Are You Ready to Be a Babysitter?

by Dennis Kim
Photo Credit: Allen Taylor
Have your parents or guardians help you decide if you are ready to take on this important job. With their help, you should think about what you will and won't be able to handle as a babysitter. For example, you may decide to only watch children ages 3 and up or to only work on weekends.
  • Are you mature enough to handle this job? A person must be at least a young adult (12–14 years old) to take on the responsibility of watching young children, and mature enough to handle common emergencies.
  • How many children can you handle at one time? A new sitter should start with one child or even start as a mother's helper. A more experienced sitter may handle several children of similar age. It takes a very experienced sitter to handle a mixed age group of children or more than three children at once. Watching too many children can challenge even a very experienced older teen sitter.
  • Can you handle babies and young children? Younger teens should not sit for children younger than 6 months. Toddlers can also be challenging. Teens should only accept sitting for one child at a time if the child is three or younger.
  • Have you been trained in how to care for small children? Have you received first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training from a nationally recognized organization? Discuss with parents or guardians the time frame during which they want you to watch their children, and whether it is proper. Leaving a young child in your care for a few hours is acceptable, but all day or a very late night may not be.

Sitter Qualities

Successful sitters have these qualities. Are you . . . ?

  • Mature
  • Trustworthy
  • Patient
  • Responsible
  • Safety-conscious
  • Fun-loving
  • Punctual
  • And do you like children?

Be Prepared to Answer Questions

Responsible parents or guardians will interview sitters before hiring them. They want to feel confident that you can do the job.

Expect to be asked the following types of questions:

  • Experience: How much babysitting have you done? Have you cared for other children the same age as theirs? Do you understand the importance of constantly supervising children?
  • Training: What training do you have in babysitting and first aid? Do you know what to do in an emergency?
  • References: Can you provide names and phone numbers of families who have hired you before? Are you responsible and trustworthy?
  • Availability: When can you sit? How late can you sit? What ages of children can you sit for?
  • Pay: Parents or guardians may ask you what you charge. You should be prepared to tell them a rate per hour that is similar to what other sitters are being paid. You need to determine what sitters are getting paid per hour in your neighborhood. Ask friends who sit and adults who hire sitters what a typical rate is. If the parents or guardians do not ask what you charge, you may politely ask them what they will be paying per hour. It is OK for you to ask how much they will pay you.

Be a Good Guest!

Remember that you are an invited guest in the house.

The following rules are good to remember when sitting:

  • Only eat food if you have been given permission to do so. If you are welcome to eat, make sure to clean up and wash any dishes when you are done.
  • Avoid "exploring" another person's home, such as opening closets or drawers or looking through personal belongings.
  • Avoid having friends visit you while you are sitting. This way your attention can always be on the child or children.
  • Avoid personal calls or texts. The phone should be kept available for incoming calls from the child's parents or guardians.
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Sourced by: Helathychildren,org