Tag Archives: Nanny

Toddlers: Explorers By Nature

30 Aug

Let’s say that there’s a mother of a boy named Christopher.  Christopher is a toddler and since getting ‘into everything’, as toddlers do, his mother has been keeping him in a playpen for most hours of the day.  Here is my response for my Infant and Toddler Development class based on Erikson’s theory of development….

I would try and help Christopher’s mother to understand just how important it is to keep her child out of the playpen.  Toddlers are explorers by nature; they are extra curious in discovering how the world works around them.

Parents and caregivers should allow children to become familiar with the environment.  Children require stimulation, ie: sensory and the manipulation of objects.  Allowing them to explore is also vital to their physical growth (University of Illinois).  By crawling around and grabbing onto furniture a child is slowly enhancing their gross motor skills.

This would be best explained to a person like Derek’s mother through Erikson’s first three stages of psychosocial development:

1.) Trust vs. Mistrust, where parents should interact with their child in order to instill an element of trust.

2.)  Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt, where it is important to introduce independency in order to instill confidence.

3.)  Initiative vs. Guilt, where children assert power and control through play and interactions.  This instills the feeling of social cabability to lead others (about.com).

As previously mentioned, allowing toddlers to explore their natural surroundings is necessary to their social and physical development. Most importantly, toddlers require parental interaction and improval to enhance their confidence, thus shaping the people that they will become in the future.  This will not only assist them in developing confidence with people, but with their world surrounding them as well. So in reality, a playpen is not the best place for Christopher.  As he grows, it may affect him in negative ways, socially.  His mother may find that he does not trust others, or that he has developed a fear of exploration.  According to Erikson, Christopher could also have feelings of self-doubt or inadequacy, as a result of not having control over certain choices such as food, toys, or clothing, which is vital to the beginning stages of independency (about.com).

In my opinion, toddlers are some of the most interesting human beings on earth.  When parents provide them with the freedom to explore is when they will discover how joyful it is to watch their child grow during a crucial stage in development.

Sources:

http://psychology.about.com/od/psychosocialtheories/a/psychosocial_2.htm

http://urbanext.illinois.edu/toddlers/exploring.cfm

Discipline: When have you gone too far, or not far enough?

31 Mar

Now as I’ve mentioned many times before, I myself do not have any children of my own.  However, I have had to discipline my fair share of kiddies over the past few years and let me tell you something, it is down…right…DRAINING!  First of all, you do not want to discipline a child.  It makes you feel bad, them feel bad, and it could possibly ruin a great part of the day.  First, I want to talk a little bit about why discipline is necessary.  Then, I’d like to touch what I would constitute as fair discipline (what is allowed, what isn’t allowed, etc).

In my opinion, discipline is very necessary.  Give them an inch, they take a mile.  It is NORMAL.  Do you remember when you were a kid?  Most people don’t.  I have a memory like an elephant (so they say).  I can actually remember what my house in Florida looked like when I was just 2 years old.  I can remember what my great grandmother’s apartment smelled like, as well as her meatballs; correction, World’s BEST Meatballs!  Anyway, you get the gist.  Being a child was rough.  I think it was more confusing than adulthood is (for me at least).  I’d much rather be an adult than a child.  Nonetheless, kids require attention (yes even the older ones).  So why do kids act up?  Typically, yes, it will be for the purpose of obtaining attention of some sort.  The way to handle these children is to try and IGNORE the bad behavior and focus on the good.

By giving a child attention for something they do that is negative, you are reinforcing that negative behavior.  They are now associating it with attention.  “If I pour milk on Johnny’s head, then I will be the center of the show again today!” or whatever the case may be.  Sounds silly I know, but I do believe this to be true.  Like I said, try focusing on POSITIVE behavior.  Go with the saying, positive behavior receives positive attention, negative behavior gets nothing at all.  I’m not saying not to scold a child or put them in time-out if you have to, but if that doesn’t work the first time then chances are, they are trying to get a rise out of you.  Have control and do not allow this to happen.

Another reason why children act up is to reinstate the control in which they have over either you, or their parents.  In my book, these are called the BAD children.  Why are they bad you ask?  Because their parents allow themselves to be walked all-over.  Sounds harsh, but it’s the truth!  Quite frankly, times have changed.  When I was a kid (and we are not talking about the 60’s and 70’s here, for I am quite young), my parents never let me get away with anything.  They never hit.  But I always listened.  If I did not listen, I did not get what I wanted.  If I did not do my homework, I did not get to play outside.  If I bothered my little brother, I did not get to go to the skating rink.  One time, I talked back.  I said something bad.  Do you know what happened?  My television was removed from my room for the entire summer.  Gosh, I loved T.V.  Do you know what it’s like to have a MTV-watching, 13-year-old’s television taken away from her?  It was pure torture.  But I did something wrong, and my parents stuck to their guns.  Now that I am an adult and I can look back on it, I admire them for it.  They did not give in to many things when it came to raising me and I must say, what they got out of it was a pretty hard-working, humble woman with a good head on her shoulders (if I do say so myself).

Ok, so enough about me.  The reason why I said that times are changing is because I feel that this generation of children (especially the VERY young ones) are the dictators of American households.  Many Moms and Dads in this country give their children wayyy too many options in life.  If your child is 4 years old, there should not be a 15-minute debacle  as to what they want to eat for dinner.  Your home is not a restaurant and your child should not have control over a situation such as this.  I am getting to my point now.  If you give your child control in those situations, then the very second that you take that control away, if the child is bold enough, they will FLIP on you.

We can sit here and talk for days about what is the correct way to discipline a child.  I have two rules:

1.)  Stick to your guns

2.)  Never, ever, hit.

Seriously, what kind of sick, twisted monster hits their child nowadays?  It’s 2012 people, not 1845!  If you hit your child whenever you get angry then chances are, they will go to school and hit others when they are angry too.  I heard on the news (now I’ve got to find this article) that people who have patience with children are able to control a specific part of their brain that many other people cannot.  I believe ANYONE can have patience.  The key to having patience is not losing control.  Don’t get caught up in the moment and let your emotions take the best of you.  If you can achieve this, then you have won the most important battle when it comes to raising kids and that’s conquering yourself as a parent.

Please do not mistake my advice as too over-the-top or presumptuous.  It’s just that I’ve seen it too many times.  In all reality, it does make me cringe.  Please remember that you are the parent.  You are the boss.  Your child is not old enough to make sound and or orthodox decisions in life.  That’s why you are there; to guide your little one on this terrific journey.  Trust me, there will be plenty of time for you to step back and allow them to make their own choices–and that comes much, much later.  For now, let them be kids, let yourself be a Mommy or Daddy, and ENJOY it while it lasts!

P.S.  I am giving this advice to parents because you have the most influence on your child.  Nannies are forced to discipline at times, so the same rules apply for us as well!

Photo Courtesy of punishmentforchildren.com

Why It’s So Important to Expose Children to Literature

7 Feb

I am currently enrolled in a Studies in Children’s Literature course.  My first essay was due last night and I found the assignment very interesting.  After taking notes I realized that we do not understand how truly important it is for children to be read to.  With that said, the following post is part of my essay–Why is it so important to expose children to literature?

Having children read literature opens the doors to further information about the world around them.  It is agreeable that it influences the way we think about ourselves and in the world.  Reading to children at a very young age will influence the way in which they choose to live in the future; whether it be through decisions of interests, or education.  Therefore, a child’s exposure to literature depends on the parents, as well as the caregivers.  Not all pleasures can be taught, but that does not mean that they cannot be introduced.

If children do not learn how to read and or are not read to, then they will never get to make the choice between reading and television (or any other activity for that matter).  I have chosen the two strategies in which I feel are most important in gaining a child’s interest as far as literature goes.  The first is simple; make reading fun.  As explained by my instructor at college, Professor Williams agrees that speaking to a child is very important.  Children learn by being talked to and read to.  I believe that talking about what objects are on each page do enhance a child’s vocabulary, but it also allows them to express themselves, thus promoting cognitive learning.  After a child has learned what a “ball” is, then why not move on to the next step?  What can we do with a ball?  What do you like to do with a ball?  I do believe that these methods of the reading experience will allow the child to develop a greater interest in the stories.  They will look forward to the routine in which they were provided; cuddling up with Mom, helping to gently turn the page, and showing her what we remember about the objects in the story.

Another way in which we can get children interested in literature is by selecting the right literature to expose them to.  My theory is simple: if we enjoy it, then there’s a good chance that they will enjoy it too.

Remember, just because there are some “big” words in the literature, certain poems and stories may still be worthy enough to be shared.  We often underestimate children and their intelligence.  So what if they do not know the meaning of new vocabulary?  Should they be deprived of the poem all together because of minor obscurities?  Children are still able to enjoy literature even if they are too young to read it themselves.  Even if there are unfamiliar words, they can still enjoy it.  Children’s books have such significance to the lives of youngsters.  It is all about the initial experience of not only the way in which a book is presented to them, but the individual attention they are receiving from a parent or caregiver.  Even if the child cannot read, or even understand the meaning of a few words, therein lies a comfort aspect that children feel when hearing an adult read to them.

As mentioned in my introduction paragraphs, reading to a child at a very young age is crucial to their growth process.  Of course they learn language, facts, and enhance memory skills, but the real power in children’s book are the emotional effects they have on our lives.  These emotional effects are derived from the reading experience and this experience depends on those that wish to provide us with it.

It is like Aidan Chambers said: “Readers are made, not born.”  If it is true that when we become adults that we remain totally connected to the child we once were, then we should all be compelled to read to our children as early as possible.

*I will be recommending some of my favorite Children’s Literature here on The Nifty Nanny blogsite.  Please e-mail theniftynanny@gmail.com with comments, questions, and any suggestions you may have for fun books and poems for kids!

(Photo courtesy of apples4theteacher.com)

Battling Stranger Anxiety

31 Jan

     Stranger anxiety amongst children can be frustrating for both parents and Nannies alike.  In these cases the child is typically comfortable with Mommy, Daddy, and caregiver ONLY.  I’ve experienced this issue first-hand and would like to share some tips and tricks on how to help a child in overcoming their stranger-anxiety hurdle.

First off, please understand that other people do not know your child the way you do.  Whether you are his or her parent or Nanny, you are the ones that spend the most time with the child.  Notice that the image I used for this blog post is that of a t-shirt from Zazzle.com.  I think many Nannies (including myself) get frustrated with strangers.  We’ve seen it a million times before; they make silly faces, baby talk, and unnecessarily ask for high fives.  I get it, who doesn’t love a cute baby?  But what strangers don’t get is that not every child is going to be comfortable with being approached.  Unfortunately, when they realize it there is a child wailing while they are frantically apologizing and walking away.  Ah, if only every child with this issue can have a t-shirt like the one shown above.

The severity of the problem depends on the age factor.  Babies can have anxiety when surrounded by unfamiliar people.  My own personal opinion is that you should be exposing your child to new people as often as possible.  Enlisting in various activities can make this possible.  Examples: story time, the park, play school, time with different babysitters, and play-dates.  Also, creating a photo album of friends and family they’ve never met before is a great tactic to get a child to understand that strangers exist all around.

Also, please remember that a sure-fire way to overcome stranger anxiety is time.  Don’t forget that even though your child may be growing, a language barrier still exists.  When he or she is able to talk more, they will be able to understand–thus having the ability to communicate their feelings with you.  So, with a little exposure, time, and patience, your child will be less anxious, and a little more accepting to those who are unfamiliar to them.

If you are calm, they will calm down.