When you have to deal with discipline problems during your babysitting shift, the clock slows down. You may even wonder if the clock's battery has died if you've just had to put Aiden in timeout for the fourth time in two hours.
Disciplining other people's children can be difficult, and as a co-op you should discuss discipline at your start-up and on-going planning meetings. Your discussions should be focused on what methods of discipline to use. Most co-ops stick with timeouts, and we've found this method to be effective.
But there's more to discipline than just putting kids in timeout when they misbehave. This list of proactive strategies was put together by Ibtisam S. Barakat and Janet A. Clark from the University of Missouri, and they focus on how misbehavior can be prevented in many cases by a change in the way an adult interacts with children.
- Set clear, consistent rules.
- Make certain the environment is safe and worry-free.
- Show interest in the child's activities.
- Provide appropriate and engaging playthings.
- Encourage self-control by providing meaningful choices.
- Focus on the desired behavior, rather than the one to be avoided.
- Build children's images of themselves as trustworthy, responsible and cooperative.
- Expect the best from the child.
- Give clear directions, one at a time.
- Say "Yes" whenever possible.
- Notice and pay attention to children when they do things right.
- Take action before a situation gets out of control.
- Encourage children often and generously.
- Set a good example.
- Help children see how their actions affect others.
Implementing these discipline strategies in your babysitting co-op shifts might help the time to pass more quickly, and you may enjoy the company of the children more. Best of all, these strategies may rub off onto your personal parenting skills, creating a more harmonious home life around the clock.