would you let your 11 yr old babysit? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 39 Old 04-22-2008, 02:30 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi! This is one of my first posts, here. I find you all to be such a lovely, informative group.


I have a very mature, responsible, loving, intelligent 11 year old son. He is exellent with kids. Teaches neighbor kids to ride bikes, is a very good role model when all the neighbor kids are out playing in our court yard.
He has also show great trust and responsibility in dealing with his younger brother who has a brain injury

He has also taken the red cross babysitting course.

Is it legal for him to be babysitting?

Would you let your son/daughter of 11 babysit? for what length of time?

Id love your opinion
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#2 of 39 Old 04-22-2008, 02:39 AM
 
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Welcome to the forums!

It is my understanding that in my state, 11 year olds can only legally babysit siblings. At 12, they can start babysitting outside of the family.

That said, I personally would not leave my children with a 12 yo, in fact, my 12 yo doesn't babysit his younger siblings. He really has no interest in babysitting outside of the family but asks to babysit for us. We just aren't comfortable with it yet. Maybe at 13-14, but we'll have to see.

Congrats on having such a wonderful son though!

ETA: I just noticed you were in Canada so your laws are probably completely different. Sorry.
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#3 of 39 Old 04-22-2008, 03:01 AM
 
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Here, a child has to be 12, I believe, to legally babysit. At that age I would definitely let them, though.

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#4 of 39 Old 04-22-2008, 09:34 AM
 
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In your case, since he's taken all of the saftey classes, etc and has made a serious attempt to me mature about it, I would be OK with it.

that said, my DS had a babysitter until he was 13
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#5 of 39 Old 04-22-2008, 10:34 AM
 
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I let my son babysit his 5 year sister when he was an old 11. I did not (and do not) let him babysit his 9 year old sister for more than 20 minutes as they will fight

I let him babysit for up to 2 hours.

He is now 12. I would let him babysit children in the 4-8 year old category (younger kids are "too busy" and older ones might have trouble listenning due to the nearness in age) for up to 1.5 hours if I were home and physically close to where he was babysitting so I could advise him if need be.
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#6 of 39 Old 04-22-2008, 11:02 AM
 
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I think it really depends on your child (both of them actually, the responsibility/maturity level of the older one and the dynamics between them both), where you live, and how far/how long you'll be gone.

My 12 year old has been watching his 4 year old brother for about a year or so, but only for an hour or less while I'm in town.

It's the almost 15 year old and 12 year old that I have problems leaving them home together, as they are at each other all the time.
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#7 of 39 Old 04-22-2008, 12:10 PM
 
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I have a mature 11 y/o daughter, and no she can not babysit. She wants to, but our deal is that she can when she is 13. We've just recently started leaving her home alone for short periods of time, I wouldn't feel comfortable leaving her alone and responsible for a younger child at this point. However, she has babysat the young children (6mos-2years) of our friends when we were home. Basically, she is completely responsible for the child, but the adults are outside or busy for an hour or so at a time. We are always within earshot. This gives her practice and allows for the adults to do something uninterrupted.
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#8 of 39 Old 04-22-2008, 12:20 PM
 
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I'm sure it depends legally on where you are.

When dd was a baby we left her briefly with an 11 year old "babysitter". We needed daytime care for a half hour, and the neighbor's daughter was super-keen to try out her new babysitting skills. Her mom was home next door, and would have come over if there were any issues. It worked out well!
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#9 of 39 Old 04-22-2008, 12:25 PM
 
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He would have to be twelve to babysit here. However, if he's eager to get experience he could try being a mother's helper or something along that line. I hired a friend's 11-year-old daughter for two afternoons a week to play with Maia so I could get interviews done a couple of years ago. She went on to be our regular babysitter.
She made up flyers advertising her service - explaining she couldn't babysit yet but she could play games, do art, make snacks and keeps the kids busy while parents got things done in another part of the house...
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#10 of 39 Old 04-22-2008, 07:53 PM
 
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I think it depends on the individual. As his Mom, only you know your child well enough to decide if he's ready.

A 15-year-old might not be able to handle babysitting as well as some 10 year-olds. I don't think age is nearly as important as personality, maturity, kindness, preparation (cpr, first aid, what to do in an emergency), how they handle younger children and responsibility for others.

My daughter is 11 and she was first asked to babysit when she was 9. She regularly played with our then-4-year-old neighbor and her mom consistently asked her to babysit. I was home so it wasn't as big of a responsibility but she insisted on doing everything herself and handled it well.

Now, at 11, I wouldn't have a problem with dd babysitting anyone 3 or older as long as she was nearby (preferably in the neighborhood) so she could call me if she needed to. I wouldn't want her babysitting an infant or young toddler until she was maybe 14...? We'll see when the time comes...
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#11 of 39 Old 04-22-2008, 08:51 PM
 
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My mom started leaving me alone with my siblings when I was 9, which was totally illegal, but it's not like I knew that and my mother was likely drunk anyway, so she wouldn't have been actually taking care of us. From the time I was 7 (and they were 1 and 3) I was getting them up in the mornings, getting them changed, dressed, fed, etc. At 9 I was more than capable of handling a 3 and 5 year old. By the time I was 11 I was allowed to babysit pretty much anywhere in my neighborhood, and when I got my license I started getting jobs that required driving.

If you feel you're son is ready and the other family has no qualms, I don't see a reason not to.
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#12 of 39 Old 04-22-2008, 08:57 PM
 
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Whether or not it's legal for your 11yo to babysit depends on your local laws. I checked my local laws (actually the CPS website) before letting my kids stay home alone even! It turns out that in NYS at least there are no specific ages, just general guidelines "it depends on the maturity of the child babysitting and the age and maturity of the child being babysat."

I've let my kids stay home alone for an hour or so at a time starting around age 9 or 10, and babysit starting around age 12. I've been letting DD2 babysit for DS (6) since age 11.5, since she's mature enough and there seemed to be no logical reason to hold off until her next birthday when she was ready for it NOW.

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#13 of 39 Old 04-22-2008, 09:49 PM
 
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He sounds wonderfully responsible; so if it were within the law; I'd let him babysit. I would make some basic rules though; such as...
  • not being allowed to babysit a child under 7 (or whatever age you feel apropriate)
  • limit his services to daytime hours only (or whatever you feel)
  • limit the length of time to 2 hours (or whatever)
  • limit the distance away (ie: he can only babysit within' a two block radius of your house in case help is needed)
  • to make sure you're available to go and help him if necessary
  • that he isn't to feed the children (unless he's has formal training with choking)
...and so forth. Basically, if you're going to let him do this; there has to be some (flexible-ish) rules that you establish first. If he were just watching a 6 and 7 year old and they had potato chips and juice and watched a movie; that would be an okay situation in my opinion.

OH! He could also offer a distraction service. As in; he could be paid a small fee to occupy the kids while mom/dad get some housework or paperwork done. So they'd still be there; but he'd be in charge of getting them things they need, playing with them, etc.

WARNING: The comments and opinions expressed above do not necessarily reflect those of the community in which I reside; or those of the internet parenting network.
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#14 of 39 Old 04-22-2008, 11:05 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Blu Razzberri View Post
OH! He could also offer a distraction service. As in; he could be paid a small fee to occupy the kids while mom/dad get some housework or paperwork done. So they'd still be there; but he'd be in charge of getting them things they need, playing with them, etc.
ITA. There is always something for an industrious child - I think it would be a great intro to babysitting to get paid to entertain the children (and build his 'resume'), which is what he seems to love doing. There are several neighborhood kids in our area who do this, they usually get around $5/hr and do 2 hrs. in the later afternoon (the witching hour). They will do younger children (under 3) but right in the backyard/playroom, so there's always help at hand if the baby needs something he/she can't handle. Hth!

PS - I'm in NY too, and so though there is no law, I don't think I'd hire even a very responsible 11 yo, only because they need to be able to handle contingencies (like broken bones, bleeding, etc. and I think it's better for them not to have to handle that alone).

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#15 of 39 Old 04-22-2008, 11:48 PM
 
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Not a mama of a teen, but I'm gonna pop in anyway...

I babysat at 11, but it was for my parents' best friends' daughter (while they were out with my parents, who hired a different sitter for my sisters, as I had the fighting issue with my then 9 year-old sister, plus my youngest sister was only three at the time), who was eight at the time, and a very easy-going kid. We knew the child in question very well; I had been bossing her around like she was my own sister since we were tiny. I was a pretty serious kid, too, so that probably helped.

The parents were also only a half a mile away at the bowling alley, and were perfectly willing to come home, for any reason, if I called. So for a lot of reasons... yeah, I was mature enough to babysit IN THAT SITUATION. I don't think I'd have been mature enough to handle it in other situations.

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#16 of 39 Old 04-24-2008, 11:01 AM
 
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I let my 12 yo niece babysit my DS, but I wouldn't go far. (A friend's up the road, pick up DF from the bus stop... small errands.) Mostly she was a Mother's Helper. (On her March Break I got sick... she was VERY useful)

I would make him stick to known friends/family/neighbours until he's older.

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#17 of 39 Old 04-25-2008, 07:26 PM
 
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My 12yo son watches his younger brother and sister often, for short periods of time, no more than 2 hours. He did at 11 as well. i have a cell and he can reach me. he does great and even handles their bickering quite well. i think it all depends on the kid

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#18 of 39 Old 04-25-2008, 07:43 PM
 
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My oldest babysat his two siblings for a couple of hour stretches at a time once he was 11 and had taken the babysitting course. None of my kids have done much babysitting for anyone else.
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#19 of 39 Old 05-01-2008, 06:51 AM
 
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In WA state, where I live, there is no 'legal age' for what's considered casual labor (paper route, lawn mowing, babysitting, etc.) Same goes for leaving your child at home by themselves.

That being said, I wouldn't let an 11 y/o babysit my children. I wouldn't even let my 11 y/o stay home by themselves.

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#20 of 39 Old 05-03-2008, 09:29 PM
 
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I babysat for some people down the street starting when I was 11. They had a 6 year old and 3 year old twins. All girls. I had taken the baby sitting course through the Red Cross as well and I charged practically nothing (maybe $2 an hour, but $2 was my weekly allowance so it was a lot to me!). I also have three much younger siblings so I had quite a bit of experience with young children. My parents were also right down the street, though I never needed their help. This was in WA where it's legal; I would have your son check the laws where you are.

You could always encourage him to start as a mother's helper while the mother is home and gradually become a babysitter as he gains the parents' trust

love and peace.

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#21 of 39 Old 05-04-2008, 09:16 AM
 
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I was a mother's helper at 11, babysat during afternoons at twelve, then babysit late at night when I could drive. I still babysit, it's a tax-free way to make some extra cash!
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#22 of 39 Old 05-04-2008, 08:33 PM
 
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I would encourage my 11 yo ds to offer himself as a mother's helper but wait on the babysitting until 12 or 13 - and even then it would depend on the situation. I have three children very close in age and I have found that it takes a mature 15 year old to care for them well. One child could be okay with a younger babysitter - but even then it depends on the child. When things are going well it is fine - but what if there is a fire? Or someone strange comes to the door? Or any of a zillion other possibilities that rarely happen but if they do, I want to know our babysitter can handle it and my experience is that most 10-12 year olds aren't ready for emergencies.

My 11 yo ds is amazing, kind, thoughtful, mature, loves to help and play with younger kids, but I would still want him to have an adult nearby to help quickly if things got beyond his ability to cope. As mature and responsible as he is for his age, I am his mom and I know that he can still get overwhelmed and I don't want to put him or any children left in his care at risk in any way.

When he took the babysitting course last winter (ON) the Red Cross instructors recommended that all of the kids take it twice before actually babysitting. Knowing how much information slips out of a growing child's mind , I would feel better knowing anyone who was caring for my kids had cared enough to make sure they really knew the stuff they had been taught.
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#23 of 39 Old 05-04-2008, 08:38 PM
 
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I started babysitting at 9. I babysat the next-door neighbor, and my mom was home whenever I did, just in case anything happened. I think it would depend on my child, the child he/she would be watching, etc.
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#24 of 39 Old 05-05-2008, 12:06 AM
 
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In WI it is 11 for sibs, 12 for non sibs.

I think that it's a case by case basis. DD will be 11 in dec. and I would feel very comfortable leaving her with our baby who would be almost 2 by then. I would not leave her with ds who will be almost 4. DD 1 and 2 are laid back and fun loving. DS is too, but when he gets his undies in a bundle hold on to your hats. DD #1 and DS love each other dearly, but they sure can fit too!

I would trust your gut. If you think he can handle it go on and let him do it.
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#25 of 39 Old 05-07-2008, 02:04 AM
 
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Does anyone have certain information about Canadian law (BC or otherwise)?

I've heard many comments over the years about it being "against the law" for under-12 to babysit. But there are just so many falsehoods that become cemented in society as "gospel truth". I've often wondered if this is one of them.

Over the past year, I actually got around to running that by two friends who are members of the RCMP. Neither of them had heard of such a law (although they both mentioned that as general law-enforcement officers, it wasn't exactly an area of expertise).

As others have detailed, so many things come into play that could make superficially-equivalent scenarios very, very different: the maturity of the babysitter, the age/personality of the kid(s) babysat, the proximity of the babysitter's parents or parents of the child(ren), etc.

I babysat (babies) when I was 11.5. We've had many babysitters for our kids and hands-down the most fantastic one we have had is 11. She's outstanding!

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#26 of 39 Old 05-10-2008, 09:59 PM
 
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My daughter started babysitting for younger family members when she was 9 or 10. I think it all boils down to how mature your child is, and whether you (and the parents of whomever he is sitting) feel he can handle the situation.
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#27 of 39 Old 05-12-2008, 11:46 AM
 
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Does anyone have certain information about Canadian law (BC or otherwise)?

I've heard many comments over the years about it being "against the law" for under-12 to babysit.
There is no minimum age for babysitting in a legal sense - but there is a minimum age that kids can be left alone in Canada (12). Even when a child is babysitting (even if they are over age 12) the parent can still be held responsible if something happens to the little ones because the law in the Family Services Act says:
"Every child in Canada under the age of 12 must be supervised at all times by an adult."

hth.
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#28 of 39 Old 05-12-2008, 11:50 AM
 
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Actually, the law in Ontario is that a 10 or 11 year old can stay home alone for short periods of time (1-2 hours).

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#29 of 39 Old 05-18-2008, 04:03 PM
 
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I think being a mother's helper sounds like a great idea! Perhaps, you could even help him by getting him a couple jobs. If your friends have young children, perhaps you could ask them if they'd be interested in his help. If they know him well, they will know that he is responsible and a mature 11 yo.

I'm not quite sure why everyone is steering towards babysitting in the afternoon instead of evenings? Many parents want someone to "sit" after their children are in bed, or shortly before they're heading there. All he'd have to do is just "hang out".
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#30 of 39 Old 05-18-2008, 04:13 PM
 
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I would definitely look into the mother's helper thing. I work at home and something like that would be a big help for me. So I'm sure you could find someone around who would want your son to come for a couple hours or maybe come along to the pool or park or something like that for extra help. They probably won't pay him a whole lot though but tell him it's a good way to build up references for when he's old enough to babysit on his own.
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