Babysitter 911! What to do when you're in charge of a bully
She won’t share. She steals other kids’ toys. On a good day, she’s the boss of the playground. On a bad day, she shoves other tots out of the way. Babysitting a bully can be an absolute nightmare, but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s how to deal.
Rule #1: Don’t let yourself be bullied
That means standing your ground, even (and especially) if the child threatens to tell Mom and Dad all about how mean you were. Lay down the law, being clear about what the kid is allowed to do and is not allowed to do, and what the consequences will be if rules are broken. If necessary, ask the parents for a list of house rules to enforce. And when necessary, enforce those rules!
Rule #2: Don’t get angry
Yelling and getting red in the face and flustered will only spur the child on—not the result you want. Take a deep breath, count to ten in your head and handle the situation calmly. No manhandling, no bickering, just your way or the highway—er, time out.
Rule #3: Offer up a challenge
No, not, “I dare you to jump out the window” or “I bet I can beat you at Monopoly.” Think along the lines of a creative activity that will keep your babysitting charge engaged and excited rather than fighting you over every little thing. An art project, a scavenger hunt, an active game—these are all good options. Bringing along a babysitting box or bag with different surprises you can switch up each visit is also a great way to keep kids interested in what you’re gonna bring to the table.
Rule #4: Be up front
When the parents get home, get to them before the child does and lay out what you guys did and how she behaved. Don’t adopt a tattletale tone of voice. Remember to stay cool and detached; you’re just reporting on how your job went. The parents will appreciate the info and be more likely to believe what you, the adult in the situation, is saying rather than the child. And after all, if their kid is acting up, they do need to know about it.
Have you babysat for a badly behaved child? How did you handle it?