Tips for Babysitting a Difficult Child

By Kaitlin Hurtado on July 21, 2021
Everyone needs a little help sometimes, especially parents. As a parent, help may likely come in the form of a babysitter. Whether you are looking for help to cover those hours of overtime you are putting in at work, another set of eyes at home as you take care of other household duties, or you just want help for some extra time to yourself or your personal relationships, babysitters could be the perfect solution for you, in theory. However, babysitters may not be the perfect solution in the eyes of your child. As much as you hope the babysitter you choose is going to be the perfect fit for your family, your child may be giving you and your babysitter a much more difficult time than expected.
Rather than giving up on your hopes for a babysitter, keep reading for tips you and your babysitter can utilize when babysitting a difficult child.

Photo: Pexels

Help them help you
No one knows your own child better than you do. You cannot expect a babysitter, whether they are a family friend or a stranger, to step into your home and understand your child through and through. There’s definitely going to be a learning curve when it comes to working with your child, so why not offer a guiding hand to your babysitter? This doesn’t mean you need to prepare a typed-up manual about your child to hand over to your babysitter, but it means being proactive and providing your babysitter with the information they need to do their job best.
For example, if you know mealtimes are difficult to navigate with your child due to something like picky eating, prepare your babysitter ahead of time. Prepare a meal that your babysitter can feed your child beforehand, or outline exactly what your babysitter could feed your child that won’t aggravate your child during meal times.
If your child is prone to tantrums and meltdowns, provide your babysitter with some tried and true solutions you have used to stop the tantrums in their tracks. Is there a certain space or toy that brings your child a sense of calm? Is there a certain phrase or routine that you go through to calm your child down mid-tantrum? Are there behaviors your babysitter can spot when a tantrum is coming on and prevent it from happening in the first place?
If you know your child’s triggers — emotional or sensory overload, sudden change, environmental factors — let your babysitter be aware of them so they can help your child avoid meltdowns. If facing the triggers is unavoidable for whatever reason, they will at least be able to prepare themselves for an oncoming meltdown and be more ready to help your child through them.
If you are aware of the situations that your babysitter can face difficulty in, be ready to provide them with solutions beforehand so that they are better equipped to help your child and you.
Communicate with your child 
You can hire a babysitter with years of experience under their built and they can still find themselves having difficulty babysitting your child. Instead of shifting all the blame directly on your babysitter and thinking the issue is their inability to do their job, communicate directly with your child.
Determine the cause of the behavior they are displaying when they are being babysat. In some cases, you may find that your child is acting out because they are having difficulty understanding why you aren’t with them, and why someone else is suddenly in charge of them. This is even more common if you are hiring your first babysitter and your child isn’t used to being under the supervision of someone other than you or your close family.
Establish your babysitter’s role 
Depending on how old your child is, their ability to grasp the concept of a babysitter will vary. Some kids may have no issue with a simple explanation that a babysitter will watch over them for a few hours while their parents are out of the house. They will understand that the babysitter is an authority figure and they are to be treated as such while you are away. However, this situation isn’t going to be applicable to all families.
While your child may have difficulty adjusting to the new person in their home, help them adjust by maintaining normalcy with their usual time. Advise your babysitter of your child’s routine, from their mealtimes, playtime activities, and bedtime. By keeping your child on track and having them go through the motions of what they are used to, there’s their routine’s normalcy that combats the uncertainty that may come from being babysat.
At the end of the day, your babysitter isn’t responsible for being the person solely in charge of disciplining your child. As a parent, it’s important for you to step in and be proactive.

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