College basketball season is in full swing, but one of our favorite players is not out on the court.  If you have never heard of Jason McElwain, you’ll want to take 5 minutes and watch his amazing basketball heroics.  Can you infuse this same amount of confidence in your children even when they face what seem insurmountable obstacles?  Here are 10 ways to raise confident kids.

Huddle up with your kids tonight and ask:  “What do you think has been your biggest accomplishment in life so far?”

Thanks to our Guest Blogger, All Pro Dad

Beth Weise

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More than ever, families are wanting a nanny who can give their child an edge in an increasingly competitive world. Working Moms want to trust that their children are getting personalized attention and the best possible preparation for academic and social success. They want the education, but also the nanny experience, and the more degrees the better.

When the Great Recession hit, we got calls from college grads  wanting  nanny  jobs. But if they didn’t have the nanny experience, we couldn’t help them.

“There’s a world of difference in someone who has professional experience”, Jenny Riojas, our Family Placement counselor, tells us, “in someone who has worked in a private home for a couple of years. Nannying is different from any other childcare profession, in that you’re working independently without supervision most of the time, and there is just so much you just need to know that you can’t learn from a classroom or a board room.”

A college graduate who nannied and babysat through college, however, is in high demand.

What’s drawing college educated candidates into the profession?

Amy Farris, now a Junior at ASU, has one more year to get her BS degree in psychology and is planning to get her Masters’s in child counseling. She has an AA degree from PVCC in Early Childhood Development and Nutrition. She fell in love with child care with her first position, 30 hours per week as a Mother’s Helper (working side by side with an at-home Mom) with a six month old. She realized then that she wanted a career making a difference in children’s lives. Since she does online classes, she’s able to give her family flexible hours. Raised by a Doctor Dad and RN, stay at home Mom, Amy had a typical childhood in a small Texas town. Her Mom instilled a love for serving people and playing soccer throughout high school drilled in the value of hard work and goal setting.

Amy was hired by a doctor a year ago for her then 22 month old daughter and a baby on the way after interviewing several candidates and a one week working trial with Amy that the agency strongly recommends.

“For me”, Amy tells us, “nannying started out as a way to make money and turned into a passion and a way to impact children’s lives in a big way. I consider it far more than an occupation. “I’ve been told that I’m very patient, and I have so much fun playing with them and teaching them.”

We asked Amy how her  education has helped her nanny career.

“I would say my education has helped immensely, for example, when the kids are going through a new phase or challenging me in a new way, my first thought is to research to find a physiological understanding of their behavior. With three to four years of nanny experience, Amy obviously loves being with children, playing, reading, singing, dancing or cooking with them, and sees herself as teacher, mentor, tutor and big sister. She brings a lesson plan for every day, with a weekly theme, color, letters, and integrates textures, music, lunch, crafts, and museum trips around the themes. She thoughtfully and intentionally gives babies lots of sensory activities. “Everything is new to them.”

During down time, Amy plans for the next weeks curriculum, reads child development books and articles, and helps out with light housekeeping, dishes, family laundry, kids bathrooms, bedrooms and play areas, and tidying up. In the past, she’s done dinner prep or complete family dinners as well as grocery shopping. Her current family has also hired a chef through Caring Nannies, so her culinary skills aren’t as needed.

Do degreed nannies earn more? In an annual survey conducted by the International NannyAssociation this year, nannies reported a median salary of $16 per hour. College educated nannies can receive salaries equal to entry level jobs in other careers for grads. It can save a family the cost of tutors who can charge $25 to $60 per hour. Parents today often want someone with as much education as they have.

Born in Venezuela, Lisbeth Mendoza-Ferger moved to the US at age five with her family of eight. Her Dad, a CPA, wanted a better education and life for them. He insisted on preserving the history and culture of their native country, so he gave them additional history and Spanish lessons after their regular homework was completed. As a result, Lisbeth speaks perfect English and perfect Spanish, and is a fascinating mix of Spanish, Norwegian, Scottish, German and Castilian Spanish.

Lisbeth returned to college for a BS in Business management later in her adult life and after 15 years in the medical field and 10 years in the insurance industry. She took a semester in early childhood development through PVCC, taught preschool and then started nannying. She’s raised her own children and volunteered in community children’s activities and her children’s extra curricular activities.

“Knowing that I’m partnering with the parents’, she explained to us, “and providing for the kids what no one else can, I find it rewarding to be ‘family’, ‘best friend’ and ‘care provider’. I’m organized, manage time well and love the kids intensely and they know how much I care for them.”

We placed Lisbeth one year ago with a family with a four year old, a three year old and a baby on the way. She keeps the parents involved by taking pictures throughout the day and sharing details each night.

We asked Lisbeth how her education has helped her in her day to day job. “My nursing experience and education has helped me with taking care of the children when sick, managing my time and financial obligations with the family expenses, buying groceries or kids clothes. I have to be a good steward of the finances they’ve entrusted me with.”

“When I was in school, being a nanny wasn’t in my plans. I dreamed of having my own business in a service industry. I love helping people. It wasn’t until I was laid off that I fell into what I enjoyed the most, playing and spending time with kids. My education has helped me in teaching the kids how to develop their minds, critical thinking skills and reinforcing what they learn in school as well as teach them the love of reading books to broaden their imaginations.

We asked Lisbeth if she saw herself as a career nanny.

“I do. I love the family I work for and they love me and appreciate my time, efforts and sharing my life experiences after raising my own kids and grandson. I find this career more rewarding than my two previous careers. Being a nanny has made me a better mother, grandmother, wife and most important, kept me young at heart and active.” Lisbeth normally does a lesson plan for every day, a theme for the week, colors, letters  and combines this with textures, crafts, lunch and books they read.

But what really makes a great nanny? How important is education? Is this just a post-recession trend?

A doctor Mom with newborn twins called me six years ago asking for a nanny with a college degree and I sent Charlene, a seasoned nanny with 20 years experience and a high school diploma. Charlene has a warm loving demeanor, knowledge of children’s developmental ages, the ability to multitask and organize, and a wealth of knowledge about raising children. Charlene was hired on the spot and stayed for the next 5 years and is still part of their lives.

Caring Nannies places candidates who have just a high school diploma, but with years of experience. Being bi-lingual is always a plus. Caring Nannies gets requests for nannies who speak Spanish, French or Mandarin.

We asked Lisbeth’s family if they felt her education makes a difference in their family. Amanda, the Mom told us: “I don’t know if that has made a huge difference in our interaction and overall experience with Lis. I think most important is that she’s open to feedback and we collaborate on parenting techniques. It’s extremely important that we be on the same page…Lis reads parenting books and does research on items as they come up with the kids. I’m sure her college education helped her develop those good habits…but don’t think it necessary.” We also asked Amanda, “How would you weigh her experience raising her own children and her character and personality versus her degree?” Amanda remarked: “Her character qualities and fact that she has had her own children have made the biggest impact on our family and have led to the great relationship we share. Having gone through much of what we are going through…Lis often gives good advice and helps us not worry about the small stuff. She’s a great nanny!”

“We look at the whole person,” Ashley Zehring, our nanny recruiter tells us.”The most important qualities we need are experience, great references, creativity, a sweet personality, warmth and interaction, and great communication skills. We want nannies who are basically happy. Cheerful. Curious. Playful. Fun. Flexible. Interested. Patient. Nurturing. Someone who’s passionate about what they’re doing can teach a child far more than someone with a PhD, who isn’t excited about being with a child.”

Beth Weise

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How can we put the fun back into the holidays? Let’s be honest, the social obligations, impossibly long lists of things to do on top of already overloaded family schedules makes us hope that the holidays will  bring us a break but actually, the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas only intensifies the schedule, the activities and the stress. Here’s how to de-stress:
1. Create a Holiday Journal. In a journal make two columns and label them “What Works” and “Not That Again.” Under “What Works” list activities that come naturally, bring you joy, and ease into place. Under “Not That Again” list challenges. Jot down energy-draining activities that bring you down. What changes will you make to delegate, dump, or modify the items in the “Not That Again” column and embrace more of what is in the “What Works” column? This idea is from Beth Tabak, personal and business life coachwww.StartingNowCoaching.com
2. Shift thinking from, “What am I getting?” to, “It’s fun to give!” Allow the kids to give from their own savings, rather than you giving them money to give to those in need. Give them two or three options of local kids’ charity. Make a list of what each family member will give. Then make delivery a family event.

 3. Plan one family activity each week, like driving around town to see the lights. We love singing carols in the car. Come home for hot cocoa and popcorn. Another night, bake cut-out cookies for friends and neighbors, go shopping for that charity, or enjoy a game night or movie marathon.
4. Keep up that thankfulness habit and consistently ask the kids what they’re grateful for each day, either at dinner or bedtime.
5. Be on the lookout for friends, family members or co-workers who are feeling stressed or depressed. Maybe your own spouse or child is one of them. Say, “What can I do to help?”
The key to joyful holidays is to plan ahead, refuse to continue traditions that aren’t uplifting, target family activities and relationships rather than ‘stuff’, and meet the needs of those around you.

Beth Weise

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Grateful people are happy people according to research, but how can we teach gratitude to our children?.”No one is born grateful,” says life coach Mary Jane Ryan, author of Attitudes of Gratitude. It needs to be taught.

Here are five ways to teach them and five great crafts to instill this vital quality in your children

1. Be grateful yourself–talk to your kids every day about the little daily things you enjoy-dinner, a warm house, friends, trees, your job, a warm blanket a pet.
2. Create a daily dinnertime or bedtime tradition-let each one share one or two good things that happened that day.
3. Good manners and gratitude go together, so be sure to use the words “please” and “thank you” with children and insist that they use them too.
4. Insist that they help with household chores. A two year old can put away his plastic dishes and ‘silverware’ in a lower cupboard from the dishwasher, put her dirty clothes in the hamper. When they experience the effort, they’ll be more aware of all the work you do.
5. Insist on thank you notes. Even a preschooler can scribble on a card and you can add your own words or dictate a thank you note.

1. A thankfulness tablecloth. To make: Purchase a light-colored tablecloth and fabric markers. Wash the tablecloth and iron it before using. Invite your kids and every guest to write several things that they’re thankful for. Let the kids decorate the tablecloth with others creative ideas they have.
2. A Thankfulness turkey. This is a darling idea if you have a little time to create a turkey out of paper plates, construction paper and a toilet paper roll. Kids write something that they’re grateful for on each of the turkey’s feathers. http://mommypoppins.com/thanksgiving-crafts-fun-projects-that-help-kids-give-thanks
3. Thankfulness place cards. This idea comes from the Family Education Network: Have your kids create place cards for each guest. Fold a small piece of tag board in half. Have yourchild write on each place card: “We’re thankful for you because…” Place a Thanksgivingsticker on each place card along with the name of the guest.
4. A blessing, prayer or poem. Either have your kids write a poem, blessing or prayer or if you’re comfortable, let them search the internet to find one that speaks to them and have them recite it at the start of the Thanksgiving meal.
5. Placemats: Using oversize construction paper in fall colors have your kids decorate each paper with words of thankfulness and drawings. Cover each sheet with clear contact paper to they can be used as Thanksgiving placemats year-to-year.

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As parents and children are getting bombarded with TV adds and making their holiday toy lists, let’s give thought to what make a good toy. Which toys can actually make our kids smarter? Should we just let kids be kids and not focus too much too soon on education?

Electronic toys limit creativity and disconnect children from others.
Picture a family on a road trip. The kids are each playing their own their own Game boys, watching a movie or listening to their ipod. Dad has the radio on and Mom is checking her email. Everyone’s disconnected. No one’s talking or interacting. It’s deceptive because there’s no arguing, the kids are quiet, but car time is probably your most vaulable bonding time.

When our family drove from Tucson to the farm in Iowa, we played the alphabet game, sang songs, practiced our jokes, or read.  You have a captive audience and it’s an opportunity to ask questions, listen and transmit your values.

Will that toy you’re considering stretch your child mentally, making them think and be more creative? Can it be used in different wys? Will it engender cooperation, empathy, a desire to learn more?

Or does the toy do too much? Does it simply entertain? Is there only one way to use it? Is it just something to get? Did your kids ever really play with Ferbie? Is it tactile, does this toy cause children to grow up too fast? Does it agree with your values about what’s important?

A good toy makes sure that the child does the playing that requires them to use their imaginations and interact with others.

Research shows that when children are involved in creative play their play lasts longer, is more focused, involves more children, and they cooperate more. They become more socially competent. Creative play develops focused attention, memory, logical reasoning skills, language and literacy, the ability to reflect on one’s own thinking and to take another’s perspective.

What’s so wrong with electronic toys?

They don’t engender creative play, they’re highly addictive and make life too simple. Is your child  frustrated or bored? Just push this button.
Remember tick tack toe, jacks, pick up sticks? The classic toys. Blocks, Connect 4, weaving looms? The big toy companies can’t make money on these simple toys.
A good toy:

* Expands the child

* Engages the child

* Is age appropriate

What’s really the one best toy you can give a child? A toy that is guaranteed to make him smarter? It’s you, you interacting, talking to her, asking him questions, laughing and playing with him. By spending quality time with your child,  listening attentively, playing and modeling and encouraging positive behavior. Warm, interactive parents who were on top of their children’ activities, are spending time playing and interacting, talking and listening and modeling and encouraging positive behavior and avoiding harsh discipline are most likely to have intelligent and socially favored children no matter their race, income level, or marital status.  (Infants and Children, Laura E. Berk, Fifth Edition, p.492)

It’s helpful to get toy advice from an expert. We recommend our friend Sari at The Doll House and Toy Store for age-approriate, creative, long lasting toys.

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Get a free book and help a great cause

I have exciting news to share. I’m featured in a new parenting book that my friend and colleague Toni Schutta has published called 20 Great Ways to Raise Great Kids that’s available free to parents at http://www.getparentinghelpnow.com/myfreebook . You’ll gain over 200 practical tips that you can use immediately to help raise a loving, kind, responsible, confident and successful child.
No other parenting book contains interviews with 27 top experts in the field and 10 wise parents who all give you their very best strategies all in one book.  I’m one of the experts featured in a chapter called, “Mealtime Dilemmas Solved.”
20 Great Ways to Raise Great Kids helps you find practical solutions for nagging problems like getting your kids to listen; reducing back talk, bedtime struggles, mealtime hassles, and overuse of electronics; and getting chores and homework done without a lot of hassle.
You’ll discover tools to help you evaluate whether you’re overindulging, overscheduling, or over-nurturing your kids so you can ensure their success rather than harm them in unexpected ways.
You’ll also gain a road map for reducing stress and creating a balanced life where your own needs are consciously integrated into family life for greater happiness.
20 Great Ways to Raise Great Kids Will Help You:
  • Pry your kids away from electronics so you can connect in more meaningful ways.
  • Reduce your stress so you enjoy your kids more.
  • Create a balanced life so you have time to connect with your spouse and pursue passions of your own.
  • Get your kids to bed on time so you gain back valuable time for yourself.
  • Find solutions to the top 10 parenting challenges so you handle misbehavior with confidence and ease.
  • And much more!
You can get a free copy here: http://www.getparentinghelpnow.com/myfreebook. All profits made from the sale of the E-book and print versions will be donated to help prevent child abuse. The goal is to raise $25,000 for the Family Enhancement Center, a non-profit devoted to preventing child abuse.
Best Wishes,  Beth
P.S.  Don’t just take my word for it, here’s what one mom shared: “Toni’s book is the ESSENTIAL handbook for raising a happy & successful child for us parents struggling to keep our heads above water.  Toni has assembled a mastermind group of experts who compassionately and generously provide relevant, simple tips on everyday challenges we face, including how to manage “screen time”, get respect from our kids, and be the consistent and strong role models we want to be. I will give this book to every parent in our network!” Erin Owen, mother of two.
Get your free book 20 Great Ways to Raise Great Kids now: http://www.getparentinghelpnow.com/myfreebook.

Beth Weise

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Every year Caring Nannies searches for a charity during the Christmas Season that reaches out to children and families, and we want to join Uncle Si at Duck Dynasty with one of our favorite projects: filling a shoebox with essential items for a child overseas. Soap, toothbrush, pencils, a notepad, and a small gift.

Last year, we were able to buy a goat and two chickens for a family in a third world country. Here are some details to help you fill and send out your own shoebox. You can choose the age and sex of the child who receives your gift box, use the suggested list, and locate the closest drop-off point with the information below.

We have long felt, and research backs confirms, that volunteering is the best way to build character not only in children, but in us adults! Join us in this worthy effort!

As Si Robertson might say, “Take a sip o’ tea, mow a little grass” andget ready to pack shoeboxes! The beloved uncle of the family that makes the famousDuck Commander duck calls has teamed up with Operation Christmas Child to help children in poor countries through a shoebox gift.

National Collection Week is coming November 18-25. Along with Si,you can be a part of sending love and joy to children around the world.

Watch this brand new video to find out what Si wanted to pack in hisshoebox—and what actually made the final cut. You’ll also findexclusive behind-the-scenes footage from Si’s video shoot, and some
great ideas for packing your own shoeboxes.

Uncle Si pack a shoebox


Discover the destination of your shoebox by making your $7 per boxshipping donation online. Samaritan’s Purse will send an emailtelling you the destination of your gift, along with information about Operation Christmas Child in that country.

Donate and Follow Your Box


Remember to drop off your shoeboxes November 18-25.It’s easy to find the nearest collection site with our online locator. You canalso build a shoebox online with our fun, interactive website.

Find Your Closest Site

© 2013 Samaritan’s Purse PO Box 3000 | Boone NC 28607 | 828-262-1980 |




Beth Weise

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Kids love it when their parents, nannies and babysitters are calm and ‘matter of fact’. It frees them up to take responsibility for their own actions, rather than reacting to their caregiver’s emotional response. Disappointment and anger cloud the real issues. As Hal Runkle affirms in his easy to read, Screamfree Parenting, airline stewardesses instruct passengers to fit the oxygen mask to their own face before helping their children. Parents need to take care of and focus on their own behavior, so they’re able to give their children the help they need.
Research shows that a negative emotional reaction from a parent, nanny or sitter inhibits a child’s ability to manage their behavior, diminishing social skills and academic performance.

  1. Don’t take it personally when your children break the rules. You’ll get upset, react, then feel guilty. Next, you’ll back off from needed discipline, children will disrespect your authority even less, and go on to disobey even the most permissive rules.
  2. Don’t over-react. If you punish a child for an emotional display, it makes them feel they have even less control over their world, or that a big emotional display is the way to get what they want. Model self control.
  3. Don’t under-react. What your child needs is a curious observer. Nannies, parents and sitters need to be curious and ask questions. Get down face to face, stay calm and gentle. Be a good listener. Use a quiet tone of voice, and offer a helping hand.
  4. Validate the emotions they’re feeling. Don’t make light of how they’re feeling. “Awe….I’m so sorry you’re feeling angry (frustrated, tired, sad, hurt).” Commiserate with them as you would a friend. Let them know you hear what they’re saying or feeling, and continue to ask questions to find out why they’re behaving this way.
  5. Focus on the problem. Be matter of fact, interested, curious, and really care about their heart. As you’re asking open-ended questions, kids usually figure out a solution on their own and can see how their behavior and attitude have caused the problem.

Beth Weise

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My Mom and I went on vacation to Missoula July 22 to visit my sister who has a house in the woods by a creek, and a cabin on Flathead lake. We jump off the dock into the frigid water and swim like crazy till we turn into icicles.

Februrary, 2013
This year was different. Two days after we arrived, my 94 year old Mom lost her balance stepping up on the curb while heading into an REI store, breaking her femur. The doctor took us aside before the surgery to install a titanium rod, and said, “”Just to let you know, 30 % of people in her category are dead within the year.”
But of course, he didn’t know my Mom, and her plan is to come out of this stronger than when she went in, but it’s going to be a full year of recovery. It’s been hard, really hard. Discouraging. Depressing. Every day is a fight. This morning she didn’t want to get up. She reminds me of what a wonderful gift it is to be able to just stride down the street.
She spends her days working out on a recumbent exercise bike, lifting weights, and I now go with her to her water aerobics class. The first day back, her classmates cheered and clapped as she climbed down the ladder. She disdains going in the slow way, but prefers the ‘all at once’ method, so as not to drag out the pain of getting wet. For the past decade, she’s gone year round, three days a week. On some cold, dark days, she’s the only one in class. And she’s looking forward to driving again soon.
My Mom exemplifies her generation–independent, determined, a classic depression kid.  Sharper than I am in many ways, hard working and thrifty. Before the accident, she was driving everywhere, shopping, cooking, doing  laundry, ironing, gardening, and charity work. She published her autobiography  just before this trip. But she’s quickly getting back in the groove. Today she did laundry and ironed a stack of clothes.
I feel closer now to the families who call our office needing companions for their seniors for a few hours during the day, a weekend, overnights or on a regular basis. Sometimes seniors have kids who want them to have help, but the seniors aren’t ready to hear of it. But it’s a relief nonetheless to know that a trusted professional is available when they’re ready.
Beth Weise

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