Tackling Time-Out

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As a babysitter, finding an appropriate way to discipline a child can be tough, especially if you are new to babysitting, or babysitting for a new family. While it is not your place to issue punishment (that should always be left up to the parents), there are some situations that arise where you may need to correct a child. When you first arrive to a babysitting job, there are a few questions that you should always ask the parents before they leave, and one of them is how the parents choose to deal with discipline in their family.

Many babysitters I know (myself included) use time-out to correct a child. Kids tend to get over excited, which can cause them to act out and sometimes a few minutes alone to calm down is all the child really needs. You can issue a time-out by having the child sit quietly in their room, on a couch or a chair, or even just on the floor depending on where you are. The length of a time-out can vary based on many factors, including the age of the child and the severity of the action that landed them in time-out. Personally, when I use time-outs, they rarely last longer than 3 minutes.

It’s also important to talk with the child after time-out is over, and make sure that they understand why they were in trouble. No one wants to feel like they’re getting in trouble for no reason at all, especially with a babysitter. Always make sure to get on the child’s level while you’re chatting with them. I usually start the conversation by saying, “Okay, time-out is over. Do you understand why we had to do a time-out?” This allows the child the opportunity to think about what happened, as well as realize that you are not just picking on them to be mean. No one likes a mean babysitter.

Finally, always make sure to inform the parents of any behavioral issues you experience while babysitting. A child’s bad behavior is not your fault, and I promise you that the parents will thank you for letting them know that little Timmy lied to you, or Charlotte pushed her sister over. Be sure to explain how you dealt with the situation, and be confident in doing so. As a babysitter, you have to establish ground rules and discipline is a huge part of doing that.

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