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Understanding Your Nanny’s Annual Performance Review

Understanding Your Nanny’s Annual Performance Review

When you hire a nanny, you’re not just their employer; you’re also effectively the human resource department for your household. Just as traditional employers do, you should prepare for your nanny’s annual performance review, which should be held at the one-year mark of their employment and every year thereafter.

The purpose of the review is twofold. First, there is the performance evaluation, where you review your nanny’s job skills and talk about whether your expectations were met. Second, there’s a wage review, where you will set the compensation level for the coming year. It may sound like a lot, but we’ll explain everything you need to know to help the review process go smoothly.

The performance review

The performance aspect of the review gives you the chance to evaluate your nanny’s work. Think of it as a conversation where you get to praise your nanny for what is being done well, and inform them of potential areas where you would like to see improvement. As it is a conversation, your nanny should also have an opportunity to voice any concerns and offer suggestions.

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Here are some areas to consider:

  • General Performance Issues: This is where you can talk about your nanny’s general performance and go over topics such as attendance, tardiness, cleanliness, and safety.
  • Initiative: If you expect your nanny to show initiative (this may not be important to some), talk about whether they are being appropriately proactive. This can apply to researching things like play dates, outings, or children’s parties. The main focus should be whether your nanny has met your expectations in the area of initiative, and if not, what can be done to improve.
  • Job Responsibilities: There are two aspects to this subject. First, discuss whether your nanny has met responsibilities during the last year. Then talk about any new responsibilities that will come with your child’s developmental changes in the coming year. This may involve things like potty training, bottle weaning, and anything else you might anticipate.
  • Discipline: Are you and your nanny on the same page regarding discipline style? This is an important topic and one to explore in-depth. Your nanny needs to understand your expectations when it comes to disciplining your child, and be aware of anticipated issues that may arise during the next year. For example, if your child is inclined to throw tantrums, your nanny should know how you would like this behavior to be handled.
  • Communication: This is the time to assess whether your communication system is working. You may prefer to keep an electronic record of things like feeding and nap times, while others may use a written list or a daily conversation. There’s no right or wrong way, provided it facilitates good communication.
  • Life Changes: Family life is always changing. Whether you’re anticipating the arrival of a new baby, planning on moving to a larger house, looking forward to getting a pet, or sending your child off to preschool for part of the day, changes in your life and your routine are a given. Go over expected changes with your nanny so you can both prepare and make plans.
  • Developmental Issues: Your nanny spends a lot of time with your child. Let your nanny know you value observations and opinions, and encourage them to talk to you if they have any concerns about your child’s behavior. Compare notes and have your child evaluated if necessary.

Salary increases: What you need to know

Along with the performance review, the annual review is also the time to set a salary for the coming year. Discussing a raise and any other change in compensation will be part of their contract renewal.

Coming up with the right salary increase may seem overwhelming, but the task is more manageable when broken down into two factors: the merit increase and the cost of living increase.

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Merit increases

The merit increase is based on your evaluation of your nanny’s performance since the last evaluation, or since employment started. The common amount of the merit increase is between 0% and 5% of the nanny’s base salary. Zero is reserved for a nanny who only provides the bare minimum (in which case it may be time to consider whether you want to keep this nanny on), while 5% is reserved for the nanny who regularly surpasses your expectations, performing tasks not included in the job description.

Other considerations as to whether your nanny deserves a larger raise include changed circumstances such as a new child added to the family, or any other situations that require your nanny to regularly go above and beyond the call of duty. This increase should be in addition to the raise mentioned above.

Cost of living increases

Along with the merit increase comes another pay raise: the cost of living increase. This raise, which is typically 2% of the nanny’s annual salary, covers inflation as well as the increase in nannies’ salaries in your area.

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Delivering the evaluation

Now that you know which factors to include in your evaluation, we’ll explain how to do it. If you follow these helpful tips, it will go a long way toward making your performance evaluation a success.

Planning the evaluation

Plan to meet with your nanny privately. Once you’ve established the date and time of the meeting, let your nanny know a few days in advance. Give your nanny a copy of a self-evaluation form and ask for it to be returned completed a day before the meeting. Prior to the meeting, review both your own written evaluation and your nanny’s self-evaluation.

Plan your discussion in advance. Topics should include:

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  • The fundamental duties spelled out on the performance evaluation
  • Performance goals and standards
  • Recognizing strengths and accomplishments
  • Determining how to improve areas needing improvement
  • Finding areas where new skills may be needed, determining a strategy for developing them (education, training, etc.), and discussing how the nanny can accomplish these goals (and how you will help).

During the evaluation

Finally, here’s how to put it all together during the evaluation:

  • When you meet, review the self-evaluation. Talk about areas of agreement and any differences of opinion.
  • Discuss your performance evaluation, starting with the nanny’s strengths.
  • Review areas that need improvement. Ask how performance can be improved and give any suggestions you might have.
  • Show genuine interest in your nanny’s progress.
  • Close the evaluation when all topics have been covered and the nanny has given their feedback.
  • Ask your nanny to sign the evaluation form.

Moving forward

If you follow our suggestions, chances are you’ll have everything in place to create a harmonious work situation for your nanny. In the end, communication is the most important component to creating a good relationship and keeping your household running smoothly.

Featured photo credit: gpointstudio via shutterstock.com

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Kathleen Webb

Co-Founder, HomeWork Solutions

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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

Signs of Depression in Children (And How to Help Them to Overcome It)

Signs of Depression in Children (And How to Help Them to Overcome It)

Children, just like adults, can be depressed. Sometimes seemingly normal children with no major life issues can become depressed. It is the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain that causes clinical depression to occur. There are specific signs that you should recognize in your child if they are depressed. Getting them help and treatment is crucial to their mental wellness.

In this article, we will look into the signs of depression in children and how parents can help them to overcome it.

Signs of depression in children

The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder) is the widely accepted instruction guide that professionals utilize for diagnosing mental disorders. The DSM characterizes a Major Depressive Episode as depressed behaviors that consistently last for two weeks or longer. Therefore, if your child has been “down in the dumps”, feeling hopeless or having sadness for more than two weeks, it should be cause for concern and investigated.

Below are signs of depression according to the DSM manual. The individual must have at least five of these behaviors present for a period of two weeks or longer to be officially diagnosed as having MDD (Major Depressive Disorder). Below is a summary/generalization from the DSM manual:

  • Feelings of deep sadness or depressed mood that last most of the day (for two weeks or more). For children they can present as irritable rather than sad.
  • Diminished interest in activities (again majority of the day or all the time).
  • Significant weight loss (not through dieting), or a decrease in appetite. In children, they fail to make expected weight gains while growing.
  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia).
  • Either a slowing of psychomotor abilities/actions or an apparent agitation of these psychomotor abilities. This means that they either have moments that lack purpose and seem to be done because of agitation and tension or there is a significant slowness/retardation of their speech and physical actions.
  • Fatigue and loss of energy.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt every day.
  • Difficulty thinking, making decisions, or concentrating every day. This may be reflected in their grades.
  • Preoccupation with death and dying or suicidal thoughts.

Please note that if your child is suffering from the loss of a loved one and is processing through the stages of grief, it is normal to have these signs of depression. If they seem to be stuck in the depression stage, then it is time to pursue grief counseling to help them along in the grieving process.

However, if they are not suffering from a bereavement or a medical condition that would cause the above symptoms, then they should be taken to a professional for possible diagnosis and treatment of MDD (Major Depressive Disorder).

How to help your child with depression

Depression is not to be taken lightly. Especially if suicidal thoughts are present. The child’s feelings and emotions are real and must be taken seriously. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), suicide is the number two cause of death for individuals between the ages of 10 and 34.[1]

Professional help is recommended if you believe your child fits the criterion for MDD (Major Depressive Disorder). You can take your child to their paediatrician for an evaluation and referral. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, they may benefit from medication such as anti-depressants.

Most professionals do not dispense medication as the first remedy for depression. Instead therapy is the first line of defense against depression, with medication being paired with therapy if the therapy is not enough or the symptoms are severe enough.

Testing

There are assessment tools that professionals can utilize to help in properly determining whether your child is depressed. The three tools used in assessing depression in children are:

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  • The Children’s Depression Rating Scale (CDRS)
  • Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI)
  • Clinical Global Impression (CGI)

Taking your child to a professional mental health counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist can help ensure proper testing and assessment occurs.

Therapy

There are many types of therapy available today. It is important to find a professional that specializes in childhood depression and the treatment of such.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the leading therapy methods in treating childhood depression. For younger children, play therapy is useful in treating childhood depression as children are often able to better communicate through play than conversation alone.

What parents can do at home to help their depressed child

Besides seeking for professional help, there are a couple of things that parents can do at home to help their depressed child:

1. Talk with your child about their feelings in a compassionate and empathetic manner.

It can feel high pressure to sit face to face and ask your child about their feelings. However, going on a walk, playing a board game or playing alongside your child (chose whichever is age appropriate for your child) can allow them to relax and open up about their feelings.

Ask your child open ended questions that require more than a simple yes or no to engage in more meaningful conversations. Never judge while they are being open and honest with you because it will inevitably cause them to shut down and move away from being open with you.

It is okay to allow for periods of silence during the conversations because sometimes the child is processing their thoughts and emotions during your time together. You don’t have to fill the space and entire time with talking as silence at times is helpful.

2. Provide activities that help them relax and de-stress.

For smaller children, there are simple ways to help them relax.

Provide play opportunities that they find relaxing such as coloring, painting, working with Play-do or clay, or playing with sand and sand toys. Again, find activities that interest your child and are age appropriate are helpful in making them relaxed.

3. Limit screen time.

Technology is not helpful in making your child less depressed. It can often be an escape that keeps them from further opening up about their feelings and emotions.

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Limit time in front of the TV, laptop, smart phone, video games and tablets, etc. Any electronics that seem to prevent your child from face to face interactions should be limited. Ask Dr. Sears cites that researchers have found kids who have higher levels of screen time are at greater risk for anxiety and depression.[2]

Provide alternate activities to replace the screen time such as hiking, crafting, drawing, constructing, biking and playing outside, etc. Some children may be so dependent on their screen time as their source for entertainment that they may need you to participate in alternate activities alongside them in order to get engaged in the activities.

You can’t simply tell your child to go outside to play if they are suffering from depression, lack friends and are used to sitting down and playing video games each day after school. Go outside with your child and do a nature hike or take your child to a playground and have fun together to get them engaged in these alternate activities.

4. Promote outdoor time and physical activities.

Encourage your children to take part in activities that especially involve nature such as nature hikes. Do these activities with them to help them engage in the activities. Again this is an opportunity for open conversations to occur and quality time to take place.

5. Help your child when problems and difficult tasks arise.

Assist them by helping them break down the task into smaller and more manageable parts. Children with depression often have difficulty taking on large problems and tasks and find them overwhelming. Helping them by breaking down the task into smaller and more manageable tasks will assist in helping raise their confidence when the small tasks are mastered.

Small tasks mastered lead to bigger tasks being mastered over time. It is a process over time, patience and a willingness to work alongside your child. This does not mean doing the task or taking on the problem solely yourself. Many times all the child needs is for you to break down the larger task into smaller more manageable tasks and for you to patiently talk your child through the completion of these smaller tasks.

6. Help your child reduce life stress.

When children are depressed, they have greater difficulty handling life activities in general. Cut back on activities that cause stress to increase and look for ways to help reduce stress in your child’s life.

7. Foster a positive home atmosphere.

Reduce or eliminate negative attitudes, language and conversations. Also avoid raised voices, passive aggressive behaviors and any form of physical violence in the home.

Make your home a safe haven for your child instead of an atmosphere that is ever volatile (in words, emotions or physically). Make it a calm environment that makes your child feel safe and secure mentally, emotionally and physically.

8. Help your child see the positive in life situations.

Point out the positives in a situation rather than the negatives. Help them see the bright side of any situation.

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Be a model of seeing the positive in life by speaking words that are uplifting, encouraging and positive. Resist the temptation to voice negative thoughts that come to mind as your child can feed off your emotions and words.

9. Believe your child when they talk about how they are feeling.

Listen to them patiently and take their words seriously. Do not discount or minimize their feelings. Express empathy and compassion when they do open up about their feelings. Help them utilize “I feel” statements in expressing their emotions.

10. Keep watch for suicidal behaviors.

Such behaviors include your child/teen researching this topic online, them giving away their possessions and a preoccupation with death.

Seek professional help immediately with the presentation of suicidal behaviors or thoughts. Keep this number on hand and use it when in doubt: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Phone Number 1-800-273-8255.

11. Keep all prescriptions, alcohol, drugs and weapons locked and away from children and teens.

This is a given for all children, but even more imperative for children who are depressed as they have an increased likelihood to abuse drugs and alcohol. They also have an increased likelihood to attempt suicide. So keep weapons and tools such as ropes and knives that can used for suicide out of the child’s ability to use.

12. Spend quality one-on-one time with your child.

Make the time during your day, every day, to spend quality time with your child. You may have limited time and cannot provide an hour or more a day to dedicate to one-on-one time with your child, but you should provide a minimum of 20 minutes a day with your child spending quality one-on-one time together. Try the suggested activities listed in point #3.

13. Be an encouragement and supporter of your child.

Show love and not frustration or anger because of the situation and your child’s condition. Help keep your attitude positive so your child can also see the positive.

Provide daily words of affirmation that are not based on end results (such as a grade or a win) but instead praise the effort they put forth. If you praise the outcome, they will be disappointed when their efforts don’t pan out. If they are praised for their efforts regardless of the outcome, their confidence is built based upon something that they can control (the effort they put into things).

14. Help your child to live a healthy lifestyle.

Sleep is a very important factor in your child’s mood. Not getting enough sleep can cause an entire day to be upset. According to Sleep Aid Resource, children between the ages of 3 and 18 need between 8 and 12 hours of sleep each night:[3]

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    Ensure your child is eating a healthy and balanced diet, getting physical activity/exercise daily and plenty of sleep time.

    15. Help your child foster positive relationships and friendships with their peers.

    Set up play dates for your younger child and encourage older children to invite friends over to your home.

    16. Talk about bullying.

    It can be one of the causes of your child’s depression, so discuss their life outside of home and their interactions with their peers. Help them recognize bullying and discuss how to handle bullying properly.

    17. Help your child follow the treatment plan outlined by their doctor, counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist.

    Make sure you know the treatment plan that your child’s health care professional has outlined for child. This may include counseling session recommendations, medications and recommendations to follow through with in the home. Completing the plan will help provide optimal results for your child in the long run. A plan doesn’t work unless it is followed.

    18. Recognize that professional treatment takes time to show results.

    Don’t expect results for the first few weeks. It may take a month or longer, so be patient and understanding with your child.

    Depression in children is curable

    Depression in children can happen for a variety of reasons. It is quite treatable.

    Professional help is recommended if your child can possibly be diagnosed with a depressive episode. There are interventions that can be implemented in a professional setting, at home and at school. The key is having a plan of action to help your child.

    Ignoring the problem or hoping the depression will just go away is not a good plan. Treatment is imperative to curing depression in children.

    The first step is talking to your child’s paediatrician to get the ball rolling. He or she will refer you to specialists in your area that can help your child overcome and conquer their depression one day at a time. With you by their side, each step of the way you will get through it together and it is quite possible for your relationship with your child to be strengthened in the process as well. That can be your silver lining or positive outlook on the situation at hand.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] National Institute of Mental Health: Suicide
    [2] Ask Dr. Sears: It’s a Virtual World: Setting Practical Screen Time Limits
    [3] Sleep Aid Resource: Sleep Chart

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