By Marcia Hall

When you first become a parent, you look at your tiny baby and think there is no way you could ever get angry or yell at this beautiful tiny creature.  But before long that small baby grows and you find that there are more days where you are frustrated with him than you would like.  When you find yourself in those moments of utter exasperation, here are 10 things that can help prevent you from yelling at him.

  1. Set clear boundaries.  When rules are not clear in the house, children have a really hard time following them.  If you have said in passing several times, “Take off your shoes when they are wet,” you may assume that your child has heard you and will remember that.  So when it rains and he walks on your clean floor with wet muddy shoes you get upset because you “told” him not to  a dozen times.  However, to a child this is a vague and ambiguous rule.  By setting more concrete rules, you help your child understand what is expected of him.  Then he will be more likely to remember the rule.
  2. Set simple consequences.  Sometimes parents threaten consequences that they themselves do not want to follow through on.  If you tell your child if he does not clean up his room by 5PM he will not get to go to get to go to his friend’s house, then you better be okay with him not going to his friend’s house.  If you are threatening that consequence because you know going to his friend’s house important to him, but had made your own plans, you are more likely to yell at him when he is being slow to clean his room.  However, if you set a consequence that you can live with and is not complicated, you will have a much easier time enforcing that consequence without yelling and getting upset at your child.
  3. Speak to your child on his level.  If your child is young, it can be intimidating to hear you standing above him giving commands.  There is a good chance that a child of just about any age will not even fully hear you if you are not face to face with him.  Getting down on his level might even mean that you make sure that you use words that you know he understands. If a child is given instructions and he does not fully understand, remember or comprehend them, how can he follow them?  When this happens it is not the fault of the child for not hearing, but the fault of the parent for not speaking in a way he can understand.
  4. Be sure your child understands what you are asking of him.  After you clearly tell a child what you expect of him, you need to confirm with him that he fully understands what you just said.  You can do so by asking a simple question of, “I want to make sure we understand each other.  What am I asking of you?”
  5. Respond every time a rule is broken.  It can be very difficult to stop what you are doing to deal with your child every time a rule is broken.  However, the longer you let a set rule be broken, the more your child will continue to do the offense.  You will then have a breaking point where you will come running to the situation.  At this point, you will be frustrated and less likely to be able to contain that anger.
  6. Remind your child only ONE time of the rule.  Often, parents think they are doing their child a favor by giving two, three or more chances to make a broken rule right.  This does nothing but lead to confusion from the child and frustration from the parents.  Each time you return to the child to remind him of the broken rule and let it slide, you get more and more frustrated, which leads to you finding yourself at the end of your patience.  Your child sees these repeated empty warnings and it confuses him.  He has no way of knowing when you are serious about the rule and when you will let it go.  By holding yourself to the ONE reminder only, you avoid building your frustration and you help your child understand that you mean what you say.
  7. Immediately deliver the consequence. Once that rule has been clearly set, he knows the consequence for his choice and has been given one warning. If he breaks the rule again, the consequence must be enforced.  When you are able to consistently follow through on what you said you would do, it makes the situation less emotional and therefore helps you to keep your cool.
  8. Ask him to remind you when you yell at him.  Some parents do not fully understand the way their voice sounds to their child.  If yelling is a habit that you are serious about breaking, you can give your child permission to inform you when he feels you are yelling at him.  This can seem unwise, because no parent wants their child to “talk back” to them.  However, it can work if some ground rules are put in place.  The child must use a phrase agreed upon like, “Mom, it makes me sad when you yell at me.”  You will also have to discuss the difference between raising your voice and yelling.  There are times that it can be appropriate to raise your voice at a child.  However, parents also need to realize that what may seem like a slightly raised voice to you can sound incredibly scary to your child.
  9. Respond kindly when he yells at you.  It can be very difficult to hear your child scream at you and not respond in a similar manner.  However, responding with equal or greater volume does not help the child learn not to yell and it does not help you avoid yelling either.  Instead, when your child yells at you, say to him, “When you talk to me like that it seems as if you do not care about me.  Please talk to me like I am someone you love.”
  10. Take a “parent” time out.  It’s not unusual to send a child out of the room when he yells in order to give the child space to calm down and regroup.  Parents often need this as well.  Leaving the room and separating yourself from the situation for a short time can help you gain clarity to deal with the issue in a more calm way.  This also provides an excellent example for your child when he gets angry.

It may be impossible for the average parent to never yell at their child.  However, it is possible to make the event infrequent.  These steps will not only help you avoid yelling at your child, but they will also help your child follow the rules more consistently.

How to Help Your Child be Empathetic

By Marcia Hall

Few emotions in life are more difficult to teach a child than empathy.  It is a confusing, complicated and mature emotion that even most adults have yet to master.  However, teaching a child empathy can have lasting effects on her as she grows up.  Empathy is a valuable tool to possess and can help a child cooperate with others in school and in life.  It can help her grow to be a compassionate and kind person.

Show empathy to your child and others.  This is always the first step you should take when teaching your child anything.  She cannot learn empathy unless someone first works to understand her point of view.  Showing your child empathy means that you consider her emotions and opinions when making any decisions about her.  It means that you talk to her like you would like her to talk to you, not just when you are happy with her, but also when you are upset.  It means that you attempt to understand why she is acting the way she is acting before you react with a punishment.  This does not mean that you do not discipline your child, but that you do so with great love and respect.

Ask your child to tell you what emotions she sees in others.  One of the best ways to help your child understand and practice empathy is to frequently ask her how she thinks someone else feels.  “Do you see that girl crying over there?  How do you think she feels?  Why do you think she might feel that way?”  When your child is young, she may have a hard time expressing the emotions she sees with words, and will have even more trouble coming up with a reason why.  You can help her find the words little by little to label these emotions.  After a while, she will get very good at defining the emotions she sees in others.

Ask your child if she wants to help when she sees someone hurting.  After she begins to get good at defining the emotion, you can ask her, when appropriate, if she would like to try to find a way to help the other child or person.  This can be tricky for a few reasons.  Not every person having difficulty wants help, and parents might worry about putting their child in a dangerous situation.  Use your best parenting judgment, but remember that as adults we sometimes have to step out of our comfort zone to help others if we want our children to be the kind of empathetic person that would do the same.

Don’t require your child to apologize when she commits an offense.  It can be very tempting and socially acceptable to tell your child she needs to apologize to someone she has hurt or offended.  Parents generally think this is one way to teach empathy.  The truth is that it has the opposite effect on teaching empathy.  Making a child say “sorry” to another child, when she in fact is not sorry, is actually a lie!  When you demand that your child says “sorry” it only teaches her that she can do anything she wants if she follows it up with an apology.  It does not teach why she should say sorry or help her understand the other person’s emotions

Work with your child to reconnect relationships after someone has been hurt. Instead of requiring your child to apologize after an offense, try helping your child understand why the other child might be hurt.  This is another great time to ask your child what emotion she sees in the other child.  “Why do you think Jessica is crying?  Oh, because you hit her.  Yes, people don’t like to be hit.  I would feel sad too if someone hit me.  Would you?  What are some ways you think Jessica might feel better?  Yes, she might feel better if you talked with her…”  If your child comes up with the idea to say “sorry” then that is great, but remember that “sorry” is just a word.  If you truly want to teach empathy, you need to help her go beyond just the words to the actions.  Repairing a relationship is more about making right what was wronged.  If a child hits another child, sometimes a hug can help.  If a child knocks down something someone else was building, it can help for your child to help fix it.  The point is that there is more to apologizing than saying “sorry.”

If she is unwilling to apologize, make the apology for her. Empathy is not fully developed until age eight or older, so a child under that age may not have the emotional ability to be “sorry,” therefore she might be unwilling to help heal the relationship.  If your child is able to come up with a way to make the relationship better, but is unwilling to take action and do so, you can take that action for her.  Make the apology, build the block or fix the broken toy for your child.  This will model compassion and empathy for her and she might be more willing to join in because you’re doing it.  She will see that it is not that hard to make a wronged relationship better.

Learning empathy is a life long journey, but with a good solid foundation in childhood your child will grow to see situations from other people’s points of view.

What Are the Consequences For Not Giving Your Nanny a W-2 Form?

When you hire a domestic worker, which includes private childcare providers, you’re required by law to provide them with a W-2 form each year showing that Social Security, Medicare and the proper income taxes have been withheld. IRS estimates regarding federal income tax law compliance among nannies and their employers is very low, with the majority of employers and nannies working under an “off the books” arrangement. Because the compliance rate is so notoriously low, some employers feel that the risk of being discovered is also relatively low and opt for the perceived savings that come with skipping compliance altogether. If you’re considering an under the table arrangement that will leave your nanny with no W-2 at the beginning of the year, there are some dire consequences you’ll want to take into consideration first.

Tax Fraud Charges

The worst case scenario nanny employers could face if their non-compliance is discovered involves criminal charges, though it’s not necessarily the norm. In most cases, payment of the back taxes, penalties for non-compliance and interest is enough to hold off the prospect of jail time. The government does have the right, however, to pursue those charges. Even if the chances of imprisonment are relatively slim, it’s wise to ask yourself if even the faintest chance of a jail sentence is worth saving a comparatively small amount of money.

Lack of Workers’ Compensation Coverage

In order to obtain a workers’ compensation policy to protect you from financial liability should your nanny be injured on the job, you’ll have to be registered with the IRS as an employer. Many employers are under the misconception that their homeowners’ insurance policy will cover any injury that occurs on their property, but this is almost never the case when it comes to domestic employees. The financial implications of a single lawsuit for an uninsured accident can be devastating, and can alert the authorities to your lack of legal tax compliance.

Potential Professional Risks

More than one promising, high-profile political career has been derailed by the discovery of illegal hiring practices and failure to pay the proper taxes for a nanny. Whether you have aspirations of running for political office or furthering a civilian career, your reputation could be immediately and irrevocably ruined by allegations of illegal hiring practices

Social Security and Unemployment Benefits

Nannies will inevitably find themselves without work at some point in their careers. Their charges grow up, families’ financial circumstances change and they even become incapable of working full time as they get older. A career of working under the table leaves your nanny with no Social Security benefits to draw from or unemployment benefits to utilize when she reaches the appropriate age. Some will still choose to file for unemployment benefits after the loss of a post, especially if there’s bad blood between her and the employers she’s left behind. In those situations, you’ll inevitably be found out.

You Can Be Held Liable at Any Time

Even years after the fact, you can be held liable for tax evasion for failing to pay nanny employment taxes. Because the statute of limitations never runs out for tax evasion, you’re never truly out of the woods. The prospect of serious criminal charges and exorbitantly steep financial penalties will never fade away, so you may find that you’re never able to relax for worry that your illegal activity will be discovered.

A 1099 Won’t Cut It

It’s not uncommon for nanny employers to feel that they’re circumventing complex nanny tax laws by deeming their domestic employee an independent contractor, and choosing to issue a 1099 instead of a W-2. The Internal Revenue Service has declared that domestic workers are almost always considered employees, not independent contractors. You could still face penalties for choosing to issue a 1099, even if you’re trying to be nominally compliant.

Your Nanny Could File Anyway

Some nannies readily accept an under the table arrangement, but those that are serious about pursuing a legitimate career in private childcare may refuse. Your nanny could still file her taxes with a Form 4825 that allows her to file without a W-2 form. The process is extremely complicated, but still possible, and could create a world of legal and financial trouble for her employers. Choosing not to provide a W-2 after withholding the appropriate taxes doesn’t mean that your nanny won’t file, only that you’ll be left holding the proverbial bag should she choose to do so.

What Parents Need to Know to Raise a Polite Child

By Marcia Hall

You are at a restaurant seated with your child and you witness the most polite and well behaved child on the planet at the next table.  He sits still, waits until his mom is finished talking and asks for what he wants by saying “may I please have ….”  You wonder how this child, who looks about the same age as yours, is not fidgeting in his chair, screaming and demanding he gets his mac and cheese NOW.  What has that parent done right and why do you feel like you have done it all wrong?

Give yourself a break.  If you love your child, want what is best for him, work hard to see that he is well cared for and strive to spend time with him, you are a fantastic parent.  Just breathe and realize that there will be ups and downs, but that the end result is what you are working for, not this moment in time when your child is going nuts.  This will pass and you will survive it.

Try not to compare your child’s behaviors to others children. That other child is most likely not always as calm and polite as he appears now.  It is very possible that just 10 minutes earlier he was screaming just as loud as yours.  Children develop the ability to control behaviors at their own pace.  One child might have no problem sitting still in his chair, but be unable to wait his turn, while another child might be fully willing to share and take turns without issue, but seems to be unable to sit still.  Comparing your child with other children is never a good idea.

Don’t let your frustration with bad manners come from other people’s judgment. You might find yourself frustrated with your child most often when he does not use the words “please” and “thank you” in public.  This frustration usually stems from your sense that other people are watching and judging you.   Perhaps you then utter the phrase “what do you say” or “you know better than that” in order to show others around you that you ARE teaching manners to your child.  You are probably less concerned about courtesy in your own home when no one is around.  It is when you get in the spotlight of the public eye that those concerns over P’s and Q’s surface.  So, work to ignore those seemly prying eyes and realize that your child is doing the best he can at that moment.  Don’t feel like a bad parent because your child is having a rough time.  Love him and move on.

Model good manners for him.  The number one way that a child learns manners is though the example others set for him.  Children are little mirrors.  When you find your child exhibiting a behavior that frustrates you, more frequently than not it is a behavior you have exhibited first.  This is not always the case, because children can pick things up from other adults or children in their lives or even from TV, but it is commonly the case.  So take a good look at the way you talk to your child.  Do you ALWAYS use polite manners when talking with him?  Do you ALWAYS say please, thank you and your welcome and use polite tones when asking for things?  Or do you only say it every now and then in public?  If you use these phrases only spastically, your child is getting mixed signals about their use.  He will see your inconsistency and use as a sign that these words only need to be used when he REALLY wants something.

DON’T demand that he use the words “Please” and “Thank you.”  Demanding the use of these words does not help your child understand what they mean, why he should use them or even help him want to use them more.  It only creates a power struggle between you and your child.  As stated before, the tactic to demand their use by questioning “what do you say” is most frequently used in public to demonstrate to others you are teaching good manners.  Even when the requirement of their use is performed in private moments, it is with the hopes that the child will use them in public.  The truth is that it is not necessary for your child to say these particular words every time he asks for something.  The more important value is to make requests in a manner that is respectful.   Focusing on the tone of voice is usually more significant.  To help remind a child of polite words and manners, parents can talk to the child of generosity when someone gives him something.  “That was so thoughtful of Grandma to give you that bear.”  This will help the child really understand what it means to be thankful for something.  When the child wants something and asks with a less than polite way, telling him “I like to be asked with kind words” will help him understand how to ask with courtesy.

Praise him when he does use polite manners.  As with any habit you are trying to help your child build, catching the positive moments is the most effective teaching tool.  Find the moments when he does what you are hoping he would and then praise him for those actions.  “I really liked the way you asked your dad for that blanket.”  Even simply saying “you are very welcome” when he says thank you can help reinforce the concept.

There is not a right or wrong way to teach a child to be polite.  It is a lifelong process that will have its ups and downs.  Being polite often has more to do with the child’s mood than anything else, and will become more consistent with time.

3 Things You Can Do to Transform Your Teen From Rude to Polite

Teaching a young child to say please and thank you is one thing, but struggling to get your teenager to be polite to you is quite another. The truth is that most teens are more polite to other people than they are to their own parents.  This is due to a number of things, including the fact that you are the person he feels most comfortable with and as a result is more easily frustrated with.  It is also due to the fact that teens are going through a transformation phase and are experimenting with their independence.  Politeness is one area where they tend to test the waters.  However, there are ways to help your teen be more polite while going through this life change.

  1. Avoid demanding your child to use polite words – it only causes a power struggle that did not exist before you made the demand.  Saying to a teenager “I am not giving you this until you say please” only creates a struggle for control.  It does nothing to teach the child why he should use polite words.  When a child becomes a teen, the more important thing to teach is tone of voice.  Instead of demanding he talk courteously, tell him why you don’t like the tone of voice he used.  “I don’t care for the way you asked me to do that.  It seems to me like you don’t respect me when you talk to me like that.”
  2. ALWAYS speak politely to your teen – this is a very difficult endeavor to be sure, but until every word that comes out of your mouth is said with care, composure and calmly, you cannot expect your teenager, who has hormones that are going crazy, is trying to be independent and yet is scared all at the same time, to be the only one in the room speaking with civility.  If you have a history of speaking with unkind words or tone to your child, now is a great time to turn over a new leaf.  If you do decide to change the way you speak, it is a good idea to communicate this change with any child, especially teenagers.  Your words can help bridge some of the disconnection he feels toward you because of the words you have used in the past.  Let him know that you are aware you will not do this perfectly.   Bad habits are very hard to break.  Ask him for his help in your conversion.  Together find a word or phrase that he can use when he feels that you are not speaking to him with courtesy.  You then need to agree to ALWAYS take a step back when he uses it. You should also work out the same agreement with him.  Maybe it is the same word and maybe it is a different one.  But know that if you break your promise to take a step back when he uses that word, he is going to too.
  3. Don’t embarrass him in front of others, especially his peers.  The social world of a teenager is a very difficult place to be.  The pressure he feels from friends is not a small concern to a teenager.  Parents who make light of the pressure their child feels to fit in, be liked or at least not be noticed run the risk of pushing their child away.  There is a very good chance that your teenager will refuse to act polite when around his friends and other children.  It is never a good idea to deal with the conflict at the time of the offense.  It can be very difficult to refrain from correcting your teen around his peers; however, you have to remember that there is a good chance there are other people watching too.  The eyes of judgment can be overwhelming and make you want to set the record straight and demand that your child treat you with respect.  The best thing you can do is to take a step back and talk to your child about it after he is away from anyone else.  He will no longer have the pressure of other people to show off for and you will be able to be calmer about the situation.

Parenting teens can often be a thankless job because the child rarely wants to show his love the way he used to when he was little.  However, watching him begin to grow into a healthy and happy person can be rewarding, especially if the expectation for him to be perfect is not there.  Understanding that at this time in your child’s life he is testing his own abilities, desires and his decision whether or not to show respect is really important to the growing up process.