Dinner Time Drama and How to Avoid It

A lot of the time when you babysit, you’ll be asked to make and feed the children dinner. Sometimes, it’ll be as easy as serving up some pizza and calling it a day.  Other times, you’ll be expected to cook a healthy dinner and somehow get the kids to eat it. Often times, you’ll find that the former is easier than the latter. So, how can you get a kid who refuses to eat to eat dinner?

Kids will eat when they are hungry.

This is rule number one. There is not a kid in existence that will allow themselves to starve to death.  Trust me, your own parents probably followed this rule from time to time, and look at you! You’re here, and you’re taking care of kids yourself. Sometimes, little people aren’t so great at telling you that they’re not hungry, or that their tummy hurts, or that they really don’t like a certain food. There is no hard and fast rule that say children have to eat at dinner time. If you give the child a bit of a chance and a break, they will eventually eat. 

Make it a game!

You can pretty much turn anything into a game when it comes to being a babysitter; what kid doesn’t like games? Sometimes, if you’re babysitting siblings, you can turn dinner into a sort of competition with no real prize except that you didn’t have to argue with the kids about whether or not they should eat their dinner. Personally, if I use this method, I never make it into a game of “Who can eat their dinner the fastest?” but more of a game of who can eat the most of their dinner. Siblings tend to be very competition driven. And, if you can convince them to try to eat more of their dinner than their sibling, you should be good to go. I typically use this method when I’m serving a healthier meal that the kids are maybe not thrilled about. Pizza goes down easy…broccoli? Not so much.

Offer some sort of fun activity the child can do only if they eat their dinner.

Bribery is always an option when it comes to dinner time. Do the children get to have tv time or watch a movie after dinner since they have a sitter? Great, then they only get to do those things if they eat their dinner. Otherwise, it’s just a normal night. Of course, you’ll want to make sure that it is okay with the parents ahead of time for you to do those things. Some families are specific about how much screen time kids are allowed to have, so you’ll want to make sure you’re not breaking any house rules. Another fun activity to offer up is to teach the children a new game—you can find more ideas for games here. (hyperlink to icebreaker games blog post)

Of course, you can always ask the parents themselves for tips as far as how to best get their children to eat their dinner. However, if you end up forgetting to ask, these tips almost always work in a pinch!

How do you work through dinner time as a babysitter? Do you have any tips you’d like to share with us? Tweet them at @SitterMe using the #SitterTipTuesday to share!