Sue Scheff: Choosing the right Nanny for your family

How many families have nannies?  Have you considered hiring a nanny?  If so, there is a vast amount of research and investigative work that needs to be done, considering this person will be responsible for your child and their well-being.  

Hiring a stranger to care for your child or children can be difficult and cause apprehension. The anxiety level is understandably raised a notch when parents consider care by a nanny, however it is a growing trend and can be extremely beneficial to both the parents and the children.

An upcoming episode of Ghost Whisperer is portraying a nanny that is a potential threat to a child, however is it the nanny or the ghost that is haunting her?  This could be a lethal combination!  This nanny does have a dark past, but is it really her fault?  How can you find the perfect nanny for your family?

Tips for researching a nanny:

You should always ask for references when considering hiring a nanny, and be outright and ask any questions you feel appropriate, questions to ask could be:

  • How many years experience the nanny has had.
  • What age groups has the nanny worked with previously.
  • Where was the nanny last employed and did they give her a reference.
  • What was the reason for the nanny leaving the position.
  • Is the nanny qualified in first aid.
  • Would they be willing to be flexible in working hours.
  • How would they reprimand your child if it was needed.

Source:  Child Care Finders

In South Florida there is Crunch Care, A South Florida Nanny and Caregiver Referral Agency
where each client receives a custom solution based on their specific needs.

If you are in the Northeast, be sure to review American NannyAmerican Nanny Company has been serving families since 1984 and is considered one of the best in Boston.

Be an educated parent,  you will have safer and healthier children.  Read more.

Check out the Ghost Whisperer Says game! Similar to Simon Says, but haunted!


Sue Scheff: Teens and Lying – Is it ever acceptable?

To be honest or not to be honest.  We all teach our children to be honest, however is there a time when telling a “small” or “white” lie is o-kay?  Read what that experts have to say:

Source: Connect with Kids

Teens and Lying

In our culture, truth is such a premium in the public discourse. I think that emphasizes the importance of finding it and promoting it within ourselves, and in others.”

– Hal Thorsrud, Ph.D, assistant professor of philosophy, Agnes Scott College

As final exams and academic evaluations approach in schools nationwide, consider this finding from a study conducted by the Josephson Institute of Ethics: Cheaters in high school are far more likely as adults to lie to their spouses, customers and employers, and to cheat on expense reports and insurance claims.

How many lies do you tell a week? How about a day? According to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll, ten percent of those surveyed said they had probably told a lie in the past week. 65 percent said sometimes, lying is morally justified.

So, is there such thing as a “good lie“?

A good lie is something that I guess boosts someone’s morale – makes someone feel better,” says 15-year-old Lily Muntzing.

16-year-old Javonna disagrees. “No lie is a good lie,” she says, “but if I was to tell a lie, I would tell, you know, a white lie because another lie – a major lie – would escalate into something bigger.”

What do the experts say?

“Lying is morally wrong,” says Hal Thorsrud, an assistant professor of philosophy at Agnes Scott College. “However,” he laughs, “there are, I believe, cases in which lying is either morally irrelevant – trivial lies you might tell, to save someone’s feelings – or cases in which it is useful to lie for the sake of a good cause.”

He says the classic example of a good cause is the story of the murderer at your door, asking the whereabouts of the person they’re looking to kill. In that scenario, it’s perfectly moral to lie about the location of the intended victim.

“The crucial caveat here though is, if you are thinking about telling a lie for the sake of a good cause [there are] some very important things to consider,” he says. “First, don’t deceive yourself. Be sure that you’re telling a lie and also be aware that the lie is not the good thing – it’s what you’re hoping to achieve by that lie. And be very cautious if that lie happens to coincide with your self- interests.”

That means, he says, that lying to your parents to get out of trouble doesn’t count as a good cause.

16-year-old Laura Lion once lied to her mom about where she was going. “I told her that I was going to go spend the night at my friend’s house,” she says, “but I went to a concert instead, then went to a party. She found out, and grounded me for a month.”

Experts say that, for some teens, lying is a part of the struggle for independence.

“‘You’re not the boss of me’- it’s the war cry of every teenager, probably,” says Thorsrud. “Even though that autonomy and that freedom is very scary, it’s so desirable. And it drives kids to do just about anything to get it.”

Ironically, experts say one of the best ways to teach teens the value of honesty and moral integrity is when the teen makes a mistake – or when they’re caught in a lie.

“Sometimes the best way to learn about integrity is to be out of integrity – and to experience the pain and the shame and the restlessness and the feeling of not feeling good inside,” explains Dr. Tim Jordan, a pediatric developmental behavioral health specialist. “To me, that is the best deterrent.”

Javonna’s learned her lesson that way: “It’s a horrible feeling ’cause you know that you lied, and you know that you told this big old lie that everybody knows that you told.”

Laura says what worked for her was her mom’s disappointment: “It’s more so when my mom says, ‘well, I wish you could have trusted me – and if you’re honest with me I’ll give you more lenience.’”

Tips for Parents
Dishonesty may seem like a minor issue in comparison to other adolescent problems, but it is rooted in an attitude of disrespect – for others, for authority and for one’s values. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, many children begin to lie at around four and five years old. Children of that age like to make up stories and blur the line between fantasy and reality. Older children begin to tell lies in a more self-serving manner, either to get out of trouble or to protect their privacy.

Parents should always look for those teachable moments in which the importance of honesty and truthfulness can be discussed. Use positive reinforcement and praise your child for being honest. Also, model honest behavior. Teach your children to be truthful by showing them honesty. If you have lied to your child in the past, you may have some issues to deal with beyond simply setting consequences. If there is one behavior that turns teens off, it is adult hypocrisy. This is not to say parents must be perfect, but you also cannot say to your child, “I’m adult so I can lie, but you can’t.” Teens simply don’t buy that argument.

If you find that your child is lying, try to determine why they thought lying was the best choice in this situation. If there is a reason why your child felt compelled to lie, you want to know it so you can possibly eliminate any misunderstandings. Did your child lie about failing a test because he or she thought you would be angry? Perhaps he needs additional help. Did your child lie about a party because alcohol would be present, which is unacceptable to your family? You may find your child lied simply because they knew the behavior was wrong and they didn’t want to get caught. This will mean you need to let them know in very clear terms what behaviors are unacceptable and what the consequences will be, not only for repeating that behavior, but for lying about it. These are two separate events that will lead to separate sets of consequences.

■American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
■National Association for the Education of Young Children
■Josephson Institute of Ethics
■By Parents-For Parents

Sue Scheff: Florida Sexual Abuse Survivor Walks the Talk – Congrats to Lauren’s Kids

April is Sexual Abuse Awareness Month and there is one 25 year-old survivor of sexual abuse that has taken her voice to her feet!  Lauren Book-Lim, founder of Lauren’s Kids, started on April 2nd from South Florida (Aventura), began her walk to the state Capitol in Tallahassee.  On April 20th, Lauren completed her long, exhausting and exhilarating walk against sexual abuse.

Lauren is no stranger to this horrific act of violence, she was sexually abused by a nanny for more than six years, beginning when she was 10.  As her father, lobbyist Ron Book referred to her, she is a “thriving survivor.” 

As awareness is finally growing with Oprah featuring several segments about this topic, including speaking to child molesters, (watch video), as well as talking about women who molest children, this disturbing subject is getting the attention it needs to help children to speak out. Talking about it can help prevent it.

Shed the shame, walk the walk is the motto Lauren Book-Lim lives by.  Lauren’s Kids helps prevent child abuse and helps heal survivors.  Sexual abuse thrives on secrecy and shame.

During this month of awareness and all year round, teach your teens and children how to talk to strangers.  You could potentially be saving them from child abusers.  Stranger danger is very real: Street proof your kids today.

Congratulations to Lauren Book-Lim for her amazing journey on behalf of children all over the world

Follow Lauren on Twitter and join her Facebook Fan Page to help support her very important cause.

Read more.

Sue Scheff: Texting and Driving to be banned in Florida – Oprah prepares for National No Phone Zone Day

If Oprah says it, you can almost guaranty people are listening.  On April 30th, 2010 Oprah is declaring it National No Phone Zone Day” and encouraging every driver to sign the pledge not to text and drive or  talk and  drive! Distracted driving kills same as drunk driving does.

That is only part of it.  In Florida, a bill passed the Senate Committee and is on its’ way to the State Capitol.  This bill will ban texting and drivingSenator Nancy Detert presented this legislation stating, “People that are texting are generally drifting into your lane unbeknownst to them and we’ve seen studies that if you’re reading a text at 70 miles an hour, driving tons of machinery, generally you’re not looking at the road for up to seven seconds and that would be plenty of time to cause an accident.”

If passed, Detert’s bill would make texting while driving a secondary offense, which means drivers could only get a ticket if they were pulled over for another violation.

The first offense would be a non-moving violation with a fine of $30 plus court costs. A second violation within five years would be a moving violation and carry a fine of $60. 

Senator Detert said her main goal is to raise awareness about the dangers of texting while driving and discourage drivers, especially teenagers, from forming that habit.

All of this comes as Oprah Winfrey encourages everyone to take the pledge.  It is only a matter of time before texting and driving will be illegal, however until then, you could potentially be saving a life.  Texting and driving is as dangerous as drinking and driving.  Don’t take the risk, it just isn’t worth it.

Be an educated parent, you  will have safer and healthier teens.

Watch video and read more.

Sue Scheff: Let’s Move Campaign – Fighting Childhood Obesity

First Lady Michelle Obama has made it her mission to create awareness on obesity in our country, especially among our children.

Recently she visited Falcon Cove Middle School in Weston, Florida.  Falcon Cove Middle School students Lauren Shatanof, Rachel Shatanof and Taylor Duarte were summoned to the principal’s office Wednesday to speak to First Lady Michelle Obama.

“Can you have junk food everyday? No, you just can’t,” said Obama during a meeting in Washington.

The First Lady spoke to the trio from the White House, where she held a town hall meeting with an audience of other students about her Let’s Move  anti-childhood obesity campaign. “You don’t have the ability to walk. You’re in your parents car or you’re on a bus, and then you get to school, and there’s no physical education programs,” said Obama.

The First Lady said her Let’s Move  initiative is about promoting an active lifestyle and not focusing on appearances. She’s encouraging children to think about the choices they make in their own lives and to take responsibility for their own futures. – WSVN

Helping parents make healthy family choices is part of educating families on healthier eating habits. Obesity threatens the healthy future of one third of all American children. Obesity rates have tripled in the past 30 years.

According to the CDC, children need 60 minutes of active and vigorous play every day to grow up to a healthy weight. Let’s Move to increase opportunities for kids to be physically active, both in and out of school and create new opportunities for families to be moving together.

Be an educated parent, you will have healthier children!  Stay active and eat healthy as a family!

Watch video and learn more

Sue Scheff: Earth Day April 2010

Forty years after the first Earth Day, the world is in greater peril than ever. While climate change is the greatest challenge of our time, it also presents the greatest opportunity – an unprecedented opportunity to build a healthy, prosperous, clean energy economy now and for the future.

Earth Day 2010 can be a turning point to advance climate policy, energy efficiency, renewable energy and green jobs. Earth Day Network is galvanizing millions who make personal commitments to sustainability. Earth Day 2010 is a pivotal opportunity for individuals, corporations and governments to join together and create a global green economy. Join the more than one billion people in 190 countries that are taking action for Earth Day. Source:

VolunteerSpot has created an excellent source of information and ideas to Give and Grow for Earth Day and all year round through their new eBook. Simple online sign up sheets and scheduling tool for all your spring earth-friendly service activities.

About the Give and Grow Together Promotion

As part of this effort to promote earth-friendly service activities, Arbor Day Foundation and VolunteerSpot are teaming up. Plan any local earth-friendly service activity on VolunteerSpot through the end of April, and invite at least four volunteers, and the Arbor Day Foundation will plant a tree in your honor. Sharing the promotion via social media (Facebook or Twitter) or trying a sample sign up on VolunteerSpot will also earn a tree. “The trees we plant will be lasting symbol of service to generations to come,” said Kevin Sander, director of corporate partnerships for the Arbor Day Foundation.

Save time while Saving the Planet

Give and Grow together not only inspires earth-friendly action, but also highlights VolunteerSpot’s free (paperless), web-based online sign up sheets and volunteer coordination tool. Volunteer leaders and teachers who use VolunteerSpot find more people step up to get involved and that they cut their administrative time by 85% and eliminate volunteer drop-out due to poor communication practices like reply-all email and phone tag.

In honor of our Mother Earth, here are some service activities to consider this April and beyond:

  • Participating in a community garden project
  • Picking up trash at your neighborhood park
  • Planting a tree or flowers in your yard or an elderly neighbor’s
  • Teaching children about the importance of recycling
  • Planning a trash-free Earth Day picnic

What is Arbor Day:  The Arbor Day Foundation inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees. This is the mission statement of the Arbor Day Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit conservation and education organization. The impact we make on our world is accomplished through our conservation and education programs.

When is Arbor Day? National Arbor Day is on the last Friday of April and celebrated at the same time by 28 other states. You can find out when your state’s Arbor Day is celebrated by reviewing the following calendar, click here.

Florida’s Arbor Day – Third Friday in January (State Tree: Cabbage Palmetto).  Did you miss it?  You can still celebrate our earth and the learn about how you can help your community continue going green.

Read more and watch video.

Sue Scheff: Teacher Appreciation Gift Ideas (Little to no cost)

During these troubling economic times, buying gifts can be difficult for some families.  Teachers work all year with our children, during hard times and the good times.  They are the ones that are children are with most of the week.  They are the future of our children.

At VolunteerSpot, teachers are loved! That’s why they have complied this eBook filled with the Greatest Gifts for Teachers. Many are low-cost or no-cost and all show your teacher how much you care. Ideas for winter holidays, Valentine’s Day, Teacher Appreciation Week, retiring teachers and more. VolunteerSpot’s free and easy volunteer scheduling software saves time signing up and reminding volunteers for teacher appreciation activities.

Take the time to review this fantastic eBook of gift ideas. 

VolunteerSpot is a fantastic organization that help communities come together and work for the benefit of others. 

VolunteerSpot launched in Spring, 2009 with the mission of enabling ANYONE to quickly mobilize and coordinate volunteers in their community, congregation and social network. VolunteerSpot’s simple sign up application makes it easy for community members to participate and say YES to volunteering. No waiting for approvals and passwords, no software to install, just easy, free scheduling and sign up tools for everyday heroes making a difference.

Visit for more information. 

Teacher Appreciation Week: May 3-7

Greatest Gifts For Teachers & Teacher Appreciation Week