Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

The number of children abused in this country is staggering.  And those numbers reflect abuse as defined below.  That’s a pretty high bar.   Imagine all the kids who suffer lesser but still harmful and debilitating abuse and neglect.  I encourage each and every person to do something in the coming months to help a child at risk.  It could be volunteering an afternoon at a fundraiser, it could be providing support and friendship to a struggling parent, it could be becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister.  Just do something.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. In 2009, 3.3 million reports of suspected abuse were made to Child Protective Services (CPS) agencies involving about 6 million children. Of those screened for investigation, about one-quarter or 693,174 children were found to be victims of child abuse. About 70,000 additional children were found to be the victim of abuse more than once.

  • More than 1,676 children died as a result of child abuse in 2009.
  • 80 percent of children who died were younger than age 4.

What is child abuse?

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, the federal law that sets guidelines for states and allocates funding to both investigate and prevent child abuse, defines child abuse and neglect at a minimum as:

Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.

Each state sets its own definitions for child abuse and neglect as well as the evidence necessary to substantiate child abuse claims.

What types of abuse do children suffer?

  • More than 75 percent suffered neglect
  • More than 15 percent suffered physical abuse
  • About 9.5 percent suffered sexual abuse; and
  • About 7.6 percent suffered psychological abuse

What federal efforts are made to reduce child abuse?

Community-based grants are offered through several federal programs to help states develop, operate, expand, and enhance community-based, prevention-focused programs and activities designed to prevent child abuse and neglect. More than 3 million children received preventive services through 44 states in 2009.

Information provided by Child Care Aware.

Do Nannies Feel the Pressure to Potty Train Early?

The challenge of potty training is highlighted in this ABC news story.  It’s focused on the pressure that moms feel to potty train their kids earlier and earlier.

I was really surprised by one statistic in the video: In 1962 90% of 2 1/2 year olds were fully potty trained.  In 1998 only 22% were.  That’s a HUGE drop!

The video focused on the pressure moms feel to potty train their kids before they entered preschool, around 3 years old.  But when moms are working and relying on nannies to provide day-to-day childcare, do they pass along that pressure to their nannies?  Because full-time working moms aren’t in the trenches dealing with the potty training challenges throughout the day, do they have unrealistic expectations?  Do they unfairly expect their experienced nanny to have a magic bullet to make it happen?  Or should the nanny’s experience and education give her the potty advantage? 

Nannies and moms, what has been your experience when dealing with potty pressure?     

Serial Nannies

There has been so much about parenting in the news lately I’m a bit overwhelmed with trying to process it all.  But I had to write about one section of this latest article.

When writing about how much parenting really impacts a child’s success as an adult, Maia Szalavitz states, “Secondly, choices about things like child care can matter tremendously. Although this is an extreme example, in our book Born For Love: Why Empathy Is Essential and Endangered, my co-author, child psychiatrist Dr. Bruce Perry, and I tell the story of a wealthy child who was parented by multiple sequential nannies. When the child seemed to become more attached to a nanny than to his mother — which was inevitable because the nanny spent the most time with the child in this family — that nanny was fired. The family went through 18 different nannies, subjecting the child over and over to the stress of abandonment, and the boy grew up to be a sex offender. Dr. Perry has also seen other cases of severe consequences of this kind of disrupted care-giving in wealthy children.”

Wow.  If there was ever a real life example of why families should invest in continuity of care (a case I make to every parent I work with), that story is it. 

Not all families that employ sequential nannies are bad parents.  Most have their children’s best interests at heart but simply don’t know how to effectively hire or don’t understand the importance keeping their great nanny long term.

Nannies, how to you combat being one in a long line of caregivers?  How do you express to parents why you should be there for the long haul?  And if you work for an impossible family, how do you handle the emotional turmoil that comes with quitting a job when you feel you’re abandoning a child you care for deeply?

Kiss More, hug more, touch more

Just ran across The Happiness Project, a great book by Gretchen Rubin detailing her journey to be happier.  She’s started the happiness challenge 2010, a weekly plan to make 2010 a happier year.  She’s quick to point out that you don’t have to completely transform your life or reach transcendence to be happier.  (This is an important reminder for big picture thinkers like me.)  She offers simple yet powerful ways you can bring more happiness into your life through her online and video blog.  (You can subscribe through YouTube and watch all eight weeks.)  This month she focuses on love and this week’s suggestion is to kiss more, hug more, and touch more.  I love that she throws in some interesting facts and statistics about each of her goals. 

As I watched each week’s clip, I realized that all of her ideas could be easily adapted and shared with kids.  What a great concept!  As nannies, we work everyday to give our kids the life skills they need to become happy, healthy adults.  What better way to teach them that happiness is a choice, to introduce them to the idea of positive psychology than to share with them our own happiness project. 

So I’m taking Gretchen up on her happiness challenge and will be incorporating her ideas into my own life and sharing them with my charges.  I would love to have some fellow nannies to share the journey with.   Anyone interested in a happier 2010?

what job perks attract you to Nanny Care?

Today’s Wall Street Journal Juggle talks about Fortune’s magazine list of the 100 best places to work.  Among some of the perks that put these companies at the top of the list were childcare centers for employees, a free medical center, summer camp for employees’ kids and even a free 66,000-square-foot fitness center and aquatic center.   My favorite – “Robert W. Baird & Co., an investment advisory firm, has a “no a**hole rule,” screening applicants via rigorous interviews to ensure that they fit the company’s positive, respectful culture.”   I think if agencies decided to embrace that policy, their businesses would go through the roof.  🙂

It got me to wondering what perks make childcare providers choose to work as a nanny rather than a day care worker, a preschool teacher, a elementary teacher, a special needs aide, etc.  All those jobs offer the great perks that come with working with kids so what makes nanny care stand out to some?

For some, it’s being able to bring your child (or pets) to work.  For others, it’s the independence of being able to plan your own day.  For others still, it’s being able to travel or have extended time off.  Readers, what perks attract you?

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