For many teenagers, babysitting is a time-honored way to earn money. Some teens have regular Saturday night families, others help out after school, and others get hired during school vacations. Those who babysit enjoy spending time with kids and realize that there are some great benefits to this work: everything from being able to do homework while the kids nap or after they go to bed to enjoying whatever snacks the family provides to being admired by their charges as the cool babysitter.
Still and all, it’s sometimes hard to believe that our teens who may not always seem capable of managing themselves are really ready to take on the care of other people’s children.
How do you know if your teen is truly ready to babysit? Like everything else, it’s important to have a conversation with your teen about exactly what babysitting entails and how to manage what is likely to be their very first job.
5 Tips to Share With Teen Babysitters:
1. Be responsible.
“Another person’s life is in their hands, and they need to know the implications of that,” says Ada Thompson, a long-time nanny who specializes in adolescents.
2. Be attentive.
Explain to your teenager that babysitting is not the time to text or do homework (when children are awake). Parents hire babysitters to engage with their children. Interacting with the kids will give your teen a sense of job satisfaction and a better chance of rehire.
3. Be business-minded.
Your teenager needs to decide what to charge, how many hours to work and how to promote their services. Asking federal minimum wage is a reasonable way to set hourly fees.
4. Be ready to enforce rules.
Make sure your teenager knows that babysitting can be more than just playing with children. At times, they will be required to enforce house rules—or even set limits when children misbehave. Explain to your teenager that it’s best to check with the parents about discipline measures, but physical force is never appropriate.
5. Be inquisitive.
If your teenager is unsure about bedtimes, dinner, or house rules, it’s better to ask questions than make a mistake. Definitely ask about allergies. And remind your teenager that if they are unsure about something, they shouldn’t take the child’s word for it. Always ask the parents.