Is My Daughter Ready to Babysit?
Evaluate Her Readiness
Q. My daughter is a responsible 13-year-old who's very comfortable around kids. In the past, she has babysat our neighbor's 4-year-old for short periods of time, but now other neighbors are starting to request her for evening jobs watching their kids ages 2 to 10. I'm not sure whether my daughter is old enough to handle a long night like this, especially with a 2-year-old. What are some signs that my daughter is ready to babysit? At her age, what's appropriate?
A. Babysitting is an experience that can help your teen earn money, plus learn responsibility and how to care for children. But while babysitting is good training for subsequent jobs, it should never be taken lightly.
When deciding whether your daughter is ready for full-time babysitting gigs, more important than her age is her maturity level, experience, and judgment. That said, ask yourself this: "Does my daughter know..."
- appropriate play activities for children of various ages?
- how to diaper and feed a baby?
- what to do if an older child won't come in the house when outside play time is over?
- how to prevent accidents?
- what to do if a child chokes?
- how to make sure a play area is childproofed?
- to call 911 is a fire breaks out?
- the family's fire safety exit plan?
If she's able to answer "yes" to these questions, or she shows a profound interest in learning the answers, consider what the job itself entails. For example, if a couple wants your daughter to babysit their toddler from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. and the toddler predictably goes to bed at 8 o'clock, your daughter can probably handle it. But if another couple wants her to watch their three children ages 2, 7, and 10 from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. Saturday while they go to a college football game and dinner, she should decline.