Babysitting is a great job for those who enjoy spending time with children. It’s a job that can be a lot of fun but it can be a bit difficult if the child you are babysitting has a hard time being away from his parents. Separation anxiety is a very common problem in children and it can be frustrating babysitting a young child that can’t stand when his parents leave him. This problem is most commonly seen in children at pre-school age and younger. If you are babysitting a child that is suffering from separation anxiety, it’s important to learn what you can do to make things much easier on yourself and the child you are watching.
Separating anxiety typically occurs because the child fears that their parents will not return to them. Also, the child may not feel comfortable in their home without their parents around as well as not feeling comfortable in a stranger’s home. Try to keep in mind that the child isn’t crying because he misses his parents, it’s not because he doesn’t like you or because you are babysitting. Fortunately, this problem typically goes away within the first half hour after the parents leave, actually it usually won’t last that long.
What the Babysitter Can Do for Separation Anxiety:
Step #1: Soothe the Child-
Hold the child in your arms and rub or pat his back. Try softly making a “shh” noise but be nice and calm about it. Don’t lose your cool as this will make the child cry more. Tell him that his mommy or daddy are going to be back in a little while and that you two are going to have fun together!
Step #2: Distract the Child-
If soothing the child isn’t really working, try distracting him from the thought of his parents not being there. You can do this by getting his favorite toys for him, singing songs and doing something funny. One of the best ways to get a child to stop crying is by doing something that will make him laugh. Pretend to fall or stub your toe and say “ouch!” This is a great way to put a smile on a child’s face. You could also put on his favorite movie or television show, if this is something that his parents are okay with.
Step #3: Don’t Mention Mommy or Daddy-
Only tell the child one time that his parents will be back soon. You don’t want to remind him of his parents once he calms down, this can make him start crying once again. Keep the focus off of his parents as much as you can while his parents are away.
Step #4: Feed Him-
The child may just be hungry, so try feeding him a good snack or his dinner. If he’s hungry, it will make the separation anxiety much worse so try giving him some food that he will enjoy. But don’t overfeed him, food is not a cure for sadness or unhappiness.
Step #5: Nap Time-
Just like hunger, tiredness will make the separation anxiety worse as well. If he is tired, it may be time for him to take a nap. Ask the parents before they leave when and if he is allowed to nap while you are babysitting. You should also ask when the last time he napped was so that you know if he should be tired or not.
If you are babysitting a child with separation anxiety, the most important thing you can do is relax and be calm. Don’t scare the child or make him feel anymore uncomfortable without his parents around. Try to do things with him that will be fun and will make him feel happy even though his parents aren’t in the house. A care giver is supposed to do just that, give care and kindness to the child that is being watched and babysat.Lila Frost on Dec 5, 2012