publication date: Feb 9, 2008
author/source: Anne Coates
Most teenagers like to earn some extra cash and babysitting is a good way to do so without impinging on their school work and other activities as a Saturday job might.
When can they start?
The law is vague in this area - there is no minimum age - but the NSPCC recommends children under 16 should not be used as babysitters.
However many teens start when they are 14 or 15. A parent knows how reliable and mature their son or daughter is – don’t suggest babysitting if you think they won’t cope. A 14 year-old can be very mature and reliable whereas a 17 year-old might still not be sensible enough to leave in charge of young children.
One way to start is to suggest they spend some time with a family while one of the parents is there – getting on with something they need to do. That way your teen can show how well she copes – reassuring for the parents and the babysitter.
If possible get your teen to begin by working for friends and neighbours – the closer to home the better! Or they could start by looking after their younger siblings – though this does have drawbacks if they are too near in age or don’t get on!
Five point checklist
Suggest your child has a checklist to work from when starting babysitting. This should include:
- A number the parent can be contacted on - if this is impossible ask for the number of a friend or neighbour for use in emergencies.
- The time the children are to be in bed by (older children may lead a babysitter on about bedtimes), where they are allowed to play, whether lights are to be left on in the bedroom or hall.
- Whether or not the parents want her to answer the phone or door in their absence.
- What time they expect to return.
- What they can have for a snack if none has been left out
The hourly rate for babysitters depends on the area. They should agree payment when they are booked and make sure the parents are aware of the double time after midnight rule.
When your teen is the babysitter
- Always check the address and telephone number of the family if you don’t know them.
- Suggest the babysitter asks for a cab home afterwards - some people do still drink and drive and apart from the obvious safety hazard there may also be a problem of a pass being made.
- Know what time your son or daughter is expected back and phone if they’re late.
- Tell them to avoid placing adverts in shop windows and try to find people who want babysitters among your own friends and acquaintances.