4 answers

How Old Should a Child Be Before They Can Babysit a Sibling?

Hi all!
I have been asked this question by a girlfriend and I want to know the answer as well. I cannot find the answer anywhere. I have a 12 1/2 year old daughter and a 6 1/2 year old son. We do not leave them unattended, but I am starting to fantasize about the day I could, maybe to escape for a dinner with my husband. I have never hired a babysitter before either. I do not know anyone who babysits and I feel uneasy about having a teenager in my home "watching" my kids. I would love to hear your opinions, thoughts, or the law on this topic.
Thank you so much!

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More Answers

i think it always depends on the maturity of the older child. my friend has a 9 year old who is more than capable of "watching" her 6 year old, given that they are close with all their neighbors as backups. she would never leave him for long, perhaps just to run to the grocery. and it helps that her 6 year old has never been much trouble. of course, with many other children, that would never work out. i don't know for sure, but i think in my state a child can stay home alone at 12 legally (but right now i have nothing to back that up.) if you are in any way not confident about the older child's ability to handle an emergency then don't try it yet. it sounds like you need a good babysitter. i too dislike the idea of teen watching my children, and as we are without family in the area, i have relied on women who work in the daycare at my gym. i get adults who can handle anything, who won't spend the entire time on my phone or computer, and can lay down the law like only an adult can. we don't peanuts either, so we don't go out much, but i recommend looking for someone with many years of childcare experience. good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I think it depends on the child and how mature he/she is. I have had a 13 year old, very mature and responsible babysit while my DS was already asleep in his crib for the night. I know another 13 year old who wants to babysit for me, but when I have observed her with my son, she is unattentive to him and pays more attention to the TV. I'm not sure what the law is regarding it, but I think that you know in your gut whether or not you can trust the child... Some 12 or 13 year olds are not comfortable being home alone and in charge yet, but I think that day that you are fantasizing about is right around the corner! I would start out by running to the convenience store for 10 minutes and telling your daughter that she's in charge... See how it goes!

1 mom found this helpful

I have a 19 month old and I occasionally let my 13 year old brother watch him. He's very responsible for his age and very mature. Usually its times when my son is in bed but on occassion Dylan has been awake and he watches him for and hours or so....I keep my cell phone on if theres any problems. On the other hand, my 14 year old cousin came over to watch my son while he was asleep....i checked up on her and she had invited a girlfriend over and was goofing off and woke my son up...he was crying and she was afraid to call me....I wasnt too happy...so i guess it does depend on how responsible the kid is.

1 mom found this helpful

I do think that you are being a little overprotective... However, only you know your children and your neighborhood. You also have to go by what you are comformtable with. My son is 13 and he has been left alone for SMALL stints starting at 9 and increasing as he has gotten older. I would leave him to babysit while I went out for no more than 2 hours after my 5 year old went to bed when he was 12. I would stay completely local (5 min or less home). He is a great kid and very mature for his age. Each kid developes and handles scenarios diffrently. The responsibility does help some kids mature also. Start with a trip to the drug store, or bank, or to go pick up milk. You may be a nervous wreck... but you may be pleasantly suprised. As parents we hate to give our children adult like responsibilities, it means they are growing up... That is more a reflection of our fears and difficulty letting go than their readiness or ability. Good luck. Hope this was helpful. At 12... if she is mature enough she should be ready though!

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