Children with bipolar disorder need clear structure and consistent rules. So what are parents to do when seeking the best childcare? Dr. James Waxmonsky, psychiatrist with Penn State Children’s Hospital, offers these tips when on the hunt for a babysitter:
It’s important to have consistent rules that all adults adhere to when supervising your child. This means that bedtime is the same whether it’s mom or the sitter in charge. It’s not wise to assume that everybody parents just like you, so talk with babysitters about specific rules you want enforced.
Explain the behavior
Tell your sitter what to expect by way of problem behaviors. If your child always fights going to bed, warn the sitter about this and explain what has worked and not worked in the past. If your child requests things that are not normally allowed—like staying up late to play video games—the sitter will have been forewarned.
If you expect your sitter to enforce your rules, come up with consequences when your child doesn’t listen. First, decide if you want the sitter to dole out consequences or save them for you. For a child prone to aggressive rages, it may be best for you to always take on that role. Remember, though, children are most likely to follow directions when there’s an immediate risk of consequences. Either way, explain the rules and consequences to your child before the sitter arrives.
If you anticipate your child will have problems listening to an authoritary figure while you’re gone, offer a reward for a good report. Give specific criteria, such as finishing homework. Also, make sure the reward is something you can follow through with when you come home or the next day.
Set workable standards
Be practical. Don’t make grandma help with math homework if that’s what your child hates to do. Instead, let her deal with other subjects and save the math for you.
Be realistic and honest
Try a test run with a babysitter, leaving the house for an hour or less. Provide a number where you can be reached in an emergency. But don’t call repeatedly to check in—that implies you’re not confident in the sitter’s abilities. Ask the sitter to provide honest feedback. Most people want to be nice and are hesitant to report problem behavior.
Considering family members
If family members are available, that’s the obvious first choice. However, most grandparents prefer to be grandparents, not parents. They already put their time in. They want to play with their grandchildren and be the “good guys with gifts.” This style may not be a great fit for regular babysitting, especially for a child who needs clear structure and consistent rules, like most children with bipolar disorder.
Follow your instincts
In the end, the key is to pick somebody whose judgment you trust. No matter how much you plan ahead, something unexpected will come up and the sitter will have to rely on good judgment when dealing with your child. Don’t get offended if your sitter handles a situation differently than you would. The main goal is finding someone who makes you feel confident that your child will be taken care of and safe. Hopefully, that person lives right around the corner.
via bpHope – bp Magazine Community