Babysitting an unruly child

Babysitting an unruly child

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By Babysits, 4 min read

It isn't always easy to take care of an unruly child while babysitting. This can be especially challenging when the child takes advantage of the absence of their parents in order to test your nerves and boundaries. Here are some tips for how you can deal with unruly children and make babysitting a difficult child go as smoothly as possible!

How to deal with difficult or unruly children

There are a few ground rules and tips to follow when dealing with children behaving in a difficult manner.

  • Stay calm

While it can be frustrating, it is important not to blow up at a child. This certainly won't help the situation at all.

  • Communicate with the child

Through clear communication, you can try to get a better idea of why the child is acting the way they are acting. With this, you can also communicate clear boundaries and guidelines for behavior.

  • Praise positive behavior

Don't forget to show appreciate for good behaviors. This helps reinforce children behaving positively.

  • Avoid negative physical or verbal punishment

The American Academy of Pediatrics explains, “research shows that spanking, slapping and other forms of physical punishment don't work well to correct a child's behavior. The same holds true for yelling at or shaming a child. Harsh physical and verbal punishments can also damage a child's long-term physical and mental health.”

Here are some other ideas for how to deal with difficult children:

1. If you are a babysitter, ask parents how they usually handle this behavior

Or, if you are a parent, you could ask other parents for advice!

In any case, it is important not to disturb the child in their environment. Thus, the way a child is being supervised during babysitting should be consistent with the way the are supervised by their parents or family. Parents and babysitters should discuss this clearly, and parents shouldn't hesitate to share how best to manage specific situations!

2. Scolding or shouting back will not change things

Nothing is worse than losing your control and acting excessively with a difficult child, it will lead to nothing and will probably worsen the situation. Instead, take time with the child to try to calm them down, understand what they are upset about, and try to find a solution.

3. Do not give in to every request

Children are smart, it's not new, and some can quickly realize how they can get what they want. If you give in to their every whim, even if they do not seem worth your while, they may realize that they can ask, demand, and throw a tantrum in order to get whatever they want. If you plan ahead to not accommodate a child’s every request, this can help create a baseline where they don’t expect to get everything they want and have less of an incentive to throw a fit in order to get their wishes.

4. Learn to be patient and caring

Patience is a required characteristic for success in child care and as a babysitter or caregiver you are the adult and therefore the person in charge of keeping calm. In no case should you show that the behavior of the child gets on your nerves or makes you exasperated. Do not get carried away, stay calm, take a deep breath, and talk with the child.

5. Try to focus their attention on something else

Boredom or lack of attention can be a reason why children act unruly. To avoid this, find activities that match, interest, and amuse them. It's up to you to be creative and come up with the best solution for your situation! (For a little bit of inspiration, you can check out some ideas for activities in our Community Resources).

6. Finally, reward the child if they behaved well

Yes, this last technique works for sure! But we must use it effectively and not use it systematically ... If you think that there is a real improvement in the behavior of the child, you can reward him by taking him to his favorite place, offering him a treat, playing his favorite game, etc.