Babysitters often have a difficult time feeding the children they are caring for. While some children are great eaters, others give their babysitters a hard time. It is important to go into mealtime with a plan of action. The following guidelines may not work for all babysitters, but as a general rule, they will help make dinner-time easier for everybody.
The first step is for the babysitter to approach dinner-time with a positive attitude. If the babysitter seems excited about eating dinner, the kids may feel the same way. The babysitter should announce dinner-time in a lively tone and make sure not to interrupt the kids in the middle of doing something fun. Even if the parents have instructed to serve dinner at a certain time, the babysitter can wait 10-15 minutes for the children to finish up what they are doing. Babysitters are often seen as a fun alternative to mom and dad, so letting the kids eat a little bit late is usually fine.
Babysitters can also try to present the food in a fun manner. For example, referring to broccoli as trees, and arranging them in a “forest” can make the vegetables more appealing. If the kids don’t seem thrilled by the idea of eating their dinner, the babysitter can even add food coloring to make it more fun. Most kids will be thrilled by the idea of eating blue macaroni and cheese.
Once the children are seated at the table, the babysitter should keep the focus on a lively discussion. Hopefully the kids will eat while enjoying themselves. If they refuse to eat, a good incentive is for the babysitter to tell them about a new game and offer to play with them if they eat their dinner. The rules of the game can be explained while they eat and then the game can be played as soon as everyone is done.
While most babysitters won’t have a problem getting the children to eat, some kids may downright refuse. In this case, it may be a good idea to move on. Kids are often leery of new babysitters and causing a conflict can exacerbate the problem. Babysitters are not parents and it won’t harm the child to miss out on one dinner. However, the parents should be notified when they get home and asked how the babysitter should handle a similar situation in the future.