How can you help your child stop hitting himself?

April 28, 2017 / Modern Family Blog / 0 Comments /

My 4 year old son doesn’t just hit me, he also will hit himself. He’s been acting out a lot lately and I’m not sure what to do about it. I have tried to hold his hands and tell him it’s not nice to hit mommy and I have tried time outs. I am just wondering if anyone has any advice??

A: A child who hits himself is showing you that he’s angry he can’t find enough people to blame–he blames himself, too. It is good that you are sensitive to your child’s equilibrium, and I would encourage you to look beyond the surface behavior to try to identify what may be causing your son to be so upset lately. Are there changes in his life–in caregivers, in his routine, in the family? Can you identify sources of tension or stress for your son? Is he getting enough rest? Does he feel rushed and pushed? Looking at the big picture might reveal for you some element in your son’s situation which you can address so that he is not under so much pressure.

During the episodes when your son is hitting you and himself, I would do what you can to soothe him and to end the episode as quickly and calmly as possible. A child who has fallen apart in this way may need time and attention to pull himself back together. Sometimes the parents quiet, sympathetic presence is best. You might say you’d like him to sit on your lap, if he will not hit you or himself meanwhile. Trying to wrestle with a child who has lost control, or attempting to add “time-out” or explanations–these approaches probably are not too constructive.

These episodes are not unusual. The parent’s goal is to live through them and get on with the next thing as calmly as possible.



  1. Take the child by the hand and say, “It is not okay to hit people. I’m sorry you are feeling hurt and upset. You can talk about it or you can hit this pillow, but people aren’t for hitting.”
  2. Help the child deal with the anger.
  3. Ask, “Would it help you to go to your time-out spot now?” Time out is not helpful unless the child has helped create a positive time out spot in advance. Also, time out is not helpful if the child does not see the benefit and chooses it. If you “make” your child go to time out, your child is likely to see it as punishment and may rebel.
  4. After the child has calmed down, ask what and how questions. “What is upsetting you? How are you feeling?” See if you can get to the bottom of what is really bothering your child and then help the child discover what other things he or she could do besides hitting to deal with the problem. (Children under four years of age do not understand abstract reasoning. This is one reason why lectures are not effective at this age. There are other reasons why lectures are ineffective at any age.)
  5. With children under four, try giving them a hug before removing them from the situation. This models a loving method while showing them that hitting is not okay. Hugging does not reinforce the misbehavior.
  6. Even though toddlers don’t fully comprehend language, you can still use words (while removing them) such as, “Hitting hurts people. Let’s find something else you can enjoy doing.”
  7. When babies hit you, put them down and leave the room immediately for a minute or two without saying a word. At this age, they will understand actions better than words.
  8. When your preschooler hits you, decide what you will do instead of trying to control your child. Let her know that every time she hits you, you will leave the room until she is ready to treat you respectfully. After you have told her this once, follow through without any words. Leave immediately.
  9. Later you might tell your child, “That really hurts” or “That hurts my feelings. When you are ready, an apology would help me feel better.” Do not demand or force an apology. The main purpose of this suggestion is to give a model of sharing what you feel and asking for what you would like. People don’t always give us what we would like, but we show respect for ourselves by sharing our feelings and wishes in non-demanding ways.


Planning Ahead to Prevent Future Problems

  1. Teach children that feelings are different from actions. Feelings are never bad. They are just feelings. What we feel is always okay. What we do is not always okay.
  2. Help children brainstorm ways to deal with feelings that are respectful to themselves and others. One possibility is to tell people what you don’t like. Another possibility is to leave the scene if you are being treated disrespectfully.
  3. Get your child involved in creating a Positive Time Out area. Teach her that sometimes we need time to calm down until we feel better before doing anything. Let her know that she can use the time-out area any time she thinks it will help her feel better.
  4. Find ways to encourage your children with unconditional love and by teaching skills that help them feel capable and confident.
  5. Show that hitting is unacceptable by never hitting your child. If you make a mistake and hit your child, use the Three R‘s of Recovery to apologize so your child knows hitting is not acceptable for you either.
  6. Take time for training with your toddler. Help her practice touching family members or animals softly. This does not eliminate the need for supervision until she is old enough to understand.
  7. Look around and see if there are ways you are hurting your child without realizing it. Are you sending your child to his or her room frequently, scolding and criticizing regularly, singling out the child when a problem occurs? If so your child may be feeling really hurt and upset and the hitting is a way to strike back at the world. Be more encouraging and positive and stop the hurtful behaviors and see if you don’t notice a change in the hitting behavior.


Life Skills Children Can Learn

Children can learn that it is not okay to hurt others. Their feelings are not bad and they are not bad, but they need to find actions that are respectful to themselves and to others.


Parenting Pointers

  1. Be aware of the discouraged belief behind the misbehavior. A child who hits usually is operating from the mistaken goal of revenge with the belief, “I don’t feel like I belong and am important and that hurts, so I want to hurt back.” Children will feel encouraged when we respect their feelings and help them act appropriately.
  2. Toddlers are short on both language and social skills, and when they play together they can easily become frustrated. When they lack the ability to express what’s wrong in words, hitting and other types of aggression sometimes result. It is developmentally normal for toddlers to hit. It is the parent’s job to supervise and handle toddlers kindly and firmly until they are ready to learn more effective ways to communicate.

For more informations please contact us at
Love Jana

How much screen time?

We live in a fast-changing world and screen gadgets are a huge and ever increasing part of it. Just take a moment to think how many different screen gadgets are part of our daily routines. Phones, watches, iPads, televisions, monitors, games, the list goes on. Research tells us that screen time should be discouraged before the age of two and only a maximum of 30 minutes a day allowed for 3-5 year olds. Not long, when you add up a few minutes television while getting ready in the morning, letting them watch something on your phone in the car, Face Timing Grammy to tell her about their day and sharing a few photos or videos on the iPad with them. Psychologists are becoming increasingly concerned about children over-using screen gadgets.

As parents, we need to question how much time we use our screens ourselves. Think about the number of times you ‘just check’ your phone. The average is 9 times per hour and 110 times in a day, with peak use between 5pm and 8pm. We don’t like to be more than 2 metres away from our phones, physically.


So what’s wrong with using screen gadgets?


A child needs a variety of experiences while they are growing and developing and nothing can replace the physical one-to-one time of interaction with your child. Talking and finding out about their day, mimicking their first sounds when they are learning to talk, or reading a story.

The brain’s frontal lobe decodes and comprehends social interactions, it helps us empathize, take in non-verbal clues, read facial expression, tone of voice and it helps us to understand relationships and their part in the world around us. During the brain’s ‘critical period’ of development (thought to be birth to age 3) ,psychologists are concerned that children overusing screen gadgets become used to the instant gratification it gives the brain. The child’s developing brain readily accepts the feelings of instant pleasure (dopamine). A pattern is learned by the brain and mimicked, the child develops a habit.

Excessive screen time has been linked to childhood obesity. Recent research tells us that children who have limited screen time, consume fewer calories and are more mobile than children who do not have limited time.


unnamed (1)So what can we do?

Recommendations are:

  • have screen-free time
  • encourage your child to turn the gadget off and play
  • have screen rules: how long they can use them for and when is the latest they can use them
  • preview the games and apps
  • supervise your child
  • discuss what they are watching
  • eliminate background television noise
  • use parental controls
  • develop relaxing bedtime routines: calming bath and then a bedtime story
  • make bedrooms screen free zones
  • have family screen time, watch television together and have no other screens on. Remember the old saying. Everything in moderation :)! Love Jana


Jana’s Guide to Finding a Nanny

January 27, 2017 / Modern Family Blog / 0 Comments /

Your nanny is arguably the most important member of your tribe. Parenting expert and Entrepreneur Jana Dias tells us how to get it right—the first time

From Jana: Finding a nanny is a big deal! Whether you want to say it out loud or not, this lady (or gentleman) will be helping to raise your child or children, and, unlike family, you get to choose them yourself! The idea of picking the best person for the job makes the thought a little sweeter but the fact they are not family can also make it more complicated. You are, after all, wanting them to care for your children as if they were family. It’s a lot to ask for and you have to find all of this in a person that you can afford to pay without making going to work a total wash!


Before you embark upon the search, it’s important to get a few things straight:

1. Don’t feel guilty

You are going to work for good reasons—whether it’s to help support your family, because it makes you happy or a combination of the two, it’s something to be proud of. The nanny will never replace you, but you have to accept they will play a very important role when you are at work and they are a part of your family care team. Your children should grow to really bond with them; this is not something to be upset about, rather it likely means you’ve done it right.

2. You need to respect the nanny, their choices and who they are

If even one tiny bit of you looks down upon your nanny, or does not see them as an equal, then it makes absolutely no sense that you would choose this person to help raise your children and to keep them safe. Be tough with yourself when you address this issue.

3. Determine in advance the qualities in a nanny that are important to you

You need someone with like-minded principles and beliefs. If they differ, you need to ensure they can at least respect and uphold yours. The reality is this person is going to be influential in your children’s lives, and hopefully, a role model.

4. Find a starting point

Do you want to find your nanny through an agency, word of mouth or an online service? Evaluate the pros and cons of each—they will largely rest upon the cost, guarantees, level of qualification and uniqueness of your requirements. There’s no one perfect place to find a nanny.

5. Figure out how much you’re going to pay

Rates are very different from one region to the next so make sure what you’re offering is in line with what others are paying for the same number of children and hours as you need. When it comes to childcare, nothing is standard. Rates vary dramatically even between parts of the same city. Ask your friends about their situation. Are you going to pay a salary, hourly, hourly with overtime? Will you build in babysitting for monthly date nights? Don’t forget to consider the tax implications. Go through every scenario. Money is hard to talk about. As the employer, you need to bring these things up and ensure you’re both crystal clear on the set up.


The interview process

Just like dating, meeting this person for a quick coffee before bath time is not going to do the trick. You are basically marrying this person into your family so you need to invest the time to ensure it’s the right fit.

This is my recommended interview process:

1. Phone first!

Start with a phone interview to weed out the crazies or those who are completely unqualified.

2. Meet outside the home sans kids

Conduct a 45-minute interview one-on-one without distractions at a local coffee shop or restaurant. Ask about their previous experience; get them to talk about the children at their last job. You can tell a lot about how much the nanny bonded with the children, and truly cared for them, by how she talks about them. Ask about what they see themselves doing long-term. This will give you a sense for whether they’re in it for the long-haul, or simply looking for a job for the next 1-2 years.

3. Articulate your expectations clearly from the start

Much of the contention I hear and see with nannies and their employers is around “expected” duties: “I don’t clean,” “I don’t cook,” and so on. Don’t get into a situation where you’re scared to ask your nanny to do something for you. It’s important you are a team and just as you will do things for them, they will do things for the team. This could mean running to the grocery store, cooking and light cleaning. There is much more that goes into looking after children and giving them a good home than organizing play dates, being there for pick-up and sticking to a schedule. Anyone who starts with “what I don’t do,” is not staying on my list. These conversations must all happen before they meet your children.

4. Do a background check and call references for your short list

An agency will do a background check for you. There are also websites you can use, if the nanny is comfortable giving you her social security number. A third option is to use a forensic accountant or private detective, which can seem a bit extreme, but is an added layer of information. This person will be able to tell you about the nanny’s family, who their brothers and sisters are and what kind of world you’ll be exposing your children to by proxy.

5. Go out to lunch or dinner with this person and your partner

This can be awkward, but it’s important. You will learn things socially that you wouldn’t be able to get in an interview setting. Do they have children? If not, why not? What are their religious and political beliefs? This person will play an important role in your children’s lives and like it or not, they’ll pass on their feelings about topics they’re passionate about, to your kids. You don’t have to be the same person, but your values should align. A shared meal will also help you determine whether you and your partner are comfortable in their company. Are there more commonalities or less?

6. Get your children’s input

If you are lucky, you may be down to one or two candidates at this point and it’s time to introduce them to the kids! Have them over to play while you’re in the background and, if you feel comfortable, let them be alone with your kids for a little while. Talk to your children afterwards and give them the option to tell you if something doesn’t feel right. Let them know they can speak up, and you’ll happily keep looking for someone else.

7. Arrange for a trial period

Pick a candidate and have a test run. If everyone is happy in 2-4 weeks, make a long-term arrangement.


Stressful, but true:

1. Sometimes it takes trial and error

You may not find the right nanny the first time, so be flexible and willing to make a change if it’s not a good fit, until you find the perfect person. This is why a trial period is so important.

2. Honest communication is the key to success

Being honest with your nanny can be tough but you MUST! If you are a bad communicator, use the love for your children as motivation to speak up and ensure you’ve been properly understood. The only way this relationship will work is with an open dialogue.

3. They’re not you, get over it

They won’t do everything the way you would do it, all the time. Sometimes they’ll do it better and other times not. But overall, this has to be more than a job to them; it has to be a passion.

Once You find Your Nanny, Don’t Forget:

1. Be appreciative

Taking care of children is not easy, so give your nanny the props he or she deserves.

2. Be in constant communication

Make sure you are available or in touch with your nanny daily via text (don’t be obsessive!). Fully communicate what you would like to be done—and what you would not like to be done, so you remain an active part of your children’s day even when you are at work.

3. Certifications matter

Qualifications like CPR and First Aid training are important, but if the best candidate doesn’t have it, it’s easier to get it done after the fact than dismiss an ideal person who doesn’t have the right certificates. Other factors to consider depend upon your needs. Will your nanny be helping an older child with homework? If so, is a college degree important to you? What about language skills?

You are going to trust your precious little ones with this person—their safety, their well being. Experience and references have to count, you can’t make this decision on first impressions.
Hope you enjoyed it :)!

Introducing Moulinet Family Blog

November 24, 2016 / Modern Family Blog / 0 Comments /
Jana Dias

Introducing Moulinet Family Blog

Before I kick off a formal blog, I wanted to take some time to introduce myself and set the intention for why I created this blog in the first place.

My name is Jana Dias, and I’m the Founder of Moulinet Childcare and Director of the Magic Ground Early Learning Center.

Originally from Brazil and now a US citizen, I’ve dedicated my life to working with children and families all around the world. What I’ve noticed from my time spent in this vocation is that the roles of family and parenting are, unsurprisingly, evolving as the world becomes a hyper-connected place.
In our present day, we are seeing families who:

  • have two working parents with unconventional working hours and flex schedules
  • have parents from diverse and multi-cultural backgrounds
  • have two mom’s or two dad’s
  • have fathers who are stepping into the role as primary caregiver  as they support their wife who is working to build a high-powered career
  • are acknowledging their children’s unique learning patterns and styles and are dedicated to building emotional intelligence alongside cognitive skills

From these observations, I realized that just like families have evolved, so too does the role of childcare in supporting those families.

Traditionally childcare has been viewed as a necessary expense to career-building.

We envision childcare to be the platform where communities of parents can connect and learn from each other. It is the breeding ground for developing our children, and embracing and encouraging their unique traits while instilling active and healthy habits and social skills.

Our Child Learning Center is the beginning of my vision, and The Modern Family Blog is a vehicle that can expand that vision beyond the local communities our center serves to reach parents who are seeking support and advice for developing engaged families and happy children.

From this blog, you can expect things like: parenting tips, methods to connect with other parents, career advice and support for working parents, ideas to develop healthy behaviors in your children, and much, much more.

Of course, this blog is as much yours as it is ours. Please send me an email at to with specific questions you need help with, or to guest blog.

The Modern Family Blog is dedicated to celebrating and sharing stories of the modern family. Thank you for reading and we hope you enjoy!