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What Is the Appropriate Age for a Teenager to Babysit?

by Kathryn Hatter

Teens looking to earn extra cash often turn to babysitting as a lucrative and effective way to make money. Whether you need to hire a teen to watch own children or your own teenager wants to start babysitting, there are a few issues to resolve first. First and foremost, however -- resolve the appropriate age for the teen to begin babysitting.

Recommended Minimum Age

The recommended minimum age for teens to begin babysitting varies slightly. The Fairfax County, Virginia, website recommends age 13 as the minimum age for babysitting. The University of Michigan recommends age 12 as the minimum babysitting age. While the recommended minimum age is an important guideline, it is not the only factor to consider for deciding whether a teen is old enough to babysit children.

Emotional Maturity

A teen’s emotional maturity is also an important factor. Any babysitter must have strong judgment and the ability to make effective decisions. If a teen lacks emotional maturity, this may hamper the ability to analyze and assess situations and then to proceed correctly. Because babysitting involves hands-on childcare, interacting and disciplining children, a babysitter must be able to set a positive example, maintain order and act quickly, if an emergency occurs.

Training and Education

A teenager who is preparing to begin babysitting other children can learn important skills and information by taking classes and by participating in special training. Learning CPR and basic first aid is especially important for anyone who will be caring for other people. In addition, the American Red Cross offers babysitting classes for teens, according to the University of Michigan. Once a teen acquires these skills and learns this information, she can tell parents about her special training to communicate her education and skills.

Special Considerations

Some situations exist that may make it necessary for teens to have greater maturity and skills to babysit. Children with special needs will present extra challenges for a caregiver. If the age of the children and/or the number of the children creates a challenging situation, a teenager may need additional maturity to handle the job. For example, watching twin infants for an entire day would probably require an older teen with more experience and maturity. Babysitting for a family with several small children will require more skills and maturity than babysitting for one child also. Provide a teenager with direct access to an available adult who can provide support and assistance also.

About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.

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