by: Tara Zoumer (Nanny placed by the Nanny Authority)
“I love the way you talk to the baby like it’s a person,” said Lily, age 11. I smiled and told her, “Lily, your sister is ALWAYS a person. Try to remember.” When it comes to talking with kids, especially little ones under the age of two, we all have the same tendency: raise your voice three octaves and say “awe” a lot. Many of us have been conditioned to speak to kids in a certain way, often forgetting that they are just tiny people in a constant state of discovery. We forget that human beings of all ages, 1 to 100, appreciate basic communication skills, like eye contact, listening, and feeling understood.
Being a teacher, a nanny or a child care specialist, feels like cheating sometimes, because we get to practice different forms of communication with many kids until we discover what truly works. Over time, you start to notice some invaluable and universal tricks like these, and they may even help your adult relationships.
Highly underutilized technique that will save you more time than it takes to shout the same words repeatedly. I simply ask the kids, “can you look at me when we speak please? I like seeing your face.” Have real live Facetime as often as possible, and always when it’s a difficult discussion or question. When we look each other in the eyes, we are not only able to hear one another better but also experience facial expressions. Remember, kids are literally looking at you for clues how to solve a problem, overcome a fear, or find the courage to experience something new. In the animal kingdom eye contact is everything, and we are no different.
Imagine someone woke you up, put clothes on you which you didn’t pick, and are now going to drag you all over town to run errands without notice. For most people uncertainty makes us uncomfortable. Simple update comments like letting kids know they have 10 minutes left to play or why you need to go to a certain activity can make a huge difference in your errands being done without tears or stress. Letting kids know they are in this experience WITH you rather than because of you helps. Never underestimate the power of the truth.
The Power of Hugs
When interacting with any human being big or small, it’s helpful to ask yourself a simple question of treatment: how would I like if someone was doing this to me? This sounds simple but our skin is literally a sponge of communication, and our cells remember the way people leave an impression. Among humans, it’s not what we say, but how we say it, and more often than not we speak louder with our bodies. Here are a few example tips: If you had a fight or difficult discussion with a child, make sure you hug after so you both feel better. Ask, can I have a hug after we talk? If you need a toddler to lay down for diapers, place your hand on the back of their head when you ask them to lay back. Yes, I always ask. It’s simply nice. If it’s time to go, but a child pulls back, stop and kneel down and ask if they are ok first. That 30 seconds of understanding, will save you 15 minutes of trying forcing them when they aren’t ready.
Please and Thank You
Never forget, you are in this life experience together. Please and thank you’s are VITAL words to make your life easier. It’s a sign of respect among people to acknowledge when we help one another. Sometimes in busy households it’s easy to take the effort of those around you for granted. Remembering this simple trick of acknowledging one another builds stronger relationships in the long run. When we tell kids ’thank you’ they get to feel as though their contribution is seen and when they say ‘thank you,’ you get to feel appreciated. It’s a win-win.
Since Lily realized her sister was a person, we both noticed the way she treats her has changed. Instead of being annoyed and asking, why is the baby crying? She’s looking to her sister first instead of us for answers, letting us know, “She dropped her toy” or “Her jacket is bunched in a way that’s making her uncomfortable.” Babies are people. Kids are people. Teens are people. We are all people, who just need a little love and understanding.
Contact Nanny Authority Today
Our team is ever grateful to work with the wonderful child care specialists, like Tara Zoumer, who are experienced professionals and who find joy in working with children. If you and your family is interested in hiring a nanny please feel free to browse our available nannies and even start your family application today!
*Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.