Dear American Girl,
Summer is really busy for my parents, so I've been babysitting my little brothers and sisters more than usual. I want to help out, but my siblings are a lot to handle. How can I get them to calm down and listen to me?
Here's your advice:
Before you babysit, come up with a list of games, crafts, and other activities that will last the whole time you are babysitting. Share the list with your siblings ahead of time, and they'll have things to look forward to. The activities might also keep them distracted.
-Anna Claire, age 12, Tennessee
Ask your parents if you could have a friend come over and help you every once in a while. It'll be good to have some extra help, and you'll get to spend time with a pal, too.
-Delaney, age 8, North Carolina
Ask your parents to talk to your siblings before you babysit. They can tell the kids how they should behave and that they need to respect you.
-Laura, age 12, Virginia
Gather paper, glue, crayons, and other craft supplies and cover a table in newspaper. Ask your siblings to sit at the table and say, "Hey, guys, Mom and Dad have been really busy, and I think they'd love to come home to something handmade and special." You'll give them something to focus on by working together, and your parents will love it.
-Sarah, age 12, Oregon
Whatever you do, try not to yell or lose your temper. Before you blow your top, suggest a quiet activity to do with your siblings, such as watching a movie or reading a story. It might help you calm down, too.
-Caroline, age 10, Massachusetts
Have a "bag of tricks" to use when you babysit your siblings. It could include games, puzzles, small toys, or other things that your siblings will like. If they start to get out of control, pull something from your bag of tricks. They will be excited to play with something new, and it might help redirect them.
-Allison, age 12, Kansas
Turn on fun music and teach them a dance routine to perform for your parents when they get home. It might keep your siblings really busy.
-Eleanor, age 10, Ohio
Offer rewards to your siblings if they listen to you. You could say something such as, "If you guys quiet down, you can have ten more minutes of TV time."
-Emma, age 11, Massachusetts
If you get angry and stomp away, your siblings will feel as if they're in charge. If you're firm but nice, your tone might help them understand that your parents have left you in charge.
-Allie, age 13, California
The next time you babysit, suggest a "Helping Hands Day." Since your parents have been so busy, they might appreciate coming home to a clean house. To get your siblings on board with the idea, make up challenges to do throughout the day, such as, "Whoever does the most chores wins" or "The kid with the cleanest window gets to pick a game to play later." It'll keep your siblings busy, and it will be helpful to your parents.
-Aylin, age 10, Connecticut
If your siblings are getting out of hand, tell each child to play quietly by himself for 15 minutes. You'll get some time to cool off, and it might calm the kids down, too.
-Joanna, age 9, Ohio
When I babysit, I like to bring along a chart and some stickers. Every time a kid does something nice or helpful, he or she gets a sticker next to his or her name. At the end of the night, whoever has the most stickers gets a small prize.
-An American Girl fan, age 11, Minnesota
Ask your parents what they have done in the past to calm your siblings down. Then put your own spin on things. If your brothers and sisters love puppet shows, make your own sock puppets and cardboard theater and put on a show.
-Olivia, age 12, New York
I'm the oldest of six kids, and I have to watch my little siblings sometimes, too. You probably want your siblings to like you. If you're someone they look up to and think is fun, they might start listening to you. Things could be better if you act more like a fun sister than a bossy babysitter. Good luck!
-Clara, age 13, Pennsylvania