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The Nanny’s Guide to Facebook

Not long ago, social media websites like Facebook and MySpace were used almost exclusively by teens and twenty-somethings. But in the last two years, there’s been an explosion of interest in social media, with more than 175 million active users on Facebook alone. And if you’re a nanny, it’s likely that one of these Facebook users is your employer. Which means that the parents of the children you care for can probably view whatever you (or your friends) post about you online. Some nannies don’t mind if their employer checks up on them on the Internet. After all, as an employee of the family, nannies have access to a great deal of private information about the families they work for. And, many nannies are confident that there is nothing an employer would find out about them online that would be cause for concern.


Other nannies feel that they should be judged strictly by their on-the-job performance, and that it’s an invasion of privacy for an employer to check into what a nanny is doing while not on the job.

Whether checking out one’s nanny online crosses privacy boundaries or not, the fact is that social media sites – from Facebook to YouTube – are accessible to the public, and employers do research their employees on line. School districts check up on teachers, corporations check up on employees, and yes – parents check up on their children’s nannies.

The question is: what should you do about it?
First, do a little research. What do you find when you search online for your own name? Anything you’ve posted on your Facebook page, Twitter, your blog (and comments on other people’s blog posts), YouTube, and other social media sites, is instantly at your fingertips.

Taken together, all of these sites present a strong impression of who you are. An employer can quickly find out whether you spend a lot of time with your family, enjoy being with kids in your free time, are out until the wee hours most nights with friends, or devote a lot of time to volunteer work. They’ll probably be able to tell if you smoke, drink, or use language they’d rather not expose their kids to. They’ll know what sports and hobbies you enjoy, what you like to read, and whether you dress conservatively (or not).

Take a careful look at how you’ve presented yourself -- and ask yourself what qualities parents look for when hiring a nanny. Do you see anything in your online profile that would cause your employer to be concerned? And what do you see that would make your employer feel good about having you care for his or her children?

Parents look for nannies who like being with children, who are caring and responsible, and who will set a good example. They’ll be impressed by evidence that you enjoy spending time with other kids in your spare time, whether it’s younger family members or the children of neighbors. They’ll feel confident if they see that you’re a compassionate person, whether you express that through volunteer work, caring for animals, or simply by being a good friend online.

Avoid posting pictures of yourself smoking or drinking, avoid using bad language online, and definitely avoid references to sex and drugs. In short, stay away from anything you wouldn’t do or talk about around the children you care for or your employer. If possible, set up restrictions so that other people can’t tag you in photos they post, especially if you think there may be photos out there that show you in social situations you don’t want made public. And whenever you can, make your profiles private, so that only those who have permission can access them.

This is not to say that you should use social media like Facebook to create a fictitious personality online. It’s important to be honest about who you are and what your interests are. But do be aware that social media are public, and whatever you do online is on the record.

Kota the Triceratops (3 & up)

What could be cooler than a play date with a two-and-a-half-foot tall baby dinosaur?
Playskool’s Kota the Triceratops interacts with kids in tons of ways. When kids talk to him, he roars and when they tickle him, he laughs, moving his tail, head, eyes, and mouth – even his horn! – expressively. He’s big and sturdy enough for children to bounce on his back, while Kota makes realistic stomping noises that bring the imaginative play to life.

Kids will love Kota’s soft and snuggly “hide,” and grownups will love a convenient volume control that allows them to lower Kota’s volume or turn it off.

The Emotional Roller-Coaster

By Playskool Advisor Lawrence J. Cohen, PhD

I was baby-sitting my niece once when she was around two years old. She had a hard time saying goodbye to her mom and dad and a hard time settling in to play or have fun with me. I went to hold her and comfort her but she ran under the table and told me to go away. I asked her if I could come under the table with her to keep her company and she said no, I should leave the house. I said I couldn't do that, but I would move farther away. I stepped back a little and sat on the floor and asked if that was far enough away. She said yes, and began to cry a little. After a few minutes she came out from under the table and said, "The tears just popped out." "They certainly did," I said, and we both smiled. "Let's watch Cinderella," she said, "that wicked stepmother is really mean. She says, 'hold your tongue!'"

I think the lesson from this story is that it can be confusing to us what to do as young children's emotions change dramatically about a thousand times during each day. They can swing from happy to sad to scared to worried to happy to everything in between. And they don't just feel their feelings. They feel them, extravagantly, like they just invented that emotion. Fortunately, our job as adults is not to keep them happy all the time, or to protect them from every tough feeling. Our job instead is to help them learn the skills they need to ride that roller coaster without flying off--to manage their emotions.

If I had left the room, my niece would have been all alone with her sadness. If I had moved in too close, she would have been mad at me for crowding her. If I had tried too fast to cheer her up, she would have felt invalidated about her feelings. But what happened instead is that she was able to cry about the separation, while knowing I was nearby. That made it possible for her to make the transition to enjoying herself. Many adults say that it hurts to cry. But when my niece said that the tears "just popped out" she was expressing how easily tears can flow if you aren't trying to shove them back in.

Here are some tips for helping children regulate their emotions as they grow--but don't expect them to learn it quickly!

Help them name their emotions, but do this a little bit tentatively so that we aren't telling them what they feel, we're just helping them find words for what they feel. As they get older, expand their emotional vocabulary beyond mad, sad, and scared. ("It looks like maybe you're kind of frustrated.")

Welcome a full expression of the feeling before moving into the "cheer up" phase. ("Tell me all about it.") We might think they are upset over a small thing, but to them it is big and deserves a lot of feelings. If they can truly finish expressing themselves, they are better able to truly cheer up.

Tell bedtime stories and play make-believe games with characters that have strong emotions, and who struggle a little with what to do with their emotions. ("Prince Ulrich was so mad he could scream, and he didn't know what to do. Do you have any ideas for him?")

It turns out my niece was right about that mean stepmother in Cinderella. "Hold your tongue" is just about the worst thing you can say to a child. In order to learn how to handle their emotions, they need a chance to speak up, let the tears flow, and explore what it means to be a person with the full range of human feelings.
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These articles provide information of a general nature only, and should be used only to supplement your knowledge. We hope you find the articles interesting, but Nanny.com cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any information contained in these articles. Nothing in these articles is intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always consult with your own physician if you have any concerns about your own health or the health of your child.