I’ve always been a huge a fan of babysitting. Ever since I was about 12, I spent countless hours watching kids and making some extra cash. For me, it was a no brainer. I love kids, so why not get paid to look after them?
Beyond the extra cash, however, babysitting really taught me a great deal of life skills. I learned basic things like how to change a diaper and how to burp a baby, but more importantly, I learned responsibility. When you’re responsible for toddlers and babies, you automatically learn what it means to take care of others and that is a skill that has carried me throughout my life.
But don’t just take my word for it.
“In my experience, babysitting is a great experience for teenagers in most every way.”
“It provides them with the opportunity to prove themselves capable and responsible for perhaps the first major time in their lives, charged with taking care of a child or children,” says Dr. John Duffy, a clinical psychologist and author of The Available Parent: Radical Optimism for Raising Teens and Tweens.
On top of that, it teaches teenagers to take pride in earning money and to act responsibly with their earnings, Dr. Duffy explains. And when a teen is asked to return to babysit again, it can be a great boost to his or her sense of self-worth.
“It is also a positive, constructive use of time,” he adds. “I find that many of the teenagers I have worked with who babysit regularly tend to be more organized. They seem to make better use of their time.”
Some other skills that babysitting teaches teens include:
- Learning to set limits and boundaries for the children, as well as how to make decisions on the spot when the children don’t automatically follow these limits and boundaries.
- Gaining independency at a time when they may feel like they have little control at home.
- Acquiring Increased empathy towards others and the ability to see something from a different perspective.
- Learning career skills like negotiating salary, hours, and expectations.
Not every teen may feel as interested in babysitting as I was, but the benefits are countless. Even if your teen doesn’t babysit regularly, a couple of gigs here and there can teach them invaluable lessons that will help them no matter where they find themselves later in life.