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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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.
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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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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As I drove with my three youngest children in the back seat, I put them through their Spanish vocabulary words. When they didn’t get the right answers, my arm flew back involuntarily as if to wop one of them in the back seat, but of course I hit the bucket seat next to me. “What just happened?” I said to myself, stunned by what I had just done. “Was I going to hit one of my kids because they didn’t know a vocabulary word? Was that me?”

I’m not a yeller, not a hitter, not an angry person. So what triggered that crazy action? It never happened again, but I began wondering about my bottom line. Was I a needy Mom? Was my kid’s job to make me look good? I slowly began to realize that my significance was enmeshed in: 1. How well they did and 2. How good they looked. When my youngest moved out, I shifted to finding my self worth in my business.

In the movie Chariots of Fire, an athlete was going for gold in the 100 yard dash. “Why are you working so hard?“,  he was asked. “When that gun goes off, I have 10 seconds to justify my existence,“ was his reply. “I want to know that I’m justified being here. I want to know that my life counts, is worth something, that my existence is justified. The gold medal he wins is his justification. It makes him feel validated, worthy, accepted.

A newspaper reporter interviewed movie producer Sydney Pollock  just before he died in 2007, and although the grueling movie making process was wearing him down, he couldn’t stop working.  “Every time I make anoher picture, I earn my stay for another year or so”, was his explanation. What’s he saying? The same thing as the runner. ‘I feel I need to earn my stay. Here’s why my life is worthwhile, acceptable, valid.’

A writer, feeling his career wasn’t progressing, and wondering what value his life had, shared in a newspaper article, “When I look at my two little daughters, then I know that my existence is justified.”

There are parents, a lot of parents,  who look at their children and think, “There really isn’t anything I do that makes me feel valuable, that justifies my existence. My life is worthwhile because of them. I’ve always said: “I’m writing five books.” Meaning, my life is all about the five kids I’ve raised.

Parents who make their children the focus of their lives will be disappointed. Their passion for their children’s success is basically selfish. Children will disappoint us. This misguided focus is actually one of the causes of child abuse. We need something bigger, higher to give us significance.

But this is the “default mode” of the human heart. Our computers run in default mode automatically unless we deliberately program them to do something different.

We habitually and naturally look to outside things to justify our significance and give us security: work, approval from others, power, influence, possessions, children, marriage. We may think we don’t, but on a deeper level these things are the foundation of security and significance. Therefore, we’re driven by fear, a lack of self-control and anger.

The truth is that we’re valuable just because we are.

Change comes as people realize their own value and worth. Knowing their inestimable value gives remarkable status–one that power and money and even family cannot give. One thing that makes an object valuable is being one of a kind. Each person is unique. There’s no one on the planet like me, even if I’m an identical twin.

Consider the love we have for a newborn–an infant who brings us endless work, sleepless nights and the loss of thousands of dollars. They poop, pee, eat, cry, keep us up all night and don’t contribute in any way to the household. They haven’t performed a sonata or won a scholarship to Harvard, yet our hearts are amazed by the torrent of joy and love we feel.

You are that beloved infant.

We don’t need work, children, or marriage to give worth. Knowing our own intrinsic value will restructure our motivations and identity. A child-centered world view puts unhealthy pressure on  children to play the role of being the perfect child and it destroys them. Children aren’t going to always make wise decisions and will inevitably disappoint us. Our unspoken expectations push them away.

With the truth of his own value centering him, a parent has a winsome, peaceful attitude, because he no longer needs the child to give him meaning and worth.

A single, pregnant Jewish Mom in New York was about to put her signature on a rental application, when the landlord mentioned, “By the way, you’ll be glad to know we don’t accept Jews here.” She quietly put down her pen and said, “Actually I’ll take my business elsewhere.” She resolved then that if she had a boy she would name him Yehudi, which means “The Jew” because she wanted him to be proud of his heritage. Yehudi became one of the greatest violinists of the 20th Century. When asked how he played such beautiful music, he answered, “To play great music you have to keep your eye on a distant star, something beyond yourself, something transcendent.”

Reach for the heavens, as it were, keep your eyes on something bigger than yourself, something bigger than a star, than a child. You’ll make beautiful music in your home.

It’s all right if your child is the center of your universe. All children are the apple of their parent’s eye. But while you’re responsible for your child’s happiness, your children are not responsible for yours. You need to love them for who they are, not because they  complete you.

Are You a Needy Parent? Take this Free Test  and see how you rate!

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Ashley, our Nanny Recruiter began choking on some taffy candy in the office, and a discussion ensued about our mutual choking experiences. We discovered that just between Jenny and Ashley, seven lives have been saved by performing the Heimlich Maneuver! Ashley used it on her first day on the job as a live-in nanny in England!

Jenny observed a Mom jumping out a car ahead of her while at a street light, running to the back seat, grabbing her baby out of his car seat, flipping him upside down and pounding on his back right in the middle of the road. Watching this scenario made an impact on Jenny. Ashley witnessed a petite wife perform the maneuver in a restaurant on her husband  twice her size. She failed twice, and with no one else coming to her rescue, she desperately slammed his front side into the table edge and he survived.

Jenny was with her son Carter, age one, eating chips in a Mexican restaurant when he began choking. With the picture of the roadside rescue in mind, she immediately flipped him upside down, and performed the Heimlich Maneuver  to dislodge the chip. Another time, she was in a Moms’ group and the mother of a six month old was feeding apple slices to the infant,

who began choking. Jenny gave her step by step direction to perform the procedure, and their teamwork paid off.

Popcorn is one of the biggest dangers for young children.  A three year old boy died soundless, in a movie theatre, while choking on popcorn with his family right next to him. Another incident was of a three year old girl, whom after choking on popcorn,  had a piece of the popcorn lodged in her throat and had to have it surgically removed.

Any age child can choke. Jenny was tutoring a third grader who got a chicken nugget caught in his throat. Jenny quickly did the maneuver on him, and the nugget went flying across the room. When Mom arrived home, the boy said, “Mom, Jenny saved my life today!”

Another time, Jenny (who has 13 years of nanny experience) was nannying for a family. She and both parents were in the kitchen and the one year old, strapped in the high chair, began choking. The Dad was pulling off the tray and trying to unlatch the straps, but in his panic, was fumbling. Jenny grabbed the scissors, cut the straps, and did the maneuver, saving he child’s life.

Jenny won’t leave her children with a sitter until they’ve demonstrated the Heimlich Maneuver to her satisfaction. “You can train for it, but I don’t think anything can prepare you for that moment when you have to use it.”

Her own son Carter, age two, climbed onto her bathroom counter and opened a Tylenol bottle and other over the counter medications and she found 50 pills scattered over the floor when she discovered him. They rushed to the ER and kept him there for observation. “I had every inch of my house baby-proofed, but they still got into things,” Jenny shared.

While Jenny was taking a shower, Chase, age two, scooted a stool to the counter, climbed up to the medicine cabinet and open the “child-proof ” cough syrup bottle. They called Poison Control and rushed him to the ER, where they monitored him over the next six hours.

One of the boys sprayed a poisonous cleaning substance into his face after breaking the child-proof latch on the cabinet below the kitchen sink. “I love those babies, but that age from 18 months to age three, is really challenging,” Jenny groaned!

Consider these facts and cautions:

  • A child’s trachea is the size of a drinking straw in diameter, which is why a popcorn kernel is so dangerous.
  • Choking is the fourth leading cuse of unintentional death in children under five.
  • Never leave a child unattended while they’re eating
  • Meal and snack time need to be calm and unhurried.
  • No eating while walking, playing or riding in the car.
  • Children need to sit upright while eating and have sufficient teeth plus the muscular and developmental ability for the food chosen
  • Cut food into small peices, cook or steam vegetables to soften them and cut hot dogs lengthwise and widthwise.
  • Use only a small amount of peanut butter or cream cheese, as these foods can stick to the roof of the mouth and cause choking.
  • Coins and small toy parts can be dangerous for babies and toddlers who are discovering the world through their mouth.
  • Regularly review the Heimlich Maneuver
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National Nanny Appreciation Week is September 22-28, 2013. Nannies do a remarkable service in loving, nurturing, training and educating the children in their care as if they were their own, as well as easing the day to day burdens of the parents by performing countless household tasks.

When families show appreciation to their nannies, it only heightens the relationships and creates a desire in the nanny to want to give even more.
It’s easy to take your nanny for granted, because you work hard also, you’re very busy, and you pay her well. However, unless you’re giving your nanny lots of verbal appreciation, she may feel like you have no idea how hard she’s working.
Consider taking her out for a family dinner and giving her a card and a gift. Just think about how much more

difficult your life would be without her!

Here are 5 ideas to spark your thinking about how to honor your nanny.

  1. Give her a paid half or full day off or a cash gift.
  2. Give her a weekend at your summer cabin or a paid vacation.
  3. Designer purse or spa gift certificate.
  4. Handmade card and or video created by the children.
  5. Specific and heartfelt verbal praise

It’s easy to forget to say thank you. If you’re a Mom blessed with a great nanny, or if there is a nanny in your past, take time out during the 2013 National Nanny Appreciation Week to let her know how special she is to you and your children. We at Caring Nannies are so grateful for all the terrific nannies and babysitters and mother’s helpers for their hard work and dedication!

Beth Weise

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Webinar Date/Time and Info
Part One: Respect
Sunday September 15, 2013
Time: 6pm PST/6

TEACH RESPECT: It is not what you say,  but how you say it! Back to school means back to basics with character building skills. Kids and adults need help to interact respectfully. Dr G gives concrete tips and tools to teach respectful behavior towards others and oneself!

Registration for the first of three Doctor G webinars, “Part One: Respect” will end today.

Learn more and register today at


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Announcing INA’s Fall
2013 Virtual Learning SeriesWith
Doctor G, Deborah Gilboa, M.D. “3 R’s of Parenting; Respect, Resilience, Responsibility in Children, Charges, and Employees”
We’ve met her at the INA Annual Conference, and now Parenting Expert and board certified family physician Deborah Gilboa, M.D., aka “Doctor G,” has teamed with the INA to present INA’s Fall 2013 Virtual Learning Series based around her 3’R’s of parenting;: Respect, Responsibility and Resilience.
“We live in a busy world. Parents and caregivers rarely get to hit the pause button and learn new skills and information on age appropriate topics. The key to raising kids who can launch successfully, lies in character building,” says Doctor G. “These webinars are intended to further empower parents and care givers. My goal is to validate and appreciate the difference that they make in their kids’ lives through intentional parenting. When parents are effective, kids get healthier!”
Each 90-minute stand-alone webinar focuses on a character trait, rational and real life age specific application of the 3R’s. This webinars series can be experienced individually or as a package. Participants are invited to join one, two, or all three webinars. The three webinars are open to the public as well as INA members. Members may register free of charge by logging into their account and completing the form on the “My Home” page. Non-members may participate by either purchasing individual webinar sessions or a package of all three sessions through the INA e-store , or by joining the INA.

Webinar dates and topics:
Webinar One: Teach Respect September 15, 2013 Time: 9pm EST/6pm PST
Teach Respect. It’s not what you say, but how you say it! Back to school means back to basics with character building skills. Kids and adults both need help to interact respectfully. Doctor G gives concrete tips and tools to teach respectful behavior, towards others and oneself!

Webinar Two: Resilience October 20, 2013 Time: 9pm EST/6pm PST
Teach Resilience. Life flows better when we have the tools we need to handle the tough stuff. Setbacks and challenges will arise and Doctor G explains how to lay the groundwork for resilience, while managing obstacles when they occur.·

Webinar Three: Responsibility November10, 2013 Time: 9pm EST/6pm PST
Teach Responsibility. A good work ethic can be the difference between surviving and thriving. Doctor G shares activities and tips to pass on a responsible attitude to charges, employees, and loved ones!

Doctor G empowers parents to increase their knowledge and activate their existing parenting instincts. Sometimes, these skills get dampened by stress, doubt and guilt with the pace and volume of everyday activities. “We all want to raise kids to be people that we respect and admire,” says Doctor G.

Doctor G is the author of three “little books,” and her upcoming book will be published during Fall 2014 by Demos Publishing. She offers workshops, seminars, virtual events, and more to meet the needs of parents worldwide who reach out with their parenting concerns and questions. A board certified family physician, she is the creator and author of, an online resource for parents. Doctor G is a regular contributor to Pittsburgh Today Live, PBS’ iQ Smartparent, and numerous print and on-line publications including Huffington Post and

Beth Weise

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Growing up in the 50‘s and 60‘s I remember hearing about Thomas Malthus and the Population Bomb and that overpopulation would cause mass starvation. Margaret Sanger thought the wrong people were having too many children. My first crosss country plane ride left me puzzled as I observed vast stretches of empty countryside.

Jonathon Last in his bestseller, “What to Expect When No One’s Expecting”, explains that what threatens America’s welfare is underpopulation rather than overpopulation. Our grandchildren won’t be able to collect their Social Security checks because there won’t be enough workers to support them. Our generous immigration policy doesn’t help much, because within one generation, immigrant birth rates decline sharply as well.

“At the heart of the West’s fertility crisis and America’s One-Child Policy,” quotes Last, “Modernity has turned us into a deeply unserious people. Yet it’s encouraging to note that while our fertility problem is more dire than it has ever been, neither the predicament itself, nor its root causes, are new. Having children is difficult but important work and the main threat to fertility comes from a worldview that places the self at the center. Children are seen as a burden rather than as a source of joy.”

The Population Bomb never exploded. It was all bunk, and European countries are fading away even faster than the US. Italy and Greece are ‘museums’, and Japan already sells more adult diapers than infant diapers.

A sensational Time Magazine article by Jennifer Senior a few year ago called “All Joy and No Fun” describes her life as a parent. A comment about the article quipped, “Well, she has it half right!” Being a parent really is hard work and expensive, no one can deny.

An August 12 Time magazine article featured “The Childfree Life, When having it all means not having children” on it’s cover. The article points out that one in 8 high income women expect to remain childless. Women put off work because of work, education, or the lack of a good mate.

 Last and his wife moved out of Old Town DC before having their second child “because we believed that family life was more important. And if you believe in anything seriously enough–God, America, the liberal order, heck, even secular humanism–then eventually babies must follow.”

After exploring failed efforts in France, Spain, Singapore, Japan, and other countries, the author comes up with some simple but radical and practical ideas:

1. Better roads. Parents are more likely to have more children if they can live in the suburbs in a home with a grassy yard, impossible to afford in the major hubs where the jobs are, like LA, Silicon Valley, New York or DC.

2. Telecommuting. Telecommuting has the capacity to return us to a world where the extended family is a part of daily life and returning the home to the center of economic activity in America. The advent of a three generation household, or at least living in the same neighborhood, and having grandparents care for children and children being close by seniors as they age, would make child-rearing more doable. Industrialized Day Care Centers and Retirement homes is a 30 year historical abbertion, according to Last.

3. College. Changing he college system by allowing a nationalized standardized testing. College costs have risen 1000% . While goods and services have decreased in cost, and increased in value, college has increased 1000% while the quality has gone down. NPR reported this week that in Ivy League colleges, dorms and meals cost even more than the tuition! Young people hold off on marriage and bearing children to finish

college, then they have huge debts to pay off, so marriage and childrearing wait. The more education a woman has the lower number of children she generally has.

4. Immigration. A lesson from Japan and France is that every Industrialized country needs immigration to prop up its fettility. Because of Europe’s “policy choices made by adherents of a truly radical faith: multiculturalism” they are now realizing that they have made a terrible mistake, and it is now publically acknowledged. Europe as we know it will fade away in the next few generations, “replaced by a semi-hostile Islamic ummah.” Only the name will remain the same. However in America we have done a good job of integrating immigrants.

5. Social Security: Last has an interesting idea of exempting parents who raise more than two chidren from Social Security since they are raising the future workers who will be supprting the rest of us.

I highly recommend this new book which explains a complicted problem clearly. It’s provocative, deep, and presents heavy thoughts without selling doom. It will make you laugh, cry and think.
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