How to Be a Teenage Babysitter

mother paying teen babysitter
Jamie Grill/Tetra images/Getty Images

Teenagers, especially those age 16 or under, are often hard-pressed to find a job, any job, and in particular, one that pays decent money. Babysitting does provide teens with some much-desired cash and is a job that offers flexibility around other activities as well. 

Here are tips for getting a babysitting job as well as for getting a call back for yet another opportunity.

Get Training

Take a babysitting course along with a CPR/first-aid class for a great appeal to parents. If you desire to watch infants, be sure to take infant CPR training as well. Parents will find your credentials particularly appealing.

Charge Fairly

Hourly rates for a babysitter varies depending on where you live, how long the service is required, whether there is one or multiple children to care for, your age, and also the time of year (special occasions typically command higher rates).

Find out what the going rate in your area is, and be sure to stay within that range. Also, if you charge one family one amount, be sure to be consistent with another family if all things are equal (such as number/ages of kids). The word on your hourly rate will get around.


Word of mouth can help get sitting jobs; so can creating flyers and distributing them around the neighborhood. Consider also giving out flyers that include your name, age, contact information, training, availability, and activities at your school, church, or other areas that parents will see.

Ask if your neighborhood has an online posting area. If you participate in activities such as dance, see if there is a public bulletin board where you can display your information.

Impress the Parents

Don't view babysitting as a one-night gig or just something until you get a "real job." This is a real job, and these parents can become important references and a vital source for future work as well. Arrive a few minutes early (but not too early), bring a notebook and pen and take notes while parents give you information, and come prepared with kid entertainment.

Sought-after babysitters have an action plan of activities (consider it your "sitter bag of tricks"). And be sure to ask parents questions and about expectations and rules. Don't plan to leave the house or yard without prior approval by parents. If there is a nearby park, for example, don't just assume you'll take the kids there. Be sure to ask if the activity is okay.

Give the Kids Your Undivided Attention

Don't be the type of babysitter who yaks on her cell phone or plants in front of the family television. Be attentive and interactive, or else you won't get asked back. After kids are in bed, be sure to check on them a time or two.

Never invite a friend to come over, and never, ever leave kids unattended for any reason.

Pick up the House Before Parents Get Home

A pet peeve of many parents is to come home after a night out only to find a dirty kitchen, muddy shoes, or things in general disarray with toys out of place, etc.

A general rule is to leave the house cleaner than when you arrive. Parents will notice this extra effort, and it may result in a larger tip.

Give a True Report

Tell parents of any occurrences that happened while they were gone. Be honest about accidents or things they should know about. You don't need to tell parents about every small detail, however. They don't need to know that Suzy called her brother a name unless it was really bad and/or repeated throughout the evening.

On the flip side, be sure to note any special behavior that warrants a hug from mom or dad the next day. If Sam helped clean up the dishes and brushed his teeth before bed without being told, make a note and be sure to brag about it.

Parents want to know about the good and the bad.

Leave With Grace

Thank parents for the opportunity to watch their precious children, and be sure to tell them how much you enjoyed them. Tell them that you really hope to be able to see their children again soon, and will be eager for another babysitting job. Chances are, you'll get that phone call.

By Robin McClure
 Robin McClure is a public school administrator and author of 6 parenting books.