Teen Sitters & Mother's Helpers
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Teen Sitters & Mother's Helpers
- BPN subscribers can post a message to the Parents
newsletter, and it will be read by
local parents who have teenagers at
Write up what you are looking for - times, where you live, contact numbers,
and post it to Teens
under "Announcements -- Teen Employment Opportunities".
- You can find announcements from teen sitters in the weekly Childcare newsletter,
in the section "Student/Teen Babysitter."
- Bananas in Alameda County maintains a list of teen sitters, and other
childcare referral agencies do too.
- Ask your neighbors! They may have a sitter themselves to
recommend, or they know families in the neighborhood
who have teens.
Even if a recommended teen isn't available, he or she may have a friend to
What you should expect from a teen sitter
Most teenagers who are interested in babysitting
and who are available ...
Many local teens have taken CPR and babysitting classes,
but many more haven't. If your requirements are too demanding,
you may find it difficult to
find a teen sitter, and you may be better off hiring an experienced adult childcare provider.
- do not have a lot of experience
- do not have a drivers license (and if they do, cannot by law
have under-21 passengers for the first year)
- will need a ride to your house and back (unless they live nearby)
- may not be able to babysit on weekdays
- may need to be home by 10pm on weekends
Young teens vs. older teen
start to be interested in babysitting when they are 11 or 12,
and many parents hire neighborhood teens at this age.
Most parents who have long-standing arrangements with
teen sitters started off with a young teen
from the neighborhood whose parents would be home in an
emergency. Or they initially hired the teen to come at times
when a parent would be at home at the same time working on other tasks.
Peak teen babysitting years seem to be between 12 and 15. Teens
15 and older tend to have social activities they want to do
with their friends on the weekends. By the time they are 16,
they are often driving, going to parties, involved in sports,
and it becomes hard to schedule them for babysitting.
In addition, 16-year-olds can work at other jobs besides
babysitting that usually pay more and are less demanding.
Many families have older teen sitters who have been sitting
for them for a long time, since they were 12 or so. It's a
good idea to develop a relationship early with a younger teen.
They may be still willing to babysit for you even after they
What age child can a teen babysit for?
Most parents who hire teens have children
who are past the toddler/diaper stage. There are teens
who are very experienced with babies and
toddlers - use your intuition about whether
the teen is mature enough to care for a baby or
toddler. But many teens are
reluctant to change diapers, feed and clean up
after a messy baby, and
they often don't have the life experience to
make decisions that adults think of as "just
common sense". Teens may not have the experience to deal with accidents
that crawlers and toddlers can so quickly get in to, and
they may not know what to do in unfamiliar situations that
require a judgement call.
For most teen sitters, it is best if your child can talk well enough to
communicate the basics to the teen babysitter,
asking for a snack, telling the teen where the
towels are kept, and so on.
Teens are perfect for school-aged children. They have
the energy and enthusiasm to play games with them for
hours, get down on the floor with them and roll around,
and engage with them in a way that adults just can't.
How much do they charge?
In Berkeley and vicinity, older and experienced teens generally
charge at least minimum wage to babysit,
and more if they are experienced, or if they drive, etc.
They may charge more for additional children
and they may charge more for late hours.
Younger teens just starting out will usually
take less, especially if you will be home or if their
own parents are on call.
My husband and I are in great need of finding a babysitter so we
can get out for a date night every now and then. I have posted
on the childcare newsletter several times and have gotten very
little response. We would like a highschool or college age
female who has their own transportation and babysitting
experience. Do any of the local highschools and/or colleges have
job boards that you can put posts up on for babysitting? When a
friend finds someone good they are less then eager to give their
babysitter's name over which is understanable, but we really
need to get out! Any advice on finding a babysitter other then
BPN childcare digest would be so much appreciated. Oh, we live
just off of Trestle Glen in Oakland. Thanks in advance!
Parents who need a break!
Try Cal Jobs on the UC Berkeley website
My sister has found some great teen sitters by advertising at
the local Mormon Temple (we're not Mormon). Makes sense to me.
Suppose you could extend that approach to any place of worship
that has a ''Sunday School'' component to it where teens are
involved in childcare.
I have just arrived in Berkeley, and I agree it is very difficult to
find a babysitter.
The only thing that helped me was asking people in the neighboorhood if
there were teenagers who did some babysitting, and we foudn 2 nice
girls that way. If you don't know people in your neighbourhood very
well, why don't you mention where you live on this web site and see if
anyone who lives nearby can help?
Otherwise, the university should be a good source, and putting an ad in
the Daily Cal is a good way to find students interested in sitting.
Hope this helps.
We have a 3rd grade girl and were wondering in this day and age
whether a 7th grader is old enough to babysit on a night out
(until 10pm say). We are tired of driving our college-age
babysitter that doesn't drive back home 4 miles away and we
have a great middle school gal that lives about a mile away.
I'm sure I did babysitting in middle school, but I can't
remember how late. Any opinions?
I started babysitting when I was 10 years old, and at least
once, at 10 or 11, I babysat for half a dozen neighbor kids on
New Years Eve!
I wouldn't hesitate to hire a 7th grade babysitter (assuming, of
course, I was comfortable with her maturity level) for a 3rd
grade child as long as the 7th grader has some adult backup
available in case of emergency. (Can she call her own parents
for help if there's an injury or something else she's not sure
how to handle? She's more likely to want to do that than to
call you. Or, does she know YOUR neighbors, and will said
neighbors be home?) As far as how late at night, I would
probably check with the sitter's own parents too, to confirm her
It's not at all unreasonable to have that age of
babysitter/babysittee, IMO. But there's a huge range in maturity
and trustworthiness of 7th graders and also 3rd graders, so I
think it totally depends on the kids involved.
I've got an eighth grade daughter, a second grade son, and a
four-year-old son. I have had my daughter babysit my middle child
for a couple of hours at a time when she was in seventh grade (he
was in first grade then) and I was totally comfortable with that.
But I knew that watching two kids would have been too much for her.
This year she is 13 and is going to start watching both boys for
a couple of hours at a time, and (we hope) babysitting for people
outside the family. She's really responsible and I totally trust
her. (In fact, she insists on taking CPR/first aid training so
she knows what to do in an emergency). She has some friends I
would also trust, but she has a couple of friends that, frankly,
I wouldn't feel comfortable with.
Of course it also depends on how agreeable and obedient your 3rd
grader is and whether he/she is likely to challenge a teen
sitter. I am a big believer in using young teens for
babysitting, as long as you can find the right young teens :-)
Spend some time talking to your babysitter and their parents and
observe them with your kid. You can probably tell if it's going
to work out or not.
i think 7th grade is too young to be left in charge of any
child. 7th grade is only about 11-12-13 years old.
My 13 year old daughter is very keen to start babysitting.
Any advice on how to begin this ''profession'' would be
appreciated: what experience she should have with children
(maybe mother's helper at first?); ages of children
appropriate for a (very mature) 13 year old sitter?; how to
get the word out (advertisements, going around the
neighborhood, etc.); required training (CPR, etc.); and fees
charged. Thanks so much!
Both of my daughters did the Red Cross babysitting course at
about this age. We all thought it was wonderful. They
learned all sorts of helpful things (including how to turn
off the water to the toilet if it starts to overflow!!).
Recommend it highly - just google them or call the number in
the phone book and ask about babysitting training.
We have two kids under 2.5 years old attending preschool/daycare,
and both parents working outside of the home. We are considering
hiring a mother's helper during the dinner hour to ease the
transition from work/daycare to dinner to bath to bedtime. Have
you had such help before? Any advice what type of
personality/backgrounds to look for? How many hours is ideal?
Needing an extra pair of hands
We hired a mother's helper about 9 months ago and it's been a HUGE help. She comes in twice
a week for around 5 hours total. Does cooking and food prep, light cleaning, dishes,
laundry, changes bedsheets, even a little sewing. We posted an ad on Craigslist and she
responded. We got lucky because she lives in the neighborhood and was looking for just a
few hours each week. We are going to be seriously bummed when she someday decides to move
In addition to posting an ad on Craigslist, you can look on Craigslist for what people post
who are looking for such a positions. It's under Gigs/Domestic. Also, one of the BPN
newsletters might help.
We spoke to almost 10 people before we hired anyone. We found that most people wanted more
hours than we could offer.
Typically people wanted half time work (20 hours/week), but would accept something a little
less, but not the 4-6 hours/week that we would guarantee (which is why we got lucky with who
we got). Make sure you check references, too
Hiring a mother's helper is a matter of what your own needs are and what you feel
comfortable with. My mother's helper comes 4 to 6 hours a week after school. She is
16 and very warm and fun. She plays with the kids and folds their laundry, picks up their
toys after play, and feeds them dinner too. (they eat early because they are babies). I
found her through asking teachers at a local high school to recommend someone. Since she is
never there alone I didn't do a more thorough background check or anything like that love
our Mothers Helper
We noticed our babysitter had helped herself to my husband's
computer in his study to check her email and surf the web a bit.
Nothing porno but she was definitely not watching our 5 year old
while she was doing this. Even more, I feel like it is a big
invasion of privacy. She admitted it when I confronted her and
said it was an ''emergency'' that she needed to check something. I
told her not to do it and if such an ''emergency'' arises again to
call me first. Is this a firing offense? I should add, she is
relatively young (early 20s). I think the younger people are
less territorial about their stuff - am I wrong to be bugged?
Bugged But Wondering
I think that if you haven't made the rules clear, now would be
a good time. The second offense might or might not be worth
a ''firing'' depending upon how you feel, but why not just include
a password upon start-up so that nobody but you and your partner
can access the computer, and avoid the issue altogether in the
big on passwords
I'm an internet addict -- I email all day long, I web surf. I also have a nanny
adore who is utterly devoted to my children. It would not bother me at all if my
nanny checked her email while she was working. I often check my email when I'm
with my kids, and while I know I'm not necessarily providing optimum care when I'm
on line, I also know that it's very difficult to provide optimum care all day long. I
think you might try to figure out what you both feel comfortable with -- maybe
checking email during naptime, or something like that. It's hard to imagine a job
where we wouldn't get to do a little bit of this kind of thing every once in a while,
and if the nanny is good in other ways you might try to work things out with her.
If you had not previously discussed computer use with her, and
you are otherwise happy with her, I don't think this was a
FWIW, I've never had this issue with our nanny simply because
she is a limited English speaker who doesn't USE computers. But
with teenage babysitters, I have always specifically invited
them to use my home computer at need, and left it set up so that
they can easily browse the web without needing access to any of
my passwords. (These girls generally do homework and work on
college applications after the kids are in bed.) I also know
parents whose kids work or play on a home computer *with* their
babysitters (much as they would do art projects or anything
else). So not everyone considers computer use to be an
automatic no-no, and your sitter probably came up with
the ''emergency'' thing when it became obvious to her that you
were unhappy about it. I would let it go. Unless and until it
happens again, of course. Now that there is a rule in place and
she is aware of it, you should let her go if she violates it.
Well, one thing I can tell you is that it is easy to fix this -
you can make your computer or any part of it accessible by
password only. Then, the sitter may be abe to turn the machine
on, but she won't be able to do anything on it.
I wouldn't mind my sitter taking a short break to read her email.
But I WOULD mind her using my computer without asking. It would
be the equivalent of someone going through my desk and papers
looking for a notepad to write on. It's ''my'' computer, not the
family computer, so it's not like the family stereo or the family
refrigerator. I have all sorts of personal stuff on my computer
- my calendar and address book, credit card numbers, letters from
friends, etc. Other family members have to ask before they use my
computer, so I would definitely want a non-family member to do
I have teens, and I have students working for me, so I know that
email and IM are a ''necessary'' part of their lives, and they may
not get the concept of the computer as personal space. When a
teen relative or student visits, I tell them which computer they
can use and what I'm OK with (OK to run IM and check email, not
OK to download programs). So in your case I would just chalk it
up to a learning experience for the babysitter, tell her what
your rules are about the computer, and assume the best from here
As a former babysitter, I guess I think you're ever-so-slightly
overreacting to your babysitter's use of your computer, EXCEPT
that she wasn't watching your son. I wouldn't say that she
should be fired for this first-time incident, but now that
you've made your wishes clear, it shouldn't happen again. You
could of course set up password protection on the computer,
which would ensure that this won't happen again.
so is your issue that she wasn't watching your child (which I
assume you were paying her to do), or that she was on your
seems like you should be able to block use with a password setup
or, if you're technically challenged like me, just hide the
power cord or some such essential item.
Maybe you should let it ride to see if its a pattern or if it
really was a emergency like she said If it is a pattern,
preventing computer use may not motivate her to spend time with
your child - she may simply switch to some other activity that
is less easy to track and then I would think its time to find
another baby sitter.
I suggest you put a password on your computer. I have one on mine. Yes, the on in
my own home and it's just my husband, daughter and myself. I think that it's always
a good idea to have password protection on your computer even in your own home
as you can protect against someone in the house using the computer without
permission as well as if it gets stolen, making it harder to break into (though it's
hard to do).
just call me paranoid...
My daughter is almost 10 and a neighbor has offered to hire her as a
''mother's helper'' for the neighbor's almost-2-year-old. This would
involve my daughter playing with the neighbor's child while the mother
is home. For those of you with experience (on either side, hiring or having
your child work as a mother's helper), how old were the helpers typically?
Also, what is the going rate for this? My daughter would be happy to do
it for free, but perhaps she should charge something so I'd like to find
out what other folks are charging.
My daughter who is now 20 starting babysitting at 11 yrs. old, having
been through 2 Babysitter Classes. If you know the family well and they
know your daughter well, an hr. here or there can't hurt...it will be a
great learning experience. As for pay, maybe a couple of bucks a
pop...The average sitter gets $6/hr. but that's someone experienced,
trained, etc. Good luck kmaz
My daughter is 10 and works as a mother's helper once a week for
2 hours. she gets paid $2.50/hr (she asked for $2/hr, but the neighbor
has been paying her $2.50) She only plays with the child, doesn't do any
Of course the parent is ALWAYS there!
I'm considering hiring a teenage ''mother's helper'' to play with
my generally happy, exploring 8month old while I do work on the
computer at home or do other activities that require baby-free
time (e.g., stain/varnish furniture). I have a referral for a
14 year old but have not yet met with her. My question - Is it
appropriate to ask other duties of a 12-15 year old girl or
boy? Mainly s/he should be playing with my baby, but what if at
the scheduled ''help'' times my baby ends up taking a nap? Do I
send the helper home (with or without pay)? Do I ask the helper
to load/unload the dishwasher? Do baby-related chores (change
sheets, start laundry)? I realize some of these things would be
skill-dependent on the mother's helper, but I wanted a sense
from other moms what your expectatoins have been - and, of
course, what you have paid the helper. Thanks!
wanting a few hours
You can structure things any way that works for both you and
your helper, but if you want her to do light housework while
your child naps, you should be very clear about that up front.
You should also err on the side of caution when it comes to
Also, if you are hiring the helper for 6 hours a week, you
should pay her for 6 hours a week whether you end up using her
for the full time or not. If she's setting that time aside for
you, she deserves to be paid for it.
I have a mother's helper who comes 3xs a week. She's not a teen,
but that's what I was originally looking for. I pay her minimun
wage and her main duty is to play with the baby. When the baby
naps & when I feed the baby, she helps me by straightening out
the kids' room (but I do all the cleaning) and by folding the
baby's clothing. She probably has at leat 1/2-1 hour a day of
down time after that, but I don't really think it's fair for her
to do non-baby related stuff. After all a housecleaner would
charge me at least $12 an hour.
Hi, we live in the same area (Longridge Road) and we have a
wonderful babysitter which I would gladly share since we only go
out about once month.
My 11 year old has been recruited to babysit. She is eager,
loving and responsible. She is not doing it alone at this time,
even during the day. That means I'm her backup resource. I have
no idea what is reasonable for her to charge. It will be a good
lesson in learning about money and the value of labor. I hope!
Any reference point or thoughts on paying young babysitters would
be appreciated. Thanks!
I live in Pleasant Hill and use a few 7th graders (11 and 12
year olds) for babysitting in the afternoons occasionally. The
going rate here for that age seems to be about $5/hr. For the
high school kids, we pay $10/hr (ouch!). Hope this helps!
We had a 13 year old babysitter for our son (12-15 months at the
time). The only difference from your situation is that we were
home at the time, although there were times later on that she
did at times take him to the park around the corner. She set her
own price at $2.50 and when she got used to our son's needs we
raised it to $3.00. She still works for us now and then but not
as frequently since she's back in school.
Others may disagree with me but I think 11 (or 13) is too young
to leave with a baby or toddler without the parents home, or
another adult caregiver who the child knows and who is familiar
with that child. A preschool age kid might be a bit different
for short periods of time. Eagerness and even responsibility
don't take the place of maturity and knowledge. I know you said
you were the 'back-up' but what does that mean? She can call you
from the babysitting job with questions? You live across the
street from the job and can run right over? You go to the job
with her but stay out of the way? Or do you go and guide her
step by step? Of course this is between you, your daughter, and
the other child's parents. The reason I metion this is that I
think the payment to a babysitter would be less if the parents
are home than if they're not. Just one perspective.
Protective mama bear
I'm an expert on nanny salaries (and pretty good on babysitter rates), but I
have no idea what to pay an 11 year old who wants to be a ''mother's helper''
- i.e., he will play with my 3 year old while I (hopefully) do other things in
the house. Would love to hear thoughts on the appropriate wage.
When my son was nine he worked as a mother's helper and charged $1/hr,
but most people paid him $2/hr.
We have a 12-year-old mother's helper, and we pay her $2 an hour. We
sometimes include a little more than this, give her gifts for birthdays and
Christmas, take her to dinner periodically...so it works out to more than
that. She has taken care of our cat before and watered our garden when
we've been away, and on those occasions we pay her $5 a visit. She's
probably due for a raise, come to think of it. Anyway, she's thrilled with
both amounts and our son adores her.
A neighbor girl (eighth grader) has been a mother's helper to me two hours
per week for over one year and I pay her $5/hour. My girls are four and
and they are happy to go off and play with Molly while I work around the
house. It has worked out very well for us and she has graduated to
babysitting in the evenings (when her parents are home and we are going
locally) after the girls go to bed. We pay a bit more for babysitting in
the evenings. It is nice to see the girls forming this strong relationship
with a neighbor family and it has created a nice bond between the adults of
the families as well.
We paid our 12-year old mother's helper $5 an hour (although we usually
rounded up a bit with a ''tip'' as a bonus), and she spent about 10-20 hours
a week during the summer with us when our son was 4 to 8 weeks old. It
wonderful to be able to take a shower, answer e-mail, eat lunch, etc. while
she held or ''played'' with him.
Re the following posting: Am I the only parent out here who questions the wisdom of having a teenager, and a virtual stranger at that, caring for a 3 1/2 month old child??? What do others think?
Hi, I have a 3 1/2 month old baby boy & am looking for a
reliable teen sitter. I'm hoping to find someone who
another mom can recommend to me... we're hoping to hire
someone to watch our baby once a week for a date night...
Families have been enlisting the help of older children to
help with infant care probably since the origins of
family/community life. That's not so strange.
In fact, teens have babies of their own quite often and
have been doing so, again, since the origins of human time.
There is nothing intrinsically wrong or bad or dangerous
about a teenager caring for an infant.
My teen would not be the ideal candidate for babysitting an
infant. However, someone else's teen might. She/he might
even have more experience than many adults, if she has been
charged with caring for infant siblings.
Personally, if I were the parent of a 3 1/2 month old
infant, again, I would appreciate support and understanding
from my community and not a questioning of my judgment
based on other's opinions of what is safe or not safe for
my child. Just because we *think* something is true,
doesn't necessarily make it so.
It totally depends on the teen. I have seen many teens,
myself included - although a long time ago, who can and do
babysit a baby of this age with nearly as much expertise,
tenderness and responsibility as many moms. It it up to
each individual parent to decide what is best for their
infant. But IMHO teen babysitters should not be disparaged
in this format. Many a mother logging onto this network
has used a teen babysitter for a much needed break with no
problems.. there are ALWAYS concerns when leaving young
children in anyone else's care, even family.
I'm worried that my next door neighbors teenage daughter is
stealing when she comes over.
Today I came home from work and found a couple of small ceramic
bear figurines missing. The only reason I noticed it was because
I had recently re-organized the shelf they were on and had moved
them to a higher shelf so my almost 4 yr old couldn't reach
them. I had 5 and now there are only 3. Honestly, this isn't
about the items itself but more the pricipal of the matter.
I'm bothered by the breech of trust and worried about the
daughter. I already exhausted all avenues in our home as to
where they may be and the only logical explanation seems to
point to her (we had give them a spare key to get in while we
were at work so they could feed our cats while we were gone).
Any advice on how to bring this up as gently as possible would
it really depends. how long and how well do you know the family.
is this the only incident of stealing you suspect. have there
been other times. what hard evidence can you confront them with?
if you don't know the family well, and there have been other
incidences, then I would get a new baby sitter. You need to have
trust in your babysitter for peace of mind. on the other hand,
if you know the family well, and feel that your allegations
would be handled with respect and understanding, then I would
approach the parents. Having said all that, with regards to the
safety and care of my children, I might just get another sitter
anyway. I need peace of mind as well as a mature individual
watching my children.
I would be 100 % sure of your accusation before talking with
your neighbor. My 1.5 and 3 year old know how to pick up our
step stool or scoot chairs over to get what they want. If
something is missing, I usually give it a couple weeks and it
turns up in the most creative places. You might casually ask
your teen neighbor if they remember seeing your child play with
the bears because they are missing. If your not comfortable
with them having your key then maybe someone else should cat sit
and ask for the key back. The biggest issues here are: do you
really think your neighbor is stealing? Are you paranoid and
over reacting? Do you not feel comfortable with your neighbors
having the house keys? Handle with caution especially if you
plan on living by them for a while. Decent neighbors are hard
to find and are not perfect. If they are wrongly accused of
something you may lose a friend/neighbor that is irreplaceable.
If you are not sure, there are ways to get your thoughts across
without damaging the relationship. If they have taken something,
are you willing to forgive them and put boundaries on the
relationship or terminate things? Lots to think about. Good
luck and I hope you find your bears.
Any advice on how to educate teen babysitters on being
responsible for: 1) showing up when scheduled; 2) if they can't
show up, calling to cancel beforehand; and 3) if they didn't
show up, and didn't call to cancel beforehand, returning my call
the day after to talk about why they didn't show up and didn't
call to cancel?
I'm frustrated, since this has happened more than once. Maybe
the parents of teens can help me figure the best way to teach
professionalism to a teen. These are teen babysitters who offer
their services on the UCB Parents listserv. Your advice is
Wow--I babysat a ton when I was a teen and my mom would
have *killed* me if I was that irresponsible. First of all, I
would start by deciding to not hire the teen again.
Furthermore, if you are able to, I suggest you speak to
her/him (or maybe send an email if you have an address)
explaining why the behavior was unacceptable and you are
unwilling to hire her/him again. If this is done in a
non-patronizing and non-angry manner, I think the teenager
will hear an important lesson about basic responsibility,
even simple courtesy. In the long run, you may help her/him
become a more aware and professional young person.
Your complaint is familiar to me. We had a wonderful teen sitter
who forgot a few times. My husband was very sympathetic to her
and told me that it was our responsibility to remind her. So I
always called her the day before to confirm/remind her of the time
and date. This actually helped immensely.
Using Young Babysitters
Does anyone have any advice or input on the
advantages/disadvantages of using adolescent
aged babysitters? I have had offers for
sitting from 14 & 15 year olds who claim
(and parents claim) to be mature and capable
of handling my two children. I, myself, babysat
young infants when I was approximately 14, but
now that it's MY child I feel slightly apprehensive.
thanks for your input.
It depends on the babysitter. Every child is different. We have a
sitter whose services we started using when she was 14. She is
WONDERFUL--conscientious, focuses on the kids, brings things for them
to do (she has a "kid-kit" armed with stamps, sticker, etc. etc). She
is down to earth and sensible, and does a really good job. I never
worry about leaving my daughter (now 3) with her, since I'm sure that
she'll make good decisions, even in the face of trouble.
On the other hand, my stepdaughter, only a month younger than this
other girl, was not nearly as good. Some of this was probably the
resentment factor. But some of it is just temperament. She didn't want
to "be bothered" to really engage her little sister, and viewed the
whole exercise as punishment, even when she was being "paid" (in
currency or by clothes-shopping allowance, etc).
So I don't think there is a standard answer. As with everything
involving humans, you'll have to gather the information and make a
decision based on the individual characteristics of the person.
My son is five and half and we have been using young sitters for the
past year. Both sitters are boys. One is 13 and the other 14. The
advantages, as I see it, are that they are close enough in age to my
son to be playmates, but "tall" enough and confidant enough to be
authority figures. We know the families of both boys and both live in
our neighborhood. We have always told them that if they encounter a
situation they don't know how to handle, they should call their
parents. Their parents feel fine about this. This lends a feeling of
security for everyone. (Remember, even the teenager's parents are
wondering if he is ready, can handle himself, knows what to do in an
emergency, etc. - to their parents, the child is just past the age of
Also, my son is not the rebellious type. You might want to run a trial
with the teenager and your child when you are home. You can see how
they interact and monitor the situation. This way everyone has a
chance to check it out.
I would use extreme caution with young sitters, but my strict safety
criteria would really apply to any sitter, irrespective of age. Some
young folks are more responsible and competent than some adults, as
you would expect.
Imagine a worst case scenario, then ask yourself if you think the
prospective sitter could deal with it. Included events might be a
huge, fast fire, a big earthquake, the child choking on a small object
which is stuck in the airway, or the child falling & hitting his/her
head & losing consciousness, an insistent stranger at the door. I
would review those scenarios with a prospective sitter and ask how
they would handle each case. Then listen very carefully to their
responses, letting them talk rather than asking them leading
questions. Would the sitter be able to calmly call 911 and explain the
situation or transport the child to emergency? Also, there may be
issues with infant care that are different than with an older
child. Is there reasonable age-appropriate childproofing in the house?
Has the child had limits set on wild behavior? Is the child respectful
of sitters? Can the sitter lift and carry the child easily?
You want someone calm, mature & thoughtful no matter what their
age. Whether I took the word of the sitter's parent about their
capabilities would depend a lot on what I knew about the parent.
One thing to consider with young babysitters, or even older ones - if
you are friends with your neighbors, set up a babysitting date when
the neighbor is home and can be called for help an emergency. A
"backup" is a great idea. When I started babysitting at 11, my mother
would come help me if necessary. And carry a pager or cell phone so
you can be reached immediately.
I'd suggest you try babysitters out! That's what we did with our 14
year-old babysitter before we were happy with leaving her with our
young twin daughters for any considerable length of time. We just
scheduled a time for her to come one saturday afternoon when we could
spend some time telling and showing her all the things we wanted, and
then we went out to an early dinner, with my cell phone on for any
problems. We called once just to see if things were doing OK. She did
great and we now use her as our main babysitter. This tryout let us
get to know her some, and of course gave us the option to go out an
leave her or not if it seemed like she wasn't right. I know I started
babysitting at around 13 when I was growing up, but of course it
depends on the person as to if they are mature enough, etc, to make
you confident leaving your kids with them.
How Old does a Teen need to be?
What age is considered to be an appropriate one for a teenage babysitter? If the teen is CPR
certified, taken a babysitting course, seems keen and responsible, is, say, 14 ok? Also, how
long can one expect to have an interested babysitter if we pay and treat him/her well? What
is a good 'contract' for hours per week/month? Our family has had a couple of 15/16 year olds
who we just get to know and then they are off to 'real' jobs/ social life. All I am looking for is
someone to care for and play with the kids (2.5 and 6.5 yrs) while my husband and I go out
for the odd dinner -- not every day or late nights.
In answer to the question about how old a teenager
should be to babysit- it depends on the teenager. I
actually started babysitting myself when I was eleven,
only in the afternoon, babysitting the 3 year old next
door while my mother was at home. I was the oldest of
4 children however and had lots of in-home experience.
(I know times have changed however).
As troop leader of a group of Junior and Cadette girl
scouts (grades 4-8), I got to know quite a few girls
some of whom later became babysitters for my 2 year
old adopted son. The girls became most interested in
babysitting around 12-13, wanting to get CPR
certified, earn money, etc. 13-15 is the peak years
for wanting to babysit before they get too involved
with boys, school, sports, etc. I was lucky knowing
these girls intimately, I knew which ones were mature,
had younger siblings, babies in the family, etc. Now
that they are older, I can only get them on an
occasional basis, but during those late middle school
years they were more available. For girls who were
just starting out, their moms were available at their
house to answer questions or to come over and help if
there was an immediate question. We also had a cell
phone the sitter could call, etc. 14 is plenty old
enough to babysit children ages 2-6 if the sitter is
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