Responsibility and Independence: The New and Exciting World of Babysitting
Guest Post by UW Nursing Student Michael Vaughn

Your teen may be expressing the desire to expand his or her responsibilities, skills, and job experience through babysitting. It is an exciting time, one I remember well, when hard work and energy spent playing with children is rewarded with the feeling of accomplishment from a job well done and money independently earned. Babysitting provides a flexible work option which can help your child’s confidence grow as they take on this new challenge and develop skills to use in future jobs.

In order to prepare your teen for success and provide them a safe foundation, consider the following preparations:

1. Babysitting courses offered for teens discuss child care of infants and children, safety, expectations, and business tactics. These classes can be in person (often offered by Red Cross, the YMCA, or a nearby Children’s Hospital) or they can be taken online.
2. First Aid and CPR classes provide great opportunities for your teen to not only be better prepared in a babysitting situation, but an all-around more informed and educated citizen (some babysitting courses include First Aid or CPR certification). As extra motivation for your teen, surveys have found parents are more willing to hire a babysitter, AND more likely to increase the hourly rate for a babysitter if they have certifications. A little extra time in the beginning is worth it in the long run.
3. Develop a list of emergency phone numbers. Your teen can be creative in making their own list and doing some research. Examples of numbers to have on hand: 911, parents’ cell numbers, poison control, the child’s doctor, the police department, the fire department, nearest emergency department, neighbor, and the number of the restaurant/venue where the parents will be.
4. Questions to ask the parents before they leave: Do the children have any allergies? What illnesses or diseases should you be aware of? Are the children taking any medications? Is there any water around like pool, hot tub, river? These questions provide your teen a basic understanding of the children’s health and needs.
5. Talk through emergency situations with your child. This imaginary game may seem silly, but you can bring up questions your child may not have considered. Ask them what they will do if a stranger knocks on the door. What would they do if there is smoke in the house? What would they do if a child becomes injured? What will they do if the child drinks a bottle of Tylenol?
6. Trial Run if you’re particularly nervous about letting your teen babysit independently, you can have your teen first babysit while the parent is around the house or only out for a short trip to the grocery store. Your teen will get a taste of babysitting but not be committed to a long stretch of time, plus help will be nearby if necessary.
7. Babysitter in Training is another option if your child is displaying interest in babysitting but is not quite old enough to take on the sole responsibility. Your child can work with an older teen to advance his/her babysitting skills before he/she begins on her own.
8. Finally, to ensure your teen has a positive babysitting experience help them identify fun activities to do with the children. This will not only help your teen enjoy the time spent babysitting, but your teen will also practice their skills of working with children, while also increasing the chance they will be asked to babysit again.
Babysitting allows a teenager to develop a sense of maturity, financial independence, and accomplishment as they take on the responsibility of caring for children. Following the ideas provided can help prepare your child to be successful, safe, and have fun in their babysitting endeavors.

For more information on the Seattle Children’s Hospital Better Babysitter’s Class – click here