A babysitter’s survival guide

Student shares advice, experience on taking care of children


Created on Canva by Trinity Sloan

Sloan shares some do’s and don’ts for new babysitters. Do’s include being polite and having a set rate to charge and Don’ts include canceling last minute and being inappropriate.

I’ve dealt with tantrums. I’ve changed diapers. I’ve listened to Baby Shark hundreds of times, and in the process, I’ve picked up a thing or two about handling a night as the new babysitter.

If you’re looking for a way to make some money this Spring Break, babysitting is a great option. The hours are more flexible than other teen jobs, like being a barista or a grocery bagger. Plus, you get to keep what you earn.

I have been babysitting for other families for five years, and I also have two sisters at home,  ages 3 and 5.

Step 1: Put your best foot forward.

Just like any other business, you’re providing a service. If you want to be hired again, leaving a good impression is key. Be polite, mature and attentive. Be mindful of any instructions and house rules they give you. If you’re new to babysitting, getting Red Cross Certified can ensure that you will be prepared if an emergency occurs.

Step 2: Overcoming the shy kid phase.

At first, some kids will be shy or wary of strangers. It can be hard to get them to talk to you or even stop clinging to their parents’ legs. Use friendly body language and a cheerful voice. If you’re tall like me, it might help to crouch or sit on the floor next to them after the parents have left. Introduce yourself and ask them an icebreaker question.

Step 3: Getting the kids’ comfortable with you.

The best way to get the kids’ comfortable with you is to try to get on their level. When I was a kid, I was in awe of my high school babysitters because they seemed so much older and cooler than me, but would still play games I liked with me.  Disney movies are an easy topic. Ask them about their favorite color or favorite animal.  Kids, especially little kids, tend to ramble. Chime in when you can, but above all just make them feel listened to.

What did you like when you were that age? What did you care about?

New babysitters should be well-prepared before the night of their job. Being mindful of instructions and doing extra research like first-aid training can help with this. (Created on Canva by Trinity Sloan)

Step 4: Keeping it fun.

Follow the kids’ lead, but try to keep things interactive. As a general rule of thumb, avoid electronics and screens unless the parents approve. Play some classic games like hide-and-seek or make games up on the spot. If the kids have a game room, ask if they want to play a board game or another game from there.

Step 5: Dealing with tantrums.

Similar to how some kids will be naturally shy around you, others may be stubborn and unwilling to listen to your instructions. If they stomp their feet or scream when you say it’s time for bed, don’t lose your cool. Remember that you are in charge. Don’t be sharp with them, but don’t be afraid to be firm. Look for a compromise first. (Ex: “Ok, but after five more minutes, it’s time for bed.”) If that doesn’t work, then give them until the count of three. If all else fails, threatening to call the parents often works.

Bonus Points: Clean up afterwards.

After the kids are in bed, do a quick once-over of the house. Tidy up any remaining messes like half-finished board games or toys on the floor. Parents really appreciate it when you go the extra mile so this helps you leave a good impression on them.