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What should I do if my friendís sitter is neglectful?

I saw the babysitter of my child's preschool classmate being rough and neglectful. I don't know the mom too well. Should I say something?
Submitted by American Baby Team

A casual poll of moms we know resulted in one resounding answer: Yes! They'd want to know, if -- and that if is the key -- their sitter was doing something wrong. What mother wouldn't? We do our best to screen caregivers and then cross our fingers and hope that what we see is what we get. So if you're confident you saw behavior that would bother you, were it your child, speak up. But perhaps you should ask yourself these questions first to ensure you're not falling victim to a false perception. Have you seen the sitter acting like this before? If not, maybe she was just having a bad day (don't we all?) and, for the most part, is loving and attentive. Did the child act upset by the sitter's words -- or take them in stride and seem unconcerned? Maybe this is a tough kid who needs firmness to get moving. Is it possible the sitter wasn't acting the way you would act but wasn't out of line, just exhibiting a different discipline style?
If, after considering all this, you still feel concerned, go ahead and approach the mother. But tread carefully, keeping in mind that many moms are sitter-sensitive and often are predisposed to feeling guilty for leaving their children in the first place. Try not to sound judgmental, instead, opening with a self-deprecating sentence like, "This has been nagging at me and may be nothing, since I tend to be overly cautious, but...." She may thank you or tell you to mind your own business, but at least you've said something. --Julie Mazer

Originally published in American Baby magazine, October 2004.Updated 2009

The answers from our experts are for educational purposes only. Please always refer to your child's pediatrician and mental health expert for more in-depth advice.

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When I was a little girl I had a horrible sitter (I wont go into details). I was to afraid to tell my mom about it and it continued to happen until my older sister (from a different dad, she lived with him at the time) came to visit. She had to stay with the sitter too and she told my mom. I look back and wish that someone had told on her sooner. She was shut down and all of the kids that were "cared for" by her went to a different sitter who was wonderful. I would say yes, please tell.
Submitted by sisymae2988
If your sitter is neglectful I would get a new one. Or if it is a good friend or family member perhaps you need to educate him or her as to what is required and expected. I suspect that my brother would not change a diaper unless it smelled horrible so I would politely let him know to check every hour or so. If they were rough I wouldn't tolerate it and I would definately inform the parent of my concern. Wouldn't you want someone to tell you if they suspected someone was rough with your child
Submitted by tracy_crowther