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Should Pre-Teens Be Allowed to Babysit?

How young is too young to be babysitting? Are pre-teens mature and responsible enough to take care of the younger kids? A new study from the American Academy of Pediatrics has good and bad news. After examining the babysitting of 700 pre-teens ages 11 to 13, the large majority of them knew who to contact in the event there was an intruder, the child was injured, and if the child was poisoned.

Unfortunately, 40% said they had left children unattended while babysitting, and 20% said they had opened the door to strangers.

Sandy at Strollerderby summarizes these findings best: “What this says to me is that the average pre-teen is highly trainable and can be counted on to act appropriately in case of an emergency. It also reveals that pre-teens lack the maturity to exercise good judgment when the choices aren’t so clear cut. Knowing what to do when your little charge gets hurt is good. But leaving your charge alone and opening the door to strangers is not.”

Would you let your pre-teen babysit? Or hire a pre-teen to babysit your kids?

From Strollerderby.

13 Responses to “Should Pre-Teens Be Allowed to Babysit?”

  1. won

    I think as a blanket question, it's impossible to answer. It would depend on the maturity of the child, not the age. There would be some 16 year olds I wouldn't have had babysit.

    I would like to know what how unattended was defined. If a child answered that very literally (i.e. they went to the bathroom or into the kitchen when their charge was in the living room), it could frame things differently.

  2. Small Footprints

    I agree that the maturity of the child is an important factor … and how well the parents of the baby know the pre-teen. If the child seems mature and responsible, I would let him/her babysit IF the pre-teen's parents were close by and known to me (and also mature and responsible) … and if they would make themselves available if the need arose. I babysat when I was 12 … I was a mature & responsible kid and my parents lived a few doors away (and were always home and available if I needed help).

  3. Mark Rinaldi

    I think that it depends. The maturity of the child is an immense factor. We could also look at how they take care of themselves, because that shows how they will take care of others. Also, it would depend on the relationship of the child to the parents of the child she/he are taking care of. Great bonds will then form trust. So, all in all, it depends on so many factors, that it could go either way.

  4. Mike P

    We have an 11yr old and have told her she can babysit when she is 13. Kids are not old enough for that responsibility until older. Even at 13 they are not prepared for all events. 99% of the time everything goes fine but there is the risk.

  5. Betty N

    As a rule, preteens are not mature enough to babysit….I have a 12 year old grandson that is hired to babysit in a groups situation where there are two babysitters for 4-5 children while they are having a group meeting with friends from the church. AND the adults are next door. He and my 15 year old granddaughter are favorite sitters for them and I think it is great practice for my grandson. But as a rule, I wouldn't hire a pre-teen to sit.

  6. shenais

    preteens are not developmentally ready to take that kind of responsibility. their judgment is not developed. i have an 11 year old and a 2 year old. although my older daughter is responsible and educated on safety, i would never leave her in the position of taking responsibility for her younger sibling. it isn't even an issue of trust. if an emergency should arise, it is not fair to expect the preteen to think and act like an adult. they are still children. although my older daughter does play and help with her younger sister, when i am in the house.

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