A – Always have tissues and baby wipes to hand (regardless of how old the children are). You never know when these will come in useful.
B – Books. A valuable tool that entertains, distracts and educates. Especially useful during long car journeys or when waiting around (and , in my opinion, so much better for their development than iphones/ipads).
C – Counting. For pre-school and reception aged children, counting is a really important skill to learn and one that’s easy to teach at home.
D – Daily routine. This is so important, especially during the week in the mad rush to get everyone to school and work. If the children know what is expected of them, and at what time, it makes life so much easier. You can also make this into a fun game with rewards for who can be ready first etc.
E – Encouragement. Sometimes younger children can get frustrated when struggling to do something independently for the first time. Resist the urge to jump in and do it for them – use lots of encouraging language and smiles to help them give it their best go!
F – Food. Lots of colourful fruits and vegetables make perfect after school snacks. Even better/more appealing when cut into fun shapes and sizes!
G- Gold stars. These are fantastic rewards for children when they have done a really great job – whether they are listening well, or tidying their room – the more excited you are about them the better!
H – Harmony. Try getting to know or at least get a feel for the family values and way of doing things. That way, your personality and approach will be in tune with theirs and hopefully create a harmonious household!
I –Initiative. Being a Nanny is a fairly solitary role so using your initiative and being confident when making decisions is important.
J – Jokes. Comedy isn’t really my strength but the sillier you are with your jokes; the more the kids love them!
K – Kindness.
L – Love of working with people as well as children. The relationship you have with the parents is just as important as the one you have with the children.
M – Modelling. Children are like sponges – they soak up everything around them. Be careful with the language you are using and the way you speak to others. Be a polite and positive role model.
N – Never be afraid to ask questions. Some of the most valuable things I have learned about children have been from asking experienced teachers, Nannies and my amazing Mum (who is my inspiration!)
O – Opportunity. Nannying is a great platform for many careers – I’ve tutored children with special needs, worked in schools and abroad as a Nanny. The opportunities are as endless as your dedication and passion!
P – Praise. I believe praise is sometimes forgotten by people working with children. Sometimes we are too quick to scold bad behaviour without praising good behaviour which can create an unhealthy cycle. Praise the brilliant things you see children do – whether they are being helpful, sitting nicely at the table or trying really hard with their homework.
Q – Questions. Children sometimes ask difficult questions! My approach is to be as truthful as possible (it will damage trust between you if they find out at a later date you have lied) but with language and concepts that are age appropriate.
R – Reading. Some children are self conscious about reading out loud – particularly if you are a new presence in their life. Never force children to read – it will take the joy out of what is supposed to be an incredibly fun activity. If they are reluctant, offer to take it turns with pages/sentences and you can start to show them how it’s done.
S – Smile. Children pick up a lot on body language – smiling, looking relaxed and open are sure fire ways to make them feel happy and relaxed around you.
T – Talk. Encouraging children from a young age to talk about their day at school, what they like and don’t like (particularly in full sentences!) is a great way to get them used to expressing their thoughts, feelings and opinions. A useful skill in this ever competitive world!
U – Understanding. Sometimes if a child is acting out in a particularly disruptive way, it can be appropriate to sit down with them quietly and attempt to grasp what is driving the negative behaviour. This is a case of using your intuition and gut feeling –sometimes all they just need someone to sit down with them for five minutes (I found this approach particularly useful in school when working with ‘difficult’ pupils).
V – Value your work. It is a privilege to work with children – always be proud and motivated by what you do.
W – Work hard. No-one said this was going to be easy! Always go the extra mile – be proactive and you will reap the rewards.
X – I’ll get back to you on this one..!
Y – Yelling. Try to avoid this at all costs – as tempting as it is at times! If you feel like you are about to lose your temper, I suggest counting backwards from five, taking some deep breaths and removing yourself from the situation just for a few minutes. You will feel refreshed, in control and ready to resolve the problem.
Z – ZZZZZZ… Try to get the children comfortable sleeping in their own beds/rooms from a young age. Their room should be a place that they feel safe, secure and happy in. That way, hopefully everyone can get the best night’s sleep possible! I am aware that there are exceptions to this rule but it is something I try to work towards with families, and believe that it is in everyone’s best interests.