PBS Kids GO! It's My Life
Babysitting: Are You Ready?

Let's face it: Not everyone is cut out for babysitting!

Babysitting might be the number one way other people your age are earning some bucks, but that doesn't mean you should automatically enjoy it or be ready to do it. How do you know if it's right for you? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you like kids? If you don't enjoy spending time with young children, then you may not like or be good at babysitting.

  • Are you a nurturer? To "nurture" something means to care for something, to help it grow and develop. If you're the kind of person who likes to cook soup for your mom when she's sick, or enjoys watering the plants, or feeding the birds at the park, then babysitting is right up your alley!

  • Are you responsible? Babysitters must be reliable and trustworthy. You've got to be able to show up on time, follow instructions, and be ready to react during a problem or emergency.

Getting Permission From Your Parents

Okay, so what if you're pretty sure you can handle the responsibility of babysitting, but the adults in your life say you're not ready? Chances are, you should accept their judgment (being parents, they usually know what they're talking about!). But if you're convinced they're being too cautious, or they just aren't aware of how ready you really are, one of the best ways to show your parents you can do it is to prove that you're capable and responsible. Here are some ways to do this:

  • Take a babysitting course. These classes can get you off to a great start as a babysitter, teaching you everything from first aid to diaper changing and handling bad behavior (plus, parents are more likely to hire you if they know you've had solid training!). Check with your local community center or Red Cross to find out when classes are being offered; a great place to start is the Red Cross Web site at: http://www.redcross.org/services/hss/courses/babyindex.html

  • Care for your siblings. If you have younger sibs or cousins, volunteer to watch over them or take an active role in caring for them.

  • Care for your pets. How you care for animals can help prove that you're ready to care for children, too. You can really impress others by feeding, walking, and grooming your pets without being asked.

  • Be a mother's helper. Instead of jumping right into babysitting, you can start off as a "mother's helper." Mother's helpers do everything that babysitters do, but they do it while the child's parent is home. You might have a neighbor who just needs a little assistance with her baby, or someone to watch over the kids while she gets some work done in another part of the house. By helping, you'll gain experience and get a chance to prove that you're ready for the responsibility of taking care of kids while their parents are away.

  • Babysit in your own house. One reason parents are reluctant to let kids babysit is that they have to spend many hours at someone else's house. To solve this problem, see if you can start off babysitting at home. For instance, you could have a neighbor or close family friend drop the baby off at your house while she goes shopping. This way, your parents can watch how you care for the child, help you if you need it, and let you know when you're ready to do it on your own.

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