Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Top 7 Most Important Domains You Need to Ask About

Nurturing/Tending to needs

There are MANY questions to be asked over the period of time from the initial phone screening, and 1st and 2nd interview, however, there are 7 domains that absolutely need to be addressed. These are 1) Safety 2) Interaction/Engaging 3) Communication 4) Discipline/Responsibility 5) Nurturing/Tending to needs 6) Nourishment and 7) Personal/Professional. Below I have included a sample list of questions (this is by no means comprehensive!) that you may ask related to each domain. Every family is different and has different needs. You will need to adapt these questions to fit your needs (ages of child, etc) – that is why I encourage families to focus on the domains and think about how these important domains apply to your family’s needs. Furthermore, these domains should continue to be your guide beyond the interview process.

Safety should be your number one priority! That is why we do so much prescreening and background checking!

-Are you infant/child CPR certified and first aid certified? If no, how do you feel about us having you go to get certified?
-What would you do if my child fell off their bike and knocked their teeth on the cement? Or for a baby, what would you do if my child rolled off the changing table?
-Do you know how to properly install a car seat? Do you know what the guidelines are for age and weight related to car seats?

And here is the rest of it.

-How will you plan to spend your time with my baby/child? Please describe a typical day. Listen for activities that are important to your family (reading books, playground, museum, etc).
-For babies, ask them about what types of games they will play. Listen for responses rich in singing, holding, swaying, floor time, reflecting facial expressions.
-Give me an example of how you can make laundry or preparing a meal a learning experience.
-What activities will you arrange for my child on a rainy day?

-When a problem, concern, or disagreement has come up in the past with an employer, how did you handle it?
-How do you usually communicate the days events to the parents you have worked for in the past? Listen for them talking about checking-in in the morning, or afternoon, or using tools such as a notebook, or texting, or cell phone.
-Tell me about a situation where something happened and you had to call a parent right away. I know this is a tough question to hear the answer to, but listen to the steps that were taken. Do they seem reasonable? Were they thinking clearly?


-How do you think children should be disciplined? Listen for them to defer to you. For example, “I ask how the parents would like me to handle the situation before these situations come up and follow what they say.”
-My child just wrecked his room. Toys are everywhere. How do you address this? Listen for age-appropriate responses. For example, younger children need help to clean it up, did they speak to the child about the behavior, did they try to make cleaning up a game? Do they have a “clean-up” song?
-My child pulls your hair and then laughs. What would be your first reaction? If they say “ow!” that’s appropriate. It’s what they do with that “Ow” that matters! Are they able to be calm and respond with an age appropriate response?

Nurturing/Tending to their needs
-How will you soothe my child when they are feeling sad or hurt or upset? Listen for holding, talking to them in a sweet voice with sweet words, offering the child something they will enjoy – like reading a book or doing an activity. For babies, soothing, swaying, singing, holding, making sure child is dressed properly, diaper, hungry, etc.
-What techniques do you employ when you can tell my child is getting a little tired and cranky?
-What kind of games do you like to play with kids? The best nannies will be creative! And may even tell you about games they created with children.

-For babies, ask about the nannies familiarity with this age group, timing feeding with napping, or for breastfeeding moms, how will the arrangement play out?
-For older children, ask them to describe a full days worth of meals! Including those crunchy snacks tucked away in backpacks for trips around town, etc.
-My child goes to a birthday party and will not eat the meal. He only wants cake. How do you proceed?

-What interests you about this job?
-We celebrate __________ (Christmas, Hanukkah, Halloween, Easter, etc) how do you feel about caring for my child and celebrating these holidays? For example, trick-or-treating, singing songs, etc).
-What ages of children have you looked after in the past?
-Tell me about a memorable moment with a child you have looked after.
-What expertise do you have that you can contribute to our family?
-How long can you commit to my family?
-What other responsibilities do you have outside of your job? Do they have a family of their own? What will happen if their own children are home sick from school?
-What do you like to do in your spare time?
-What in your life has prepared you for this kind of job?
-What are your future goals? A family of their own? Successful actor?

Again, this is by no means a comprehensive list! These are only a sprinkling of questions believe it or not! Many questions should be answered by your agency’s screening prior to you meeting the candidate. Check back next month for the most common errors made by parents in the interview process!


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Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Baby Planners

Hello Readers! I wanted to tell you about a service that I just discovered a couple of months ago! I waited to blog about them until I had an opportunity to make contact with them! The Baby Planners are Ellie Miller and Melissa Gould. They are Los Angeles-based consultants on all things baby prep related! They can help you choose items for your registry and tell you about the hottest new baby products. If you are a first time parent or just so busy you don't know which way is up, they can help you find exactly what you need. They also have gift certificates for any friends that you may have who are expecting! Check them out!


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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Tips For Addressing Biting Behaviors in Toddlers

Patrick Donnelly said...

Lindsay, our son Patrick Jr. is almost 2 years old, and like most 2 year olds he can get pretty wild. Recently he has been doing many things (like biting) that he knows he is not supposed to do because we have punished him for it before. What would be your advice as far as the best ways/punishments that will help us get our point across to Patrick that these are actions that are not allowed?
Thanks for your comment Patrick. Biting is a relatively common behavior for toddlers. They do not yet have the ability to articulate their thoughts and feelings yet and commonly can bite when they get excited, or when they want to "send a message" or get another person's attention. Sometimes, toddlers who bite simply like to see the reaction sort of like an experiment they are trying out. It is relatively rare for a toddler to have premeditated biting and is more commonly related to being unable to manage overwhelming feelings combined with an inability to articulate their needs.

First things first, don't automatically label your child's behavior as planned or premeditated. Deciding as parents that the biting behavior is willful or evil, gets in the way of understanding the reasons behind the behavior, and furthermore addressing this behavior properly.

When the behavior occurs, don't yell or scream. A child of this age is likely to become afraid of you and be stunned and lose sight of the message that you are trying to convey that biting is bad and that you will not tolerate it.

As an adult, you have skills that your child does not possess that will help him to not engage in these biting behaviors. One of those skills is to be able to anticipate his behavior. Many parents know "that look" accompanied with running towards the potential target. This is where you intervene. When you intervene, do not jerk your child away in an aggressive manner, rather redirect him using a distraction or offer a book or game or something of interest - even if you have only a few moments and you can say "Hey look at that little bird out the window!" - anything - just as long as it gently redirects your child away from the biting behavior you believe that they were about to engage in. Remember we want to respect our children.

If you are unable to get there before he bites, immediately following the bite, the first thing you want to do is almost overly console the child who has just been bitten. This will help to convey a clear message to your child that this behavior will not bring attention from mommy and daddy. Make clear statements that reflect your beliefs about that behavior. "We don't bite people in this family" or "Biting hurts." This is an opportunity to build conscience and empathy.

Have your child look at the other crying child and make comments such as "See how Katie is crying? She is hurting right now. Bites hurt! Tell Katie you love her and give her a hug, that will help her feel better." This is also a moment where you can educate your child about "using their words" or coming to ask mommy or daddy for a toy next time and let them know you will help them. The biggest mistake a parent can make in this situation is letting your own feelings about the behavior overcome you and drive your reaction. Also, be consistent in your response every time this behavior occurs and use the same words each time - short responses such as "We don't bite. Biting hurts." This will likely take many attempts and will require you to be persistent and consistent over time.

Now, if you have tried this attempt a good ten times or so, and the behavior continues, respond with a little bit more intensity. Its important to remember that intensity does not translate to force. Again, control yourself and don't let your feelings drive your response. If he engages in the behavior and you have already attempted the above recommendations, put your hand on his shoulder, and say "No biting. You need to take a break." Or say "it's time for a timeout." A pretty general rule for this is a minute for each year of age. 2 minutes is a very long time to a 2 year old. Place him in a specific chair away from the play area. Expect protest and upset. You must be able to tolerate this and don't engage him. If he gets up from where you have placed him, the first time he gets up, let him know that you are going to help him back to his place. If he gets up again, don't speak to him and without aggressive force, return him to his place. Continue this until he remains in his place. You must be consistent and persistent. Even if he gets up 20 times, repeat this behavior. If you crack on the 19th time, he will learn that eventually you will break and this behavior will continue.

Again, if this behavior continues, you may want to supplement it with reading him books that address these behaviors. For this age, I recommend "The Berenstein Bears and The Bad Habit" by Stan and Jan Berenstein, "Teeth are Not for Biting" by Elizabeth Verdick and Marieka Heinlen, "No Biting" by Karen Katz, "No Biting Louise" by Margie Palatini and Matthew Reinhart.

The worst situation for the parent of a biting child might be when your child bites another child on a playdate or birthday party or at school. When your child bites someone else in public, there is a feeling of immediate embarrassment, anger, and wanting to just disappear. Again, remind yourself, that this behavior is common for children around this age, and secondly regulate your own reaction. Repeat the above recommendations. You will find that having a consistent plan of action will reduce your anxiety, provide your child with a clear message about your family's beliefs related to the biting behavior as well as console the child who has just been bitten.


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Thursday, January 24, 2008

What's in a name?

Over the holidays I was fortunate enough to have spent time with not only my family and friends but several families in search of nanny help. Between the two groups, there has been one question that has consistently come up... "What is the difference between a babysitter and a nanny?"

The first thing I do is let them know that there are even more titles for all of the different roles in the childcare world! This is absolutely down right surprising to most. The following is description of the many childcare roles that exist. Where does your family fit in? What other roles/arrangements have you heard of?

Employed on a more "as-needed" basis. A babysitter tends to follow the instructions of the parents and not really contribute any professional experience or knowledge regarding child rearing. Childcare is not usually the babysitter's career goal.

Baby Nurse:
A baby nurse is an experienced/trained infant/newborn specialist who comes into your life during the first few weeks of your infants life to assist the family with the day-to-day care of their new infant. Baby nurses work on a 24 hour schedule. They are on-call 24 hours a day. A good baby nurse educates the parents about their newborn, and assists in establishing a sleeping routine, eating routine, and often provide lactation consulting to breastfeeding mothers.

Employed full-time or part-time, can live-in or live-out and work various hours depending on a family's needs. Responsible for "all-things-child": laundry, food prep, snacks, shopping for clothing, toys, books, etc. A nanny is responsible for planning educational and socially stimulating outings, reading to your children, playing with your children. A nanny is essentially responsible for providing physical and emotional safety for your child in your absence. Also, traditionally, a nanny usually has a great deal of experience raising children and may even have some formal training such as classes in early childhood development or parenting.

Mother's Helper:
A mother's helper is someone who comes into the home usually immediately following the homecoming of mom and baby and is there to literally "help" and support the newly formed family. A mother's helper may run errands, do laundry, assist with various tasks around the house, and directly assist mom/dad with their new baby. Usually a mother's helper is not left on her own to care for the kids rather she accompanies and assists.

Au pair:
A young person from another country, often somewhere in Europe, usually between the ages of 18-25 who comes and lives with you for at least a year. Their previous experience is usually limited to babysitting back home or caring for family members' children. An au-pair usually provides childcare as a way to have a new experience in the United States and unlike a professional nanny, childcare is not their final career destination (at least in most cases!). The number of hours an au-pair works per week is limited and a family is expected to provide them with a room and board, minimum salary, and allow time for him/her to take classes as well as pay for tuition in some cases.

A caregiver who, in addition to caring for her charge, also puts a premium and priority on educational activities and often tutors the children she looks after.


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Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Nanny Doctor's BETTER.TV interview!

I'm very excited to share the first of two Better TV interviews with you. Follow the link to the video!


And here is the rest of it.


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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Nanny Doctor's NYC Diaries

So, I was in NYC last week and got to meet a lot of great people and do a little television in the process! I arrived late Tuesday night and had dinner with friends at a great little yummy restaurant called Otto they have great wine and pizza! The weather was surprising! I was hoping and wishing for some rain (a southern californian gal needs it!) and the weather was similar to L.A.'s current weather - 60 degrees! The next day, I worked a bit and also met with Denyse Kapelus from Professional Nannies. Denyse is fabulous! She is so passionate about helping families find the right nanny for their family. She is very inspirational and a true leader in this process! On Thursday morning, I showed up at the Better.TV studios - affiliated with Better Homes and Gardens and Parents Magazines for my television interviews.

If you do not get this station in your city, you can check out The Nanny Doctor interview online on Thursday, January 17th on www.Better.TV I will be featured on Better.Tv and Parents.Tv, speaking about Finding and Maintaining the Right Nanny for Your Family! It was brief but nice! After that meeting, I quickly scurried over to meet with Wendy Sachs from The Philadelphia Nanny Network We met up in this great little cafe with gorgeous desserts! Wendy has been in this business for a long time and was the president of the INA for years! I also met with various mommy websites, one of which was I met with Karen Knapstein who works with their founder Stacy DeBroff - mom extraordinaire! We are planning to collaborate with each other in the future! On my last day in New York it was raining and thundering and lightning! I loved it! But then I had to come home...but it was a great trip all in all and I look forward to my next trip!


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International Nanny Association - INA Vision Newsletter, Winter 2007

Click on the image to read my article from the International Nanny Association's winter 2007 newsletter. I will also be speaking at the INA's annual conference in May. For more information about the INA, please visit


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Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Nanny Doctor in New York

This week is a very exciting week for me -- I'm headed to Manhattan to appear on Better TV for a pair of interviews. Stay tuned! I'll be sure to post the air dates and link the video clips.

I will be visiting New York beginning Tuesday, January 8. If you are in the Manhattan area and would like to schedule a meeting, send an e-mail to


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Tuesday, January 1, 2008