Finding a babysitter who gets your child and can keep things running smoothly is no small task. It can be even harder when your child struggles with behavior.
The first step to finding the right match is to be clear about your child’s challenges from the very start. Give specific examples of what the babysitter might see and need to respond to. You can say things like:
- “He has a hard time winding down at night. It sometimes takes him an hour or more to fall asleep.”
- “She has trouble following directions, especially if there are a number of steps involved. You may need to repeat them a few times.”
- “He gets upset if there are changes to his routine. So it’s important to follow the schedule he’s used to.”
At the same time, share your strategies for handling these situations. Ask if the babysitter feels comfortable with this. If it’s too much to handle, you can both avoid an awkward situation.
If the babysitter is comfortable, though, there are questions you can ask to get a better sense of the fit.
Some of these questions might not be relevant to your child. But you can tweak them to make sure you get the answers you need from a potential babysitter.
- What kind of experience do you have working with kids who learn and think differently?
- My child needs to be active. Are you willing to take my child on long walks? What outdoor games do you like to play when you babysit?
- Too much activity and noise upsets my child. What quiet activities do you like to do with kids?
- What do you do when a child you’re babysitting throws a tantrum?
- There are certain strategies I use when my child gets upset. If I talk you through these, can I count on you to use them?
- How do you handle it when a child you’re babysitting doesn’t listen to you?
- Homework can be a challenge for my child. Can you describe any experience you have helping kids with homework?
- Can you give me an example of a time when a child you were babysitting really tried your patience? What do you do to stay calm when kids act up?
- Can you be firm when necessary and enforce the rules? Can you give me some examples of how you’ve done this in the past?
- My child is on medication. Do you have any experience helping kids take medicine?
Once you’ve found a babysitter, you can help pave the way for a good experience for both the babysitter and your child. You can fill out a parent-child behavior contract and give a copy to the babysitter. You can also share tips for managing tantrums and meltdowns.
Tell us what interests you
About the author
About the author
The Understood Team is made up of passionate writers and editors. Many of them have kids who learn and think differently.
Molly Algermissen, PhD is an associate professor of medical psychology at Columbia University Medical Center and clinical director of PROMISE.