How to Discipline Children when Babysitting: 5 Steps
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Babysitters can be friendly without giving up their role as responsible caregivers.

If you think disciplining your own child is difficult, imagine trying to impose rules on somebody else's child. As a babysitter, you're in a special position between caregiver and friend, and at times children might take advantage of that situation. Learning how to discipline children you're babysitting requires a well-planned strategy that involves not only you and the child, but also the parents.


  1. 1
    Have a talk with the parents of the child. Find out what's considered acceptable discipline and what's off limits. Ask them how strict the rule reinforcement is in the home. For example, if parents would prefer for the kids not to watch TV but they are known to give in easily, they can't expect the kids to obey when you try to enforce the same rules. Find out what rules are flexible and which ones are not in advance so you know what to expect.
  2. 2
    Keep the child busy at all times. Some children misbehave when they're bored, so keeping them occupied can reduce the number of times you have to use discipline in the first place. You can also use activities as distractions when the child starts behaving inappropriately. As soon as you see a bad behavior creeping up, offer an option, such as reading a book, watching a movie or coloring a in a coloring book.
  3. 3
    Create rules and inform the child what those rules are. Don't wait until something happens and then make up a punishment "on the go." When kids understand what they're not allowed to do and the consequences for breaking those rules, they're more likely to respect your word. Make sure you follow through with discipline if the rules are broken.
  4. 4
    Keep your voice low. If you find the child's behavior loud and wild, take him aside, have him sit down and explain why the behavior is not appropriate. Let the child know you don't appreciate the behavior. Resist the temptation to scream and be louder than the child. Loud behavior is sometimes an attempt on the child's part to show he can do whatever he wants. By taking action immediately and stopping the behavior, you'll demonstrate who's in charge and what things you won't tolerate.
  5. 5
    Give time outs if necessary. If you can't distract the child from the bad behavior and she refuses to listen to you, use a chair or a step for a short time out. This usually only works with children who are old enough to understand why they're getting a time out, so toddlers might have a hard time dealing with it. Keep the time-out short. Usually five to 10 minutes -- depending on the age of the child -- is all that's needed for the child to calm down.


  • Don't threaten the children with "I'll tell your parents." You want kids to respect your discipline and rules, and not to be afraid of the consequences the parents will put into place. Besides, discipline is more effective when it comes right after the bad behavior, as an immediate consequence.

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Categories: Education and Communications

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