Kids health & safety

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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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COVID-19 and Children

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The spread of misinformation can be just as contagious and equally as toxic as any pandemic. When it comes to protecting our children, who can we trust and how can we take preventative measures? Referring to the Center for Disease Control, who’s only bias is keeping the population healthy, is usually our best bet. Here is what the CDC has to say about COVID-19 and our children:

Will my child get sick?

In most cases, children and the elderly are most affected by disease, due to their sensitive immune systems. However, the CDC says “based on available evidence, children do not appear to be at higher risk for COVID-19 than adults.” While some children have fallen ill, the vast majority of cases have been found in adults, seemingly going against the grain of the usual fear that children would fall into the category of high risk people.

How can I take actions to protect my child?

Protecting your child from COVID-19 is no different from teaching your child regulatory health precautions.

  • Have them frequently wash their hands with soap and warm water for at least 30 seconds and use hand sanitizer frequently. Encourage them to avoid touching their eyes, nose, mouth, ears and face with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid people who are sick, especially if they are coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean and disinfect high traffic surfaces in your house such as doorknobs, tables, chairs, counters, handles, light switches, desks, toilets, and sinks. It would also behoove you to disinfect technology like phones, iPads and gaming systems.
  • Wash clothes and plush toys on the highest possible heat setting with the appropriate amount of detergent.

“”Reported symptoms in children include cold-like symptoms, such as fever, runny nose, and cough. Vomiting and diarrhea have also been reported. It’s not known yet whether some children may be at higher risk for severe illness, for example, children with underlying medical conditions and special healthcare needs.” says the CDC”

How will I know if my child is sick?

COVID-19 symptoms in children do not differ from adults, except in that they tend to be milder. “Reported symptoms in children include cold-like symptoms, such as fever, runny nose, and cough. Vomiting and diarrhea have also been reported. It’s not known yet whether some children may be at higher risk for severe illness, for example, children with underlying medical conditions and special healthcare needs.” says the CDC. As there have been few reported cases of the virus in children, it is difficult to say exactly how they will be affected, there is still much to be learned about the virus’s impact on children.

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Should I have my child wear a face mask?

The CDC says no, only those who have the illness or symptoms of the illness should wear masks and it is not necessary for children to wear them preventatively.

Disease can be frightening, especially when there are so many more questions than there are answers. Remember that as long as you and your children are washing your hands and staying away from those that are ill, you are doing the best you can. We are not health care experts, but if you have any further questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to us.

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