How to Help Children Like a Babysitter
At Sitters, whenever you make a booking with a babysitter who is new to your children, we recommend that you tag on an additional half hour before you leave. We suggest you do this because it is the optimal amount of time for you, the children, and the babysitter to all become accustomed to the set-up without making for overly long goodbyes - which can make things harder for children.
However, there are some important steps both parents and the babysitter themselves can take to enable the child to feel comfortable, secure, and to like their babysitter. Children are, of course, individuals and unique in the same way as adults. Therefore these suggestions are just guidelines and will need to be adapted depending on how extrovert or shy the children are.
Organising the babysitter will have been done between the parents and ourselves, through registration. The child is unlikely to have been involved. Therefore, it’s important to take a couple of minutes making sure the proper introductions have taken place. Before the babysitter comes you can tell your child their name, and perhaps whether they have children of their own. The babysitter themselves should get down to the child’s level and introduce themselves. It can then help to ask a question or two of the child, such as their age, their favourite colour, or what they had for tea.
From here the babysitter will be able to gauge whether the child is ready to lead them off to a game or a story. Children who are shyer will need a little more help transitioning.
Here it can help if the babysitter doesn’t simply turn the chat to the parent or carer, but actively try to engage the child. Ask for ideas on their favourite games and then start playing! Periodically encourage the child to join you – this is particularly important if one sibling is already dominating the interaction.
The babysitter-child relationship is an interesting one. Usually it’s a relatively short window of time in which the two parties can get to know one another. However, it’s vital that the child feels comfortable and secure so they can get off to sleep when necessary. Therefore, babysitters should endeavour to be more doting auntie than order-keeping teacher.
By gradually engaging the children in games or activities – such as board games, watching their favourite programme, or drawing a picture – and asking questions alongside, the child learns to trust and like the babysitter. Even the shyest will love to know you’re interested in them!
Manage the Goodbyes
When it’s time for Mum and Dad to leave, then the tears and fears can start. It’s important that the babysitter is confident and capable of managing this transition for the child. The babysitter’s role is to stay upbeat, not take the tears personally, and work to distract and re-engage the child. This is probably the most crucial stage for ensuring that the children like the babysitter. Children need to know the adults are in control, and they are safe, secure, and cared for. The babysitter should briefly explain when the parents will be home and then set to work on diversion tactics.
Be Calm and Relaxed
Both parents and babysitters should aim to be calm and relaxed regarding the babysitting arrangement. Parents need to demonstrate to children that they are confident with the person they are leaving their child with. Babysitters need to demonstrate that they are confident and relaxed. This helps the child to relax too – remembering that children pick up on both verbal and non-verbal clues.
Be Prepared to Offer Space
Whilst it is important to engage the children, it’s also important to recognise their need for space. They may need to simply know you’re there, and they can call on you when needed. It can be counterproductive to jostle them into a game or activity they are resistant to. Simply make a start and see if they come to you.
Finally, it’s very important that parents impart any useful information to the babysitter which will help form the relationship. Are there favourite cuddlies? What is the normal routine? What are the child’s favourite stories? These small cues will help to ensure the children are at ease and relaxed.
Book a Sitters Babysitter
To ensure your children have a reputable and experienced babysitter, which will help both you and them to like them, choose a babysitter from Sitters.
Need a babysitter for evening or daytime childcare at home, holiday let or in your hotel room?
Register for free at www.sitters.co.uk