While the lives of today’s teenagers may be very different than the teenage lives many of us led, there is still one part of the experience that is likely at the top of any teen’s list: the quest for spending money. While most teens eventually get jobs in retail, fast food, or restaurants, the employment many of them often begin with is babysitting.
Whether it is for siblings, family, or neighbors, babysitting can be a great first step towards gaining the independence that employment requires and experiencing the feeling of earning money for one’s work.
However, caring for an infant, toddler, or child also brings with it a great deal of responsibility. How do you know if your child is ready to take on such responsibility?
The web site SafeSitter.org offers a list of questions to consider when determining if your child is ready to babysit. First and foremost, the site wisely advises that readiness is not based on your child’s age, but rather on developmental factors. These factors can explored by asking such questions as “Does my child enjoy younger children?”, “Is my child able to practice safe habits for the younger child and himself?”, and “Is my child able to listen to and follow instructions?”
SheKnows.com also has a great article on babysitting readiness, offering both a little humor and some great advice. “How can a child who consistently forgets to clear her place from the table possibly be responsible enough to watch someone else’s children?” author Abbi Perets ponders. “It’s a legitimate question,” she continues, “but give your kid a little credit.” She offers some great pointers on assessing responsibility, the value of on-the-job training, and other concerns.
Once you’ve decided that your child is ready to babysit, it’s important to prepare them for the new experience. About.com has a great list of recommendations for preparing your child, including having him or her start out by being a mother’s helper or volunteering at a church nursery, registering him or her for a babysitting class, or engaging in some role-playing with him or her.
In the end, you know your child best and will be the best resource in determining his or her readiness for babysitting. Allow the tools mentioned here to help you, and don’t be afraid to seek out even more resources. Before you know it, your child will ready to participate in the long tradition of babysitting.