ADHD, ODD... MB Needs Help

opinion 2 I have two kids a girl 8, and a boy 4. We live across the street from a community college so I have been using college students as after school babysitters. In the past year I have had three babysitters. The first one quit when my son hit her. The second one quit with no notice - she said it was because of a family emergency. But based on the communication I had with her after, I suspect it may have had something to do with my children's behavior. The third one already had a full time summer job - so I knew she was going to quit. However I emailed her about coming back in the fall a couple of times and got no response.

My daughter was recently diagnosed with ADHD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. I don't think she is that bad, she doesn't have any behavior problems at school. She is a sweet girl and is normally happy, but she does get hyper when she's excited, she talks alot and she has a temper. She doesn't always listen the first time. She does get angry and slam doors. She does hit her brother. I clearly define the rules of our house for my kids and the babysitters - I tell the babysitters how to discipline them. Basically time outs - time to cool down. I also use a rewards system for good behavior. I tell the kids clearly that the babysitter is in charge when I"m not there. The babysitters I have hired had experience with kids with this age group and with siblings. So now I'm looking for a new babysitter for fall. What do I tell her about ADHD and ODD? Would anyone willingly take this job if I disclose the information? Would I need to hire someone who has experience with Special Needs. Is this something a college student can handle? How can I better support the babysitter? I would love to hear some of your opinions.


Student Nanny said...

I'm a college student and I don't think I'd automatically rule out this job (though I have had some experience with special needs kids). That being said, there are a few things you can do to make the job a little more enticing:

1. Full disclosure, tell the sitter about your daughter's diagnosis, and that it can lead to some occasional behavioral issues. I personally always appreciate it when parents are honest about their kids' behavior, rather than saying "Oh Johnny's just a perfect little angel, hardly any trouble at all!" Being honest lets the sitter know you are willing to work together on the child's behavior plan. Also, this allows the sitter to add work with special needs children to her resume, which could be a bonus for her. Just make sure not to over emphasize their difficulties too much so as to scare her away. Just briefly discuss it.

2. Higher pay. It doesn't have to be much higher, since there are children with much more severe disabilities out there, but just a little bit to acknowledge that this may be a more difficult job than others.

3. Agree to a set trial period. This again goes towards acknowledging that it might be too difficult a job, and gives both parties an opportunity to back out if it's too much.

Nanny Lexy said...

I would definitely disclose everything to your next babysitter. I would try to find someone studying child development a this would be hands on experience for them. I also agree with student nanny about paying them more. Even just an extra dollar or two. Good luck!

Amy said...

You need to make sure that the person you hire is aware of the ADHD and ODD. I have a background in special education. Most of that experience is in behavior classrooms, so all the behaviors are common everyday behaviors to me. For others that may be a different story. They may not have the skills or even want to put up with any kind of these behaviors.

I am looking for a live in position. If you would be interested in that, let me know.

Lola said...

Money. Lots of money can do wonders in nearly any situation! ers in nearly any situation!

nycmom said...

I agree that being very upfront about the issues is key here. I have one very difficult child - no clinical diagnosis, just a demanding, challenging child since infancy. This is my oldest, my 11yo daughter, who I think most nannies would assume would be the most independent and the least work of my 3 kids. Not so!

During interviews (and out of earshot of my kids), I am very, very direct about my daughter's behavioral issues. I outline examples of her misbehavior/rudeness/laziness and explain that, as parents, we are well aware of this and understand how hard she is to babysit. We emphasize that we will always backup the nanny over discipline and work very hard to enforce consequences.

I have also seen over the years a wide range of approaches to dealing with my daughter from different caregivers. I can usually tell very quickly who is able to be firm, consistent, but also bond with her vs. someone who simply ends up in a battle of wills. So there is definitely a huge amount of interpersonal skill involved on the nanny's part also.

♥♥ Leslie ♥♥ said...

I agree that full disclosure is the best way to go...also I like the "trial period" idea as well.
I most definitely think you should offer more pay since this job entails more challenges than the average nanny position.

I personally think a typical Jr. College student would not have the patience or experience to deal with this type of situation unless she is studying special needs, etc. A young 20 something may not have the patience that an older adult may have. Why not try using or sittercity to seek a babysitter? These websites actually allow you to find someone who has experience regarding special needs.

Good Luck. You sound like a great parent to me and an even better boss since you are looking out for the interests of your nannies which is very refreshing. ☺

Phoenix said...

is your kid on medication? If not she should be. How can you say she is a good sweet girl when she kicks, hits, slams doors, and doesn't always listen.

You seem to be in denial about how bad your daughter is or how bad she can be when you are not around. And she isn't special needs. I think that you are making excuses for her behavior.

Ava said...

This is definitely not a job for a college student, it's for a trained professional who knows how to deal with children with behavioral problems such as ADHD and ODD. Even just outlining the kind of discipline the nanny/sitter should enforce is not enough if the nanny/sitter isn't professional trained. And trying to train them yourself through a child psychologist as Anonymous said doesn't seem to be the best route. Research someone who specializes in childhood behavioral disorders. That's who you need. Not a typical babysitter. I also agree is full disclosure and a trial period. You don't want someone to sign on and then feel stuck and take it out on your child. Good luck to you!

Kat said...

I agree with Phoenix, you're making excuses for her and it's probably one of the reasons your sitters have quit so much. You have to be honest, and pay more.

BipolarNanny said...

OK honey, I'm gonna level with you here. Phoenix is absolutely right and that's saying a lot because I don't often agree with her. You're making up excuses for your daughter (and I suspect your son--maybe) and that's understandable, you love them. But think about it, your nannies won't have on the rose-tinted glasses you do.

Your daughter sounds a lot like I did when I was a kid. I wasn't diagnosed until I was in my 20s and let me tell you, childhood was hell. My poor mother, she said "I knew something was wrong with you!" But shrinks didn't know much back then. Your daughter has a chemical imbalance and needs to be on medication, if you are not putting her through a full treatment program, including getting her a nanny with expertise in special needs, you are doing your children a huge disservice.

You said your daughter doesn't get in trouble at school, and that's awesome. Neither did I. I was a great kid at school and turned into hell on wheels the minute it turned 3:00. You absolutely must reexamine how you are looking at this situation because whether you like to admit it or not, you have a mentally ill child and she will be one of us for the rest of her life. (and your son might be on that path because you mentioned he's started showing violent tendencies too)

Bostonnanny said...

Having a pt college babysitter might be cheaper but if they don't have any previous experience with special needs children especially those with violent behavior then your child is not benefiting and your putting your babysitter at risk. You don't need a lawsuit from a babysitter who got hurt on the job by your child. Please disclose all details and find a sitter with experience, better yet try to find an afterschool program that is for children with similar behavioral issues. My brother has Aperagers (non violent) but benefits from program that is run by special Ed teachers. Hey you might even be able to find a special Ed teacher looking to make extra cash after school.

OP said...

Ok thanks for the feedback. She was just diagnosed about two weeks ago, and we were pretty shocked to hear about the ODD. She is happy most of the time. The misbehaviour happens when she is angry. Phoenix - I'm not making any excuses for her behaviour. The psychologist suggested behavioral therapy first before medication. Bipolar Nanny - The psychologist said she is holding it together all day in school and it's hard for her so when she gets home... I also slammed doors when I was angry when I was younger, but I'm not mentally ill. I know plenty of other kids who fight with their siblings and are not mentally ill. Anyway, thanks to all for sharing your opinions. I will definitely be up front about the behaviour when speaking to potential babysitters.

BipolarNanny said...

I looked up some info about ODD because I'm not real familiar with it and it doesn't seem to be one they do medicate often. So that's good at least. But behavioral and social therapy is essential. And for now I still stand by my assertion of getting someone who is skilled with special needs. But you said that you know kids who slam doors or fight with their siblings and they are normal. That's another excuse because your daughter IS mentally ill and she's doing these things--the point is moot. All children need to learn that sort of beahvior is inappropriate, some just have a harder time than others. I'll admit it, I throw temper tantrums and slam doors occasionally still--my husband says I act like a 30 year old toddler, but I can't help myself. Every day is a new day and every day people with mental illness have to try to act "normal". Your daughter will come to learn this through behavioral therapy.

Sorry if it seems like I'm lecturing--I just don't want anyone to have to go through what my parents did--and I actually am high functioning with a very mild case.

Tales from the (Nanny)Hood said...

OP, I feel for you, trying to deal with a brand new diagnosis - it has to be tough for your whole family.

I do hope you will look for a nanny with experience with kids who have special needs (and specifically with ODD/ADHD experience), since that sort of nanny will not only be able to work more easily with your kids but also might be able to better implement any behavioral therapy measures that are put into place by the people treating your daughter.

If your child had Type I diabetes, you'd want a nanny who could administer insulin properly and supervise food intake to keep her healthy. This is the same thing.

Best of luck in your search, and don't settle for a warm body - you can find a GOOD person to support your family while she cares for your kids!

christine said...

As Phoenix knows, I posted on another thread about my 20 year old son who often acts out like a toddler having a temper tantrum. It is a terrible way to live, always waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak. You just never know what will set him off. We never had a babysitter as his older sisters were always in charge and my oldest daughter ran a pretty tight ship.

Please don't sugar coat her behavior. It will do no good in the long run... I've been at this for about eight years. He was diagnaosed with ADD... big deal! He isn't special needs- he is a person who has trouble directing his anger appropriately and is abusive and sometimes, just mean and destructive.

Since I am unable to force him to seek therapy, I am dealing with him day by day, until I will be forced to put him out of the house eventually.

UmassSlytherin said...

As a parent of a special needs child with Autism, I can tell you that you absolutely need to give full disclosure to all prospective candidates. Anything less is counter-productive.

I would search for someone with Special Needs experience, or someone who is an ABA therapist.

Of course you think your child is wonderful and I am CERTAIN that she is. :) But special needs children need different care. A "regular" babysitter just won't do. They need to be up for that challenge from the get-go. Just as it takes a special person to be a parent of a special needs child, it also takes a special care provider.

And finally, you will have to pay more. You just have to. To find the right candidate, you need to discuss your child's needs, behaviors, and the proper way in which to deal with them.

Use your child's therapists, doctors, and teachers as resources. Make sure that you in fact are dealing with her behaviors correctly.

Good luck, and don't give up hope.

UmassSlytherin said...

P.S. Do NOT even give a second thought to the people saying that your child is not special needs. They don't know your child and they don't know you. Your little girl is NOT bad.

Gosh, some of these armchair therapists and psychologists are real assholes. You sound like a good mom, OP, and a very concerned parent. You will find the right fit. Hang in there.

NVMommovedtoTX said...

UMass is right,OP! You're on a tough journey and you don't need weak-brained advice from people who say you're kid just needs a little more discipline, etc.,etc. ad NAUSEUM!

I have a dd with autism and I so sick of the ignorance out there. People who think they can discount the diagnosis out of hand are also the quickest to call for medication.If you have a medical professional you trust, that's good enough.
As far as your question, yes, you need to fully disclose and work with your babysitter or nanny to balance discipline with understanding what works with your child.

Nanny S said...

Oh. My. God. Where to begin. I must give a slight disclaimer saying that I am the one that posted about working for a family with a daughter JUST like yours so after that experience, no amount of money would lure me back into a similar situation. Your son has physically abused his babysitter? Sounds like your house is similar to the hell I used to work in. I don't feel sorry for you at all. They're your kids and in your post you're not taking responsibility for them, you're making excuses. As someone with ADHD, get your daughter medication. I don't personally get angry when I am not on medication, but I am prone to agitation and Adderall works WONDERS for that. Take your daughter to see specialists. I can't believe you aren't proactively looking into helping her behavior but rather posting about how she's a "nice girl". I am sure that she is not.

But to answer your questions, YES, higher pay. And YES full disclosure. Don't keep tricking college girls to come and sit on your menace of children, how can you even consider being deceitful to them? SECONDLY, hire a professional. Hire someone who knows what they're getting into. And in order to make that work: Here is the deal, lady. The discipline has to come from YOU. YOU. YOU. YOU. Don't put that off on your unsuspecting community college babysitter. Your kids need to know if they mess up with the babysitter- anything that is verbally abusive, violent or defiant, then they are going to GET IT when you come home. You cannot rely on the college girl to discipline your kids. As a nanny, the households that function best are the ones where all I have to do is tell the (older) kids, "Okay, you don't have to do what I say, but I will have to tell your mom/dad when they get home and I know you won't like what happens after that." Just hearing those words strikes fear in some kids' hearts. Others, they just laugh. YOU need to have control of your daughter. Do whatever it takes. She's YOUR responsibility. Get her medication, professional help, spanks on her ass, whatever. Your post sounds as if you're looking for some complete stranger to come in, magically enjoy the company of your children and change their behavior and everything will be a breeze. THAT IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. YOU. are the one who has to do the dirty work with your children. If you can't control them, no one else will be able to.

Secondly, you say she doesn't have problems at school? If she's like the girl I nannied- stick her in some after school program that often the teachers run. She will behave there. Something like the Boys and Girls Club or LatchKey.

Good luck to both you, and your children, and especially the person you hire. My god.

Nanny S said...

Also want to add: Here is exactly how I envision any possibility of this working- at the beginning of each day, you tell your children, "Today so-and-so is getting you from school. She will help you guys do x, y, and z and then take you to the park. If I hear ANY reports of bad behavior- rolling eyes, name calling of her or your siblings, etc, you will be in BIG trouble when I get home."

Then tell the babysitter her job is only to say, "now, it's time to go to soccer practice." if the kids don't get in the car, then whatever. Or to remind them, "Your chores are to unload the dishwasher and fold your clothes." Then if they don't do it, whatever.

Basically, don't put her in a position of needing to be oppositional to them. If they don't do those things, the problem is between YOU and YOUR CHILDREN, don't look to the nanny/babysitter.

Secondly, I think your daughter really would benefit from some therapy. I think it's likely she knows her behavior is bad and she wants to change it but doesn't really know how.

Bostonnanny said...

Nanny S, I don't think you read the response from OP...her daughter was just diagnosed a few weeks ago. Second although I agree that parents need to back a nanny up discipline wise, the nanny should be able to handle any situation and use proper discipline techniques. Threathing punishment only when parents get home, shows no control and gains no respect. You end up lowering yourself to their level.

nanny2 said...

OP, this is only based on my experience, so take it (of course) for what it's worth. I have found that some kids (like those with ADHD or just those more challenging kids) have a harder time adapting to different discipline styles. It's even more important (than with a "typical" child) to be on the same page with your babysitter regarding discipline. It sounds like your daughter might need a structured behavior plan that you could then train your sitters in, letting them know exactly which behaviors are acceptable and what consequences can be used (Tip: Physical aggression towards the sitter should not be tolerated at all). I'm sure you are planning to get your daughter into therapy, and hopefully the therapist can help you develop a behavior plan.

Of course you want a babysitter to see the positives in your daughter. But don't minimize her struggles, either (you are doing everyone, including her, a disservice by doing so). Give a balanced view of your daughter so the sitter will know what to expect. Look for a sitter (could still be a college student) who has experience with ADHD, because they will be more sensitive to the fact that your daughter has a disorder and isn't just being "bad." I'd say you want someone who can remain calm and is not too reactive (someone who won't get into a battle of wills), but someone comfortable with setting and maintaining limits.

oh well said...

Based on my experience, I do not think that a typical college student will be able to cope with kids of the ages you mention, even if there are great college babysitters out there!
I would look for someone with a bit more experience, you might ask around at your daughter's school or maybe
look for a daycare teacher.
Good luck

Vida Starr said...

I highly recommend you find babysitters that have experience with ADHD and ODD. I know that may be hard to find. I used to work with children who were diagnosed with ADHD and ODD and so I have tons of experience working with them and it is very difficult to work with children like this if you don't know what to expect. ALso keep in mind that children are different with their parents than they are with everyone else.