Behavior Tips

Safe Sitter® > Student Resources > Behavior Tips
Crying child trying to be comforted
Managing difficult behavior is often the hardest part about taking care of children.

There are four rules you must follow when caring for children:

  1. Be in control of yourself.
  2. Be in control of the children.
  3. Never use physical punishment like shaking, slapping, spanking, pinching, poking, or hitting.
  4. Never hurt with words.

Remember your ages and stages!

Under 1 year old and depend completely on you.

1 to 2 years old and mostly depend on you.

3 to 5 years old and mostly able to do things alone.

6 to 10 years old and able to do things alone.

Check out the six behavior management tips listed below to help you deal with this kind of behavior.

Provide Comfort

Make sure the child isn’t tired, hungry, or needing a diaper change. Offer the child a favorite stuffed animal or doll, give the child a hug, or speak to them with soothing words.

EXAMPLE: Sophia, 3, wakes up from a nightmare and screams for her parent. The Safe Sitter® speaks to her in a soothing voice, offers her favorite doll, and tells her a story to help her fall asleep again.


Use a toy, story, or song to distract child’s attention.

EXAMPLE: Sara, 2, cries when her mother leaves. The Safe Sitter® picks up Sara’s stuffed bear and sings while she makes the bear dance. Sara is entertained; she doesn’t notice that her mother left.

Give Choices

Offer the child acceptable choices while still insisting on what needs to be done.

EXAMPLE: Denzel, 4, takes a ball from his brother. The Safe Sitter® says, “You need to give the ball back to your brother. Do you want me to hand it to him or would you like to?”

Make a Game

Turn something that needs to be done into a game.

EXAMPLE: Jacob, 3, doesn’t want to pick up his toys. The Safe Sitter® says, “You pick up the toys on one side of the room, and I’ll pick up the toys on the other side and we’ll see who gets done first.”

What ... Then

Promise something the child wants to do after the child does something they do not want to do.

EXAMPLE: Ella, 6, doesn’t want to get ready for bed. The Safe Sitter® says, “When you put on your pajamas, then we’ll read your favorite book.”

Take a Break/Start Over

Take a Break/Start Over is a way to help stop problem behavior and help a child get back in control. Taking a break allows time for the child to think about their behavior. Break time should be short—1 minute for each year of the child’s age. Break time can be time sitting in a chair, time without a toy, or time without television. It helps to separate the child from other children. Never put the child in the dark. Also, this tip should not be used for a child under 2. When break time has ended, help the child return to play by saying, “Okay, let’s start over.”

EXAMPLE: Carlos, 3, is playing rough with a toy car. The Safe Sitter® warns him to stop but he doesn’t. The Safe Sitter® says, “Stop or I’ll put the car away.” He still doesn’t stop. The Safe Sitter® tells Carlos he needs to take a break from playing with the car and puts the car out of his reach for three minutes. After three minutes, the Safe Sitter® gives Carlos his car and says, “Okay, let’s start over.”

Student engaging with teacher in a Safe Sitter babysitting class

Learn more about managing children’s behavior when you’re babysitting including how to prevent challenging behavior.