Have your tween help with younger siblings. This may seem obvious. But it can become a habit for some parents to do all the work. Don't forget to let your tween pitch in. Feeding the baby, changing diapers, preparing simple food for toddlers, helping a sibling tie their shoes, and playing with a younger sibling all tie in to the lesson. Leave your tween 'in charge' when you are fulfilling another task, such as cleaning the kitchen. Of course, you'll still need to supervise. But this helps them learn how to care for younger children. Let them know you trust them so that they are confident in their choices and actions. You can observe without making it obvious.
Enroll your tween in a babysitting class. The Red Cross and other organizations offer babysitting classes for tweens and teens. These can usually be taken on the weekend or in the summer. Some classes will be more extensive than others. So do your research and choose the one that best fits your tween. The enrollment fee is generally low and your tween can become certified in CPR and learn other important child safety tips. In addition to what is learned at home, this type of class helps ensure all bases are covered. Even if your tween never ends up babysitting, CPR is an important technique to know in many situations. The child care lessons will come in handy around the tween's own siblings or later in life if the tween has kids.
Teach your tween household safety and first aid. The babysitting classes mentioned above will likely teach some important household safety tips. But there are also safety tips geared toward each individual's home. Your tween needs to know where all the windows and doors are and which would be a good escape route in an emergency. Are there any sealed windows or doors? Let your tween know. Is there a dangerous area, such as steep basement stairs? Is there a safe place (like a hidden room) your tween can hide in if there's ever an intruder? If not, come up with a safety plan. There should be a safety plan for every scenario you can think of: fire, break-in, injury, flood, and more.
Provide babysitting scenarios for your tween. You can be the child and allow your tween to take care of you. Then, reverse roles and let your tween be the small child. This hands-on lesson can help make it easier to prepare your tween for babysitting. Be sure to use a variety of scenarios and age ranges to test your tween's skills. Another thing that helps is to allow your tween to observe live scenarios. Ask them what the parent should do and see if their solution was a good one. If the parent did something other than what they suggested, ask them if they think the parent a good choice or not and why.
The main keys to preparing a tween for babysitting are variety, practice, safety, and consistency. Follow these four points and you'll tween will be ready to babysit in no time.
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
Career preparation begins early and it should start in the home. One of the most common jobs for tweens is babysitting. Chances are your tween either has siblings or knows someone in or outside the family with smaller children. Tweens are, of course, too young to babysit without supervision. But they are at the perfect age to learn some of the basics. Preparing tweens for babysitting is a simple and necessary part of growing up. Doing so teaches them both career and life skills.
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