someone ought to step up and find a way to streamline it all.
Until that happens — and I’m not holding my breath — consider a couple of reasons it may be wise for people who are not paying their taxes to reconsider.

Let’s say you have to fire your housekeeper or baby sitter, as an increasing number of financially distressed people are doing. The job-seeking nanny may try to file for unemployment benefits. If you haven’t paid into the system, you’ll be in for trouble when the nanny names the former employer. "The whole house of cards comes down," said Ms. Webb of HomeWork Solutions. "The I.R.S. and the state agencies talk to each other." That means that you could end up owing back taxes, interest and penalties to multiple parties.

Also, consider the human side of this. Household employees who spend their working years laboring for employers who don’t pay Social Security or Medicare taxes won’t be eligible for those benefits come retirement time. Is that any way to repay someone for years of service, especially if you’re not paying them enough to put away much money on their own?

If you’re ready to join the ranks of the tax compliant, it will take a dozen or so hours to get set up and then a couple dozen more annually to handle all of the paperwork and payroll duties. Or, you can hire companies like
Breedlove, the Nanny Tax Company or HomeWork Solutions to do it for you. The cost ranges from roughly $400 to $1,300 a year, depending on the level of service. A company called NannyPay offers software for do-it-yourselfers for $97.95 a year.

Once you’re paying on the books, you can use a
flexible spending account through your employer to cover up to $5,000 in eligible child or elder care expenses each year. If you don’t have access to such an account, you may also be eligible for the federal Dependent Care Tax Credit.

The tax savings probably won’t make up for all the costs of following the many rules, especially when you factor in the value of your time. But the good feeling that comes from doing the right thing may soothe the financial sting.


1-2-3 Magic By Thomas W. Phelan, PhD

1 - 2 - 3 Magic
By Thomas W. Phelan, PhD. is a very popular discipline book for caregivers working with children ages 2 to 12.

The methods described in the book are easy to master and you can start the program right away. Dr. Phelan explains how to stop behaviors like whining, disrespect, tantrums, arguing, teasing, fighting, pouting, and yelling. He explains how to start behaviors like cleaning rooms, doing homework, practicing the piano, getting up and out in the morning, going to bed, eating supper, and being nice to other people.

The book advocates a form of discipline that keeps the adult in charge without arguing, yelling, or showing much emotion. Dr. Phelan’s basic approach is when children misbehave caregivers should count each infraction up to the number three. Once the caregiver reaches the number three the child receives a time-out or other predetermined consequence.

To start positive behavior caregivers use a choice of seven tactics. These tactics include: praise, simple requests, kitchen timers, the docking system, natural consequences, charting, and variations of the 1-2-3 system.

Basic Rules of 1-2-3 Magic:
Counting. The foundation of 1-2-3 Magic is in the counting until the number three. Once the caregiver reaches the number three the child either gets a time-out or other predetermined consequence. Adults say, "That's one" for the first warning, "That's two" for the second warning, and "That's three.” Then, take five, for a rest period. According to Dr. Phelan, this approach usually will save caregivers frustration and keep the house calmer once this technique is instituted correctly.

Consistency. Both parents and all caregivers should all be on the same page whether you are home, have visitors, are in public or in the car.

Rest Period. The rest period is an interruption of the child's activities and can take place in the child's bedroom or other area that removes the child from the area where the behavior in question has occurred.

No-Talking and No-Emotion. Dr. Phelan explains that children are not little adults. Long speeches about how their behavior is right or wrong does not work with children. He notes that behaviors will be repeated more often if the caregiver expresses anger. The more emotion caregivers express the more the child will try to get that same reaction in the future. The best policy is to use the counting method and not talk or show any emotion during the counting stage or after a rest period if needed.

Dr. Phelan explains that kids will continuously test and manipulate their caregivers to avoid discipline and try to get what they want. Such manipulative behaviors do not mean that the child is good or bad. Children are manipulative because they are children. They live in the moment, will do anything to get what they want, and are self-centered simply because they are children – not because they are good or bad. Adults should be ready for this while using the 1-2-3 Magic method. Martyrdom, where the child makes the parent feel guilty, is very common.

Have you tried Dr. Phelan' s methods to discipline children? If so, have you found the methods effective?

Thursday, January 22, 2009


The New York Post, The New York Times, Associated Press, and Daily News are reporting that Caroline Kennedy dropped her bid for Hillary Rodham Clinton's old Senate seat because she had tax problems involving a household employee.

Could it be true that the same day that one nominee for a position on Obama's cabinet is approved to continue his nomination despite failing to pay taxes for a domestic worker he employed, it is speculated that Caroline Kennedy withdrew her bid to be Senator for the same reason?

Here are some of the headlines:
Why Did Kennedy Drop Senate Seat Bid?
"...there were concerns about possible tax problems for Kennedy, a potential "nanny problem" involving a housekeeper, and media rumors that her marriage was on the rocks. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he said he wasn't authorized to speak for the governor, would not elaborate."

Housekeeper and Taxes Are Said to Derail Kennedy’s Bid

"ALBANY — Problems involving taxes and a household employee surfaced during the vetting of Caroline Kennedy and derailed her candidacy for the Senate, a person close to Gov. David A. Paterson said on Thursday, in an account at odds with Ms. Kennedy’s own description of her reasons for withdrawing.

The account emerged 14 hours after Ms. Kennedy announced that she was taking her name out of contention for the Senate seat vacated by Hillary Rodham Clinton, and as Mr. Paterson, according to two well-placed Democrats told of his thinking, was leaning toward selecting Representative Kirsten E. Gillibrand, an upstate lawmaker in her second term in Congress. Mr. Paterson has scheduled a news conference at noon Friday in Albany to announce his choice."

Caroline Kennedy faced tax 'problem' and nanny issue, says source close to Gov. David Paterson
By KENNETH LOVETT Daily News Albany Bureau

"Caroline Kennedy who stunningly quit her push for Hillary Clinton's Senate seat, is dealing with a "tax problem and a potential nanny issue," a source close to Gov. Paterson said Thursday."


Timothy Geithner Approved

Last week we discussed Timothy Geithner was nominated as Treasury Secretary and that he might lose that nomination for not paying taxes of a former housekeeper.

Geithner was approved as the nomination today in the Senate according to the Star Tribune.

By MARTIN CRUTSINGER , Associated Press

"The Senate Finance Committee on Thursday cleared the nomination of Timothy Geithner as treasury secretary despite unhappiness over his mistakes in paying his taxes.

The committee approved the nomination on an 18-5 vote, sending it to the full Senate. President Barack Obama is hoping for quick approval so that the point man for the administration's economic rescue effort can begin work.

The committee vote came a day after Geithner appeared before the panel to apologize for what he called "careless mistakes" in failing to pay $34,000 in taxes earlier in the decade, when he worked at the International Monetary Fund.

Geithner paid the back taxes plus interest for the years 2003 and 2004 after being audited by the Internal Revenue Service. But he did not pay taxes he owed for 2001 and 2002, even though he had made the same mistakes for those years, until shortly before he was nominated by Obama last November to be treasury secretary.

The nomination was expected to win approval by the full Senate, with many lawmakers saying that given the serious economic crisis facing the country, the new president deserved to have the services of a man of Geithner's abilities and experience.

Geithner has been the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York for the past six years and was a key participant in decisions made by the Bush administration to deal with the worst financial crisis to hit the country since the Great Depression.

All five of the "no" votes on the committee came from Republicans, including the top GOP member of the panel, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa. Those voting no said that they did not believe Geithner had been candid in his answers on why he failed to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes. They said they viewed this as a serious error for an official who would head the agency that oversees the IRS.

"I am disappointed that we are even voting on this," said Sen. Michael Enzi, R-Wyo. "In previous years, nominees who made less serious errors in their taxes than this nominee have been forced to withdraw."

Even Democrats who voted for the nomination said they were disappointed in Geithner's actions.
Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said that in normal times he would oppose Geithner but "these are not normal times."

The committee acted on an expedited basis, voting shortly after Geithner submitted to the panel 102 pages of answers to written questions committee members had posed after Wednesday's hearing.

In response to one of those questions, Geithner pledged that the Obama administration would carry out reforms in the $700 billion financial rescue program. The Bush administration was widely criticized for distributing the first $350 billion from the fund with not enough attention paid to ensuring that banks receiving the money would use it to increase lending. Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson had earmarked $250 billion of the first $350 billion to go to purchasing stock in banks as a way of bolstering their balance sheets.

In answer to one of the committee's questions, Geithner said the new administration planned to require that banks receiving government support "provide detailed and timely information on their lending patterns, broken down by category." Geithner said that public companies will be required to report this information on a quarterly basis.

Last week, the Senate rejected an effort to block release of the second $350 billion from the rescue fund.

During his testimony on Wednesday, Geithner said the new administration would release a comprehensive plan within a few weeks providing details on how it planned to combat the financial crisis and current recession, which is already the longest in a quarter century.

Geithner did not go into detail on what might be in that program but he acknowledged that the administration is considering buying toxic assets now weighing on the balance sheets of many banks.

In addition to deploying the second half of the $700 billion bailout fund, the administration is pushing Congress to quickly pass an $825 billion-plus economic stimulus program of tax cuts and increased government spending to jump-start the economy."

Feel free to comment by clicking "comments" below.


Positive Discipline
By Rory Donaldson

Positive discipline describes a way to reduce undesirable behavior, and increase desirable behavior, by rewarding the positive rather than punishing the negative.

Positive Discipline describes an action that is introduced after a desirable behavior so that the behavior will be repeated in the future. Positive Discipline is based on the premise that behavior that is rewarded is behavior that will be repeated.

Negative Discipline describes a way to reduce undesirable behavior, and increase desirable behavior, by punishing the negative rather than rewarding the positive.

Negative Discipline describes an action that is introduced after an undesirable behavior so that the behavior will be not be repeated in the future. Negative Discipline is based on the premise that behavior that is punished is behavior that will be reduced.

Positive Discipline is a four-step process that recognizes and rewards appropriate behavior:

1. The appropriate behavior is described: "Good job raising your hand before asking your question."

2. Clear rationales are provided: "Raising your hand before asking a question shows respect for others. It is a good example of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you."

3. Acknowledgment is requested: "Do you see why raising your hand is so important?"

4. The behavior is rewarded: eye contact; a smile; thumbs up; touch on the shoulder; having a success in front of the class (social recognition is the greatest reward). Rewards should always be immediate and small.

An effective reward is one that, after it is introduced, increases desired behavior. The reward must be clearly tied to a specific behavior.

There is still time to be quoted in our monthly poll by taking the survey at:

How have you used positive discipline when caring for children?

THE DONALDSON LEARNING PROJECT, "Get Smart!", 136 Mitchell Hill Rd, Lyme, Connecticut 06371

Phone: 860-526-9853 Web Site: Email:

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


The Three Common Discipline Styles

The February 2009 Be the Best Nanny Monthly Guide will discuss discipline.

To help you answer the mini-poll to the right on this blog and a more detailed survey on our web site at here are the definitions of the most common discipline styles.

These definitions can be found at:

Strict discipline style. Authoritarian [caregivers] always try to be in control and exert their control on the children. These [caregivers] set strict rules to try to keep order, and they usually do this without much expression of warmth and affection. They attempt to set strict standards of conduct and are usually very critical of children for not meeting those standards. They tell children what to do, they try to make them obey and they usually do not provide children with choices or options.

Authoritarian [caregivers] don't explain why they want their children to do things. If a child questions a rule or command, the [adult] might answer, "Because I said so." [Authoritarian caregivers] tend to focus on bad behavior, rather than positive behavior, and children are scolded or punished, often harshly, for not following the rules.

Children with authoritarian parents usually do not learn to think for themselves and understand why the parent is requiring certain behaviors.

Permissive [adults] give up most control to their children. [Permissive caregivers] make few, if any, rules, and the rules that they make are usually not consistently enforced. They don't want to be tied down to routines. They want [the] children to feel free. They do not set clear boundaries or expectations for [the] children's behavior and tend to accept in a warm and loving way, however the child behaves.

Permissive parents give children as many choices as possible, even when the child is not capable of making good choices. They tend to accept a child's behavior, good or bad, and make no comment about whether it is beneficial or not. They may feel unable to change misbehavior, or they choose not to get involved.

Democratic or Authoritative:
Democratic [caregivers] help children learn to be responsible for themselves and to think about the consequences of their behavior. [Adults] do this by providing clear, reasonable expectations for [the] children and explanations for why they expect their children to behave in a particular manner. They monitor [the] children's behavior to make sure that they follow through on rules and expectations. They do this in a warm and loving manner. They often, "try to catch [the] children being good" and reinforcing the good behavior, rather than focusing on the bad.

For example, a child who leaves her toys on a staircase may be told not to do this because, "Someone could trip on them and get hurt and the toy might be damaged." As children mature, [caregivers] involve children in making rules and doing chores: "Who will mop the kitchen floor, and who will carry out the trash?"

Parents who have a democratic style give choices based on a child's ability. For a toddler, the choice may be "red shirt or striped shirt?" For an older child, the choice might be "apple, orange or banana?" Parents guide children's behavior by teaching, not punishing. "You threw your truck at Mindy. That hurt her. We're putting your truck away until you can play with it safely."

Tomorrow we will discuss positive discipline.

Be quoted in our monthly poll by taking the survey at:

Do you share the same discipline style as the parents? Have you had any issues disciplining your charges?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


How Nannies and Au Pairs Celebrate Inauguration Day with Children

The Kennedy children had a nanny while living in the White House, Carter hired a governess, and Obama will have his mother-in-law to help care for his children while living in the White House.

Ask the children you care for what they hope the new President of the United States of America will accomplish during his term.

Do the children have any advice to share with Barack Obama for the next four-years?

When asked these questions my nine-year-old charge said he hopes the new President will make considerable changes in the world climate. The nine-year-old suggests the President encourage more use of wind and solar power and hopes that the new President will force the auto makers to make electric cars or cars that can run on ethanol. The nine-year-old also thinks all citizens should be forced to recycle. Can you tell he has read the teen version of An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore?

On the other hand, my five-year-old charge had more personal concerns and less of a global vision. He asked me if Barack Obama is allowed to force all parents to buy their children dogs. When I said the new President would not be able to force his parents to get the five-year-old a dog, my charge asked, “Why not? He’s the boss of everyone!”

The five-year-old also asked me, “Can I ask the President to give every kid a gumball machine?”

I am glad that the five-year-old has age-appropriate concerns. At least he isn’t worrying about the topics that burden most adult Americans these days.

Ask the children you care for what their advice or vision for the new President is and feel free to share their answers with us below by clicking “comments.”

Monday, January 19, 2009


How Nannies and Au Pairs Can Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

It is fitting that the first African American will be inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States of America just one day after America recognizes the civil right’s activist Martin Luther King, Jr. The inauguration will be a memorable moment in American and world history.

But, for today, just one day until Barack Obama is inaugurated, we are asked to remember Martin Luther King, Jr. Many schools have are in recess today. So, there is no better time then to engage the children in activities and age appropriate discussions about the civil rights movement in American history. These activities and discussions perfectly parallel the inauguration of the first African American president of the United States of America.

Here are our suggestions:

You will need: brown eggs, white eggs, and a bowl.

Hand each child a brown egg and a white egg. Have them observe the difference between the two eggs. Allow the children to crack the eggs into the bowl. Have the children observe the eggs after being cracked. While the eggs were different colors on the outside, they are the same on the inside, just like people. Then use the eggs in the cake or cupcakes for the birthday party described below.

You will need: red, white and blue colored balloons, streamers, party favors, a cake or cupcakes, and red, white and blue candles.
Have a Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday party to celebrate the works of this great man. Let the children hang balloons and streamers to decorate the house or playroom. Bake a cake and use inexpensive party favors to enjoy the party.

You will need: red, white and blue beads, construction paper, scissors, hole-punch, and yarn.
Cut out construction paper hearts and punch a hole in the center using a hole-punch. String the red, white and blue beads and construction paper hearts onto a piece of yarn that is about six-inches in length. Tie the ends of yarn together making a bracelet.

You will need: small white paper plates, scissors, pencil, glue or stapler.
Doves symbolize peace. Draw a line down the middle of small white paper plates. On one half draw a second perpendicular line to the first line. Cut along the lines. The small sections form the dove wings and tail. The larger section is the dove’s body. After the children cut and glue the dove, attach it to a headbands. If you do not have a headband you can make one with heavy weight paper. Simply measure the circumference of the child’s head with a tape measure and cut a two- to three-inch strip of heavy weight paper about an inch larger then the length of the child’s head. Staple the ends together to make a headband.


Dr King Had a Dream (Sung to: Old MacDonald)
Dr. King had a dream for p-e-a-c-e.
He wanted people to be friends and live in harmony.
He had lots of love to share.
He spread kindness everywhere!
Dr. King had a dream for p-e-a-c-e!

A Song About Martin Luther King (Sung to: Yankee Doodle)
Dr. King was a man
Who came from Atlanta Georgia.
Had a dream that he preached
For all men to be equal.
Dr King was so brave
Martin was a hero.
Won the fight for everyone
To end discrimination.

MLK Jacqueline Woodson (Sung to: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star)
Freedom, freedom, let it ring.
Let it ring said Dr King
Let us live in harmony.
Peace and love for you and me.
Freedom, freedom let it ring.
Let it ring said

1. Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. By Doreen Rappaport
2. Young Martin Luther King Jr. “I Have a Dream” By Troll Associates
3. A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr. By David A. Adler
4. What is Martin Luther King Day? By Margaret Friskey



Sunday, January 18, 2009


Obama is Getting a Puppy for His Children.
Are You Expected to Care for Pets?

With the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States of America approaching this Tuesday there is much talk about what type of dog Barack Obama will get his daughters Malia and Sasha when they move into the White House.

Pet-sitting can be a pet-peeve (no pun intended) for some nannies and au pairs.

For example, Katie Belinda, a nanny working in Atlanta, Georgia told Be the Best Nanny Monthly Guide, “I don’t like pets. I just don’t accept nanny jobs at homes that own any large pets.”

Sandra McDaniels, a live-in nanny working in Westport, Connecticut explains, “I am allergic to cats and dogs so I cannot work for a family that owns a cat or dog. I don’t like other pets but as long as I am not responsible for caring for them then I can work in the household.”

MaryAnne Hudson, a household manager in Morristown, New Jersey explains, “I feel I ought to be compensated more if a family I work for has a dog. Whenever the parents have said I won’t be responsible for caring for the dog that was far from the truth. Dogs are harder to care for than the children. I don’t mind cats or smaller animals. But, I have no interest in walking dogs or cleaning litter boxes.”

Melissa Havasua, a nanny that works in San Diego, California says, “When the parents I worked for bought a puppy and expected me to train it I asked for extra money for the extra work. The parents laughed. I didn’t agree to be a pet-sitter. I was hired to be a childcare provider. So, I gave two-weeks notice.”

Using a simple pet-sitting contract can be helpful when parents ask nannies or au pairs to pet-sit.

For example, if the family will be traveling on vacation the nanny or au pair should create a separate pet-sitting work agreement that includes essential responsibilities for the job. If the au pair or nanny cannot perform the pet-sitting duties the parents can then use the work agreement when they hire another pet-sitter as well.

Information to Include in a Pet-Sitting Contract:

  1. Emergency phone number where the family can be reached in case of emergency.
  2. Veterinarian phone number.
  3. Pet-sitter back up person in case of emergency.
  4. List of family, friends, or neighbors that have a key to the house.
  5. Detailed history of each pet.
  6. Where family buys pet food and supplies.
  7. What food to serve each pet, at what time, and the amount of food.
  8. Detailed list of any medications required. When, how much, and what type of medicine should be given to each pet.
  9. Which treats the pets are allowed to have and at what times.
  10. Fees per walk and length of each walk (for example half hour walk).

Obama promises that he will buy a dog for his kids. Does the family you work for have a dog? Have you experienced any issues working with pets?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Nanny & Au Pair Book Reviews

Weekly Trip to the Library

Subscribers to Be the Best Nanny Monthly Guide often comment that their favorite column in the nanny newsletter is "Weekly Trip to the Library." Due to the popularity of the column we hope to include reviews of your favorite children's, parenting, and nanny books each Saturday on this blog. Please feel free to email us your favorite book reviews to

Listed below are some children's books on the topic of privacy we have been discussing on the blog for the last two-weeks.

It's My Body: A Book to Teach Young Children How to Resist Uncomfortable Touch
By Lory Freeman
Ages: 3 to 8
Publisher: Parenting Pr., Inc. Pub., January 1982
ISBN-13: 9780943990033
Preschool children can learn safe boundaries, how to distinguish between "good" and "bad" touches, and how to respond appropriately to unwanted touches. This is a powerful book for enhancing self-esteem.

Your Body Belongs to You
By Cornelia Maude Spelman
Ages: 5 to 6
Publisher: Albert Whitman Pub., March 2000
ISBN-13: 9780807594735
In simple, reassuring language, therapist Cornelia Spelman explains that a child's body is his or her own; that it is all right for children to decline a friendly hug or kiss, even from someone they love; and that "even if you don't want a hug or kiss right now, you can still be friends."

My Body Is Private
By Linda Walvoord Girard
Ages: 5 to 8
Publisher: Albert Whitman Pub., January 1984
ISBN-13: 9780807553190
A mother-child conversation introduces the topic of sexual abuse and ways to keep one's body private. It teaches that children can enjoy good touches such as hugs, while understanding the difference between a good touch and a bad touch.

Who Is a Stranger and What Should I Do?
By Linda Walvoord Girard and Abby Levine
Ages: 7 to 11
Publisher: Albert Whitman Pub., April 1993
ISBN-13: 9780807590164
This book explains how to deal with strangers in public places, on the telephone, and in cars, emphasizing situations in which the best thing to do is run away or talk to another adult. It describes "kind" strangers, the stranger who is not a child's friend, strangers in public places, "doorbell" strangers, and others. The book provides children with ten "what if" situations.

Please share your favorite children's, nanny, or parenting books with us. Email with your book reviews.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Au Pair and Nanny Privacy and Confidentiality Survey

Monthly Poll Results

In April, 2008, 596 people that took the Best Nanny Newsletter monthly poll at Five hundred and seven of the survey participants were nannies or au pairs, 38 were parents, and 37 were nanny agency staff or owners.

Below is just a small portion of the survey that applies to the discussion of privacy we have been discussing over the past two-weeks.

Do you approve of the use of nanny cams?

Julia, a nanny with more than 20-years experience from California said, "While I know it has become the norm, I really don't think nanny cams are a good idea at all. I believe they give parents a false sense of security. If you don't trust your nanny, fire her. Don't wait until you happen to see it on a hidden video."

Michelle Clark, a nanny and babysitter from Independence, Ohio, wrote, "I do approve, parents should be able to check on there children 24/7."

Linda Cooper, a nanny working in Savannah, Georgia wrote, "If the parents want to see how I operate then that's good. They can learn a lot from me."

Alicia Torchia, President of Careful Care Givers LLC in New Jersey answered, "I approve as long as there is disclosure to the nanny. Parents unknowingly run the risk of losing a good nanny if a nanny finds that they are recording her without proper disclosure of using a nanny cam. Good nannies pride themselves on their moral character and could become insulted if they find a hidden camera and this certainly does not help develop trust."

Melissa Doran, a nanny in Potomac Falls, Virginia said, "No. If the employer already suspects that the nanny or au pair is doing something wrong, then the employee should be fired right away."

Alison Lang, from Orono, Minnesota, wrote, "Nanny cams are legal but I would feel though that trust has been broken if they do not tell me about a nanny cam being used.”

Sue Krzos, a nanny in Virginia answered, "No, if parents suspect something is wrong, they should not put their child in harms way just to capture it on film first."

Letea M. Payne, a governess from Empire, Colorado wrote, "It's your home, it's your little-ones, do as you please.”

Lisa W., a nanny and household manager in Dutchess County, New York answered, "It doesn't bother me. I'm confident I do my job well."

How do you feel about parents using of global positioning systems (GPS) in cell phones or cars to track the nanny's or au pair’s location?

Laurel McFarland, a professional nanny from Oklahoma explained, "I have no problem with parents using GPS technology to track the nanny's location, as long as it is not used to track the nanny's location on her time-off."

Sarah Fekete, a nanny in Atlanta, Georgia said, "I think things like that are a little overboard. If you don't trust your nanny on where she's going, then maybe you need to sit down and talk with her, or find a new nanny."

Myra Leffler, a newborn care specialist from Canton, South Dakota said, "I have their kids I don't think it will hurt to know where I am. However, I think that it should be turned off when I am not working with their kids."

Mimi Clark, a nanny from Washington, District of Columbia said, "My job is to make the parents feel confident that their child is well taken care of while they are at work. If parents need to track me using GPS, they can."

Liz Dinkel, a nanny in Arizona answered, "It is a parents right to know where their children are."

What recommendations do you have for parents and caregivers to ensure privacy, respect, and confidentiality between nannies, au pairs, and families?

Katherine Blonsky, from San Francisco, California said, "Ask for the location of private spaces, where cameras will not be filming. Tell parents you expect no cameras in bathrooms.”

Stephanie, a nanny in New Jersey answered, "Parents need to inform their caregivers about online safety and not to post photos of their children online. Most nannies don't think there is any harm in sharing their charges photos, when if fact it can be a reason for parents to fire nannies. It is an invasion of privacy. They are not your kids."

A parent from South Salem, New York wrote, "I have had a nanny in the past that would speak about our family and job to other parents. I was told immediately. She didn't understand the concept of our privacy. Now, when I hire a nanny, I go over every aspect of the job, but also spend a great deal of time on privacy and confidentiality. I lay out the expectations (in detail), give examples, and reiterate that this is grounds for immediate termination. The point is to stress how important it is to you as a parent. If you do this correctly, your nanny will understand."

MaryAnn a nanny in Michigan explained, "Have a contract and spell out what is and is not acceptable to say and do."

Terri Carroll, a nanny and infant specialist from Ventura, California wrote, "In any other job, your boss can walk in at any time and see how you're doing your job. When you're caring for people's most important and most precious 'assets' you shouldn't expect privacy that you wouldn't even get working as a carpenter or an accountant. A confidentiality clause in the work agreement is helpful, but won't change a person who is prone to gossip anyway."

Danielle D. a nanny in Raleigh, North Carolina explained, "I think that being a nanny is a more personal job than any corporate job. Although all parties involved have to establish and respect boundaries that make everyone comfortable, being a nanny is unlike any other type of job."

Wendy Bauer, a nanny from Franklin, Wisconsin said, "You may become friends with the parents but you are still an employee. As with any job both the employee and employer need to keep personal information to themselves."

Do you have any thoughts about the topic of privacy to add? Click “comments” below to respond.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Paying Nannies and Housekeepers on the Books

Nannygate for Treasury Secretary Nominee

Yesterday we discussed that President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Timothy Geithner, was nominated by President Elect Barack Obama as Treasury Secretary.

Geithner was supposed to have a confirmation hearing today after learning about his failure to pay self-employment taxes while working at the International Monetary Fund. In addition, questions were raised about a lapse of his housekeeper’s legal status.

But, the hearing has been postponed until January 21, 2009.

According to Ryan J. Donmoyer of "Geithner said he was unaware that the woman’s immigration papers had expired three months before she stopped working for him, according to an official on Obama’s transition staff. The Finance Committee said taxes for the housekeeper were 'appropriately paid.'" Here is the link to the article:

Please comment on this topic for the rest of the day and then we can discuss it after the hearing on January 21.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

NANNYGATE -- Here We Go Again

Will Another Politician Lose Nomination for Not Paying Taxes?

It has happened before: Zoe Baird, Linda Chavez, Bernard Kerik, and Kimba Wood, all have lost political appointments due to not paying their domestic employee's taxes, which is required by law.

Now another politician, Timothy Geithner, may lose his bid for Treasury Secretary for not paying taxes of a former housekeeper. Perhaps the failure to pay was due to a, "common tax mistake," from 2001-2004 while working for the International Monetary Fund. Geithner claims he has since paid all back taxes owed, but he did not admit the error or pay the taxes until after his nomination by President-elect Obama.

Quote from CNBC:
"Treasury Secretary nominee Timothy Geithner is facing questions over the immigration status of a former housekeeper and whether he paid Social Security and Medicare taxes.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, has raised questions about both issues, the Wall Street Journal reported, though Senate Democrats told CNBC that they don't think this will derail the nomination. Geithner's confirmation hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

According to the Journal, the former housekeeper's immigration papers expired while working for Geithner, though she later received a green card and became legal. The second question involved employment taxes while Geitner was working for the International Monetary Fund from 2001 to 2004."

Zoe Baird was nominated by Bill Clinton in 1993 to be attorney general until it was uncovered that she had hired two illegal immigrants as a driver and a nanny and did not pay their social security taxes.

Linda Chavez was nominated by George W. Bush in 2001 for Secretary of Labor. But Chavez allowed a woman to live illegally in her home in the 1993's and gave her money and did not become Secretary of Labor.

Bernard Kerik was nominated by George W. Bush in 2004 to be Secretary of Homeland Security. But Kerick lost the nomination once it was discovered he had not filed taxes for a former housekeeper and nanny.

Kimba Wood was Bill Clinton's second nominee for attorney general in 1993. But, like Zoe Baird, Wood had hired an illegal immigrant as a nanny. Due to the controversy over Baird, she decided to not accept the nomination. Clinton's third nominee for the top U.S. law enforcement position, Janet Reno, was confirmed.

If you work as a nanny, are you legally filing and paying taxes?

How Nannies & Au Pairs Should Teach Children About Privacy

Safe, Unsafe, and Unwanted Touches

To continue the discussion of privacy and children here is information about teaching children about safe, unsafe, and unwanted touches.

Although there is no medical concern when children touch their genitals, they must learn not to touch their genitals when other people are present.

In her article, "Teaching Preschoolers About Privacy" psychologist Debra W. Haffner, explains, “Regardless of your values about privacy, all children need to learn that touching their genitals is a private behavior, just like using the bathroom for most families is a private behavior -- at least once everyone in the household is toilet-trained. Preschoolers are old enough to understand that other people will be upset if they see them touching their genitals in public, and that this type of behavior should be reserved for when they are alone in a private place.”,1510,9036,00.html

Ms. Haffner explains, “A simple definition of privacy for a preschooler is: ‘Private places are places where you can expect to be alone for a while when you want to. In [your] home, a private place for you is (your bedroom, the bathroom, whatever you think is appropriate).’”

When discussing privacy and self respect children must be allowed to decide who is allowed to touch them as well. After being potty-trained nannies do not need to touch children’s genital areas.

Caregivers must teach children there are three kinds of touches.

According to the Committee for Children web site the three kinds of touches are safe touches, unsafe touches, and unwanted touches.

Safe Touches. These are touches that keep children safe and are good for them, and that make children feel cared for and important. Safe touches can include hugging, pats on the back, and an arm around the shoulder. Safe touches can also include touches that might hurt, such as removing a splinter. Explain to children that when you remove a splinter, you are doing so to keep them healthy, which makes it a safe touch.

Unsafe Touches. These are touches that hurt children's bodies or feelings (for example, hitting, pushing, pinching, and kicking). Teach children that these kinds of touches are not okay.

Unwanted Touches. These are touches that might be safe but that a child doesn't want from that person or at that moment. It is okay for a child to say, "No," to an unwanted touch, even if it is from a familiar person. Help children practice saying "No" in a strong, yet polite voice. This will help children learn to set personal boundaries.

If children violate the privacy of the parents, au pairs, or nannies, they should immediately be disciplined. The rules about privacy should be fair and consistent. Children cannot be rewarded with attention for swearing or telling secrets. Instead, time-outs should be used when inappropriate public behavior occurs.

Have you had the discussion about safe and unsafe touches with children? Click "comments" to respond below.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Nannies, Au Pairs, Children, and Privacy

Respecting the Privacy of Children While Teaching Them to Respect Privacy

To get back to the topic of privacy that we have been discussing, children must learn to respect privacy and caregivers must respect children’s privacy when possible. By the time children are ready to enter school, they must have a well developed respect of the privacy of other children and of adults.

To provide proper care for children, nannies and au pairs need to monitor the children’s space in the bedroom and bathroom.

The issue of privacy is part of the larger conversation of treating others with respect. Privacy, while acting kindly and mannerly to family and friends, are all part of the discussions of respect and empathy to the needs and feelings of others.

Children must learn to show respect of the privacy of others to allow a lifetime of smooth social interactions. The lessons learned and practiced as children persist throughout life.

To accomplish these goals, nannies and au pairs should set good examples for children to imitate. As role models, au pairs and nannies should be aware of children’s feelings and not embarrass children in front of parents or friends by discussing or remarking about things kids find uncomfortable.

Privacy means that children and caregivers should keep things confidential that they find inappropriate to discuss outside the home.

Au pairs and nannies should use, and teach children to use, a respectful tone of voice and avoid swearing and obscene gestures.

Interrupting a conversation is ill-mannered and considered an invasion of privacy. Distractions and disruptions discourage social interactions among friends and family and, if it happens to children, they find it frustrating.

Polite conversation by children demonstrates a respect for privacy and an interest in family and friends. Gossip and unkind remarks show a lack of respect. These are skills au pairs and nannies can help teach.

Children (not infants) should be allowed to play with their friends without adults hovering during playtime. Play-dates should be supervised discretely by insisting that playroom and bedroom doors remain open, and baby monitors or intercoms can be used to monitor playtime.

Children must learn that when a bathroom or bedroom door is closed, they must knock before entering. Yet, children should never lock doors inside the house to prevent them from getting stuck inside unable to get out, or to allow an adult to provide assistance if needed.

Children must also understand that the privacy of live-in nannies and au pairs is absolute in their private areas of the house.

Respect of privacy also extends to personal property. Just as au pairs and nannies cannot give away the children’s toys without permission, children may not violate any personal belongings of nannies. Children must learn not to damage or abuse the property of others.

When nannies are working all potty-trained members of the family should shut the door while using the bathroom. Even if the parents and children typically share a bathroom while someone is using the toilet, it is socially unacceptable to leave bathroom doors
open while using the toilet by the time that children attend school.

Some families are comfortable with nudity in the home. But, when nannies and au pairs are working in the home different rules about nudity and privacy should be followed.

For example, even if the children see their parents dress and undress, children should never see nannies and au pairs dress or undress. Even if children typically walk to and from the shower naked when cared for by their parents, kids should use bathrobes before and after showering when nannies and au pairs are working.

Have you had privacy issues working as a nanny?