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’s issues create challenging or confusing behaviors.
The first step to finding the right match is to discuss your child’s issues from the very start. The babysitter may never have heard of sensory processing issues, nonverbal learning disabilities, or auditory processing disorder. Or she may not fully understand ADHD.
Be sure to give specific examples of what the babysitter might see and need to respond to. You might say things like:
- He has a hard time winding down at night. It sometimes takes him an hour or more to fall asleep.
- He has trouble following directions, especially if there are a number of steps involved. You may need to repeat them a few times.
- He can get upset if there are changes to his routine, so it’s important to follow the schedule he’s used to.
At the same time, explain that you have strategies for handling these situations that you can share. Ask if the babysitter feels comfortable with this. If she feels like it’s too much to handle, you can both avoid a difficult situation.
But even if the babysitter says your child’s challenges aren’t a problem, 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. You can download and print this list of questions to have the list handy when you meet up.
- What kind of experience do you have working with kids with learning and attention issues?
- 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 can be upsetting to 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 becomes upset. If I talk you through these strategies, 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 her and your child. Fill out a parent-child behavior contract and give a copy to the babysitter. It can help her understand what your child is working on and what’s expected of him. You can also share tips for managing tantrums and meltdowns.
Picture schedules and visual planners can help your child anticipate and keep track of daily routines and responsibilities. Sharing them with the babysitter puts everyone on the same page. Download our samples to create a picture schedule for your child.