10 Tips From A Dietitian Nutritionist for Picky Eaters

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Some kids will only eat white foods. Some will only eat food topped with cheese. Some go through phases of only eating pancakes. We all want our children to eat nutritious, balanced meals so what do you do if your kid thinks vegetables are the equivalent of pond scum? These are our top 10 tips on how to handle the picky eaters in your life!

 

“I know! She eats anything! I can’t believe it!” your friend exclaims, referring to her 5-year-old daughter as she chomps away on a Salmon Avocado Roll, while your child eats “orange mac and cheese only, Mom, not the white kind!”

Is your friend’s daughter more advanced? More gifted? More mature? Not at all! Your friend’s child is simply different from yours, and that’s OK. 

Feeding troubles affect up to 25% of normally developing children and up to 35% of children with neurodevelopmental disabilities. That’s a lot, right? It’s a common issue to have, but it’s not a problem — it’s something you can work with and overcome together as a family. It’s important for everyone in the family to understand what the “picky eater” is going through, so you can all help out. Many families work with a child dietitian nutritionist to help them along this tricky path, and you may want to, as well. It’s always good to seek help if something isn’t working for you or your family.

Here are 10 tips for families with picky eaters so you can understand where your child is coming from, and help them eat well in the process.

1. Establish A Routine

It’s important to have a routine. As adults, we should also look into this, because it’s been proven that our bodies are happiest when we have a specific schedule to stick to. Studies have shown that children and adults who eat at the same time every day are less likely to be obese and have lower BMIs and blood pressure than people who eat at random points throughout the day. According to Gerda Pot, a professor at King’s College London who was interviewed by the Times, appetite, digestion, and how our body processes food are actually linked to circadian rhythms. This means that our bodies follow a 24-hour pattern in relation to food, just like how our bodies need sleep. It’s so interesting! But it can be so hard to stick to a schedule…

Here are ways to feed your child in a way to encourage their appetite by establishing a routine.

  • Consistency — Serve small meals and snacks at consistent times of the day, with 2–3 hours between each meal and snack time, allowing the child to become hungry before the next meal. Young children feel most comfortable with scheduled mealtimes.
  • Beverages After — Offer milk, nutritional beverages, juice, soup, or water at the end of the meal or snack, and not before, in order to prevent filling their stomachs.
  • Duration
    • Eating should begin within 15 mins of the start of the meal.
    • Meals should last no longer than 20–30 mins.
    • When the meal is over, all food should be removed and only be offered again at the next planned meal. You should not become a short order cook!

2. Respect Your Child’s Appetite

Your kid may not be hungry! And even if they are, it’s important to never force or bribe your child into eating. Forcing or bribing creates pressure, which can lead to children eating even less in the long run. Positive tactics like praise or a gift can also create pressure, though. It’s hard to remember this when you’re trying to get your child to eat, but, believe it or not, pressure in any way makes kids like food less.

What are examples of pressuring messages or tactics?

  • Praise (“Oh my gosh, you are such a good boy for eating that! Good job!”)
  • Shame or guilt (“If you loved me then you would eat this…”)
  • Bribes (“If you eat this, I’ll give you a toy after dinner!”)
  • Distraction (“Just watch your favorite TV show while you eat this…”)
  • Threat or force (“You have to eat this or I won’t let you go to that birthday party this weekend.”)
  • Pressuring therapy (“We’re going to have to bring your nutritionist back for therapy if you don’t eat this…”)
  • Nutrition admonitions (“You need more spinach to grow stronger…”)

So what should you do?

  • Start to learn and notice your child’s hunger signals.
  • Allow your child to choose how much or how little of the offered food to eat. Don’t make them clean their plate!
  • Respect your child’s natural inner signals of hunger and fullness. They will change from day to day, so be open for differences!

3. Make Food Fun

Let your child have fun with food! Food is a glorious thing, and we should treat it as such, as long as we aren’t negatively affecting others in the process. Why not enjoy it? Cut pieces of toasts into silly shapes! Make funny faces with fruit on the plate! Make everything on the plate the same color in different shades! When we understand that food is meant to be enjoyed, we’re more apt to be curious for more options. Discover your playful side, too!

Here are some ways to make meals fun for you and your child:

  • Make Faces On Plates — Paint plates at a paint studio or buy plates with faces on them, so you can move the food around to become different parts of a person’s head. Spaghetti can be the hair, broccoli can be the nose, corn can be the teeth, and so on.
  • Be A Monster — Allow kids to act like monsters destroying and devouring their food, as long as they don’t make a mess around the house, or as long as they take responsibility for cleaning up afterwards. The spinach can be the grass in the yard, the chicken can be the house, the pasta can be the fence… and THEY ARE THE MONSTERS EATING THE NEIGHBORHOOD!
  • Grow Your Own Food — This gives kids a chance to see where it came from, and have a hand in the process. When a child plants something and watches it grow from seemingly nothing over a long period of time, it makes it rewarding to try a bite of what they saw growing on the windowsill or in the garden!
  • Watch Cooking Shows Together — Shows like “Master Chef Jr.” are a great way to get kids excited about food. When they see other children their age making food and becoming masters at cooking, it makes it more exciting. Try some of the recipes that you see on the cooking shows together! Notice what excites your kid, and incorporate that meal into your next plan.
  • Use Dips And Spreads — Get kids to eat their fruits and veggies by offering fun things to dip the food into. It’s fun to try different tastes, and the physical movement of dipping gets them connected to their food in a different way.
  • Eat A Rainbow A Day — Focusing on color is a great way to get kids to try different food groups. Encourage them to try to eat something of each color of the rainbow every day, and keep track of what they ate already!
  • Make Up Your Own Food Names — Teach children the proper names of foods, but come up with your own silly words for them, too. A green smoothie can be “monster juice” and pineapple can be a “ferris wheel.” Ask your kids to help you come up with their own funny names!
  • Make Food Into Fun Shapes — Does your kid have an obsession with the solar system? Cut things into stars and circles for the planets! Are they learning to spell? Make the food spell out their name on a plate. Make the meals look fun and enticing, and your child may be more keen to try a bite or two… or more!

4. Be Creative

Systematically introduce new food! Provide some of your child’s favorite foods together with a small amount of new food. If the child refuses a new food, offer just one bite of the new food without tricking, hiding, bribing or forcing. (If the child continues to refuse after three attempts, do not force the child.) Attempt to reintroduce the new food after a few days or weeks. A child’s preference often changes, even if it takes a few tries!

5. Minimize Distractions

Avoid allowing television, tablets, toys, electronics or books at mealtimes, as this takes away the experience of eating. Instead, engage children using food or by allowing children to self-feed.

6. Establish Rules

Don’t make a second meal if your child refuses the first one. Having a second option always available, like a salad or a bowl of cereal, takes the pressure off both parent and child, because everyone knows the child will still be able to eat something. (If your kid wants to have a sugary bowl of cereal every night, obviously this option doesn’t work for you!) Your child should know that you will not drop what you’re doing to make them what they want, even if they don’t like what’s offered.

Everyone should wait at the table until they are excused from the table. This means that if your child doesn’t want the meal, they still have to sit at the table until everyone else is finished, whether they eat or not.

Whatever your rules are, stick to them as much as you can.

7. Be Patient

Encourage independent feeding – allow for food spillage and age-appropriate mess during mealtimes; cover the floor if it makes cleaning up after meals easier.

Maintain a neutral attitude during feeding time and never become or even appear angry. Your child shouldn’t associate anger with food!

Be patient with your kid, but also be patient with yourself! This may be a trying experience for both of you, but if you give in to what your child always wants to eat, they won’t grow.

8. No Sweets As A Reward

Dessert is not a reward for eating well. This teaches your child that the dessert is the best part, and they should save room for it. It only increases your child’s desire for sweets! Think of making your family’s typical dessert fruit or yogurt, or only offering dessert once or twice a week.

9. Have Your Child Help

Ask your kid what they want! What vegetables and fruits are they craving? Have them help you pick out healthy food at the grocery store. They can help you prep the meal, too! Many kids love to help wash veggies, set the table, or stir a sauce.

10. Set A Good Example

  • Eat Together As A Family — Families should eat together as often as possible. Three-four times a week is what you should aim for, and if you can get more than that in, great! Keep in mind that this doesn’t have to be dinner. It can be breakfast or lunch. It also doesn’t have to be a home cooked meal! Eating together can include ordering your favorite takeout every once in a while.
  • Try Things You Don’t Like — If there is a particular food that you yourself don’t like, tell your child you are going to try it prepared in a different fashion to see if you like it in a new way. Show your child that people can change, and it’s ok to try things again.
  • You Have To Eat Your Fruits And Veggies, Too! — Don’t tell your child to eat a nutritious meal and then only serve yourself the pasta and tomato sauce. Do what you’re asking your kid to do.

 

Should I seek the help of a CDN Certified Dietitian Nutritionist?

It’s OK to ask for help. There is a certified dietitian nutritionist in your area who has trained for this, and who may know the ups and downs better than you do. Why not seek the help of a professional?

If you want to find a dietitian nutritionist, ask your pediatrician about where to start. They can lead you in the right direction on where to look in your area.

Or, ask us! We’re always happy to help you find a dietitian or nutritionist who’s right for your family. We’ll match you with a professional specialist, and their expertise, knowledge, and planning tools will help you solve your picky eater concerns. Whether you want to seek the advice of a licensed dietitian nutritionist, a therapist, a fitness guru, or a tutor, we’re your one-stop-shop to help you and your entire family — adult or child. Contact us for more information!

 

How To Manage Your Child’s ADHD: A 5-Week Child Psychologist Plan

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ADHD and ADD are acronyms that you are likely familiar with by now. Many parents and medical professionals are concerned about the marked rise of ADHD over the last decade. Numerous people believe that the diagnosis is too readily given, and that ADHD medication is overused on American children. I have had many parents ask me to write about this topic, and I wanted to bring in an expert to help you with some skills and tools to manage your child’s ADHD.

 

According to the new data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the U.S., nearly one in five high school-aged boys and over one in ten school-aged children have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

 

To give you a better sense of how serious this in the U.S., an estimated 6.4 million children age 4 through 17 have received an ADHD diagnosis at some point in their lives. This is a 16 percent increase since 2007, and a 41 percent increase in the past decade!

 

Before I discuss the most effective ways to manage your child’s ADHD, I think it’s helpful to first discuss the criteria that pediatric psychologists use to diagnose a child with ADHD. ADHD can only be diagnosed if an individual displays at least six symptoms of inattention or hyperactivity impulsivity.

 

Symptoms of inattentiveness include the following: difficulty sustaining tasks or play activities, not listening when being addressed directly, failing to finish school work or chores, being easily distracted, forgetfulness, frequently losing items, and avoiding tasks that need prolonged mental exertion.

 

Symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity include the following: frequently fidgeting or squirming in a seat and getting out of a seat, running or climbing in inappropriate situations, difficulty playing quietly, excessive talking, interrupting, intruding on others, and seen as “on the go” or restless.

 

The onset of these symptoms must be before the age of 12, and they must be persistent for at least six months. Finally, the symptoms must not be motivated by anger or the wish to displease or spite others.

 

If you think your child might have ADHD, I highly suggest that you consult with a local child psychologist who can best assess and determine the correct diagnosis.

 

Let’s assume that you find out that your child has ADHD — now what? First, I suggest reading the book “Driven to Distraction” by Dr. Hallowell. I love this book because the psychiatrist, who is an expert in ADHD, presents ADHD in a positive light, which I think can help people see it as an asset rather than a disorder. I have other books that I highly recommend, but this one will be a good intro to start!
Once you have a good grasp on what ADHD is, it’s time to take some steps for you and your child. Here are five actions you can take that help you work with your ADHD child.

 

It’s important to note that nothing happens overnight. If we try to introduce many changes in one day, we are less likely to follow through with them, and we become overwhelmed by all of the newness. Take these steps one week at a time! Solidly focus on one task a week, and gradually add in each of the other tasks. Your child will not benefit from disrupting your entire routine. Focus wholly on just one step, and know that it is enough to do just that.

Our 5-week Plan

This is the plan that one of our trusted providers, a top child psychologist, uses with her clients.

Week 1: Hold Your Child Accountable

Many parents and educators wonder how accountability is important for a child with ADHD. They think, “If my child’s disability is out of his control, is it fair to hold them accountable for their actions?” The answer is unequivocally yes. Your child’s ADHD does not prevent them from understanding consequences, and the first step to maintaining consistency in behavior is to not excuse them from accountability. Furthermore, help them remain accountable by showing you have faith in their abilities, and expecting them to do what is needed. Do not make excuses because of ADHD, rather encourage the appropriate behavior and hold you child accountable.

 

Here is what to do the first week:

  • Initial meeting and rapport building with your child psychologist: This is the MOST important week, as without a strong rapport and trust of our provider, your child will not be able to make the progress we expect.
  • Introducing CBT skills through activities such as games/playing sports
  • The focus of CBT is on how people think.
  • Noticing details about child’s behavior (i.e. he has automatic, reflexive thoughts and interpretations of events). Catching those thoughts and analyzing what one is thinking at a particular moment is extremely important. Provider will be able to assess child’s way of thinking by understating their way of thinking and helping to guide the child to think in a more constructive/positive way.

 

Week 2: Create Consequences

There are many healthy techniques to use to discipline your children – all of which will help you to restore safety and calm things down, reinforce rules, teach children, and help them find a way to make amends.

Natural Consequences

  • The first are Natural Consequences, which happen automatically without any action on your part. For example, if your child does not wear a raincoat on a rainy day, he will get wet. If she forgets her lunch, she will be hungry.
  • You can use Natural Consequences whenever the result is not morally, physically, or emotionally damaging. They are highly effective because as the saying goes, “Experience is the best teacher.”

Logical-Related Consequences

  • The second type is Logical-Related Consequences, where you step in.  For example, if your child won’t dress properly for the weather, she may not go out. Or, if he does not clean up a toy, you may clean it up and then he is not allowed to play with it for a specified amount of time.
  • This works well when there is a specific issue and the consequences are clear.
  • Logical Consequences are imposed by the parent. However, logical consequences are different from punishment in some important ways:
    1. Logical consequences are planned in advance by the parent. They are not reactive or angry responses.>
    2. Logical consequences are often planned with input from the child.
    3. Logical consequences make sense in relation to the behavior. They are “logical.”
  • Logical consequences require time and are thought out on the part of the parent. They need to be planned in advance to be most effective. There are some basic guidelines that can be helpful to parents in developing logical consequences.
    1. Give your child a choice and speak to them in private about the consequences
    2. The Three Rs and an H for Logical Consequences is a formula that identifies the criteria to help ensure that logical consequences are solutions, rather than punishment.

The Three Rs and an H of Logical Consequences

  1. Related
  2. Respectful
  3. 
Reasonable
  4. Helpful

Details:

  1. Related means the consequence must be related to the behavior.
  2. Respectful means the consequence must not involve blame, shame or pain, and it should be kindly and firmly enforced. It is also respectful to everyone involved.
  3. Reasonable means the consequence must not include piggybacking and is reasonable from the child’s point of view as well as the adult’s.
  4. Helpful means it will encourage change for everyone involved. If any of the Three Rs and an H is missing, it can no longer be called a logical consequence.

(These could also be renamed as the Three Rs and an H for Focusing on Solutions.)

Tools that will help you better connect with your child and empower them:

  • Learning about your child’s core beliefs and using exposures to practice those beliefs.
  • Core beliefs can be positive in the case of someone who is confident in their ability. They can also be negative in the case of someone thinking they’re bad at a particular task.
  • Emotional exposure is also one potential strategy that’s traditionally associated with phobias and traumatic experiences. One tries to challenge the emotion and negative thoughts enough that they can bring it down to a manageable level.
  • Normalizing stressful and negative emotional tasks can make them more approachable.

 

Week 3: Suspend Privileges

Obligations vs. Privileges

As part of imposing consequences, you may suspend privileges. But before you can do so, you need to understand what privileges are. Sometimes parents get so caught up in giving to their children that they miss what power they do have.

Your relationship with your children can be categorized as:

  • Parental obligations – what you absolutely must give your children, such as basic nutritious food, proper medical care, school attendance, and respect.
  • Privileges – what you choose to give to your children, such as special foods that meet their preferences, outings, sports, and activities.

The delineation between a privilege and an obligation may be different in different households. For example, in one family, playing a sport may be a privilege, while in another, once registered, it may become an obligation. The idea is to figure out what in your household is a privilege and as such can be taken away when necessary.

 

Week 4: Foster Time Management Skills

Children with ADHD suffer from “time blindness,” meaning they lack the ability to stay aware of time and use it well. This leads to wasting time, and lack of productivity. In order to help your child with “time blindness,” try to make time external. If you make time physical, rather than conceptual, you can help your child see how much time has passed, how much is left, and how quickly it’s passing. Do this by using measurable things like clocks, timers, counters, or apps.

 

Week 5: Teach The Importance of Respecting Adults

It is important to establish a healthy relationship between the child and the adults in their life. They must understand what is, and is not, appropriate to say to their authority figures. They must understand that there is a right time and place for certain behaviors and language. What will begin to help your child understand this is building a strong relationship with a positive role-model (i.e. his coach).

Executive Functioning

Children with ADHD tend to struggle with the following core executive functions:

  • Self-awareness
  • Inhibition
  • Verbal working memory
  • Emotional self-regulation
  • Self-motivation
  • Planning and problem solving

What Can Help With These Struggles?

  • Enforce Accountability (as described above in week 1)
  • Foster Time Management Skills (as described above in week 4)
  • Write It Down
    • Help the working memory by making information visible using notecards, signs, sticky notes, lists, journals, etc. When your child sees information right in front of them, it will be easier to jog their executive functions and help build their working memory
    • Also consider getting a planner- this can be an essential step to helping with time management. This will be a place to keep track of deadlines, homework, and also fun activities such as sports practice and birthday parties.
  • Offer Rewards
    • Help self-motivation by making motivation external using rewards</
    • Children with ADHD have trouble motivating themselves to complete tasks if they do not have immediate rewards
    • It is best to create artificial forms of motivation like token systems, or daily report cards
    • Reinforce long-term goals with short-term rewards to help strengthen the child’s sense of self-motivation
  • Make Learning Hands On
    • Making a problem as physical as possible, like using jelly beans or colored blocks to teach math, or word magnets to teach sentence structure, will help to reconcile the verbal and non-verbal working memory
  • Stop to Refuel
    • Emotional self regulation can be deleted when a child works too hard over too short a time (i.e taking a test)
    • Take frequent breaks to refuel during tasks that stress the executive system
    • 3-10 minute breaks are best in order to aid the child in getting the fuel they need without getting distracted or losing track
  • Get Physical
    • Exercise will give a boost to a child’s executive functioning
    • Physical activities help to refuel, and can help your child cope with ADHD symptoms
  • Sip on Natural Sugar like a Juice
    • During a test or project, have your child sip on a lemonade, a fruit juice, or sports drink for just the right amount of natural sugar (not too much added sugar, though!)
    • The glucose will fuel the frontal lobe, which is where the executive functioning comes from
  • Show Compassion
    • Children with ADHD are generally just as smart as their peers, but their executive functioning problems keep them from showing what they know
    • It is important to show compassion and a willingness to help them learn
    • Do not revert to yelling at your child for their mistake, instead, try to understand what went wrong, and help them learn from it

What About After the 5 Weeks?

From our experience, when parents stick to this plan, they start to see a change by the end of 4 weeks after meeting with a children’s psychologist. It takes anywhere from 12-30 weeks to fully change a behavior, so stick with it. Just remember that, step by step, you are making a positive change in you and your child’s life. Families who are committed to this plan have a high success rate with this 5 week plan! Keep at it, be vigilant, and you will see drastic differences. You’ve got this!

Interested in finding the best child psychologist in your area? We can help! Call us for a free consultation, and we’ll set you up with one of our incredible providers.

Helpful Tips About Your Nanny’s Legal Status From An Immigration Lawyer

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Our guest blogger this week is Wendy Yevoli, an incredible Immigration Lawyer and partner with Yevoli and Malayev, PLLC. Wendy is often asked by parents how they can help with their Nanny’s immigrations challenges.

We understand that finding a reliable caregiver for your child is one of the most stressful – and important – parts of being a parent. Once you find your trusted caregiver, the thought of losing that person because she or he does not have legal status in the United States can be terrifying. As immigration attorneys and working mothers, we are often asked, “How can I sponsor my caregiver for a green card?”

Can I sponsor my caregiver for citizenship?
This question breaks our hearts, not only as attorneys, but also as mothers. We know that many families would do anything, and pay any amount, to sponsor their caregiver for a green card. But the reality is that in most situations, you cannot sponsor your caregiver for U.S. citizenship. If she or he is here illegally (e.g., by overstaying her or his tourist status or entering the U.S. without inspection), the law essentially says that there is no way for that person to become legal. As immigration attorneys, however, our job is to come up with solutions to help you – and your caregiver.

What are my options?
Through our years of experience working with caregivers (and the families who hire them), we have found that in some cases there may be a way to help them legalize their status.
For example:
-If the country your caregiver is from is undergoing political unrest, the U.S. may have issued TPS (Temporary Protective Status) for the citizens of that country. If so, your caregiver may qualify for TPS and be able to obtain an immigration benefit for as long as the TPS is in effect.
-If your caregiver’s family had filed a green card petition for the caregiver before April 30, 2001, she or he may be able to benefit under the life act.
-If your caregiver has a child or spouse who is a U.S. citizen, she or he may have an opportunity to legalize her or his status.

These are just a few possibilities, and every person’s background and situation are unique.

What should I do now to help my caregiver apply for a green card?
Your first step should be to speak with a reputable immigration attorney. If your caregiver has already engaged an immigration attorney, you can help by speaking with the attorney to understand the strategy he or she is using in the green card process. If your caregiver does not yet have someone representing her or him, this is the time to consult an experienced immigration attorney with a solid reputation to learn what options may be available.

What should my caregiver and I be careful about?
Unfortunately, many caregivers go to agencies or visa consultants for help with immigration matters. Often, these agencies and consultants file frivolous green card applications that they know will not be granted. If that happens, your caregiver will become known to the immigration authorities and at risk of being put in removal proceedings. It is very important to understand the risks associated with filing an application with the Department of Homeland Security, and to speak with an immigration attorney before the application is filed.

And finally…
Immigration laws are complex and constantly changing – which is why it is so important to speak with a knowledgeable immigration attorney. Keep in mind that any conversation you or your caregiver have with an attorney is confidential, so do not be afraid to sit down with the lawyer, provide all relevant information, and express your concerns.
We understand the bond that you and your family have with your caregiver, and the importance of protecting that special relationship by helping her or him remain legally in the U.S. Please feel free to call us at 212-634-6322 or email us at wyevoli@yandmlaw.com with any questions you may have.

Yevoli & Malayev, PLLC (www.yevoliandmalayev.com) is a full-service immigration law firm located in New York City. Our firm represents individuals and businesses across the country and around the world. Immigration law is highly complex and individualized. Our firm offers personalized service. We help our clients define their immigration strategy, taking into consideration long-term goals as well as short term needs. You will get advice tailored to your unique situation. Unlike most other law firms, our services are conducted on an affordable flat-fee basis. You’ll know in advance the costs involved. The information on this website in this post is for attorney advertising purposes only. No Attorney-client relationship is formed out of reviewing this post. Do not rely on information found in this post to make any decision concerning your legal rights. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

The Importance Of Seeking A Nanny Before You Give Birth

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When you are pregnant with your first child, there are so many things to think about and people are constantly giving you advice. It can be such an exciting and overwhelming time! One thing I recommend to all new parents, though, is really taking the time to search for a nanny prior to giving birth. I’ve seen many parents wait until their child is born, thinking they will have plenty of time in those first few weeks to really search for someone. Here are five reasons to consider finding a nanny while you are still pregnant.

  1. It gives you time to really do your research before you are stressed out with a newborn. While those first few weeks are magical, they are also exhausting. The last thing you are going to feel like doing on such little sleep is looking through resumes and talking to references.
  2. You won’t make a decision based out of fear of doing it alone or having to find someone in a rush before you go back to work. If you are in a hurry or getting worried about having no help, you might make your decision based off fear or desperation. You want to have all the time you need to find someone who is perfect — not just okay for the time being. The more time you give yourself, the more relaxed and thorough you can really be in the process.
  3. You will have plenty of time to get to know the person before leaving her with your new baby. It’s very tough to leave your baby with anyone, but especially someone you feel like is a stranger. If you hire someone way ahead of time, you can get to know the nanny in the weeks before the birth and then after the birth, as well. You want to feel very comfortable with the person before you have no option but to leave your child with a childcare provider.
  4. You can really focus on the type of parenting philosophy and type of nanny care you want your child to have. While you are pregnant, it is the perfect time to have discussions with your partner as well as focus on awareness just by yourself. You can think clearly about the type of parent you want to be, the type of childhood you want your baby to have and the type of person you think will be an asset to your family. If you wait until after the baby is born, a lot of time you are thinking more about immediate needs and not the big picture. It can get easy to get hung up on someone who can start right away and completely forget about finding that ideal person who will make your family life better in the long run.
  5. You will have plenty of time to train your nanny once the baby is born and she can get to know you and your routine before you absolutely need her. I think it’s a great idea to have your nanny start to get to know you and your baby before you are ready to leave her with your child full-time. The earlier you hire someone, the more likely it is that you’ll have plenty of time to train her and get acclimated to your home and family.

Parenting Tools: Love and Logic And Counting To Three

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I’ve talked briefly about Love and Logic parenting because I think it’s a great philosophy, and I’ve seen it work. I want to equip parents with as many tools as possible, because as we know, being a mom and dad does not come with a guide. There is a great book that I highly recommend called 1-2-3 Magic by Thomas W Phelan.

The book talks about practical strategies to help give your kids choices and also set appropriate boundaries – without yelling. I think one thing most parents say before they have kids is that they don’t want to be the type of parent who is always screaming at their kids. But, as we all know, once you become a parent and you are faced with the day-to-day stress and the task of teaching your child responsibility, it is so easy to resort to yelling. The thing is, though, that only creates more stress and hinders our children, who don’t respond well to anger.

The idea of Love and Logic parenting is to be very clear with your kids about their choices and the consequences. Make your rules make sense to them. The key here is that you have to follow through. Empty threats are the worse because they teach your children nothing and make you upset and angry. Instead, tell your children what you expect, why you expect it and what will happen if those things aren’t done. Then, simply follow through with a consequence that makes sense.

For example, we were having trouble getting my youngest child to brush her teeth before going to bed. At some point, it needs to become the child’s responsibility. So, one day, I decided to stop the nighttime struggle and presented her with this scenario. I said, “They are your teeth and therefore it is your responsibility to brush them. I’m not going to do it for you. However, as a parent, I have to protect you from getting cavities. That’s part of my job to keep you healthy. So, if you don’t brush your teeth then you won’t be able to eat any of the sugary treats or candy that you like because that is what is most likely to cause cavities.”

This blog talks more about Love and Logic parenting as well as using the “1-2-3 strategy.” The idea with counting is that you are giving your child a formal warning and time to focus on what the consequence will be for a certain behavior. After three, you need to take action and follow through with a consequence.

What other strategies do you use that you’ve seen are effective? I’d love to hear your feedback!

Transitioning: Your Kids Are Getting Older And You Don’t Need Your Nanny For As Many Hours…Now What?

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This is a struggle many parents, including me, have struggled with. I’ve talked to numerous friends with the same problem: What should we do now that we don’t need our nanny full-time? If you really love your nanny and your kids are used to her, but you don’t need her all the time because your kids are in school, how do you keep her around while scaling back her hours?

Many people have asked if it’s okay to ask their nannies to replace their housekeepers, and instead of watching the kids full-time, replace those hours with some light housework/errands. To answer that question, let me tell you a little bit about my own experience…

When my little one got into pre- school and I didn’t need my nanny full-time, I made the mistake of helping her find another part-time job. Of course it was very kind of me to do that, and it helped both of us. It saved me money and I was able to keep my nanny. However, I also asked my nanny to walk our dog who was old and without asking her, she also cleaned up after the dog who wasn’t able to hold her urine/poop. She did it all with love and care. And, then, she approached me one day and said that she was willing to clean for us but she didn’t want to babysit anymore.

As it turned out, my friend who I shared her with gave her name to her neighbor who was looking for someone to clean and offered her $20 hour. I was paying her $17 at the time.

Why am I writing this? I think that in hindsight I should’ve had the conversation with my nanny and asked her how she felt about doing other responsibilities instead of watching my kids. She needed the money, so she agreed to do whatever I asked even though it wasn’t what she really wanted to do. Then, when she had an opportunity to work with a different family who offered her more money she immediately took that opportunity, ultimately leaving me without someone to watch my kids part-time, which was what I was afraid of losing in the first place.

Last week, I met with a client who was very frustrated because her nanny got really angry with her. When I asked what happened, my client Susie said that when she no longer needed her nanny for 50 hours a week, Susie asked her how much money she needed in order to keep her job. The nanny told her she needed 30 hours a week, and Susie agreed that would work. In addition, Susie asked her to do some more light housekeeping and also clean after the cats and keep up with the cat litter. While her nanny agreed to do it, she quickly became very resentful and wasn’t really doing a good job with the cleaning and was not respectful to Susie.

When Susi confronted her nanny and asked her why she wasn’t really cleaning, her nanny got angry and asked to leave. The next day her nanny came and left a note saying she wasn’t coming back to work. Luckily Susie came home early that day because the nanny had left at 12 PM and her two girls had to be picked up at 2:30 PM. Susie was most devastated because her nanny left after four years without saying goodbye to the kids.

So here are my takeaways from these stories. In my opinion, when and if you need to cut your nanny’s hours then you need to have a serious conversation with her and figure out if that works best for both your family and her. If this is not the case, then as hard as it is to see someone you care about go and as challenging as it can be to acclimate to a new person, you have to make the decision that it is time to find a different kind of nanny who doesn’t rely on a full-time job with benefits. Another important thing to consider is that the person you had caring for your kids when they were babies and toddlers might not be the nanny who your kids need now or the nanny who suits your family as they get older.

It is therefore very important to think about what your family needs and what your nanny needs and wants. If you cannot pay your nanny full-time, sometimes it is better not to come up with different responsibilities for her to do that she might not like to do or might feel are not what she originally signed on for. A better option might be to share your nanny with another family and supplement hours that way, always being mindful that when you open it up to other families, it can become easy for your nanny to just pick the best pay/job responsibilities. Another option is to increase her pay while you are transitioning and help her find a different job. Ultimately, the most important thing is to be honest with yourself and with your nanny from the outset and keep the lines of communication open. If your nanny feels like one day she will no longer be needed or one day she will be a full-time housekeeper when what she wanted was to look after children, she’ll most likely turn to looking for other jobs or become resentful of the relationship that was once so healthy.

Digging Deeper Into The Nanny Hiring Process: How To Interview References

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Because I’ve had a lot of experience with my own nannies for my children as well as helping other families find and evaluate their nannies, I’ve seen some extreme situations. I’ve seen everything from nannies who it seemed could do Read more

Top 5 Qualities I Look For In A Nanny/Babysitter

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Long before I was a psychologist and even a parent I was a nanny, and then a “Nanny Spy.” Last week, I shared some red flags to look for during an interview, but today I wanted to share the top five qualities I look for when evaluating a nanny or hiring someone to watch my own children.

  1. Someone with Excellent Recommendations

When you are searching for a sitter, one of the best tips is to network among your friends, family and co-workers to gather a list of sitters that they have used. Sitters who come highly recommended are more likely to be experienced, knowledgeable and trustworthy. Think of hiring a babysitter in the same way that you would hire an employee for your business. Would you want to hire an employee who did not have good quality references, and who was not recommended by past employers?

  1. Someone with First Aid Experience

One quality  you should never compromise on is that your sitter have a CPR certification, or at least have basic first aid knowledge. Accidents happen, especially where children are concerned. Your sitter should know how to clean and bandage cuts and scrapes, perform CPR and perform the Heimlich maneuver. If you have a baby or small child, it is important for your sitter to know how to perform these life-saving techniques specifically for infants and toddlers, so that their small bodies are not injured.

  1. Someone who Bonds with Your Family

You want to look for a sitter who has a connection to you and your family. This is not to say that you will have some instant bond, in which a halo of light forms around the sitter’s face, but when you interview potential sitters, you should be able to pick up on which individual will work best with your family. It is best to look for a babysitter who will reinforce your values and belief systems while you are gone.

The interview process should also involve your children spending time with their potential new sitter. You want to make sure that your children feel comfortable around their sitter, and that they are willing to communicate with her/him. Allowing your children to spend time with a potential sitter is especially important if you have an infant, since a baby’s needs are more sensitive, and their schedules are more intense.

  1. Someone who will Follow Your Rules

There is nothing worse than hiring a sitter who will allow your children to gorge themselves on candy and soda, and then allow them to stay up as late as they want. Therefore, it is very important to find a babysitter who will follow your household rules to the letter. It is a good idea to ask your babysitter’s references about whether the sitter is good at following rules, and if they are perceived to have issues with authority.

  1. Someone who is Mature

While there is no standard age for babysitting, it is important to hire a sitter who is mature and responsible, no matter her/his years. For example, it may be best for you to hire a 14-year-old who has helped take care of her three younger brothers and sisters, as opposed to a 16-year-old who has never changed a diaper.

The next time that you need a night on the town and are looking for a babysitter, remember to hire someone who has excellent recommendations, who has first aid experience, who bonds with your family, who will follow your rules and who is mature. Using these five criteria for things you should look for in a babysitter will ensure that you select a sitter who is a right fit for your family.