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Tips for preparing your toddler for a new babysitter in the house

babysitting-molly lewisHiring a new babysitter is challenging to say the least. You have to make sure that the babysitter can work according to the schedule you need, but that you and more importantly, your child, likes and accepts the new sitter. You’ve gone through the list of potential sitters and finally hired one. Now it’s time to convince your toddler that change is a good thing. It may take a few days or weeks, but this won’t be too hard unless you make it more difficult than it needs to be. 

Bring Them Over

Have the new sitter come over and spend a little time in the home. Have coffee and discuss routine. Go through the home with the new sitter and explain where things can be found. Point out the words your toddler uses that may not be correct. For instance, my son called a pillow his ‘daffy’ for at least a year. A new sitter might frustrate a toddler immensely by not understanding the word ‘daffy’ in that context.

Sitter’s Well-Played First Visit

Toddlers are notoriously monstrous about new people. If you’re introducing somebody into the life of your child and you hope your child likes that person, chances are your toddler will become a monster about it. Use this to your advantage during the sitter’s first visit. While having a cup of coffee, ask her not to even try getting cosy with Junior right off the bat. I’m not saying give Junior the cold shoulder, but simply focus attention on the parents and the home itself. Before you know it, the natural curiosity of a toddler, like a cat, gets the better of him and he wants attention from the new person at the kitchen table.

Be Excited

The first time the new sitter is coming over to watch your child, be excited yourself. If you’re excited about it and obviously like the new sitter, your child will too. A good idea is involving your child in welcoming the sitter. Let your toddler open the door and offer her something to eat such as banana bread or a cookie. Inclusion in this process will build your child’s skills in meeting new people as well as lower anxiety in social situations.

Leave Without Drama

Nothing is worse for a child, especially a toddler, than having Mum or Dad leave with drama. Mums and Dads are often guilty of instigating the drama by excessive worry and uncontrolled anxiety on their parts. Honestly, any day-care worker can tell you they see this all the time. The longer Mum or Dad takes getting out the door, the harder it is on the child.

Even if Junior is screaming, kicking, and slinging snot from one end of the room to the other, if Mum will simply kiss him goodbye and get on out the door, Junior will be done screaming within 35 seconds. In fact, if this scene were to be filmed, you would most likely see Junior collect himself and go over to the sitter as if nothing unusual had happened. Now, if the sitter spends the next hour trying too hard to make it all better, it might just be prolonged. Again, this is a case where you proceed with common sense and the nonsense will abate much faster.

First Timer Versus Second Timer

If your toddler is a first timer to the babysitting saga, you may need to practice a time or two prior to leaving on a workday. Ask a grandparent or friend to come over and watch your child for 20 to 30 minutes. Your child will learn two things: one; you’re coming back, and two; his life is still good. Practice with the actual sitter you hired for a 30 minute run as well. It will give them and your child a little time together before the first long day while you’re working.

If your toddler has had a babysitter for several months that he or she loves dearly, and you’ve had to change babysitters for some reason, this transition time can be difficult for your child. Maybe before the regular sitter leaves for good, you can have the new sitter spend a couple of hours with them and get a sense of the routine. No two people are going to do things exactly the same way, but your child may simply need a little time to get used to a new person in his life. Don’t diminish or try to have your child forget the previous sitter. He may be suffering a real sense of loss, but again, if handled with common sense, he will adjust quickly to the new sitter and love them every bit as much.

Overall, the thing to remember is that children do adjust quickly to new things. Their bodies are little but their minds are enormous and learning new things by the day, sometimes by the minute. Given the opportunity, your child will grow and flourish with his babysitter and have one more person in his life to look up to, learn from, and love.

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