How to Put Kids to Bed with Minimum Fuss
As babysitters, we know that some kids go to bed easily. They do what you ask them to do in a timely and compliant manner. Oh, but then there are those kids who beg for five more minutes of play time or drag out the bedtime ritual . . . and the kids who lay in bed and wail in the hopes that you will come and rescue them from their beds. How do you handle these kids to get them to go to bed with minimum fuss?
- The five-more-minutes kids and the dragging-out-bedtime-rituals kids: these kids either thoroughly enjoy whatever they are doing at the time or they just don’t like bedtime. Either way, their parents have tasked you with putting them to bed on time, and you must do so. Usually, we have enough knowledge of the kids in our care to know what may be driving their behaviors . . . find a motivator that will incent them to go to bed without further fuss. For example, if the kids hate missing out on social interaction, you can offer to lay down with them until they are asleep.
- The lay-in-bed-and-wail kids: these kids have learned that crying loudly (and often exaggeratedly) will get adults to do what they want. This can be a tricky situation for a babysitter. If you ignore the manipulative behavior, will the parents perceive your choice to be neglectful or cold? If you capitulate to the manipulative behavior (because, presumably, that’s what the parents have historically done), then will you further reinforce the manipulative behavior? It’s best to visit with the parents to determine how they want you to respond to this situation.
- Don’t stimulate the kids right before you want them to be winding down. Letting the kids have a sugary snack about a half hour before bedtime is just asking for trouble. So is starting a conversation that you know will get them wound up (either happy or upset), performing some very physical activity, and scaring the kids (hiding behind doorways and jumping out suddenly while shouting “boo” is always entertaining for the adults who are jumping and shouting, but it is seldom viewed with similar enthusiasm by the kids who are jumped and shouted at.) J
- Determine what lulls the kids. Lulling things can include soft music or absolute silence, complete darkness or dim light, comforting scents (e.g., the kids’ moms’ perfume), and rocking or a back rub. About 45 minutes before bedtime, you should get the kids ready for bed (teeth brushed, jammies on, etc.). Then, for the 30 minutes before bedtime, use the lulling techniques to induce drowsiness before the kids ever get tucked in bed.
- Other good bedtime habits include quietly reading a good book in bed for a pre-determined period of time before “lights-out”, sitting quietly near the kids’ beds and having them softly tell you about what they liked most about their day, saying bedtime prayers together, and having the kids remain silent for a moment of reflection on all the things the kids are grateful for (i.e., loving parents, goofy siblings, good food, a nice house, fun toys, etc.).
By following these tips, you can put kids to bed with minimum fuss.
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