Helping a Terrified Child Cope with being Left with a Babysitter
The first time a child is left with a babysitter can often be a traumatic experience. For some children, it will be the first time that they can remember being without mom and dad. This can be extremely terrifying. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to help prepare your child to cope.
Sometimes, the solution is to simply talk it out with your child. Discuss what exactly she is afraid of; if she is afraid that, while you are out, the bogeyman will get her, help her understand that there is no bogeyman. By giving you details of her exact fear, she often will realize by herself that it isn’t necessarily rational or real.
If your child is particularly apprehensive, you can do a trial run. Hire your babysitter to come and watch your child while you are home. Stay nearby but out of immediate sight, such as in a den, bedroom, or office. Explain to your child that you will be in the house, but that she should go to the babysitter for anything that she needs for the next hour or so. This also gives you an opportunity to observe your babysitter’s skills.
It is also important to be confident with your child about the babysitter. If you are nervous and apprehensive about leaving them with a babysitter, they will also be nervous and apprehensive. Much as animals can “smell” fear, your child will also know if you are afraid to leave her alone. Display your trust in the babysitter, so that your children can trust her too.
You should also try to be upbeat with your child about the babysitter. If you are sad and act as though you will never see your little one again, she will pick up on it. On the other hand, if you are casual about it or sneak off while she’s involved in an activity, this can create other problems. Instead, smile and hug your child; explain to her that you will be out for a while, but that when you get home you will come into their room while they are sleeping and give them a goodnight kiss. Make it a cheerful and quick goodbye.
Try to make time with the babysitter a fun time. Talk with the child and the babysitter ahead of time about some of the fun things that they can do together, such as playing games. The excitement about having play time with the babysitter can lessen your little one’s anxiety about not having you around for a short time.