What Does it Take to Be a Nanny of Special Needs Children?
Your child’s safety and well-being are the most important thing, and you rely on your nanny to care for your child when you are unable to be there. If you have special needs children, whether the special needs are behavioral, developmental, emotional, or medical, you need someone who knows what they are doing.
Being a nanny for a child with special needs means having the ability to have a lot of patience. The nanny needs to understand the big picture, and understand the child’s behavior as it relates to the larger picture. As with all children, she needs to be able to put the child’s behavior within developmental context and decide what is this child capable of? And what can I expect of this child?
Sometimes these questions really affect the decisions a nanny makes regarding discipline. For example, if a child has a lot of impulse control problems or involuntary muscle movements, that behavior should be put into context and not seen as misbehavior. Look for someone with experience and knowledge.
Esther B. Hess, Ph.D., Executive Director Center for the Developing Mind, says: "Nannies who make the decision to be part of the lives of families with special needs children need to understand the critical importance of the relationship that they will need to create with that child."
Here are some tips for seeking out the right nanny for your needs.
1) Seek out a nanny with early childhood development units or other classes/certifications.
2) Hire a nanny who has had experience working as a nanny for a child with special needs.
3) If necessary, ask your agency for a nanny who has a medical background such as nursing.
4) If your child has a special diet they need to adhere to, make sure you have a nanny who is open to that approach.
5) Special needs children often attend multiple therapies. If the family agrees, it is important for the nanny to not just drop off the child at the appointment, but if possible go into the therapy and be part of the process.
6) With family's agreement, seek out clinicians who train all of the adults in the family on how to better create opportunities for reciprocal relationships.
7) Parents with special needs children are often overwhelmed with the magnitude of the responsibilities associated with the disorder. Early in the relationship, nannies need to sit down with the parents to find out how they can be of best support.
Nannies for children with special needs are usually very passionate and look to partner with the family on a big level. These nannies can be extraordinary!
By Dr. Lindsay Heller, Psy.D.
Dr. Heller is a mother of two sweet girls. When she’s not playing “tea party,” she’s a professional nanny consultant known as The Nanny Doctor. She blogs, tweets and facebooks endless nanny wisdom. Check her out here www.TheNannyDoctor.com or on Twitter @thenannydoctor.
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