Babysitter Needs Help

Dear Sara,

I am a baby sitter for three children ages six, three and eighteen months. The six-year-old wants constant attention. He seems to be in my face all of the time. He will drive his toy car around in a circle until I can’t stand it anymore and have to demand that he stop. He wears pull-ups at night because he wets the bed and has temper tantrums in the morning. He is in kindergarten half a day and can print his name but chooses not to at times. The only time he is calm is when he watches TV but his parents have set a limit on this. What can I do to get him to calm down?


Dear Margaret,

It sounds like this young man has figured out that the only way to get your attention away from his siblings (who are younger and possibly cuter) is to be annoying. As the oldest, he was probably the center of his parents’ attention for about three years and now he has been displaced by his two younger siblings. It sounds like the two younger kids need lots of your attention but try to make a special effort to pay attention to their older brother. If you can ignore some of his pesky behaviors and focus on the things that he does to please you, that could make some difference in his behavior.

It’s also possible that this young man has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) which could make it difficult for him to sit still and pay attention. Often kids who have ADHD will be able to sit still for TV and games but in general, they have the problems that you describe. His parents may want to have him evaluated by a professional to see if he truly has ADHD or if he is just somewhat immature. Try to be patient. It appears that he is having a difficult time in his young life.



  1. It seems that the boy is being neglected. Patience and understanding would help to assure him
    he is not a “forgotten child”. JUST “talk” to him. Ask him about his truck….Play a game….guessing games or ” I see something” ….(red, green, yellow, etc. in the room) are something you can do, even while dealing with the other two. Don’t destroy this boy if you don’t have the patience to deal with him. Just quit. There are other jobs. Parents , (obviously) don’t have time after working all day to give him the time he needs. It’s NOT FAIR TO THE BOY TO BE”ANNOYED WITH HIM…..BE ANNOYED WITH THE PARENTS!! “You’re being paid” to take care of the kids…..HE’S just as important as the two younger ones. Hope he has blocks……..teach him how to build a road for his trucks….TEACH HIM TO OCCUPY HIS TIME ALONE Kids need to be “taught” how to play alone…….Does he have puppets? puzzles? colors? Put blankets over a card table or 4 chairs….make a tent…. while the baby is sleeping, play hide and seek…. BE CREATIVE!! The 3 year old is old enough to play with him………
    with “guidance”!!

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