The most challenging situation a babysitter encounters is when kids won’t listen. There might be times when a child refuses to apologize for hitting their sibling or protests going to bed. As a babysitter and a Safe Sitter®, it is important that you are able to effectively handle these situations and more.
Having reasonable expectations and being prepared for behavior challenges that are common for kids in a particular age range will help tremendously. Infants, children under one year old, typically cry to communicate and get your attention. They aren’t purposefully not listening to you; after all, infants are too young to know or follow rules and will require patience on your part. On the other hand, toddlers, children one to two years old, are learning to understand and communicate. They are the most likely to have temper tantrums and repeat “no” over and over again. Preschoolers, kids ages three to five years old, usually follow rules and but can also get frustrated by the ones they do not want to follow. They may hit or kick when frustrated. And last but not least, school age kids, six to ten years old, will typically fight or argue with siblings and challenge the rules. It is common for them to take advantage and act like they do not need a babysitter. Keep these ages and their common challenges in mind while babysitting so you are better prepared to deal with them.
The best way encourage good behavior is to be confident but not totally strict when you first meet the children you are going to babysit. You want to be taken seriously by the kids while on the job. Communicate using the kind of language they will understand. Be sure to get down to their level and make eye contact. Speak firmly when needed. If you feel a situation rising, your voice and your eyes can be clear indicators that you are serious, and you expect the children to follow the rules. Set an example and be a leader. If your employer says the kids can’t eat in the living room, be a good role model and eat with them at the table. Do not break the rules because you are confident you won’t make a mess.
We know confidence and communicating clearly won’t always work one hundred percent of the time when trying to get kids to listen to you. Eventually, that time of night comes when the toddler you are babysitting doesn’t want to pack up their toys and go to bed. Luckily, there are Safe Sitter® Behavior Management Tips that can help. The tip, “Give Choices”, consists of you offering the child acceptable choices while still insisting on what needs to be done. In this you distract the child from the bad behavior by letting them decide on what needs to be done. “Make a Game” consists of turning something that needs to be done into a game. This tip lets children turn their sour mood into something productive and fun. “When…Then” consists of promising the child something they want to do after the child does something they do not want to do. This method helps kids listen because something positive is rewarded to them after they do what they were originally told to do. Most children respond positively when you incorporate these methods into your babysitting. But if worse comes to worst and the children you are babysitting still wont listen, it is important to use the method “Take a Break/Start Over”. This technique should only be used for children over the age of 2. Taking a break helps the child calm down and reflect on their behavior.
The take-away is: be confident in your skills, know what to expect, and use the behavior management tips when kids decide not to listen. Babysitting can be a tough job, so take a moment if you get frustrated and need to control your own emotions. Always remember: everything will be okay at the end of the night if one child doesn’t listen to you!
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