When you are babysitting calm and obedient children, it feels like a very easy job. But what if the children are not as obedient and calm as you expected? If so, it could be a challenge for the babysitter for sure.

But before you decide to quit because of a nervous breakdown, read this article for some helpful tips to keep even a difficult child in control. Learning to deal with a naughty or difficult child is a worthwhile skill. It is because it may open up extra well-paying jobs for you compared to others who are not willing to deal with difficult children for babysitting. Or as parents also, you can deal with your tough kids well if you know how to handle them.

However, before learning how to deal with difficult children, you have to find out the reasons some babies are not easy to handle.

Why some babies are difficult to handle?

Not just parents, but even science proves that certain children are more challenging than others. According to research by Harvard University child psychologist Jerome Kagan, Ph. D, an infant’s behavior at birth indicates his/her behavior in adolescence. He observed that around 40 percent of the babies generally have a calm disposition, and even after years such kids remain calm.

However, around 15 to 20% of babies have a more “reactive” temperament since birth. And, often friends and family refer to them as a “handful.” In case, you have a difficult baby, it does not mean that you will have harder times ahead. If you nurture them well, they are likely to be on their best behavior. Parents, teachers and other kids also play a vital role in shaping a child’s overall personality and skills over time.

Simply put, good parenting may not impact babies. But with older kids who have tough temperaments, good parenting is a beneficial and thoughtful act.

How to deal with difficult babies?


Here, we share with you some helpful tactics to follow to calmly deal with difficult babies:

  • Do what feels right: You have to do what you feel is right for yourself, as well as your child. If you think of doing something that you do not believe in or that’s not right according to you, it won’t work out. Often children notice your behavior and when you don’t mean something you are saying. So, always do what you believe in to ensure that your children also have a strong role model to look up to.

    When you have decided, continue with that. The solutions take some time to work. You also need some support from your partner and family. After all, it’s always good to talk to someone before deciding.
  • Take Preventive Measures: It needs practice from your end. But trust us that it works effectively. You have to use your instincts and knowledge of your child’s behavior for predicting and avoiding blowups. If your child often likes to take out things from cabinets in your kitchen, it’s better to have them locked to make sure he/she cannot do that.

    Find out when your child feels more grumpy and tired or energetic. Then, schedule your supermarket trips or visits to doctors when your child is feeling at his/her best. Also, take his/her favorite toys with you and also some treats to avoid boredom.
  • Have a Control: No matter how exhausted you feel or if you’re not ready for it, never relinquish control. You must not give in to your child’s tantrums or bad behavior. If you gave in, it would show your child your weakness, and then he/she would always use tantrums to manipulate you. Instead, you have to tune into your child’s powerlessness to recognize what you require for gaining control again.
  • Listen Carefully: Listening is vital when your children are talking or expressing their feelings to you. Mostly, kids need the attention of their parents. So, whenever they are expressing their sadness or joy, always listen to them carefully. Always make your child feel that you are there for them no matter what the situation is. While listening also advise your child to take the right actions as per the situation and place.a
  • Stay Calm: The calmer you stay, the better it is for you to handle a specific situation. Your tone must also need to be steady, quiet, and neutral when telling your children to stop a certain bad behavior. When you are persuading them to do certain things, like washing hands before meals, have a suggestive tone rather than a commanding tone. Instead of saying “go wash your hands right now” it’s best to suggest “why don’t you wash your hands by the time I set up the dining table?”
  • Empathize More: Your children cannot understand the storm of emotions that they may come across during different situations. But you surely do! So, whenever possible, it’s best to understand their feelings and teach your kids to label their emotions. This way, they can better articulate what’s going on in their mind. You can tell them that “I know you’re angry or feeling frustrated, but you cannot eat cookies now,” or “I know you are too exhausted to bathe, but it would make you feel better.”
  • Give an Explanation: Instead of suddenly reacting to their mischievous behavior, it’s best to explain to them why it’s bad to snatch someone’s toy. Explain to them how they would feel if the same thing happened to them. The same thing applies to biting or hitting. So, they could better understand how their behavior could impact others.

Tips For Babysitting A Difficult Child

Here are some quick tips to keep in mind when babysitting a difficult child:

  • Keep a line of communication open: Whenever you are babysitting your child or doing it for someone else’s child, always keep the lines of communication open. Don’t think you have to figure out everything by yourself. Always reach out to the parents of a child to ask some questions or discuss any issues you’re facing. It could be a simple thing like finding extra wipes in a house or complicated issues, like “what do parents do to calm down their child.”

    Also, share your concerns with parents, such as if their kid is being picked on by any neighbor. With an open line of communication, you can also gain the trust of the parents. This further shows that you want the child to feel safe and secure.
  • Be ready for everything: Your priority as a babysitter is to ensure that you safely take care of a child. This means that you have to be ready for any issue or emergency that could arise.

    You even have to keep a list of emergency or important phone numbers handy. You also want to add all the numbers of family members or doctors to call in an emergency.

    Make a list of the child’s allergies (like food, pet, seasonal, and other types) and what to do during an allergic reaction. Also, learn about the types of foods and toys that may cause choking hazards, so you can avoid them. You have to be proactive to enable you to stay ready for all sorts of situations.
  • Be well-informed: Preparation is not only for emergencies, like allergy checks. Some difficult situations or hazards may occur when you’re planning things on your own. You may even consult expert babysitters or take a child safety training course for handling all types of circumstances while babysitting.
  • Be organized: Children work well in a routine. So, as a babysitter, it’s your job to form a schedule as their parents may have set. You might be willing to keep a separate day planner to manage each child you babysit for.

    Your calendar must include regular nap, meal, and play times for everyday you are handling. List the food types you will feed them each day and also plan for how long they must play and nap. Having an organized agenda on how kids’ day must go can help you limit the chances of chaos. Also, also the parents whether to allow friends over. If they allow friends, ask for the names of those friends ahead of time.
  • Be active and enjoy: It feels easy to keep a child busy by setting them in front of a computer or TV screen. But a good babysitter will engage a child in other activities as well. First, you have to learn your parents’ house rules about playtime. Also, ask if they allow kids to go out for playtime, which games are off-limits, and what are kids’ favorite toys. After that, plan out the right activities to keep the kids active while having fun.

    For instance, you can play archeologist while going outside. Or stay inside and play hide and seek or pillow for captain. If a kid you are watching has some disability, it’s best to ensure you know how to engage the kids in activities, so they don’t feel excluded.
  • Be watchful: There can be certain dangers both inside and outside a house. It is not enough to stay ready for emergencies. You need to be watchful. So, stay near a kid you are watching. If you are outside on a playground, keep your cell phone away. Keep an eye on your child, not the phone’s screen. If you are busy only texting or attending a phone call, you may miss if a child gets an injury while playing.
  • Be open to criticism: There are chances that some of your strategies may upset parents. But be open to their concerns. Take their feedback to do a better job, while reassuring them that the same mistake won’t happen again.
  •  Give Them A Choice: Refusing to obey certain rules comes with the rebellious nature of a difficult child. So, instead of trying to be controlling, give them a choice with restricted outcomes. For instance, instead of giving them an order to keep all the toys in a basket or cleaning a room, ask them which task he/she is like to take up, so you can handle the other. Eventually, you can start getting them to do their own tasks. But start with one task at a time first.
  • Give Rewards: It is a strategy that you need to use only if your children behave well, when it’s needed the most. Suppose you are out in a park and a kid you babysit promises to be nice to other kids and keeps up the promise. In this case, you can treat them with his/her favorite chocolate or snack. It can also work with simpler tasks like taking medicines on time or helping you with cleaning their room after playing. It is a good way to encourage kids to work with you. But don’t take this step too far, or it will come across as bribing and may backfire in the long run. That’s because your kids will start expecting something in return after completing a task. So, limit it to certain occasions only.
  • Choose Appropriate Outcomes: Outcomes are also crucial as rewards in shaping the difficult-to-handle behavior of your child. Generally, time-outs work with many children, as they have enough time to think about what they did during a boring day. If time-outs do not work, you can take away their favorite activities, like screen time privileges or desserts, if they don’t obey you.


Disciplining a difficult kid is a must-have skill for a babysitter. But most people don’t have it. While they may feel baffled to know that the kids they are watching are tougher to handle than others, they can eventually understand the behavior of kids with the help of their parents. Based on what works and what doesn’t work for difficult kids, a babysitter can make a strategy.
Nonetheless, patience is the key. And, with keen observation skills and smart techniques, babysitters can manage things well.

Key takeaway

Babysitting is a daunting task at times, but it can be rewarding too, if you know how to handle it well. Remember that children’s safety is your top priority. So, be ready for emergencies that may come up in the day. And, also don’t forget to have fun with the kids while babysitting.

Categories: Baby

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