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Archive for February, 2013

10 Ways to Avoid Fighting with Your Teen

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

When you’re raising a teenager, your house can feel like a warzone that’s scattered with potential land mines masquerading as casual questions. Every interaction can feel like it has the potential to blow up in your respective faces, leaving parents wondering what the safest course of action is in terms of avoiding an argument. During the tumultuous teenage years, these are 10 of the most reliable ways to avoid fighting with your child.

  1. Establish Rational Boundaries – During adolescence, your teen is revisiting the same mindset of early toddlerhood that leaves her looking for ways to test boundaries as a means of asserting her independence from you. Making sure that she knows some boundaries cannot be challenged lays a foundation for calm, rational interaction. Just be sure before you make those rules that you understand your teen’s need for a reasonable amount of independence, and avoid overly harsh authoritarian rules that leave no room for such expression.
  2. Shift Your Perspective – As an adult parent of a teenager, it can be difficult to remember your own battles during the tender years leading up to adulthood. Before flying off of the proverbial handle, try to remember how you felt as a teen, so that you can see things from your own teenager’s perspective.
  3. Refuse to Escalate the Situation – When you’re standing face to face with a raging, screaming teen that pays no heed to the feelings of anyone around her as she expresses her frustration, it’s easy to fall into the trap of shouting right back at her. By maintaining your composure and refusing to let the situation escalate into a full-on altercation, you’re effectively maintaining control of the confrontation without adding fuel to the fire.
  4. Practice Good Listening Skills – Sometimes a teen feels as if he’s not being truly heard and in response will lash out with anger, when all he really wants is to know that his viewpoints and opinions are being listened to. Taking the time to ask your child how he feels and actually listening to the answer he gives can diffuse many arguments before they start.
  5. Create a “No Judgment” Zone for Tricky Discussions – Teenagers face a variety of difficult choices and situations, and those who feel as if they have nowhere to turn for advice due to a fear of parental judgment or punishment can internalize that stress, leading to nasty arguments borne of frustration. Making sure that your child knows she can safely approach you with difficult questions can eliminate that frustration, making for a more peaceful environment within your home.
  6. Know When to Compromise – As a parent, it’s often difficult to admit when you’re being unreasonable and concede an argument, or at least to make compromises when you’ve reached an impasse. Mastering the art of a sane compromise with your teen, however, is the key to keeping a tense discussion from escalating.
  7. Understand When to Walk Away – When you can’t hold on to your temper, it’s okay to walk away. If you ascribe to a philosophy of walking away to let your temper cool, though, it’s essential that you afford your teenager the same respect. Resist the temptation to follow her in order to continue a diatribe; it’ll only lead to an even nastier confrontation.
  8. Actively Avoid Triggers – There are some subjects that bring out a passionate reaction in everyone, and those triggers differ from one person to the next. Your teenager is no different, and you know the things that will upset her before you discuss them. Avoid the subjects you know will upset your child, especially if there’s no real reason for discussing them.
  9. Refuse to Reward the Silent Treatment – The silent treatment is infuriating for anyone, but it’s important that you not reward that behavior from your teen. Attempting to draw him out with false cheerfulness or prodding him to talk will only blow up in your face, so let him stew without interference for a while.
  10. Avoid Drawing Comparisons – Telling your teenager that you never acted the way he does, or illustrating just how much more tolerant of a parent you are because you don’t punish him the way you would have been punished for behaving in such a manner serves absolutely no productive purpose. Remember that your teen is trying to establish himself as a separate entity from you; drawing comparisons, even when you’re just looking for common ground, can ultimately be counterproductive. 

Making a concerted effort to foster an open, honest relationship with your teen can make it easier to avoid the worst arguments, but the occasional disagreement is pretty much par for the course. Rather than dwelling on an argument after it happens, try to think about how you could have handled it differently so that you can apply that knowledge the next time negotiations become tense.

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How to Monitor Your Teen’s Online Social Life

Monday, February 25th, 2013

The Internet is an invaluable tool for teenagers, allowing them access to information that would have required their parents to spend hours in the library with a card catalog and stack of reference books. For all of the vast stores of information online, there are also more than a few dangers. Sexual predators, bullying and inappropriate and dangerously false information are just a sampling of the trouble teens can find when their online lives aren’t supervised properly.

Make Social Media Work For You

Adding your child on Facebook and following her on Twitter can keep you in the loop, provided that she doesn’t add you to a restricted list. If you know that your child is constantly updating her status or sending out tweets and you can’t see them, it’s a sure sign that you’ve been blocked. Making sure that you talk to your child about why you want to follow her posts can help her understand your reasoning behind these tactics. You’ll probably have the best results with this method if you refrain from posting on her Timeline or tweeting to her, though. Remember: out of sight, out of mind. When your every word is a source of embarrassment to a moody teen, she’ll be painfully aware of your presence and more reticent when it comes to social media. A policy of radio silence is more likely to give you an accurate picture of what she does and says online.

Establish an Open Line of Communication

When your teen knows she can trust you and can come to you with any questions or concerns she has without fear of judgment, she’s more likely to be open and honest with you about her life. Letting her know that you are making an effort to monitor her online life and that you’re doing it out of concern rather than a desire to snoop is your best bet. An open, honest relationship can almost eliminate the need for extensive monitoring.

Consider Monitoring Software Carefully

There are dozens of software products on the market that will record your teen’s keystrokes, track every move she makes online and report the contents of her email inbox back to you. The problem with these products arises when you’re forced to confront her with proof of her misconduct online. In order to discuss the matter, you’ll have to admit that you were secretly spying on her with monitoring software, which could seriously damage the level of trust between you. If you opt to use monitoring software, it may be best to disclose that upfront.

Keep an Eye on Your Browser’s History

Tech-savvy kids will know to clear their browser’s history, but even the stealthiest teens can forget from time to time. Making a habit of checking the browser can give you some clues as to what your kids are looking at online. Just be sure that you’re confronting your teen with something he actually looked at, rather than blaming him for a misstep made by another member of the household.

Use Parental Controls

There are basic parental controls built into most web browsers, which can filter the majority of the objectionable content that comes up in a general engine search. As with browser history, a tech-savvy teen can find ways to circumvent these controls, but they do provide a layer of protection from inadvertent stumbles upon questionable material.

Think About Computer Placement and Access

It’s certainly easier and more convenient to provide your child with a laptop or a computer in his room to complete homework assignments and such, but you’re effectively forfeiting your ability to keep an eye on his activity. By placing the computer your teen uses in a high-traffic area and limiting his access to a specified block of time, you can keep a closer watch on the things he’s doing online.

Work Out a Social Networking Policy That’s Acceptable to Both of You

An overly-authoritarian approach to social networking and Internet use will almost certainly make your teen feel more rebellious than eager to comply, but working together to draft an agreement everyone can live with gives them a modicum of control. At an age when asserting independence is so important, this small gesture can make a big difference in the way that your teen views his Internet use and the rules you’ve made together. Working out the agreement also provides you with a built-in opportunity to discuss the reasons why responsible social networking use is important, the repercussions of posting too much information and why you’re concerned with his activity online in the first place.

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28 Blogs with Ideas to Keep Teens from Going Stir Crazy Over Spring Break

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Spring Break is quickly approaching, but what do you do when you don’t have the time to go anywhere or if you have other commitments that make taking a trip with the family impossible at this time? The last thing you want is to find your hands full with teenagers who are losing their minds from boredom! Worse yet, how do you make sure they stay out of trouble while you are at work?  If these questions are plaguing you, then it may be a good idea to take a look at these 28 blogs that can give you some inspiration for surviving this Spring Break.

Games

Playing games might seem like an activity reserved for younger kids, but what if you have both older and younger kids? There are a wide range of apps available that are perfect for keeping your tweens and teens busy, as well as a variety of board games that teens will love playing.  These seven blog posts are full of answers for curing boredom.

Crafts

If your teen or tween likes to get creative, then encouraging her to start a new project over Spring Break might keep her busy for the whole week.  You may need to buy some supplies, but that will be money well spent if she can stay creative and busy all Spring break.  Find out what types of crafts she likes or show her something that you like.  Teach her to sew and challenge her to make her own quilt.  The project can be put together with things that remind her of years past, and by the time she graduates it will be a memory quilt she can take to college. If she doesn’t think she’s the crafty type, you could always try something different, like getting her started on Zentangles.  These seven blog articles can help you and your teen pick a project to work on over Spring break.

Activities

Finding activities for your teens and tweens to do during Spring Break can be tricky.  Many times area businesses will have activities for teens during their week off of school.  There might be a public service project that your teen could do to earn extra credit for school or free movies available to watch at the library.  Your teenager can probably walk or ride his bike to the local library or YMCA if there are activities there.  This could give your teen a chance to get out of the house for a while and do something with friends in a supervised setting.

Short Outings

If you don’t have to work over Spring Break either, then maybe you could get away on a few local outings that are close to home.  You can become a tourist in your own city or surrounding area.  Many times, you can live in an area for years and never see the sites that make that area famous.  Take this time with your family to explore a little.  Some of these outings can even be done after work or on the weekends.  Take a look at these seven blog entries to find some inspiration for different Spring break outings to take with your teen.

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Learn How to Talk Your Teen’s Language with These 30 Blogs

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

When your affectionate child becomes a strong-willed tween who suddenly morphs into a sullen teenager, it’s easy to feel like a language barrier has sprung up between you and the teenager you’ve raised from infancy. Innocent questions can quickly degenerate into shouting matches and emotional scenes, leaving teens upset and parents befuddled. With these 30 blog entries, you can begin to explore concepts that may facilitate more productive conversation between you and your teen. With a bit of dedication and plenty of practice, you’ll be speaking your teen’s language before you know it.

Showing Respect to Get Respect

One common complaint of parents seeking family counseling or help with a troubled teen is a lack of respect shown by that teenager. What many don’t realize is that in order to receive respect from a teenager, you have to offer it in return. Rather than angrily demanding unquestioning respect from your teen without doing anything to inspire it, look to these five blog entries for some advice on how to give your teen what you’re asking for in return.

Creating a “No-Judgment” Zone

In order to facilitate productive and honest conversation with your teen, you’ll need to make a point of encouraging them to talk without fear of judgment. Letting your teen know that they won’t be subjected to harsh judgments or punishments for sharing their thoughts and opinions or asking for advice is essential. Without the trust that her mistakes won’t be held against her, your teen will almost certainly choose not to come to you for help or guidance. Creating a judgment-free policy when it comes to talking to your teenager isn’t always easy, but these five blog entries are great places to start.

Keeping a Lid on Your Temper

It’s easy to fly into a rage when you feel like your teen is deliberately pushing your buttons, but it’s ultimately pointless to do so. Not only will it serve no productive purpose, but it can also make your teenager more hesitant to talk to you or to approach every conversation with hostility because that’s what she expects to encounter from you. Managing your temper in the face of a teenager’s maelstrom of emotions isn’t a trick you’ll master overnight, but the advice of these five bloggers can help you take the first step in that direction.

Learning to Listen

Part of learning how to speak to your teenager is learning how to listen to him. Just like an adult, your teen is likely to shut down when he feels that he’s not being heard, exchanging his efforts at a constructive conversation for sullenness and insults. Encouraging your teenager to talk to you can be as simple as letting him know that you’re capable of listening to what he has to say. These five blog entries offer pointers for how to practice active listening when your teen is speaking, allowing you to foster a productive dialogue rather than a one-sided shouting match.

Make Suggestions, Not Accusations

Teens who feel like they’re being attacked by their parents or accused of things they haven’t done are far more likely to shut down completely than they are to make an effort to turn the conversation around. At this stage in your child’s life, the burden of maintaining a civil conversation rests largely on your shoulders, as she’s still learning to master the finer aspects of communication. These five blog entries discuss the importance of avoiding inflammatory “you always/you never…” statements, and help you learn to drop the accusatory tone that can lead to so much trouble.

Non-Verbal Communication

There’s more to successful communication than formulating phrases and speaking them aloud. There are so many nuances and layers to how humans communicate, many of which are instinctual. The information in these five blog entries is centered on the concept of non-verbal communication and can help you master the art of speaking without saying a word.

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30 Blogs Parents of Teenage Girls Won’t Want to Miss

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

Any parent with a teenage girl knows that dealing with a girl who is in the throes of adolescence can be an overwhelming task.  By definition, the teenage years will be somewhat chaotic, largely because of the raging hormones your teen is tackling and the urge they have to constantly test their boundaries. It’s important to remember that these kinds of things, while frustrating at times, are supposed to happen. Luckily, vast improvements in technology have allowed the world to become a much smaller place, thus enabling people from all walks of life to connect with one another and share their wisdom and experiences. From social networking to web cams to feeling the pressure to succeed, as well as many other things, teenage girls are understandably overwhelmed.  These 30 blog entries will shed some light on various things that all parents should be aware of so that you can be watchful of signs that your daughter may be involved in dangerous behavior.

Online Behavior

Social networks are a double-edged sword, and can be a useful tool to stay in touch with family and friends all over the world or an outlet that can ruin a person’s life.  There have been multiple heartbreaking stories of embarrassing photos being posted online for the entire world to see and a teenager taking her own life because she didn’t feel she could cope with the humiliation.  These five blog posts will give parents tips on how to stay informed with what’s happening with their girls online.

Drugs and Alcohol

Many teens find themselves at a point where they are interested in experimenting with drugs and alcohol to see what they’re all about. It’s important to explain why drugs and alcohol are particularly dangerous for teenagers to help discourage experimentation.  Remember, kids look to you as their role model.  Make sure that you are setting the example that you want your child to follow.  These five blog articles will share information on drugs and alcohol in teens.

Promiscuity

Raging hormones can sometimes encourage teens to delve into dangerous situations.  Teenage girls need to know your opinion about premarital sex and other sexual behaviors. She may abstain from premarital intercourse, but still experiment sexually in other ways.  To find out what you need to watch for, read these five blog entries.

Anorexia/ Bulimia

Unfortunately, teenage girls are bombarded with images of beautiful women all day long, which can skew their perception of what’s normal and what isn’t.  These images can also make girls more self-conscious than normal, which can have a negative impact on their lives.  As teenagers mature, their bodies are constantly changing. When faced with the images that society feels are beautiful, they may find themselves unhappy with their own bodies.  Watch for signs of an eating disorder in your teenage girl by reading these five blog posts.

Cutting

No one wants to believe that their child would cut themselves on purpose, but cutting is becoming more and more common among teenagers.  This self-destructive behavior can be very dangerous, and can even lead to suicide if not stopped.  Read these five blog articles to find out what can cause cutting and other details.

Stand Out Teen Girls

Before you think that there’s something wrong with all teenage girls, these five blogs will show you articles about some very talented teenagers who have accomplished big things.  Some have made a real difference in the lives of others.

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