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2 Bumps

Babysitting a 10 year old with downs

I have been babysitting two girls ages 8 and 10 for the past month. The ten year old has Downs (with the intelligence of a 3 year old) and she wont listen to a thing I've said. I have spoken with kindness, been stern, and have sadly gotten into a fight with her. Everything I say and do feels wrong and everyday is becoming a battle. Her sister is 8 and has spent her whole life having to be the big sister and now wants some freedom of her own which her sister doesn't understand. Its only a few hours a day but I'm so tired and sometimes dread going to work. I just want to be able to get along but not feel like I'm being taken advantage of. Any act of kindness becomes something I owe the child everyday and if she doesn't get it she throws a tantrum. I just want whats best for all of us.

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Asked by gabby.armijo at 11:34 PM on Dec. 16, 2013 in Tweens (9-12)

Level 2 (4 Credits)
Answers (5)
  • I usually suggest that a care giver get familiar with the special needs of what ever child she is caring for.
    They do not necessarily respond as you would expect them too.
    I think part of the problem is that you see her as a 10 year old and not as a 3 year old. The behavior you describe is very much like what a three year old does.
    In essence the younger child is the big sister and it is normal for a 3 year old to want to do everything big sister does.
    You must be kind but firm just as you would a 3 year old, and repeat, repeat , repeat.

    Answer by Dardenella at 12:00 AM on Dec. 17, 2013

  • Have you tried talking to the parents about what they do when she misbehaves? What they want you to do? Have you asked them what works with her? Have you tried doing some research on the internet, or reading books?


    Answer by musicmaker at 12:22 AM on Dec. 17, 2013

  • I agree talk to parents to find out works

    Answer by AuntieV at 3:18 AM on Dec. 17, 2013

  • I agree with the others - talk to her parents and ask what works for them. Once you know and have put it into practice you'll find that she's no more of a handful than her sister (I speak as the mother of twin daughters, one of whom has Down Syndrome). A few things that might help are:

    1. being aware that some children with DS lose their means in the face of aggressivity. If you yell or raise your voice, she might go into panic mode and just freeze up - it's as if her brain was "wiped clean". So, stay calm.

    2. remembering that her capacities are not the same as her sister's but that she needs praise too when she does things. Her drawing may be a scribble to you but to her it's a work of art :)

    3. knowing that this kind of child absolutely LOVES to help. Make the most of that. Get her to help prepare, tidy, clean, etc.

    4. Channel her, guide her, she probably just needs to be pushed in the right direction!

    Answer by goldpandora at 4:32 AM on Dec. 17, 2013

  • What are your expectations of her? What kinds of things are you saying (that she won't listen to)?
    If you are verbally limiting her when she's doing something that becomes problematic or might hurt/destroy property, then she (similar to a 3 year old) will have a hard time "listening" or responding. If you are expecting compliance even though she strongly wishes to continue whatever she's doing, it might be an unrealistic expectation. You may need to back up your spoken limit by actually stopping the behavior (it doesn't have to be forceful or angry to be firm, and it doesn't need to be "negative" to be firm!), and be ready for the feelings in response. If you expect her NOT to be upset when she's facing disappointment or frustration, that probably is unrealistic as well.
    You set yourself up for major frustration & dread if your goal is "avoiding upsets." That anxious focus also inadvertently leads to MORE meltdowns & tantrums.

    Answer by girlwithC at 2:24 PM on Dec. 17, 2013

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