Babysitting; most all teen girls and some tweens have worked as a babysitter. Babysitting for boys is a less common after-school job. Here is a safety precaution checklist for parents of babysitters. Use this list to protect your teen when she babysits. Many schools are area Red Cross programs teach classes in babysitting. I compiled and taught a course in babysitting for our local community education program. Here are some of the safety tips I shared with students and I share them now with parents of babysitters. If any of these issues crop up, don’t hesitate to advocate for your teen.
Do not allow your daughter to babysit in an unsafe area. If the home is unsanitary, unsafe, or in a dangerous neighborhood, do not allow her to babysit. Don’t forget to beware of homes with unsecured swimming pools, unruly pets, exotic pets and other hazards. Babysitting in duplexes, condos and apartment buildings requires that you prepare your child for issues with other tenants.
Make sure that your tween or teen isn’t left with more children than she can care for safely. Friends and relatives should not drop off their children to be left in your child’s care, without prior planning and extra payment.
If your child feels uncomfortable, she should be able to call you for help. If necessary, you may have to go and help her with the children, if the parents cannot be reached. Never hesitate to bail your child out of an uncomfortable situation.
Discourage her from babysitting for families who regularly come home later than planned, especially if they have been drinking.
There is never a good excuse for not paying the babysitter. Unless this person is your friend and an emergency arises where the children need immediate care and you agree to help out, your tween or teen should always be paid to babysit. If she volunteers for some community service, that’s another issue. Don’t force volunteer work on your teens.
Teach your tween or teen to set a rate for her babysitting services. She has a right to expect reasonable reimbursement for her childcare.
Your teen is being employed to care for the children, not act as housekeeper. If your teen is asked to rinse supper dishes and place in dishwasher or ask the children to tidy their toys, that’s acceptable. Your teen shou,ld not be expected to clean the house or do laundry.
She should expect that the children will have whatever is needed for their care. Your teen should not take the children to the store to get necessities: diapers, formula, food, etc. People are often surprised when I mention this, but it happens that teens are expected to provide these things.
Children under 14 should not be expected to cook meals for the children. Heating food in the microwave or oven is fine, but they should not be expected to prepare meals. This can be a safety hazard if the care giver isn’t familiar with the kitchen and stove. Not every child is comfortable preparing meals, at this age. Furthermore, it it’s difficult for a teenager to manage children and cooking simultaneously. Their job is to care for the children; they are not trained or of age to act as nanny.
Never allow your child to ride home with a parent that has been drinking. We always picked our children up from their babysitting engagements, unless we knew the family very well. In that case we requested that the mother take our daughter home. I always drove our babysitters home.
The parents should be able to be contacted; in these days of cell phones and pagers, there is no reason why a parent should be unavailable in case of emergency.
Your tween or teen should not have to discipline children in her care. She is not their parent. The children are well aware of this. Leaving a child to battle with misbehaved or disobedient children is unacceptable. If the parents tell your teen to spank or incorporate physical punishment, this becomes a legal issue.
For more on childcare, parenting and safety, visit me at www.parentinghotline.blogspot.com and www.healthhelp4u.blogspot.com.