My sister has meltdowns when I babysit her
Hi Alex, I am a 14 year old girl who has Autism, my little sister has Autism aswell. I babysit her frequently for a couple of hours when mum and dad ares gone and sometimes she has meltdowns while theyre not here. I try ask her whats wrong and she ends up telling me random things and kicking me and shoving me. My anger ends up riling up and I end up hitting her and yelling at her and demanding her to stop. As soon as she starts actually crying I feel awful and I hug her and I tell her things will be ok and I comfort her. I want to stop taking my emotions and stress out on her when I babysit but I don’t know how, Can you help me?
You are very welcome to Ask Alex and thank you for contacting us. You mention that you often end up babysitting your little sister when your parents aren’t at home, but that she sometimes has meltdowns which can lead to things becoming physical between you both. This can lead to you becoming angry, and not knowing how to cope with your emotions and stress.
Firstly, you sound like a very caring sister who is doing your best and helping your parents by babysitting for them. You obviously love and care for your sister but find her meltdowns difficult to deal with, which is understandable. It sounds like you are trying to figure out what is wrong with her when she is upset, and you want to take care of her the best you can. It would be concerning to hear that things can become physical between you both.
Have you ever spoken with your parents about how it can be difficult to deal with your sister’s meltdowns? We know it’s not always easy to talk with those closest to us, but it would be important to let them know that it can be hard for you to deal with her outbursts, and that you want to ensure you are taking good care of her when you are babysitting.
It can be tough to keep things calm when we are feeling the very opposite. Perhaps giving your sister some space might be helpful, and then trying to talk about how she is feeling later, rather than trying to discuss things in the heat of the moment. It sounds like you are trying to explore with your sister how she is feeling, but that she isn’t always able to explain her emotions to you.
When we are feeling angry and stressed, sometimes breathing exercises can help us calm our body down. Maybe try the Square Breathing technique, where you inhale through your nose for a count of four, hold that breath for a count of four, and then exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of four, holding the breath for a count of four. You can repeat this sequence for a couple of minutes, and by relaxing your body, it may help you respond to the situation that has made you angry in a different way. There are also a couple of other types of breathing exercises demonstrated here that may be helpful for you www.childline.ie/video-breathing-and-relaxation-exercises-to-help-you-release-your-worries/. Also, there is an article on the Childline website which may also give you some guidance for dealing with anger www.childline.ie/working-out-anger/.
Also, you can contact us here at Childline, via our Live Chat button on this website, or over the phone on 1800 66 66 66, if would like to talk about your emotions and how you are feeling. There is always someone to listen, 24/7. These services are free, confidential and non-judgemental. We would love to hear from you anytime.
Take care of yourself,