Since the late 1940′s, the iconic image of the word “babysitter” has been that of a suburban, teenage girl. For many parents, however, the idea of leaving their children with a relatively inexperienced teenager can be quite unsettling. Rather than opting for a more expensive and older nanny and denying a levelheaded, capable teen the opportunity to hone their skills and earn a bit of money, here are ten tips to ensure that your kids are safe and happy in the care of an energetic and enthusiastic young sitter:
- Insist on CPR and First Aid Training – The first and most important step in verifying the capability of a potential sitter, especially one that’s fairly young, is to make sure that she’s received CPR certification and first aid training. These skills are often taught in Red Cross and YMCA babysitter’s courses, which are designed to prepare tweens and teens for the demands of caring for children in an official capacity.
- Provide and Review Emergency Contact Information – Despite the best preparations and the combined efforts of you and your sitter, emergency situations may still arise. Even a conspicuously-placed emergency contact list may go unnoticed in the heat of the moment, so take a moment before you leave to point out where your emergency list is located and review the information it contains.
- Evaluate Her Maturity Level – Within moments of meeting a prospective teenage sitter you should have an idea of her maturity level. If you’re considering a teen that you already know, try to objectively evaluate her reactions and temperament; an immature sitter is more likely to lose control of your children and her composure when she’s left alone.
- Keep the Number of Charges Reasonable – Even if your sitter has a passel of younger siblings, caring for unfamiliar kids in a new environment will prove to be a challenge. If you have a very large family, a teenage sitter may simply be infeasible.
- Consider the Ages of Your Children and the Experience Level of a Prospective Sitter – Infants may not be ideal charges for a young teenager, especially if they have limited infant care experience. Similarly, a tween charge might be resentful of a sitter that isn’t much older than they are, refusing to accept them as an authority figure. To make sure that everything goes as smoothly as possible and your children are in safe hands, take a moment to consider their ages and how experienced a potential sitter is.
- Leave Prepared Meals or Arrange For Delivery – One of the most dangerous responsibilities that a young sitter can take on is attempting to cook a meal while caring for rambunctious children. Kitchens are filled with hazardous objects, unsafe situations, and the potential for disaster when inexperienced young cooks try to make dinner while corralling a handful of kids. Rather than running the risk of injury or fire, it’s best to make arrangements for dinner in advance.
- Veto Visitors – Teenage visitors should be informed well in advance that they will not be allowed to have guests while they’re working. Visitors invariably equal distraction, which is a recipe for disaster when mischievous children are part of the equation.
- Ban Non-Emergency Cellphone Use – Being glued to her cellphone all night can be just as distracting for your sitter as having a buddy or two over to visit, so make sure that she knows you don’t approve of non-emergency use. While it isn’t likely to completely eliminate her text messaging, it might be enough to curb it sufficiently.
- Schedule a “Mother’s Helper” Shift – The single most effective way to determine the skill level, preparedness, and maturity of a potential sitter is to schedule a “mother’s helper” shift, in which she cares for your children while you’re still in the house. You’ll be able to observe her in action, which will present a fairly accurate portrait of her temperament and abilities.
- Check Her References (And Her Facebook Page) – Teenage sitters that are just starting out may not have very many actual work references, though you should be able to inquire about her attitude and reliability with friends and relatives. Another effective way of screening out the proverbial bad apples is to check out social networking profiles; teens that use vulgar language, post provocative pictures, or have other questionable content aren’t likely to be mature enough to handle the demands of caring for children. They may also present a less-than-stellar example to young, impressionable children.
In addition to taking the proper safety precautions, you should also rely upon your own instincts as a parent. Serious misgivings about a particular sitter may be a red flag that you should reconsider using her, especially if you aren’t well acquainted with her or her family.Taken From Babysitting Jobs