How to Help Children Manage a New or Departing Nanny

Many families need help from a nanny or after school sitter. Oftentimes, these childcare providers become members of the family to the children they supervise.

Many families need help from a nanny or after school sitter. Oftentimes, these childcare providers become members of the family to the children they supervise. When there is a change in childcare provider, it is important to consider the impact on the child.

Adults often struggle with change, and children do too. They may not understand why a nanny or sitter is leaving the family. There are two parts to this transition – managing the departure of the old caregiver and preparing for the entrance of the new nanny. Children have a harder time trusting new people and transitioning to a new schedule, so when welcoming a new nanny, show enthusiasm and positivity. When a nanny transitions out of the home, be respectful and compassionate. With support and communication, children can learn to better manage change and develop resiliency.

Managing a Nanny Departure

Ideally, your nanny will have worked for you for a while but sometimes, nanny departures are abrupt. In either case, it may be difficult for the children to understand why someone who has cared for them is leaving. Young children often view the nanny as an extended family member, a playmate, and someone who can tuck them into bed at night. Make sure they understand the departure is not their fault. Comparing nannies to teachers may be helpful as younger children understand that they will have a new teacher and new classmates when they move from kindergarten into first grade.

When possible and age-appropriate, tell the children in advance that the nanny will be departing, but not too far ahead of the departure date. Align with the nanny and give consistent answers about when and why the nanny is leaving. Allow children to ask questions and help them through their emotions and feelings. Share the positives things the nanny did for the children and reassure the children that those things will still get done, either by a new nanny or by other members of the family. Let children know it’s okay to miss the nanny and be sad they are leaving. Importantly, make sure the children know the nanny’s departure is not their fault.

If appropriate, help the children create a special way to say goodbye to the nanny or give a special gift. Children can create a memory or photo book with pictures of the nanny and places they went together. They could also create a piece of art or do a craft activity to gift the nanny. For older children, writing a special note or story may be a great way to say goodbye. If a nanny is departing on good terms and the nanny is comfortable with staying in touch, comfort the child by letting them know they may contact the nanny or perhaps visit a park together in the future.

A young superhero duo takes off to vanquish evil. It is never too early to be super.

Children will watch the parents and nanny for cues on how to behave. It is vital that all the adults set aside their feelings and behave respectfully. Even if the experience wasn’t positive, the children and nanny likely had a connection that may make a transition difficult. As children process the transition, they may exhibit changes in behavior for up to 6 months. Some children may be anxious and have more temper tantrums while others may not seem affected but regress in toilet training.

If a nanny leaves abruptly without a farewell to the children, the parents need to make sure the children understand they didn’t do anything to cause the departure. The children may experience feelings of abandonment or hurt and anger. Parents should focus on reassuring the children and refrain from negative references about the nanny’s departure. If children are struggling with a departed nanny, have the children write the nanny a letter or draw a picture for them, even if you never plan to mail it to the nanny.

Preparing for a New Nanny

Before a new nanny arrives, take the time to write down important information so the nanny can have a reference document. A cheat sheet that contains emergency contact information, an example daily schedule, lists with ideas for meals and snacks as well as the children’s favorite books can help the nanny better connect with the children. A checklist to help you orient the nanny to different aspects of the position as well as remind you to share where the pediatric medicine is kept and where spare wipes are stored is a great idea for the first few days. A local map with nearby parks circled and highlighted directions to swim class can help a new nanny find their way around the community. If you want a daily log completed, have a few printed out to help the nanny learn to track the information you’d like to see.

When a nanny has accepted the position, share this with the children. Explain that there will be a new nanny who will spend more time with the family. If they met the nanny during the interview process, remind the children of the activities they did with the nanny, so they can remember the positive experience. During the first few days, be available to support the transition as the nanny and children get comfortable with each other. Until settled into a new routine, don’t over-schedule the children or have play dates where other children may disrupt the newly forming relationships between your children and the new nanny. Try not to schedule any overnight trips during the early transition period.

A group of kids in a tug-of-war game

If the child comes to you with complaints about the new nanny, listen carefully. It may be challenging to determine if these are real issues or if they are the result of the new nanny doing things a little differently. You may hear how the old nanny was ‘better’ or ‘nicer’. Explaining to children that they may be multiple ‘right’ ways to do things and giving them time to adjust to the changes may be all that is required. If their complaints last more than a couple of weeks, you might want to investigate further.

Time of transition can be stressful for everyone. New nannies may have a difficult entrance into the family if the children are still processing their feelings about a departed nanny. Like most aspects of parenting, it is important to stay tuned to both your family as a whole and your child’s individual needs. Also, be sure to have open dialogues with the new nanny to understand how they are adjusting and coping with the transition period. If you have a child or children who are more sensitive to transitions, you should consider this factor in your hiring decision and aim to hire local long-term nannies over part-time nannies who may have a higher turnover rate.

Why are Routines so Important for Kids?

A new school year is a time of change for children and setting a routine can help them manage their stress and transition from the summer schedule to a new school routine.

We often struggle with change. As humans, we develop routines and derive a sense of security from knowing what to expect and when. Change can cause anxiety and uncertainty, resulting in stress. This is especially true for children. A new school year is a time of change for children and setting a routine can help them manage their stress and transition from the summer schedule to a new school routine.

Why are Routines so Powerful?

1. Set Expectations. Children often fear the unknown. Knowing what to expect and when to expect it provides them with consistency and reduces this fear. When a child knows what to expect, they become more confident, independent, and begin to learn responsibility. Even in the younger grades, children can be responsible for choosing their own clothes, brushing their teeth, and making sure everything they need is in their backpack.

family looking at floor plans2. Reduce Stress. Routines benefit the entire family. When everyone knows the routine, the household is generally calmer. Routines make sure daily tasks get completed in a timely manner and reduce the occurrence of forgotten tasks or last-minute crises. There are generally fewer power struggles as children accept that this is just the ways things are done.

3. Create Family Bonds. Routines can also be used to reinforce family bonds and develop family traditions and rituals. For example, older children may flinch at hugs and kisses when leaving for school but may find a special family handshake or fist bump acceptable.

calendar elements4. Easier to Manage Change. Routines should be consistent but flexible. No two days will be exactly the same, but minor changes are managed more easily within the structure of a routine. When setting a morning routine, build in extra time. There are always unexpected things that arise and a time buffer will make them less stressful.

A Getting Ready for School routine should start the night before. As part of the bedtime routine, a child may choose their clothes for the next day, make sure all needed school items are in their backpacks, and check the calendar for any unusual activities that may require a special outfit or signed permission slip. Everything should be placed together in an obvious place, so nothing is forgotten as they leave in the morning.

sleeping toddler5. Healthier. Making sure the child gets enough sleep is critical not only to the morning routine but to ensure the child has a productive school day. Bedtimes should be set to allow for adequate sleep. Alarm clocks allow the child to be in charge of waking up, but they may need a little nudging. When waking a child – be cheerful and upbeat. If the child likes to snuggle – build it into their morning routine.

Once children are up and moving around, create a routine for regular activities like getting dressed, eating breakfast, brushing hair and teeth, and putting on shoes and socks. Younger children may need reminders and motivation. Again, be positive and upbeat and whenever possible, give the children age-appropriate choices. The goal is to give children a good start to their day.

Children tend to do better with structure provided by consistent, predictable routines. Routines help families organize their activities and reduce some of the uncertainty and stress inherent in any family. It’s worth the time to create and write a routine, posting it on the refrigerator so everyone has a visual reminder.

How to Help Children with Homework

Heading back to school, children may have anxiety about their new schedules and how to manage their homework.

Heading back to school, children may have anxiety about their new schedules and how to manage their homework. After becoming a teacher, I finally understood the benefits of students completing homework. Homework is designed to help students review key concepts and provide extra time to practice new skills.

Homework should be a review of what the student learned in class that day and is intended to be completed with little assistance. It is important for students to practice what they learned in class before coming to school the next day when the lessons likely expand on their skills. Therefore, if a student doesn’t complete his or her homework, not only will their grade suffer but they will begin to fall behind in future class lessons.

child studying

Since homework is intended to be completed independently, what is your role as a childcare provider? Your role is to facilitate the student’s learning as they complete the tasks assigned by his or her teacher. If written homework is not assigned that day from the teacher, students are still expected to practice reading and math skills. As a childcare provider, you will need to facilitate this practice by focusing on math activities and daily reading. You may need to have workbooks or create flashcards and math games.

Here are 5 factors to help students with homework:

Organizing the Environment

An important success factor is an organized and quiet student environment with all the needed supplies available. The student should have a hard surface to write on and a more comfortable spot on the floor or couch for reading. If the child likes to move around a lot, a clipboard can be used to write on. If the child likes music, keep the volume low to make sure that the environment isn’t distracting the student.

clockTime Management

On average, homework should take 10 minutes per grade level. So, if a child is in 2nd grade, they should have 20 minutes of homework and if they are in the 4th grade they should have 40 minutes of homework a night. In reality, homework may take longer or a shorter amount of time depending on the student. A child may be below grade level in a subject and need more time to complete the work.

Have the child work as much as they can before taking a break and allow the child to complete whichever assigned homework assignment they want to do first. If the child is having a hard time staying on task, set a timer for 10 minutes so that the student can see it. If a child is struggling with a problem, have them skip it and come back to it. Some schools require 30 minutes of reading each night in addition to assigned homework. This can be independent reading or partner reading depending on the age and skill level of the child.

Working Independently

It is very important for the child to complete his or her own homework independently. Homework is created to be a practice of the skills learned in class. If the student does not fully understand the homework, you may need to provide some assistance, but you should never do their homework for them. You can help the child by asking them to do the best they can and reviewing their work when they are finished with each problem. It is okay for the child to have to struggle a little bit. Remember that it is practice.

child making paper collageManaging Emotions

Try to put yourself in the child’s shoes. They have already been at school all day doing work. They may have had a great day or a bad day and this can influence their mood in the afternoon. Plus, not understanding how to do a task can be frustrating. Be patient with the child and try to gauge their attitude when you greet them and ask them how their day was. While working with the student give positive words of praise and reinforcement. Instead of “good job” use more direct words of reinforcement such as:

  • I like how you took your time on that problem
  • Great job remembering to do______
  • I like how you went back and corrected the pronunciation of that word

Taking Breaks

Children may need a break between homework assignments but be aware that some children may use this as an opportunity to avoid completing work. Keep breaks limited to 5 minutes and under 10 minutes of they are getting a snack. Continue to tell the child how much time they have left and use a visible timer. The following are great ideas to help a student clear their mind before refocusing:

  • Take a restroom break
  • Have a snack
  • Take a power walk around the room or hallway
  • Get up and stretch
  • Play a quick game of Simon says

Remember the age of the child and what attention span is developmentally appropriate. K-2nd students will have a much shorter attention span than 3rd grade and up. Keep this in mind when you are giving students breaks or pushing them to finish a task.

A childcare provider is a very important person in a child’s life and education. Children need assistance and a childcare provider with the proper training will be able to facilitate the student’s learning. By organizing the learning environment, being aware of time management, helping the students work independently, managing the child’s emotions, and providing appropriate breaks, the childcare provider will provide the needed assistance to help their charges complete homework and be prepared for the following school day.

To learn more, a Helping with Homework course is available with enrollment in the Advanced Childcare program.

About the Author: Chelsea Herndon has a Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education and an Educational Specialist in Elementary Education both from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She is a certified teacher in grades pre-school through 6th grade. She was previously an elementary teacher in Alabama and Washington, DC and is currently a doctoral student at Auburn University.

6 Ways to Help Our Kids After a Mass Shooting or Disaster

These events are not something that many of us feel equipped to process, let alone help our children manage but there are things we can do to help.

It’s part of every parent and caregiver’s worst nightmare- getting a call or seeing on the news that there has been a mass shooting at a school. These events are not something that many of us feel equipped to process, let alone help our children manage but there are things we can do to help.

Our words and actions matter. Children rely on adults to help keep their world safe, and they tend to defer to adults on this issue. If the caregivers around them are calm and responsive, children go about their daily lives with a sense of security and safety. If caregivers are worried and fearful, children will respond with like behavior, even if they do not understand what is wrong. We need to be mindful of our words and actions in times of stress, as children are still developing their ability to keep levels of danger in context and need us to help be gatekeepers of information.

What can we do? The answer to that will vary as to how close you are to where the event occurred and how old your child is. In an age of 24-hour news media and online social networks, it might seem impossible to avoid exposure to news and information, but for young children who are not near the event, it is recommended to shield them as much as possible and to not talk about the event when they are within hearing distance. If you live near where an event occurred or have older children who become aware of an event, it is important to meet your children where they are developmentally.

  1. Emphasize that your children are not in any immediate danger themselves
  2. Help focus on the helpers in the event – what the police, EMTs, school staff, and other adults are doing to help
  3. Try to correct any misinformation as simple as possible by providing basic facts if necessary
  4. Limit exposure to repetitive news coverage of the event
  5. Allow your children to voice worries and concerns and validate their feelings. Young children may use imaginative play rather than words to process their worries and feelings
  6. Help children generate ideas about what might help them feel safer in the moment if they are feeling uneasy

It’s also important to remember that children show stress in various ways. Clinginess, disrupted sleep, irritability, separation anxiety, or regressed behaviors can all be a sign that a child is having increased worries. This is normal after a tragic event but if it is prolonged and doesn’t respond to usual comfort, you may wish to consult with your child’s pediatrician or other child development professional.

About the Author. Dr. Lauren Formy-Duval is a licensed psychologist practicing in Durham, North Carolina. Working with children and families for over 15 years in schools, hospitals, community agencies, Dr. Formy-Duval is currently in private practice and is also an adjunct faculty member of Amslee Institute.

5 Terms to Know When Caring for Children with Diabetes

If you are not familiar with diabetes, here are 5 terms that are important to understand when caring for children with diabetes.

With the rise of Type II diabetes in children, many childcare providers are helping to manage this life-threatening condition. If you are not familiar with diabetes, here are 5 terms that are important to understand when caring for children with diabetes.

1. Diabetes is a disorder of the endocrine system in which the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin, or the body does not use insulin effectively. Insulin is a hormone that regulates the body’s blood glucose levels. Normal blood sugar for a person without diabetes is 60-100. People with diabetes should be maintained at 70 – 110.

If the body does not produce enough insulin, or the body does not use the insulin effectively, then the blood glucose levels will rise above the normal levels and cause medical complications. When blood glucose gets too high, the blood becomes thick and sticky – like syrup. This makes it tougher for the blood to flow, slowing the flow of oxygen and nutrients. This can lead to stasis ulcers, decreased wound healing, kidney damage, decreased or lost sensation in the extremities, damage to the retinas and vision loss, and damage to the heart and the vascular system.

young girl playing with dr toys2. Hyperglycemia is high blood glucose, better known as high blood sugar. Frequent hunger, thirst, and urination are signs that a child may be diabetic and a physician should be consulted. Severe thirst, hunger, frequent urination, sleepiness, feeling hot, and blurred vision are all signs of increased blood sugar.

3. Hypoglycemia is low blood glucose, better known as low blood sugar. Hypoglycemia can be life-threatening and can lead to coma or death. Symptoms of hypoglycemia include cold, clammy skin, confusion, dizziness, loss of consciousness, shakiness, anxiety, and heart palpitations. When low blood sugar occurs, a quick-acting sugar should be administered – such as 4 ounces of regular soda or 100% fruit juice, 5 lifesavers, glucose tabs, or if the child is unconscious, glucose gel to prevent choking. A half of a sandwich with lunch meat or peanut butter should then be provided for protein to maintain glucose levels.

4. Carb Counting. One key to keeping a diabetic child healthy is to ensure that the blood glucose levels stay consistent and in range. Since carbohydrates turn into sugars, it is important to track carbohydrates so that children receive the right balance to maintain function and healthy glucose.

Counting carbs is rather simple. Every 15 grams of carbohydrates equals 1 carb choice. Carb choices should be eaten at intervals over the day and cannot be saved up. For children under 5, they should get 2-3 carb choices per meal. For children between ages 5-12, 3-4 carb choices should be consumed at each meal. Teenage boys need between 4 and 5 carb choices per meal, while teenage girls usually need 3-5 carb choices, depending on their activity levels. Snacks should contain 1-2 carb choices. These proportions should be followed unless otherwise recommended by a registered dietitian or physician, preferably trained in endocrinology.

5. Blood Glucose Test. To test the amount of sugar in the blood, diabetics use a blood glucose test. This test uses a blood glucose meter, test strips, alcohol wipes, and lancing device so that blood sugar can be tested at any time. While all blood glucose meters work similarly, you must learn how to use your child’s diabetic meter. A demonstration is available in the shared video.

Insulin injection pens or insulin pumps are used to give insulin for controlling blood sugar. For children with diabetes, their medications should be given as per the physician’s orders. If no treatment is due and the child’s blood glucose is high, a physician should be contacted. Extra medication should not be given without the physician’s order. Being sick can increase stress, and thus increase blood sugar so blood sugar should be monitored carefully during any times of illness.

For more information about caring for children with diabetes, a Nutrition and Health course is available within the Specialist Childcare Certification Program from Amslee Institute.

About the Author. Dr. Alexandrea Murr earned her Doctorate of Nursing Practice from the University of Toledo, Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Phoenix, and Bachelor of Art in Art from Buffalo State College. Dr. Murr is a Board Certified Nurse Executive and works in private practice in New York. Dr. Murr is also an adjunct faculty member of Amslee Institute, an organization dedicated to professional training and certification of elite Nannies, Au Pairs, Babysitters, and other childcare providers.

5 Ways to Identify and 5 Ways to Manage Stress in Children

Being told to calm down is not enough if we don’t have tools to help with that process.

Stress is ever-present in today’s society. Stay calm! Relax! Don’t stress! Are frequent messages we receive from the media as well as from our friends and family. Being told to calm down is not enough if we don’t have tools to help with that process.

We tend to reminisce about childhood being carefree years, but in fact, children often feel overwhelmed. For kids, what causes their stress? Kids’ stress can come from outside sources such as school, activities, peers and friends, and events going on at home. It can also come from the same sort of internal experiences that adults can feel – feeling a need to please, not wanting to get in trouble or make a mistake, and fears of failure. Like adults, not all stress starts off bad – there is a normal and motivating amount of stress that helps a child try something new for the first time, study for a test, or prepare for a sporting event. When it gets overwhelming, though, it can cause the same sorts of challenges that too much stress causes in adults.

What are the signs we need to be paying attention to? Many of these symptoms are similar to those in adults, but it can sometimes be hard to recognize them for what they are because children often are unequipped to put words to the feelings they’re having inside. In addition, as caregivers, we can sometimes complicate matters by getting annoyed or frustrated by these behaviors, which only compounds the child’s feelings of stress.

Any noticeable change in behavior from the usual pattern can be a sign of stress and these may include:

  1. Increased irritability or moodiness
  2. Complaints of headaches or stomach aches when otherwise healthy
  3. Asking a lot of new questions about upcoming events or things that are currently happening.
  4. Having increased trouble with separations or transitions and clinging to loved ones
  5. Refusing school or an activity

As a nanny or caregiver, you can do a lot to help kids manage their stress.

  1. Be calm. A trusting and warm connection with caregivers is a big help in reducing a child’s experience of stress.
  2. Be predictable. Keep a regular routine and schedule to help provide stability. Also, have clear expectations and rules and follow through on these consistently.
  3. Don’t overschedule. Be mindful of the importance of downtime. This is especially true for grade school-aged kids, who have a long day in school. Be careful to not fill all waking hours with structured activities.
  4. Basic needs. Make sure kids are getting the right amount of rest, good food, exercise and physical comfort. For younger kids, respect the need for naptimes and don’t frequently skip over them for an activity.
  5. Calming place or toy. Calming toys can be a lovey, favorite blanket or stuffed animal. Calming places and activities will vary depending on the preferences of each child. This may include yoga; older kids may start journaling while younger kids may draw or color. Water seems to have a calming effect for many, so taking a bath or being in the shower might help a child relax.

When managing stress, it’s important to take time to listen and hear what’s going on in the children’s lives. Take their feelings seriously and validate their experience. Even if you think it is a minor issue, it’s likely a big deal for the kid.

For more information, a Stress Management course is available in the Basic Childcare Certification from Amslee® Institute.

About the Author. Dr. Lauren Formy-Duval is a licensed psychologist practicing in Durham, North Carolina. Working with children and families for over 15 years in schools, hospitals, community agencies, Dr. Formy-Duval is currently in private practice and is also an adjunct faculty member of Amslee Institute.

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