10 Safety Tips for Hiring a Teen Babysitter
There was a time when finding a babysitter meant simply asking a teenager along the street to come over at a certain time. But times have changed, and parents are more vigilant than ever when it comes to the supervision of their children. As well as performing the necessary background checks, parents now have to ensure that every imaginable scenario is planned for when they leave their kids in the care of a teenager.
If you are looking for a new babysitter, there are some very important tips you should follow before leaving your children in the care of a teenager.
1. Determine if the Sitter Is Ready
Teenagers develop and mature emotionally at very different rates. You need to know that a prospective babysitter is sufficiently mature and responsible to be taking on such an important task. Start the vetting process by talking at length to his or her parents. Ask about previous jobs, performance at school and general behavior. Reach out to camp leaders, teachers and former employees for references, and try to get a picture of the teenager’s life by checking out their social media profile pages.
2. Look for Proper Training
You can ensure your children are in the safest possible hands when you’re not there by choosing a babysitter with certain qualifications. A teenager with formal training in first aid, CPR and various other emergency procedures may have vital life-saving skills. And any teenager who has taken the time to acquire such qualifications is probably trustworthy, conscientious and intelligent.
3. Introduce Your Sitter to Your Home
Take your prospective sitter on a tour of your home. This will give you a chance to show him or her where essential supplies, equipment and appliances are. This is also a great opportunity to talk about the rules of your home — for both the children and the babysitter. During the tour, draw the attention of your sitter to emergency procedures such as contact lists and meeting points.
4. Introduce Your Sitter to Your Kids
Before you entrust your children in the care of a sitter, you should observe some interactions between them. After an initial visit for a tour, invite your sitter back at a time when the children are around — just after school is perfect. Observe how the babysitter communicates with your kids, and look for evidence of natural supervisory skills. Everyone will need to get on with one another if the arrangement is going to work, so you should be looking for evidence of both fun and discipline.
5. Define Responsibilities and Expectations
It is important to agree on a specific set of responsibilities and expectations from the outset of the arrangement. You should be detailed in your approach to this process, and everything should be written down and kept safe for future reference. This list of rules and responsibilities should relate to your children and your sitter. You can include rules regarding bedtimes, smoking, eating, alcohol, visitors and absolutely anything that concerns you.
6. Discuss Discipline
Parents have their own way of disciplining their children and managing bad behavior — and so do babysitters. Talk at length with your sitter about how you approach discipline. Be very specific about how you want your babysitter to manage bad behavior. Consider introducing some simple disciplinary tools such as the “naughty step” or early bedtimes. Restricting access to toys and games is also a relatively simple and harmless way a sitter can discipline your children in your absence.
7. Talk about Electronics
There should be clear ground rules on the use of tablets, phones and computer in your home. The internet is home to a wealth of inappropriate material, and just a moment of unsupervised access gives a child an opportunity to access some of it. The best course of action is to ban the use of all internet-connected devices while you’re not around.
You may also want to create some rules about your sitter texting and where their cell phone is kept. Your sitter should never post photos of your children or any details about your babysitting arrangement on social media sites — so ban this behavior from the outset.
8. Explain Medicines and Allergies
You will need to decide whether or not you are going to trust your sitter with basic medications for your children. If you are, you should explain which medications are available, what they can be used for and where they can be found. If your child has an ongoing medical condition or allergies, you will need to explain these in great detail to your sitter before leaving them in charge. And make sure you explain what symptoms to watch for — and the procedures in place for dealing with them.
9. Vet Activities
While your sitter might have some fun and educational activities planned, you may not find them appropriate. Discuss the planned activities, and let your sitter know which of them are acceptable and which of them are not allowed.
10. Offer Parting Instructions
Before you leave the sitter with your children for the first time, leave a few parting instructions with regard to safety, emergencies and housekeeping. Mention issues such as keeping the doors and windows locked, never opening the door to strangers and what to do in the event of emergencies. All of this should be written down, but it never hurts to reinforce matters of health and safety.
By performing the necessary checks and putting a comprehensive plan of action in place, you’ll have the peace of mind that comes from knowing your kids are safe and well under the supervision of a teenage sitter.