How old should babysitters be?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 9,948
    National Research Center for Women and Families president Dr. Diana Zuckerman offers advice about the age a babysitter ought to be.

    Host: How old should babysitters be?

    Dr. Diana Zuckerman: It's a funny thing that we trust our children with babysitters who are sometimes really just children themselves and I have noticed this just in my own life. My children started being asked to baby-sit when they were ten and 11 and 12 years old and by the time they were 16, nobody was asking them anymore. Really, it depends on the maturity of the child, but don't expect a ten or 11 year old child to be much of a babysitter. If what you are looking for is somebody to play with your child, watch TV with your child, watch a video with your child then you know a ten, 11, or 12 or 13 year old is probably going to be fine, but if your child has any kind of special needs at all or if you are expecting the child to take your child -- babysitter to take your child to the park or some other place where they might have to deal with other strangers that they don't know in a situation that might be uncomfortable for them or even scary, don't expect a 12 year old to be able to handle that. I actually have a -- I remember when my daughter was one of her first babysitting jobs an adult came up to her in the park where she was babysitting two children and the adult told her that they had come to visit the family and the family was expecting them and the family -- it was actually true, but the family had forgotten to tell her and she went to a panic not having any idea if this was true or not. So, people do have to be a lot more careful about what they are trusting, an 11 or 12 year child to do and I think we have to rethink what we expect from a babysitter. Most of the time we just want somebody to play with our children, but we also want to make sure that our kids are safe.