Parents of Babysitters
The responsibility of being a paid babysitter is one that many teens willingly go in search of. They appreciate the chance to earn money for the latest CD and the ability to gain some respect for their impending leap into adulthood. Most children tend to flourish with the trust and responsibility babysitting brings. Children who are given the chance to watch a friend or neighbor's child have higher levels of self-esteem and more confidence to withstand peer pressure.
Parents of children anxious to join the ranks of the working world often question how to help ensure their child is properly prepared to provide child care. From offering guidance about establishing an hourly rate to printing introductory flyers, adults soon realize their child's babysitting venture quickly becomes a parent's second job.
Once you've determined your child is mature enough to cope with the responsibility of babysitting, there are a few tips that offer both of you additional support.
1. Be home when she's working.
If your child is on a babysitting job, try to arrange to be home or accessible in case of emergency. Whether she needs words of experienced wisdom if a child is inconsolable or hears a "strange" noise in the basement that turns out to be the family cat, it's always nice to be able to talk to Mom or Dad. Make sure your teen knows you're there to offer "off-site" support and can reach you if necessary.
2. Instill your expectations.
You know what you do and do not prefer in a babysitter, so pass that valuable information on to your child to help her succeed. Help her to prioritize playing with kids, tidying up toys and games and being polite and punctual. Remind her of any negative experiences you had either as a parent or babysitter for her to use as a model of areas on which to improve.
3. Safety first.
Most park districts, local hospitals and American Red Cross locations offer babysitting courses that include basic CPR training. Before your child sets out on her first adventure in babysitting, make sure she successfully completes a babysitting training seminar. Additionally, knowing the location of the first aid kit where she's working will eliminate some panic in case of an unexpected scraped knee or splinter. Remind her about choking hazards such as small toys, earrings and pet food if she's scheduled to watch children under the age of 3.
Protecting your child's safety is also a high priority. Make sure her employers advise her of any pets to prevent an allergic reaction or asthma attack. If your child has environmental allergies, she should inquire whether anyone in the household smokes or if any other triggers may exist.
4. Know where she's working.
Have the contact information of where she's going to be babysitting. It is also a good idea to have the complete name and address of the person hiring your child. Consider providing her transportation to a new job until you're familiar with the people and location of where she's babysitting.
Many babysitters have multiple clients and extra-curricular activities. Your child should also be given an approximate length of the job prior to arriving for the assignment to avoid potential schedule conflicts.
5. Ask questions.
If your child is unclear about bedtime rituals or when to offer snacks, instruct her to ask the parents before they leave. It never hurts to jot down a short list of questions to ask the parents upon arriving for the job. A well-informed sitter is also a successful sitter, and her employers will appreciate the thorough demonstration of mature responsibility.
She should also know what the parents' expectations are and if the children have any special needs, allergies, etc. A child who can't find his favorite "banky" is often unable to sleep if the babysitter doesn't know she needs to search the house for a "blanket."
6. Recognize this as a business matter.
Help your child realize this is her first foray into self employment. The value of dependability and responsibility will lead to additional employment, as well as referrals. Ask friends or relatives to provide letters of recommendation she can offer potential new customers. Suggest your child make up informational flyers to pass out to your neighbors that highlight her training, experience and availability.
7. Help to set boundaries.
If you know that it's hard for your child to stay out late or get up early, help her set realistic goals for the babysitting jobs she accepts. Some kids can't cope with "working" on a school night or the evening before a sports game. She may become mentally or physically exhausted after working more than a few hours or be fearful of being away from home during severe weather conditions. Some children are not comfortable changing diapers, and others may not want the pressure of preparing meals. Acknowledging all of her limitations and expectations provides a set of guidelines with which all of you can work.
8. Aim for fiscal responsibility.
Help your child learn the value of her time, as well as saving money. Determining the rate she'll charge for watching one child versus multiple children is something to arrange prior to beginning a job. You should also guide her to set up a fair and reasonable percentage to designate as spending money and how much to put into some type of bank account.
9. Ask for feedback.
The best way to continually improve is to ask for things to improve upon. She'll dazzle new clients by providing a feedback survey that asks for suggestions and comments. Obviously, asking for feedback can yield some negative responses, so make sure your child is prepared to receive criticism on her performance.
10. Make it no friends.
There is a time and place to chat with friends and a time not to. There is nothing worse than returning home and learning your child's babysitter had friends stop by to visit or called on the phone to converse about the hottest new hairstyles. This creates uncertainty for the sitter's ability to provide safe child care and significantly lessens the chance for additional assignments.
Offering parental guidance and room to learn from every babysitting opportunity helps your child become a profitable and accomplished babysitter. She'll take pride as her business grows. You'll both have confidence in her babysitting abilities, and she'll develop skills that will be beneficial throughout the rest of her life.
For additional information or to learn about training seminars, please visit American Red Cross.