My child wants to babysit. What do I do?
If you’re of a certain age (ahem, 30 or 40-something parents), then hearing your child mention that they want to start babysitting probably makes you think of the 1987 film Adventures in Babysitting. Remember how fun it was to watch Elizabeth Shue as she drove into Chicago with a car full of kids, ready to take on mischief, car thieves, blues musicians, and more? Now that you’re a parent, however, you want to make sure that you child is safe and sound watching their younger charges, not out trying to convince Vincent D’Onofrio that he really might be Thor. (You didn’t know that was Vincent, did you? Here’s another bit of trivia: Bradley Whitford played the cheating boyfriend, Mike.)
Adventures in Babysitting aside, most sitters in the 80s experienced quiet evenings with the children playing a game or watching a movie. These days, kids may stream a movie instead of watching a VHS rental tape, but kids – and babysitters haven’t changed all that much. But that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing to worry about. Now that you’re looking at things from a parent’s perspective, here’s what you need to know if your child wants to start babysitting:
- Good babysitters love to have fun with kids. If your young teen wants to make money, but doesn’t like kids, then babysitting isn’t for them. Encourage them to find a first job that is a better fit, such as pet sitting, mowing lawns, or helping neighbors with yard work.
- Only you can decide if your child is ready to start babysitting. There is no magic age when your young teen is ready to supervise other children. Take into account your child’s maturity, skills, and experience when making that call. For example, young teens who have experience helping with younger siblings may be ready sooner than others the same age.
- Good training is essential. Taking a babysitting training class like Safe Sitter® Essentials is, well, essential! All new babysitters need good training, including instruction on how to handle challenging behavior, what to do in an emergency, and how to treat minor injuries and illnesses. Courses like Safe Sitter® Essentials cover all that and more. If you cannot find a class near you or the class availability doesn’t work with your schedule, lead your child through Safe@Home and Intro to Safe Babysitting.
- You have responsibilities, too. Parents of babysitters need to make sure that they approve or give permission for each babysitting job. Make sure you know when and where your child will be babysitting. Also, all babysitters need a cell phone or access to a landline phone at every job. Finally, make sure they have safe transportation to and from the employer’s home.
The world may have changed over the past 30 years or so, but babysitting is still the go-to job for teens. Just make sure your child is ready for the responsibility and has the life and safety skills training necessary to keep themselves and the children they’re watching safe. After all, adventures while babysitting are only fun if you’re watching them in a movie!
Has your child taken a babysitting training course? If not, find a Safe Sitter® class near you!