Being asked to babysit for the first time is almost like a rite of passage for teen and tweens (and, let’s face it, for us as mothers!). It’s such a big responsibility, as well as such a fantastic learning experience. I think it’s so important to teach our tweens and teens the ins and outs of caring for other children, along with how to be respectful in someone else’s home. There are certain tips and etiquette that I’ve found helpful in my own experience and conversations, and I want to share those with you so you can share with your teens and tweens!
DOSAYGIVE’S GUIDE TO BABYSITTING ETIQUETTE FOR TEENS & TWEENS
Use proper titles. Call parents by their proper name — such as “Mrs. Jones” or “Mr. Jones” — and avoid slang. This shows respect for the parents as the authority figures at the home.
Communicate in a timely and respectful manner. Always confirm the day and time beforehand, and be sure to ask if there are any allergies or special needs to be aware of. Texting is fine, but be sure to spell words out and use proper titles.
Put the phone away. This goes without saying: Don’t look at your phone the whole time! As we all know, children talk and some homes have cameras.
Tidy up after the children go to bed. Anytime I’ve asked readers about babysitting, this is the number one piece of feedback! Be sure that the house is as tidy (or tidier!) as when you arrived. Be sure to wash off dirty dishes from dinner and put in the dishwasher. You can enlist the children’s help if they are old enough.
Don’t bring a friend with you. Unless the parents approve ahead of time, don’t unexpectedly bring a friend with you when you arrive. And don’t allow friends to visit the house while the parents are away.
Don’t be weary of calling an adult if you get into a bind. In the event that you have a question or something comes up, don’t hesitate to call the parents (or even your parents) to ask. No question is a silly one!
Determine how you will get home. If you don’t have a driver’s license or your own car, make plans with your parents on how you will get home. Discuss what to do if the dad offers to drive your teen daughter home and how she should respond. It may be a smart idea to send your tween with a “home” cell phone if they don’t have one of their own.
Take a Red Cross Babysitting & Childcare Class. This is really going the extra mile, and gives more than a little peace of mind to the parents entrusting you with their child(ren)! The American Red Cross offers online and in person courses (often at local YMCAs) on babysitting that covers everything from first aid to age-appropriate activities. This would also be a fun activity for a group of friends to do together and also helps tweens and teens feel more prepared when they begin babysitting.
While these may seem simple, they are in no way second nature. So be sure to educate your teens on these important things so they always leave a good and gracious impression wherever they go!
Photo: Ali Wood Photography