How to Prepare Your Child to be a Babysitter
Babysitting has become a right of passage for so many teens, and with it comes great responsibility for both you and your child. When your child accepts a babysitting job, he or she is accepting responsibility for another child’s life. As a parent, you can make sure that your child is ready to start babysitting and able to do so safely and responsibly.
- Decide if your child is ready to babysit based on his or her maturity level. Can your child handle the responsibility that comes with being a babysitter? If so, have your child complete a babysitting safety course like Safe Sitter®. You can use the Find A Class feature to find Registered Providers near you.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. Both of these programs were created by Safe Sitter, Inc. and come with a Facilitator’s Guide that allow you to prepare your child to stay home alone, watch younger siblings, or babysit other children.
- Help your child practice good work habits, especially screening jobs, checking references, and being on time. Monitor their job requests and activity, and help him or her decide which jobs he or she can handle. In addition, have a method to track jobs that your child accepts with a family calendar or a calendar app that is shared with the family.
- Help your child stay safe and do not allow him or her to advertise on the Internet. Many websites require users to be 18 or older, and it isn’t safe for young teens to advertise to strangers. Have your child start babysitting for family friends, acquaintances, neighbors, and other people that either they or you know personally.
- Talk to your child after each job. Young teens need guidance, and when you ask your child how each job went, you’re likely to learn more about what he or she experienced.
- Recognize that babysitting younger siblings is especially difficult. Help set your child up for success by letting younger children know that their sibling is in charge while you’re gone. Review the rules in front of siblings and acknowledge the sitter’s authority while you are gone. Babysitting younger siblings is an important family contribution, so be sure to show appreciation to your child that is babysitting.
- Establish a phrase for your child to use to communicate that they are in an unsafe situation and they need help. In Safe Sitter®, students learn to call or text their parent, “I’m ready to be picked up now.” This message communicates to you that your child needs you to come immediately and pick them up. When you receive the message, don’t ask your child any questions. Remove him or her from the unsafe situation and allow your child to explain the situation later.
Babysitting is a great opportunity for your child to gain skills in responsibility, planning, and decision making. Set your child up for success by following the steps above.