When it comes to hiring a babysitter, parents of special needs children have concerns that other parents may not have. Often times their children require special care, they may need more one on one attention, and they may respond to others in ways that are hard to understand.
This is true when caring for a child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Children with ADHD typically have a hard time paying attention, they are impulsive, and often have a hard time sitting still. Many babysitters may find caring for a child with ADHD to be exhausting. They may not understand what makes the child “tick” or how to control the child. Children with ADHD deserve a babysitter who will love them, care for them, and understand that they are more than an ADHD label; they are a child who often feels defeated and discouraged.
Parents when looking for a babysitter for your child with ADHD there are a few things to keep in mind. You will want a babysitter who is patient, and loving. One who has had training or experience in working with special needs children would be ideal. When interviewing a potential babysitter for your ADHD child, talk about whether or not they are familiar with behavior management. A child with ADHD may not respond to typical discipline measures, and they need to understand this and be willing to implement the same behavior management techniques as you in order to maintain consistency.
Talk to your babysitter about the importance of the routine in your home to your ADHD child. Explain to them that many times a child with ADHD needs to know what is coming next, and what to expect. They need a calm environment and do not do well with multiple activities at once.
When you first hire a babysitter, I would recommend you allow the sitter to come to your home while you are there first. Maybe go in another room, fold laundry, clean, read or complete another item on your to do list. This allows your child and the babysitter to get acquainted with each other before you are gone. It also allows you to be on site in case a problem arises. During this time be out of sight, but available if needed.
If your child requires medication make sure your babysitter has had practice giving them the proper dosage. Let them watch you give the medication before and ideally administer it themselves under your supervision before allowing them to administer it on their own.
Children with ADHD are typically very active. They like to be on the move, and often times do not do well with “down” time. Plan for this by knowing what you are going to do ahead of time while caring for a child with ADHD.
Children with ADHD are often times very creative. They may enjoy drawing or building with blocks. If possible, take them outdoors for a game of hopscotch, jumping rope, or swinging.
When caring for a child with ADHD you must be specific with directions. Repeat instructions again if they are not understood the first time. If a problem persists, ask the child to repeat what you said back to you. This will ensure that you and he knows that he heard and understood your directions.
Be prepared for difficulties. Children with ADHD may have a hard time switching activities. This means that the child may have a hard time coming in for nap right after playing outside. Have quiet activities planned for transition periods.
Give the child “down time” before bed. A child with ADHD may have a hard time calming down before going to sleep. So, plan for this by turning down the lights 30 minutes before bed, following the child’s normal bedtime routine, or reading a book.
Children with ADHD are used to being labeled “difficult”, “active”, “hyper”, and while some of these terms may be true, there are also many positive labels that can be associated with a child with ADHD. They are creative, exuberant, happy, sensitive, and full of life. Caring for a child with ADHD may be difficult sometimes, but it can also be a rewarding experience.