Why Won’t the Kids Listen to Me?

As a babysitter, I often wonder if there is something wrong with my voice. I can still hear audible sounds coming out of my mouth. If I made a phone call to my mom, she would probably be able to hear me. (But for the sake of honesty, I’m not sure the call feature on my phone even works because I never use it. I only text. Perhaps that last one was a bad example, but back to what I was saying …)

I think there is something wrong with my voice because without notice my voice goes completely mute to anyone in the house younger than me. I say, “It’s time to eat,” and crickets. “Time for bed!” and I get nothing.

Wait, I’m suddenly having flashbacks to my childhood and I am realizing my mom used to tell these same stories about to me. It can’t be. Am I turning into my mom or is it that kids just don’t listen?

There are several reasons kids don’t listen but don’t lose heart, there are also several things YOU can do to get kids to pay attention to you. Check out my video, take some notes, and remember, you got this!

Why won’t the kids listen to me?

I thought babysitting would go something like this. Instead, it’s more like this.

Cookies … I think you guys need a break.

If you’re having trouble getting kids to listen, you’re not alone. Lots of babysitters experience this problem. There are several reasons that kids don’t listen. They aren’t paying attention to you, they don’t believe you’re serious, or they think they can get away with ignoring your requests. I know this makes you feel helpless but there are things you can do to get kids to pay attention to you.

First, get down on their level. This makes it hard for them to ignore you. Second, look them in the eye. This is not the time to be timid. That child needs to know that you’re talking directly to them and that you mean what you say.

Third, use your Babysitter Boss voice. What’s a Babysitter Boss voice? It’s easy. When you talk, slow down, and use a firm voice.

I’m sorry. No cookies. Your mom said no cookies tonight.

Ah, come on!

Be consistent, even if you have to repeat yourself several times.

No cookies. No cookies. No cookies. No cookies.

Remind the kids that it is your job to enforce the parent’s rules. If they continue to break the rules, it might be time to take a break.

I think you guys need a break. I want you to sit quietly for three minutes.

When time is up, tell them it’s time to start over.

Let’s start over. Would you guys like to play a game?

For more tips on how to handle difficult behavior when you’re babysitting, check out my video on bad behavior hacks.

Check out more Babysitter Boss videos.

School-age children are most likely to push the rules. Learn what else you need to know when babysitting school-age children.

Take a Safe Sitter® class and learn more child care skills. Find a class near you!