By Jodie Lynn
I would like to hire a neighborhood teen to watch my children, six-year-old twin boys, this summer. What are some good guidelines and questions to ask before choosing one?
ANSWER FROM READER:
The very first thing I do when searching for a new babysitter is look at the location, interview the individual and call references. If you have any reservations about the person, save yourself time and look elsewhere. - Tracey E. in Edina, MN
I definitely agree about calling references. However, make sure that they are not just relatives, which you may find in younger teens, especially if they've only sat for their relatives. While this certainly counts as experience, it's not a reliable source of unbiased referrals. Look for teens who have babysat for a wide range of ages and maybe focus on the age of your boys and their personalities as well. Depending on the location of your job and how far your house is from it, you may find the distance between the two to be an important factor in a teen to be able to drive. Driving would also be a plus if your children are involved in summer activities. If there is a pool available in your area that the kids usually go to during the summer, be sure that the childcare provider can swim. Always allow your kids to meet any potential sitter after you have done a preliminary interview. This way, you can get a good feel for their own impressions. Communication between everyone is imperative for a babysitting situation to be successful. Make a list of rules for the sitter as well as for the kids. For example, in today's society, limitations on cell phone usage will be something you will have to be clear about as you discuss rules. If the teen doesn't agree with any of your personal guidelines, and you feel strongly about them, you will most likely have to keep looking. One of the most important things to search for is a teen that has a babysitting certificate and preferably also has a CPR certification from the Red Cross or other organization like the YMCA or YWCA. There is even an online course for anyone eleven years old and older for babysitting basics. Check out www.redcross.org for more information and tips. Always interview several individuals and have backups in case they should be needed. And don't forget that boys can make just as good sitters as girls.
CAN YOU HELP?
My best friend has given a cell phone to her five-year-old. She wants her daughter to be able to call or text her during the day if something goes wrong at daycare. The daycare only allows the kids to use them once a day. My friend is now thinking of suing them. My question is concerning the daycare facility: should they change their rules on usage of the phone or is my friend going overboard with protection?
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