Tuesday, July 3, 2012
For Your Back Pocket: 5 Helpful Babysitting Discipline Strategies
1. Verbal warnings. Children you babysit may not be familiar with your own household rules, so give them the benefit of the doubt with a verbal warning. Go beyond telling them what not to do by explaining the "why" behind your rule: "Don't pull the dog's hair because it hurts him." Also explain that if the child breaks the rule again, he'll have to go to timeout.
2. Timeout. Timeout may be your most powerful discipline strategy because it teaches kids that they can't disobey your rules without consequences, and it also temporarily removes the troublesome child from the others. Use a bottom stair or a small chair for timeout, and make sure it is far enough away from the other children that the child in timeout can't continue to influence their play. The child in timeout will soon wish she could be back with her friends, and she will have learned to be obedient.
3. Use a firm voice. Don't correct a child in a sing-song voice and end your correction with the word "okay," as in, "Please don't sit on Aiden's face, okay?" You're not asking permission to correct the child's behavior, and your sweet baby-talk voice may send a confusing message to the child you're correcting. Don't bark or yell; just use a serious, warning voice when you give corrections.
4. Remove the trouble-making object. If two or more children continually fight over a toy (or a bean bag or a pet rock or anything else), tell them that the object has to go to timeout because they haven't yet learned how to share it. While the object is in timeout, help them to come up with a plan for sharing. You might bring out an egg timer and suggest that each child gets to use the toy for a certain amount of time and no one else can touch it until their turns.
5. Strenuous play followed by rest. If there seems to be something in the air and the children are out-of-sorts, introduce them to a strenuous activity like tag or an obstacle course or a run around a field or your backyard. After they're thoroughly tired, get them all a drink of water and then "let" them rest. You could read them a story or put on some quiet music and suggest they close their eyes. It's good for them and for you.
Practice these strategies, and then keep them in mind for those babysitting shifts that aren't easy breezy. You can get everyone back on track and keep your cool.
Posted by Rachel Tolman Terry at 5:43 PM