Looking after and managing kids can be a challenge! One moment they’re snuggling up for stories, the next moment, they’re hitting their siblings, jumping on the sofa and whining to play on their iPad all afternoon!
There’s no doubt that babysitting requires skills in creativity, adventure, play, negotiation, discipline & confidence. But those skills are no help if your teenager doesn’t know what to do when a child in their care has a fall or they’re not prepared for the realities of a 2-year-old’s temper tantrum 🙁
My advice is to PLAN ahead.
- Planning starts before your child gets a babysitting job. To get clients, your teenager needs to know the best way to find them. If they’re new to babysitting, you might want to spread the word only to family, friends, and neighbours until they get more experience.
- Babysitting is about your teenager’s safety and comfort level as well as the children they are looking after.
- Make sure the family is a ‘Team Fit’ for your teen by getting your teen to ask plenty of careful questions about what the family expects.
- Plan how they’ll get to and from jobs safely and know how they’ll stay in control in an unfamiliar house or in the event of an emergency.
- Think ahead about the children they are likely to care for. If they’re not comfortable looking after newborn babies or children with special needs, don’t take that job. Wait for the next opportunity to come along. It’s far better to be honest up front than wise after the event.
Does your teenager know how to change a nappy? How to bathe a child? What to do if a child chokes or gets sick?
It’s a good idea to find out if the parents expect your teen to know how to do these things or at least know what to do if an unexpected event happens.
‘Talk and Teach’ your teenager that their first priority in babysitting is to keep the children safe at all times. Being a good babysitter means knowing how to handle everything from a splinter to a real emergency. It’s no good expecting to be on Facebook on their phone when they are babysitting an active family that are not already in bed when they arrive.
The best time to prepare for an event is before it happens. Yes, it’s very unlikely the child your teenager is looking after will eat something poisonous. But knowing where to find the emergency phone number gives your teen enormous peace of mind.
Ideas to help:
- Find out if the child in their care has any food allergies.
- Which foods are choking hazards for toddlers?
- Young children demand time and attention every second. They also need structure, such as regular meals and nap times. Help your teen organise their day, including what time the kids will eat, what they’ll feed them, when they nap, and for how long.
Take some training.
Teen Angel Babysitters has been training & qualifying teens aged 13 years and over, starting with their original ‘Basics in Babysitting’ course since 2006. Now updated, Skills in Babysitting is a practical course working as part of the curriculum or as an extended schools activity. Their courses are available in some areas as a holiday activity.
They are motivated by a wish to provide a basic understanding of a life skill which can give participants a qualification and help them become a responsible babysitter earning some pocket money.
The qualification is aimed at students in years eight to ten studying after school where available or now on line.
The course is also aimed at parents who want to ensure that a qualified and responsible person is available to look after their children
Go To -> http://www.teenangelbabysitters.co.uk/
Be Entertaining, Friendly & Confident.
- Parents love babysitters who help children have fun and learn — while still reinforcing rules and keeping discipline. Find out from parents and other babysitters what games kids of different ages like to play & what are their favourites.
- Get the kids outdoors if you can. Take them into the garden if the parents say it’s OK. Simple games like ‘It’ and hide and seek get kids active and help them stay fit (a big topic these days). Running around outside also tires kids out so they will sleep well, which parents will probably appreciate!
- Dancing with the kids is great exercise, too.
- Mobile phones, laptops & tablets have become the MUST HAVE entertainment for many kids these days, but that’s not always a good thing. Ask the parents what their limits is on electronics & STICK TO THEM !
- Find out what the house rules are.
DON’T Be A Best Friend !
It’s tempting to be the “cool” babysitter who lets kids get away with things parents never allow. But teach your teenager that they can’t be a child’s friend all the time. Help them know when to say ‘no’ and when it’s OK to let something small go — like letting kids stay up 10 minutes past bedtime occasionally.
Kids will challenge your teen and will push boundaries to see how much they can get away so it’s really important to check with parents to find out what the rules are, then follow them. This helps to keep things consistent for the children & your teen will gain everyone’s respect and trust.
The Best Babysitters.
The best babysitters think of the job as a responsibility first, with having fun (or earning money) second. Few things are as rewarding as knowing you’ve earned a child’s trust and affection.
18 Top Tips To Prepare Your Teen to Babysit.
- Watch the kids at all times.
- Don’t spoil or over indulge the kids.
- Be positive – it may sound obvious, but using positive language to provide instructions and directions is always going to have a better result. Remember that kids would rather hear what they are expected to do than NOT supposed to do.
- Use positive reinforcement – is a great way to encourage good behaviour. For example, verbal praise or a pat on the back is going to go a long way towards building a positive relationship with the children instead of a negative one.
- Be a good role model – this means listen, laugh, and smile. Be patient, gentle, and kind while remaining firm when needed. Lead by example, because children are very impressionable.
- A courtesy confirmation – it’s a good idea to confirm the appointment 24 hours before you are scheduled to work. Confirm the time and if this is your first time somewhere, confirm the address as well.
- Discuss payment beforehand – you would be surprised how many parents seem to think that pay is negotiated afterwards. While you certainly don’t need to ask for any money upfront, you want to make sure that payment details are agreed upon.
- Remain focused – of course it is very tempting to check Facebook or your email whenever you are working, but remember that your primary role is that of a caretaker. Keep your eyes on the kids at all times and limit your distractions.
- Make sure you’re prepared. Make sure that you have information on every child that you babysit. You can have notecards with preferred activities or interests, children’s allergies and medical information, parents’ mobile numbers, and anything else that might help you.
- Plan for what happens if the parents are late – this has happened countless times, parents have fun and forget about the time completely. It is important that you know what is going to happen if you do end up having to stay later than planned. This is not something you want to discuss afterwards.
- Get the details before the parents leave – You want contact information, medical information, anything that might be relevant to what children eat or what they would do before bedtime. This is important information to have.
- Honesty is the best policy – It may not always be comfortable to tell parents that their ‘little angels’ were difficult from the moment they closed the doors. However, this is an important babysitting tip because it allows parents to respond the right way & prepares you better for next time.
- Dress appropriately – Remember that you still want to wear neat, casual clothing even if you are not going to leave the home. Be practical – you’ll probably be moving around a lot so wear something comfortable.
- Leave the house as you found it. Unfortunately, this is one of those babysitter tips that often goes ignored. While you certainly are not expected to clean the house, you’ll want to leave it in the same, or close to the same state, as it was when you arrived. If you eat something, clean the dishes or put them in the dishwasher.
- Check the kids are sleeping? – Unless parents specifically tell you not to, make sure the children are actually sleeping soundly. Oftentimes children might be uncomfortable with a new babysitter or want to test boundaries by staying up extra late.
- Respect the parents privacy – There may be certain areas of the home that are ‘off-limits’, even if the parents do not specifically mention them. One such example is the parents’ bedroom.
- Make sure you know what is expected of you and go the extra mile.
- DO have a positive attitude when parents call to check in. If you are having a difficult time, ask for their advice but don’t whine about how difficult the situation is. Allow the parents to be at ease while they are out and paying you to care for their children. If the situation was so difficult that you are determined never to come back it’s best not to let them know at that time. Let them enjoy their time away and next time they call for your babysitting services you can just be busy.
Follow these simple tips and you’ll get plenty of referrals and be able to buy that Mac makeup, those Gucci shoes or those expensive football boots very soon !