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Know the Signs of a Bad Babysitter

sadface.jpgMy child goes to daycare, and as any parent who’s had to hand over their child to the care of another can attest, it is a leap of faith to leave someone alone with our child. Even parents who always have Grandma/Pa handy, or a sister, best friend to turn to need to pay attention on whether their child is getting quality care.

I was lucky, my daycare facility has an on-site camera through which I can monitor my child. This gave me peace of mind in those earlier days before I began to trust that the ladies taking care of my child had her best interest. But short of putting a nannycam on each room for your home, what other signs should you watch out for especially if your child cannot speak yet?

Here are some signs that you need to look for childcare elsewhere, even if you don’t have proof:

1. Your child isn’t happy to see your baby-sitter. If your child can’t speak, watch her body language. Does she cling to you in anxiety, does she look fearful or shrink away from the caregiver? A little stranger-anxiety is different than if your child consistently is fearful or anxious of the babysitter. A good babysitter should be able to establish rapport with your child after a visit or two. Listen to your intuition.

2. Your sitter can only provide one reference and it’s a relative. Your sitter should be able to give you multiple references, and preferably from parents whose kids are around the same age group as yours. They shouldn’t have to resort to their aunt or mother vouching that they took good care of their cousins unless the sitter is 12 or 13 years old and this is their first serious sitting gig…and you know the aunt or mother well.

3. You ask the sitter what activities they did all day; then you ask your child and they’re different. Your sitter and child were planted in front of the TV all the time they were together. A good sitter should be able to engage your child in other games, story-time, imaginative play, backyard time, etc.

4. Your child seems to keep having accidents while she’s in the sitter’s care. Even if the child readily tells you it was an accident, and you don’t suspect abuse, it may mean the sitter isn’t keeping an eye on her charge as closely as she should. Kids are rambunctious, and its understandable to get a scrape or a bruise once in a while, but if you find out the scrape or bruise was because they were on a chair trying to get to the goodies cabinet while the sitter wasn’t looking, again, then the sitter is preoccupied with something else, and it’s not your child.

5. The sitter ignores basic rules you’ve set. Bedtimes, TV or Computer limit times are not followed. Sugar after 7 pm rule is broken and your kids are jumping all over the place. Your soda count and intuition indicates that your child was given more than a can of soda when they’re only allowed one per day. It’s your rules and you place them for a reason. If a sitter is breaking or ignoring them, why put up with it?

6. This one would bother me a lot: your children are unkempt and/or dirty when you come home. Sometimes after rough-housing or play outside your child will be dirty. But if they go to bed like that, or if it has been hours since they played outside and they’ve still got streaks of mud on their elbows, or hours since they’ve eaten and there are bits of food around their chin, that is not acceptable.

7. They’re undependable. They’re late, they cancel last-minute. You can’t put entrust your child to someone who is proves time and again that they don’t value your time, or the work they do for you.

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