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Handle This: Break the Rules?

Welcome to DearSugar's new feature: Handle This. I'm going to give you a hypothetical scenario and ask you to tell me how you would handle it in the comments below. Let's give it a whirl.

Your best friend asks you to baby sit her daughter so she and her husband could have a night to themselves after the craziness of the holidays. Of course you oblige even though you're not the best when it comes to kids. Your friend is a very strict mom and leaves you a laundry list of rules to obey by, including no sweets, an early bed time, and absolutely no television.

An hour into your babysitting duties, the toddler throws a temper tantrum. She starts screaming and crying and you try everything in your power to calm her down; you sing to her, you hold her, you even try to feed her again, but nothing seems to help. Your patience is running thin and you call another friend to ask her what to do. Her only advice is to sit the screamer in front of the TV until she falls asleep. You know how against TV your friend is, but your patience is about to run out, so what do you do? Go against the grain and risk getting yelled at by your best friend, or keep up your efforts of trying to calm her down without breaking the rules? Tell me how you would handle this!


Join The Conversation
rosalie-princess rosalie-princess 9 years
i think you should not give in no mater how long or hard she screams she will soon realize shes not getting what she wants
sugarbritches sugarbritches 9 years
If the ignoring didn't work I'd try the TV. I would respect any food requests like no soda and no sweets, but the TV is another thing. What's it going to hurt if they watch a few minutes and calm down? I don't have any friends that are so strict that they wouldn't be understanding if I explained. And I would let her know what happened while they were out, I wouldn't hide it for sure!
cgmaetc cgmaetc 9 years
I wish mom's would understand that it's ok for a kid to cry. It's irritating to listen to, but just let the kid wail.
Bookish Bookish 9 years
Call the mom and tell her to come get her kid. It sucks to have to give up your one free night, but if you want to be that strict with a babysitter, you've got to foresee some issues. If I was babysitting my sister's kid, we'd watch 20 minutes of Elmo, she'd calm down, and then we could go about our business. But an early bedtime, no sweets, no TV- that's Mom territory, and tough on a babysitter. It's not the babysitter's job to raise a child- not four hours at a time- so minor deviations from the usual routine shouldn't be earth-shattering. Babysitters are just supposed to keep your kid alive and safe. Sure, if they've got food allergies or really need to be in bed by a certain time, then by all means say so. But this seems extreme. I know it sounds bad, but I guess I probably wouldn't be friends with anyone that strict with their kids- they sound like no fun at all! What would childhood be without animal crackers and Sesame Street?
Daddisgrl Daddisgrl 9 years
Every situation is different... Is this in the childs own house, with their foods, toys, bed or is it at my place; where the kid may not be warmed up to? I have 2 kids... I've never expected anyone to completely follow every rule I have at my house. How can I if someone is doing me a favor? While I am in favor of routines / decent (8pm for little kids) bedtime, no sweets after lunch; I know damned well that people I've left my kids with let them stay up late; have candy & soda w/ caffeine (which I do not believe in). If I was watching this child, of course the obvious.. diaper, make sure their bottoms are clean (I've seen parents that don't clean them well), a snack, something fun, maybe cheetos, mac & cheese or hot dogs / grilled cheese. They might not like the food I was giving them to begin with and missing mommy & daddy, well sometimes you have to try. I would then try to distract them by playing, reading catalogs they can rip up. If they are absolutly miserable from being over tired, you can usually tell. I'd then try to walk them, maybe rock them, hopefully they will calm down. If I'm rocking, the TV is on with a show I like, not cartoons or kid shows.. don't want to stimulate a tired, cranky kid. If all fails then I might have to call the parent because it's obvious their child isn't ready to be left with someone. I've seen kids as old as 7 or 8 that can't. Before I did this, I would tell the friend that I will try to stick to their rules but would want to know if they would rather have their night interrupted by me or should I use my judgement even if it means TV?
I would break the rules. If the mom finds out, just tell her she knows you're not the best with kids, and should have expected it. Then, if she gets upset about it, maybe she won't ask you to babysit again. Problem solved!!
reeeeka reeeeka 9 years
Have I exhausted all resources? If so...Why go against your friend and their wishes? I'd put her in a crib in another room and let her cry herself to sleep. It doesn't hurt them and it's probably just what they needed.
cubadog cubadog 9 years
I would plop her in front of the TV or throw in her room till she was cried out. Shame on your friend for not giving you a heads up on what to do in this situation. I am also not a kid person but my friends know this and make sure I know everything if I watch their child which rarely happens.
sparklestar sparklestar 9 years
I'm not a baby person so I'd turn on the tv and leave her in front of it until she'd calmed down!
DCStar DCStar 9 years
I would put the baby in the car, strap her in tight and drive around. Works like a charm.
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
Greggie - Fair enough. I guess different strokes and all that... Personally, I wouldn't leave my children with someone I didn't trust. And if I trust them, I'm perfectly comfortable with them using their judgment. But, then, I'd never leave a laundry list of How To Babysit Just Like I Parent, so I guess my own personal comfort zone is not really relevant to this particular parent... :rotfl:
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
I wouldnt go against the Rules, they are there for a reason and with a toddler, if they get "plopped" down in front of the TV once, the will want it again and thats just not fair to your best friend after you leave. Let the kid cry, sing, dance, break out the finger paints, put on some music.....People entertained kids before the tv was around!
Greggie Greggie 9 years
Also, my "personal sanity" would likely be in a lot more danger having the schedule and habits completely thrown off like that. Now I'm the one who has to deal with the aftermath.
Greggie Greggie 9 years
"Because if - as in this situation - you weren't a parent, you might turn to another parent you trust who would know more about how to deal with ANY child, than you do. And, because if you cared about your friend and her personal sanity, you wouldn't want to wreck her one responsibility free night with annoying calls." But it's ok to completely disregard her rules? I'd far rather I get a call on my night out asking my advice and giving me the choice on what to do about my own child. Any friend who disregarded that wouldn't be a friend for long. I respect my friends' parenting styles and our differences and wouldn't dream of dismissing those without even asking for their input.
caramelqtee75 caramelqtee75 9 years
Yes - put the brat in front of the TV until she passes out.
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
Why on earth would I call anyone but the PARENTS for input on how to handle their own child? Because if - as in this situation - you weren't a parent, you might turn to another parent you trust who would know more about how to deal with ANY child, than you do. And, because if you cared about your friend and her personal sanity, you wouldn't want to wreck her one responsibility free night with annoying calls. The situation given says you've already tried everything you could think of, so answering "I'd try something else" is just a cop out. I'd indulge the child and let her watch some tv if she wanted to. Every babysitter I ever had bent the rules a little - let us watch a little more tv than we were supposed to, let us stay up a little later than we were supposed to, etc... And, when my son stays with a friend, they feed him crap like fluourescent yellow Kraft Mac & Cheese with hot dogs, but whatever. It's a tradeoff. If I want my children to be cared for exactly as I would do it every second of every day, then I need to take that responsibility every second of every day. If, I need to get something done or just breathe on my own for a little, I can accept that they are being cared for and loved, just not exactly how I'd do it. Besides, it makes the being-left-behind pill a little easier to swallow when your child knows they'll be a little spoiled. But, I would fess up to my friend.
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
getstinko I have to agree with you on this one.
getstinko getstinko 9 years
You need to cover the basics - diaper, food, fever check etc - if that's all hunky dorey than you've got to move to games. If none of that works you just attend the child until she/he burns out on crying. Odds are there is a way to resolve it without giving the kid Candy or TV. Your friend is a total goof, if she left you with a toddler with no instructions on how to resolve a crisis like this - without TV or sweets. Every responsible parent knows a range of solutions to this kind of crisis and leaving a friend to figure those out - is ignorant. How did we all get along before TV, Candy and late nights became soooo lethal!!!
Greggie Greggie 9 years
Exactly, aujah. How on earth would the "other friend" know the answer? And I don't consider stating a bedtime (early is HUGELY relative), a no sweets rules, and no tv rule to be a "strict" list at all.
AujahAcorn AujahAcorn 9 years
no TV. Deal with it. who ever said TV was the answer? the friend? well how does she know?
Greggie Greggie 9 years
"Umm... wouldn't the obvious solution be to call the mom instead of the other friend to ask if it's okay or to offer alternate solutions to the screaming child problem?" Seriously. Why on earth would I call anyone but the PARENTS for input on how to handle their own child?
number6_ed number6_ed 9 years
I once babysat my nephew, and he was sick. It was the first time my sister and her husband had gone out since he was born. He was crying and I couldn't get him to calm down no matter what I tried, so I called her up and told her she needed to come home, and she did. That would def be what I would do: call the mom if everything I tried, including leaving them alone to see if they would stop when not receiving any attention for the behavior, had not worked. The mom may be able to tell me what she does when her kid throws a tantrum.
smp7328 smp7328 9 years
This is exactly why i don't babysit for anyone except my sister. I know her rules and her kids are allowed to watch some tv.
Kristinh1012 Kristinh1012 9 years
I have two young children and I would NEVER leave a strict list with a baby-sitter with the exception of a food list. Best friends or not. First, you are asking a favor of someone. The food list is fine, but a strict agenda or rules of no TV can just be unrealistic at times for a baby-sitter. When a parent is not in the picture and there is a change, kids tend to get a little bent out of shape. I would have done whatever calmed her down and then explained that you didn't want to ruin your friends night by calling them home early. If she gives your crap, make it the last time you do her that favor.
Josephinesmom Josephinesmom 9 years
i'd put her in her room, close the door and let her scream.
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