According to a study, there are estimate 5.9 million children in the US with disabilities, most of them are cared for by their parents or other family members. However, because these caregivers have little to no experience in caregiving, they are not able to provide the proper care necessary to help these children live a safe and happy life.
Out of the 43.5 million adults in the US who provide care to adults or children, only 18.2 percent have actual experience in the healthcare field. This makes approximately 34.2 million Americans who provide care. Out of these, 16.8 million are parents or loved ones taking care of children without any training, without being paid and without being relieved for their hard work.
Being a caregiver for children requires certain qualities on part of the care provider. They must be able to handle the mental, physical and emotional consequences of handling a child that is completely dependent on their support. These caregivers must also understand the activities they must perform and how much they can actually handle.
The Basics of Childcare
· Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)
Around 47 percent of caregivers need to perform at least one “Activity of Daily Living”. But these ADLs are not the same as caregiving activities provided in typical childcare. ADLs are separate from typical parenting because they are only conducted due to the child’s inability to perform those particular tasks themselves. The most common ADLs usually involve grooming tasks such as:
- Getting them dressed
- Bathing or showing
- Getting in and out of chairs and beds
- Feeding them
- Using the toilet or getting to and from the toilet
- Dealing with diapers and incontinence
· Helping with Supportive Activities
Caregivers also have to monitor their child’s condition, make sure that others treat them well, advocate on behalf of them at schools and with care providers and get them the treatment necessary for any emotional, behavioral or physical issues. The caregiver must also give them medicine; deal with any and all financial issues, and prepare them for medical and physical therapies as well as prepare them for a special diet.
Being a Successful Caregiver for Children
There are many things you can do to be a good caregiver. Some basic tips for care include:
- Building a relationship they can trust
- Talking to them and listening to them
- Teaching them essential life skills
- Provide a quiet sanctuary
- Help them with homework
- Help them stay organized
- Engage in activities
- Help the staff at school understand that the child’s needs
- Talk to the school staff at intervals
- Disclose their needs to the school
- Spend quality time with them
- Educate them about their own disability
These tips allow you to cover all aspect of childcare. However, some factors may differentiate based on their age.
Children: 6-10 Year Olds
These children are at a susceptible age and may fear going to school or spending time with new people. Because of the ensuing anxiety, they may not be able to pay attention in classes and may perform poorly. They may also become un-necessarily aggressive.
These children require proper attention and help with simpler tasks. You will need to let the staff at school know that this child requires special care and may also need help with simpler tasks like using the bathroom or even sitting.
Adolescents: 11 – 19 Year Olds
These children are at a developmental stage in their life. They may not be able to respond to the emotional and physical changes as easily as anyone else. They may get anxiety or have a harder time coping with these changes because they’ll think something is wrong with them. They also won’t express their emotions as easily. So you might get an okay or fine response if you ask about their health.
Keep an eye on any complains they make, especially if they complain about physical pain. They may be going through growing pains and not know it. Because of the resulting anxiety, they may also start arguing and fighting in school and may resist anyone’s authority.
In such situations, it’s important that you teach them about puberty and the normalcy of their changes.
Managing their Health and Well-Being
As a caregiver, you need to give these children the right support. Due to a disability or an experience, these children are may not have full control of their basic senses or their faculties, and need your help to live a happy, regular life.
It is your duty to make them understand that you are there for them. Pay attention to their work and praise their efforts. These children will try harder than others to show that they’re capable, and will be feeling anxious if you don’t acknowledge their hard work. Help them express their creativity and accept their feelings.
Allow them to feel grief. Let them know that it’s perfectly alright to feel sad, angry or stressed. Let them cry. Crying is often seen as a sign of weakness but it is just another way to relieve your grief and stress. Let them cry it out if they want to.
Let them ask questions. If they want to know more about their condition, let them know. You don’t want them to have any misconceptions about their own health.
And help them be independent of your care. Show them how to take care of themselves and help them develop routines, understand the importance of healthy eating, getting enough sleep, exercising and managing stress. Build their confidence.
Learn with “The Global Caregiver”
The Global Caregiver is a caregiving counseling service that caters to caregivers all around the world. We provide coaching and counseling services and use informational resources and seminars to introduce different care methods of healthcare to professionals in the field.
Learn more about caregiving by contacting us.