Positive Parenting

Sitter Strategies

Find a caretaker who will click with your child with ADHD or other special needs.

If you know the words to every Disney soundtrack by heart and haven’t been able to get to your favorite restaurant since Christmas, keep reading. My guess is that like many parents of children with special needs, you are afflicted with the “Sorry, I’m busy tonight” syndrome.

Those are the dreaded words parents of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) hear when we flip through our phone books looking for a babysitter who will put herself in our shoes for three hours. Here are some tips for finding a babysitter who will stick around.

Finding a Babysitter

If your child is school-age, talk with the staff at his school. I found paraprofessionals who knew my daughter’s challenges and were happy to help out. I also found babysitters by asking my daughter’s teachers for names of college students who were majoring in special education.

Visit care.com, which lists caregivers who are experienced in caring for special-needs children.

Post a listing in the psychology and education departments at a local college. Note that your child has special challenges.

Before You Leave

Ask your child to choose favorite activities. If your babysitter is creative and comes up with novel activities, that’s even better.

Have the babysitter arrive early, so your child can give her a tour and show her his favorite toys and games.

Tell the babysitter how ADHD affects your child — and make sure that she isn’t distracted from the job by personal phone calls, visitors, or entertainment.

Leave information with the babysitter: where you can be reached; your child’s routine; medications. A caretaker should be able to handle and dispense medication.

When You Return

Talk with the babysitter about what went well and what didn’t. Problem-solve on the spot, so that the babysitter knows there are solutions in place for next time.

Ask your child about the experience. Did he like the babysitter? Did he have fun? Were there concerns you need to know about? Then praise him for his good behavior!