Preparing Your Teen to Babysit


By: , – Dana Hudepohl, for Family Circle
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Before your kid nabs a babysitting job, here's what you both need to know to make the most of the experience.
Even in today's strained economic environment, one evergreen starter career is flourishing more than ever: babysitting. Summer child care gigs for teens and tweens are even more plentiful than in the past because parents work outside the home and for longer hours. Unlike traditional teen summer jobs at the local mall or restaurant—which are now harder to snag because many adults are vying for the same spots—babysitting usually offers some flexibility so your teen can still make it to soccer practice, SAT prep or a family trip. And it's the perfect pick for tweens who are too young for office jobs and internships. "Sitting gives young people many more skills than a basic entry-level position," says Suzanne Byron, Ph.D., a Seattle-based instructor for the American Red Cross Babysitter's Training program. "It's an opportunity to learn about being an entrepreneur, develop people skills and build confidence." Since most parents begin lining up summer help in May, now is the ideal time to encourage your kid to get down to business.

Is She Ready to Babysit?
Any parent knows that dealing with little ones can be challenging at times. "When something goes awry, like a child won't go to bed, has a tantrum or breaks something, a sitter needs to think on her feet and figure out how to handle it," says Melissa Marchwick, executive vice president of, the largest parent-sitter matchmaking website in the U.S. How do you know if your tween or teen is up for the task? Generally preteens are ready to be babysitters by age 11, but kids mature at different rates, so you have to assess your child honestly. Ask yourself:

  • Does she actually like young kids and babies?
  • Is she dependable in your home when it comes to following instructions, doing chores, cleaning up and finishing homework?
  • What's her comfort level with being in charge, answering the phone or speaking to a stranger at the front door?
  • Can you trust her to be responsible in someone else's house?
  • How does she generally treat her siblings—especially the younger ones?
  • Are you confident in her decision-making abilities in difficult situations?

Read more on how to prepare your teen to babysit.
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