Preparing Your Tween to Babysit

You can help your tween become the best babysitter ever

Girls playing ring around the rosey on park grass
Your tween should be prepared to play and interact with the younger children. Jason Todd/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

Does your tween want to babysit? There was a time when babysitting jobs were reserved for teens, but more and more tweens are babysitting these days. While tweens who are younger, immature or inexperienced should wait a while before they babysit, many older, responsible tweens are capable and mature enough to care for other children for short periods of time.

There are a number of reasons why tweens are considered as babysitters today.

As the schedules of teens fill-up with school and activities, many are no longer available to babysit, leaving job vacancies open to willing tweens. Many tweens, wanting to earn their own money, choose babysitting as an option, especially if they've already babysat their own younger siblings or other relatives.

If your tween wants to babysit, and you've decided that she's ready, you'll need to prepare her for the experience, so that she and the younger children have a safe and fun experience. Here's what you need to do.

Ready to Babysit? Preparation for Tweens

 

  • Consider having your tween begin babysitting by first becoming a mother's helper. As a mother's helper your child will watch younger children, while a parent is still at home. Mother's helpers free up busy parents to complete chores, make dinner, or even work from home. As a mother's helper your tween has the opportunity to learn how to babysit, with the safety net of an adult nearby.
  • Before your tween begins babysitting, she could volunteer at a church nursery, or other establishment, to get an idea of what might be in store for her.
  • Your local Red Cross Chapter, or YMCA may offer babysitting classes for aspiring babysitters. Sign up for a class, and also ask if your child can take a first-aid or CPR class as well. Be sure to ask if your child is old enough to take these courses (the Red Cross Babysitting course is designed for children 11 to 15). These courses will help your tween learn how to deal with potential problems, such as a minor injury, and how to handle potentially serious situations. A course will also give your tween confidence in his or her abilities. 
  • Encourage your tween to make a brochure or a flyer announcing that she's ready to babysit. The brochure should include her experience and training, as well as information on how late she can babysit. If your child isn't ready to sit with infants or toddlers, her brochure should point out that she's qualified to sit with preschoolers and elementary-aged children only.
  • Your tween should create a questionnaire for every family to fill out before she shows up to babysit. Information she'll need to know includes: parent contact information; children's food allergies; bedtime rituals; contact information for immediate neighbors; a list of house rules; information about the children that might help her bond with them; the children's favorite books or television shows, etc.
  • If your tween doesn't already know the children she's hired to babysit, she should ask if the parents can introduce them to her before she shows up for the assignment. That way she'll know a little bit about the children, and they'll know a little bit about her, before the job begins.
  • Role-play various scenarios with your child so that she has the opportunity to think about how to react to them. What should your tween do if a child refuses to go to bed? What should she do if a child hurts himself, locks himself in a room, or refuses to eat dinner? Give her pointers on how to deal with sibling rivalry.
  • Help your tween babysitter put together a fun bag filled with activities, books, board games, toys, treats, and other items she can bring with her when it's time for her to babysit. She might even consider packing some of her favorite toys when she was younger.
  • Visit a local child care center with your tween and have her interview one of the teachers. She should ask for recommendations on caring for children of different ages, keeping them entertained, and gentle discipline tactics.
  • Visit a local bookstore or library and ask the children's librarian for book recommendations and trends in children's literature. If your child doesn't yet have her own library card, allow her to apply so that she can check books out periodically to bring with her on assignments.
  • Check-in with your tween periodically while she's babysitting to access the situation. Ask her if she needs any pointers, or wants you to drop by just to make sure things are in order.
  • Know your state's law regarding minimum age requirements for babysitters. Some regions have no laws on the books, but localities may still have recommended guidelines.

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