Kids behavior & discipline

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Nannies, Families, and Love Languages

The 5 Love Languages, book by Gary Chapman, swept the nation. Couples everywhere jumped to take the test to find out what their and their partner’s love languages are. Love Languages help people better understand their own emotional needs as well as the emotional needs of their partner to better strengthen a relationship. Knowing what another person wants and needs in order to feel safe, happy and secure is essential in creating a happy and healthy relationship. This study has been primarily focused on adult romantic relationships, but there is no reason that the love language cannot apply directly to children and their nannies as well. 

What are the 5 Love Languages?

According to author Gary Chapman, there are 5 Love Languages, or five ways that people communicate their love or feel love communicated to them. They are: 

  1. Acts of Service,
  2. Words of Affirmation,
  3. Receiving Gifts,
  4. Quality Time,
  5. Physical Touch.

How can I apply this to my child?

Children ask, through their actions, every day if they are seen or understood. A child acting out is a child who isn’t feeling seen or understood. Understanding your child’s love language can correct and assist with discipline. It can create a stronger bond with your child, and a child who feels loved and secure has a much easier time learning and a much higher success rate academically.

Knowing what love language your child most strongly connects with can greatly assist you in your search for a nanny and strengthen your child’s bond with their nanny should you already have one. 

Where does my nanny come in?

Knowing what love language your child most strongly connects with can greatly assist you in your search for a nanny and strengthen your child’s bond with their nanny should you already have one. In searching for your next caregiver, you can ask leading questions in the interview (link to interview blog) that focus on the caregiver’s ability to connect with and provide for your child’s love language. The more your child feels seen and understood by their caregivers, the higher their self confidence and the better they do in school. Studies show that the less a child feels loved, the smaller their brains and the fewer neural pathways they have for learning.

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Speaking to your child’s love language

If your child’s love language is quality time, but the way that you communicate your love is in gift giving, there can be a disconnect between you and your child. You both love each other, but your child may not recognize or understand that to you, gift giving is your expression of love. They need quality time to feel loved, secure and cared for. Instead of buying your child a gift, spend quality time with your child and encourage your nanny to do so as well. Quality time looks like active listening and engaging in the child’s interests without distractions. Once you understand how your child feels loved, you can express this to your child’s nanny so they can better assist in the child’s emotional development.

How to find out your love language

Interested in knowing what each member of your family’s love language is? Take the quiz here

The first step towards providing for your child’s needs is to understand them. Love Languages are a wonderful way to strengthen communication with your child and create strong foundations for their developmental journey. If you have questions or comments about your child’s Love Language, or how to implement the strategy with your child’s nanny, reach out to us

We would love to hear what your love language is and how you show and receive love!

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How To Keep Privileged Kids Grounded

By Franziska Garner

Sarah, three years old, walked up to the driver who was cleaning out the car and demanded pizza. The driver immediately stopped what he was doing and got into the car.

Samuel, five years, broke another boy’s car in the park. Without a word he ran over to his nanny and demanded that she gave him some money to reimburse the boy.

These are just two examples of children growing up in a privileged environment. Their behavior is not necessarily rude and inappropriate. Sometimes, they really just don’t know better. It’s good to learn how to keep privileged kids grounded so caregivers like nannies, mannies and teachers help such children to see beyond their diamond-covered little boxes?

Team Up With The Parents

Always (and especially in a high net worth / high profile setting) make very sure to communicate as much as possible with the parents, or other legal guardian. Some questions I like to clarify include:

  • How are staff addressed? First name, last name, Miss, Mister?
  • Do the children have chores?
  • How much influence do the children have on outings, food, screen time, etc?
  • Are the children’s needs always first?
  • Are they allowed to meet children outside their social circle?

These questions aim as much on finding out the status quo when entering a new position as finding out what the parents expect from their children. Make sure you know how the parents want their children treated and how they want their children to treat others. If possible, make such conversations a recurring event to take the children’s development into account.

Using manners demonstrates respect for the other person. It is crucial to teach the child as early as possible that manners are not a matter of status but rather a social norm that applies equally to everyone

Have a Conversation with the Other Staff

After you talked to the parents, have a conversation with all staff that are contact with the children. That can include housekeepers, drivers, bodyguards, tutors, cooks, etc. By now you know what is expected of the children so you can speak with authority. Explain what kind of behavior is accepted and what is not.

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Manners are a Social Norm

Using manners demonstrates respect for the other person. It is crucial to teach the child as early as possible that manners are not a matter of status but rather a social norm that applies equally to everyone. When someone is higher in status (or in the world of a child, stronger, taller, richer, older, etc), this doesn’t mean that they don’t have to use the same manners as someone who is of a lower status (weaker, smaller, less privileged, younger etc). In a staffed house it is crucial to involve the employees in the teaching of manners by asking them to expect the same politeness and courtesy from their employer’s children as they do from their own.

"Fancy" Outings vs. "Normal" Outings

Hands down, it is great fun to rent an entire movie theater for a birthday party. But even if outings like this are considered normal and nothing special, it can help tremendously to purposefully take the children on low budget outings. Some good examples are the park, a library, a public swimming pool, the zoo, the museum, etc.

Why are such “normal” outings helpful? Low budget outings are exactly that. Low budget. Children learn that it is possible to have a great and fun day without spending a ton of money. It will also give the children an opportunity to be around other young ones who are not in the same social group. If the parents are okay with it, I would always recommend to make sure that the children have friends who live less privileged lives. Meeting and playing with such children can help your charges tremendously when it comes to figuring out their own place in the world.

Random Acts of Kindness

Every child needs to learn that sharing is something positive and beneficial for both sides. Especially children who never lack anything and immediately have every need fulfilled, tend to be seen as self-centered and egoistical. That is however not the child’s fault. They can only learn what is taught.

In my experience, random acts of kindness help children to expand and deepen their contact with the world. They can also support your charge in discovering themselves as a contributing member of society. I do however always recommend, that the child either gives something up that is theirs (toys, clothes, even time), or money they have made themselves.

Let me give you two examples:

1. Why not go through the children’s toys, collect what they don’t want anymore and give them to children’s homes, churches, food banks, etc? Depending on the age and the maturity of the children, they can accompany you there so they see that their toys are really needed elsewhere.

2. Children can do lemonade (cookie,…)  stands. They need to go shopping, prepare the lemonade and actually sell it. The money they make can then go to someone who needs it, like charities, animal shelters, school drives etc. This can be beneficial in two ways: 1. The child works for his/her money and learns to give it up to do something good. 2. The child learns that making money can be hard work.

Whatever you do to teach your privileged children kindness and manners, always make sure that at the end of the day they are allowed to be what they really are: Children who need to be loved no matter how much money their parents make.

About the author:

Franziska Garner was born in Germany and has been living in the USA since 2015. She holds a Masters in Education and is a certified teacher. Franziska has long term experience as a nanny and governess for high profile and high net worth families and as public school teacher. Her professional website can be found here. Franziska currently she lives in Lubbock, Texas.

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Racism and Children

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Racism is taught. Racism is learned. Racism is not inherent. Right now, it’s not enough to be against racism, one has to be anti-racist. It is a lifelong fight for equity and basic human rights for Black people. Racism and children needs to be discussed.
One of the first lessons a white or white passing child learns is how to dial 911. We tell them that if there is any ever trouble to call the police, the police will help them and keep them safe. Black children, on the other hand, learn that keeping themselves safe looks very different.
 

“Remember that children learn by example. If you are preaching inclusivity while benefiting from a system that oppresses others, what are you really showing your children? Talking to your children about racism shouldn’t be a one time thing, it should be a continued, open conversation in which you both honestly evaluate your actions and beliefs.”

While we watch the news and talk to our friends and relatives about police brutality, racism and protests, children are listening. Children’s developing, inquisitive minds that seek to relate and understand are forming their own ideas based off of what they hear on TV, what they hear their parents say, and how they see their parents act. Often what they are absorbing now is not processed on a conscious level but ingrained in their minds, which is why its imperative that these conversations are had to steer their minds in a positive way. While the topic of race is uncomfortable, don’t be the parent who avoids the topic of race because you’re not sure how to handle it. It’s okay to be uncomfortable right now, because that discomfort brings change.

Equip your child with the tools they need to grow up and be an adult who stands up against and actively fights racism. Raise a child who will be a mediator, a peacemaker. Raise a child who makes a safe space for everyone.

Heal Yourself

How does one raise such a child? By first acknowledging and dealing with your own biases. Unlearning white supremacy and white privilege is a difficult task which can and will be deeply painful. Do it for your children and for George Floyd’s daughter. Do it for all of the Black children who are not taught to call 911 because the police pose the most danger to them. Read books and watch movies curated by BI and POC. Learn about how our systems in America are built on slavery and profit off of the oppression of Black lives. Understand systemic racism and how school districts are segregated. Think back to the times in your life where you exercised your privilege for your own advantage. It will be painful. Do it for your children. If you don’t uproot and unlearn your biases, they will stick with you and show their head when you least expect it, and that will be what your child sees and learns from. Children learn from example, don’t say one thing about race and then show them something different. 

Talking to Children Under 5

Young children learning about their place in the world will point out differences they notice in people. This is done usually in an embarrassing and uncomfortable way for parents in public. Rather than silencing your child when they point out these differences, embrace and celebrate them. “Mommy, that woman’s hair is in braids!” “Yes sweetie, and aren’t they beautiful? They are a symbol of her culture.” Resist the urge to shush or shame them, this will only begin the process of internalization and will make them feel like they can’t come to you with questions and create a stigma around “otherness.” When describing racism to your children of this age, refer to it as being “unfair.” That BIPOC are treated unfairly in the workplace, on the streets, by doctors, and police. Children understand the concept of fairness and this will resonate with them on a tangible emotional level they can comprehend. This will also inspire their beautiful young hearts to want to take action. Encourage them in doing so. Read them books about racism and watch age appropriate content.

Children Aged 5 through 11

Older, elementary aged children can be more difficult to speak to racism about. They understand more and their questions can be intimidating or hard to answer for parents. That is okay. Recognize within yourself that you won’t have all the answers. It’s okay to say “I don’t know,” to a question they have. If you find that’s the case, make a plan for the both of you to investigate together. Make it a learning experience to go out and find your answers about race. Find out what they’re not learning in school, or what is being covered up. Encourage them to give a classroom presentation on what they’ve learned. Being open and honest with your child builds trust and encourages them to seek out the answers they don’t have. Discuss with them what they are seeing in the news and on their own social media. Ask them what their friends are saying and their opinion on it. Unpack any stereotyping or biases that your child or your child’s friends are beginning to form. Remember that racism is learned, not inherent, and can be imposed upon by peer pressure. Do not shame your child or your child’s friends for their thoughts, but steer them in the right direction of thinking with guided questions.

For Kids 11 years+

Pre-teens know a lot more about the world. Their history classes, while undoubtedly skewed to avoid the real race issues pervasive in American History, will have taught them something about discrimination. Usually along the lines of “we had slaves, we abolished slavery and everything was fine! Then Martin Luther King came and everything was great for Black people!” A dangerous and blatantly incorrect curriculum designed to keep the truth from children who benefit from that very oppressive system. Find out what your child knows about racism in school and let them talk, listening to understand, not to respond. Depending on the school, your child may be angry at the injustice, allow them to feel this. Don’t try to tell them “it’ll all be okay” but rather encourage action. Get involved in your local chapter of Black Lives Matter. Research policies in your local government that suppress Black voices, like lack of affordable housing in areas with higher funded schools and make a plan to take action. Volunteer, encourage diversity. Children are natural empathizers. Encourage them to think about how their lives would be different if they were the subjects of systemic and ingrained racial injustice. You may want to protect your child from these “negative” emotions and truths about the world, but the truth is that children are our future and children will save the world. Create children who grow into caring allies
 

Remember that children learn by example. If you are preaching inclusivity while benefiting from a system that oppresses others, what are you really showing your children? Talking to your children about racism shouldn’t be a one time thing, it should be a continued, open conversation in which you both honestly evaluate your actions and beliefs. While this is a time of pain, anger, and injustice, it is also an opportunity for growth, inclusion and coming together.

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How to Nanny With Stay at Home Parents

Being a nanny with a parent working from home can be a challenge for many reasons. For some children, it can be difficult to adjust to a new nanny or caregiver. It takes time for the bonds to form and for trust to blossom. This can be especially difficult when one or both parents are also working from home. Some children may defer to a parent if they’re just in the other room, to the horror of many caregivers who know that parent happens to be on a conference call. As a new or long-term nanny who finds themselves caregiving alongside a work from home parent, how can you set the boundaries needed for the child to thrive?

Communicate!

While the child is not present, have a conversation with the work from home parent. If the child frequently calls upon the parent during the day, ask the parent to verbally defer to you so that the child hears from their own mouth that you are the authority on all matters. Some parents may not mind being sought out during the day, but it is important that as the caregiver during your working hours, your authority is not undermined in the eyes of the child. Our Honest House Promise details what a positive, healthy working environment looks like for all. Ask the parent leading questions so you both can be on the same page and avoid any awkwardness in front of the child. Some questions to consider:

  • How do we handle mealtimes and bathroom breaks where you and the child are in the same space?
  • Do the children need to play in areas away from where you will be working? Does the noise level matter?
  • If you plan on interacting with the children during the day, how involved would you like me to be? Is there a task, such as laundry or meal prep, that could get done while you interact with them?
  • If the child needs comfort, at what point would you like to be notified or involved?

Leading questions can help set the foundations for a positive and productive working environment for all. If the idea of communication sets your stomach into knots, here are some effective tips on better communication.

Establish a routine

It is no secret that children thrive under a routine. The idea of having a parent working from home while a caregiver is present may be a novel idea to them, and they will try and push the boundaries to see how they relate in this new environment. Children will want to update their parents during the day, showing them what they made and telling them a funny joke, especially since they’re just in the other room! But designating times throughout the day, such as meal time or “hand off” time where children know that they will have an opportunity to see their parents, can assist nannies in quelling the child’s urge to barge in on the parent’s zoom call to tell them about the especially tasty grape they ate. Here are CDC tips on establishing routines for children.

Being a nanny with a parent working from home can be a challenge for many reasons. For some children, it can be difficult to adjust to a new nanny or caregiver. It takes time for the bonds to form and for trust to blossom.

Create designated areas in the home

Having a “kids section” and a “parents’ work section” can greatly assist in creating the types of spacial boundaries children understand and relate to. Discuss with the parents areas that are “off limits” for the kids and request that you both enforce that with equal measure, ensuring that the message hits home. Having specific play areas that are unique to the child will help make the bitter pill of not being allowed in a certain area easier to swallow.

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Recognize that bonding may take longer

If a child has the choice to be comforted by someone they just met vs. the parent in the other room, they will of course choose the parent. If you are having difficulties forming a bond while a parent is working from home, ask the parent to help you form trust with the child by reassuring the child that you are there for them and you can be trusted. If the parent is verbally reaffirming their choice in you, the child will have an easier time opening up. Engage with the child as much as possible during this period, and if feasible, take them on outings where they can more easily recognize you as the caregiver.

Be ready for parents "popping in"

Having a parent that works from home who frequently checks in can make it difficult to establish authority and trust with the child, and can sometimes lead to meltdowns and disruption of activities. This is why it’s imperative that you create firm boundaries and communicate with the parent your needs as a nanny and stick to the schedule as much as possible. 

There will always be a learning curve when nannying while a parent is working from home. In any relationship, communication is key. Make sure that you and the parent have an opportunity to voice your needs and expectations so that a clear routine and schedule may be formed to allow the child to thrive and avoid any meltdowns or confusion. At the end of the day, as a nanny you are there to create a safe and loving environment for the child and it is important that both you and the parents remember that often. Look at these tips for developing a happy and healthy parent – nanny relationship.

If you have any questions or concerns or are having a difficult time performing your nanny duties while a parent is working from home, reach out to us and we will do our best to assist you.

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