Teens love to earn money and before they reach old enough to be hired at public places many of them take babysitting jobs to earn a few dollars for what they want. Deciding when a teen is old enough to babysit is an important step and one that varies from child to child.
The average age that children can be left alone in this country is age 12. But not all 12 year olds are old enough to be left alone let alone watch a younger child or sibling for several hours.
Teach your child safety tips as soon as they are old enough to learn them. Knives are sharp and can cut or injure people. Fire can burn you. Water can drown you.
Teach your child how to call for help such as 911 or your local number for police, fire and emergency assistance. Include how to give your address or find the address if they have no idea what it is. Its a good idea to keep the address posted near the phone or put an address label on the telephone itself. If the teen is babysitting elsewhere teach the teen to ask what the address is in case of emergency (most parents will post this but for the few that don’t ask).
Minor first aid. If there is a first aid class offered in your area send your teen for general first aid training when the class is offered. This will give your teen good skills to use in any situation not just if the teen is babysitting.
What do you do if stranger’s come to the door? Naturally you don’t let them in or even open the door. Make sure teens know how to handle these sorts of situations. You can role play these and discuss them with your teen.
If your teen will be babysitting an infant make sure your teen knows how to properly hold the infant and to change its diaper. Also make sure your teen knows not to ever shake the baby even if it is crying uncontrollably. Teach the teen how to handle such situations. Put the baby down in its bed and walk away for a few minutes, call its parents etc. Explain why so that the teen understand completely the ramifications of shaking a baby.
When you feel your teen is old enough to babysit (usually around 13 to 16 years of age) give it a few trial runs with a younger sibling (or neighbor child with parents permission). Leave your teen with the younger child for about 15 minutes to 1/2 hour (be available either across the street at a neighbors or via telephone in case of emergency).
When you return ask the teen how it went. Observe the behavior of the child left with the teen. Are they happy, sad or having fun?
Try it again for a little longer and see how things go.
When you feel your teen is old enough allow them to begin babysitting slowly but make sure that you are available should they need you. If this is for someone else, make sure the parents understand that you teen is new at this and let them know that if they are unavailable you are available until your teen gets the hang of it.
Not all teens like children and will be good at babysitting. Consider other ways for those teens to earn extra money.Tips & Warnings
Be aware of specific situations that certain children may have such as special medical needs and make sure you child is old enough to handle these. If any medication is to be given make sure the teen completely understands how much and the procedure to follow for such medications.
These tips should help you determine whether or not your teen is ready to begin babysitting on his or her own.