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Thoughtful Parenting: For parents of babysitters

— Does your child want to begin babysitting?

It is a great way for kids to gain independence and responsibility while earning a few dollars. However, they don’t always see the potential for taking on too much or getting into dangerous situations. Here are some helpful hints for parents of babysitters that will keep your child safe while taking care of others.

• Set limits for the jobs you will allow your child to accept. Will you allow jobs that include infants or children with special needs? What is the maximum number of children for a job? Do you want your child babysitting on school nights or late evenings? Make sure that you discuss your limits with your child so that they do not accept jobs that you do not approve of. Better yet, require your child to check with you before accepting any job, no matter how small.



• Always be aware of where your child is advertising for jobs and who they are working for. Do not allow them to post on-line or hang fliers in public places such as public bulletin boards. While these venues may generate more jobs, there are too many question marks surrounding who your child could be working with. Instead, have your child make business cards and hand them out personally to friends or neighbors. If they are sitting for a family you do not know, go with them on their first visit and introduce yourself. Make sure it is a safe environment for your child to be in. If you are uncomfortable leaving your child in the house, don’t. Your first instincts are usually the right ones.

• Transportation home from the host parents can be tricky, and your child could be uncomfortable getting a ride home from them for a number of reasons. It may be that your child just doesn’t know them very well, or they could suspect that they might have been drinking. Have a conversation with your child about how to identify signs that the driver may be intoxicated and make it standard procedure for your child to contact you when the parents arrive home. Make sure to ask them if they want you to pick them up and create a code word together that your child can say to let you know they need a ride. You can also set up in advance that you will be their ride no matter what to avoid them making that judgment call themselves. Your child should not accept a ride from anyone they are uncomfortable being with.



These are just a few tips to help your family navigate the world of babysitting. Classes are highly recommended for new sitters and will cover this information and much more. The city of Steamboat hosts two American Red Cross babysitting classes annually for middle school students, and Colorado Mountain College offers babysitting classes throughout the year using 4-H curriculum.

Alexis Wolf is the youth program xoordinator for the xity of Steamboat Springs, Parks and Community Services Separtment. She is a Babysitting Training Instructor under the American Red Cross program. The xity of Steamboat Springs, Parks and Community Services is a member of the Routt County Youth Services Coalition, whose website can be found at http://www.youthinroutt.org.


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