By Dana Hudepohl
Even in today's strained economic environment, one evergreen starter career is flourishing more than ever: babysitting. Summer child care gigs for teens and tweens are even more plentiful than in the past because parents work outside the home and for longer hours. Unlike traditional teen summer jobs at the local mall or restaurant—which are now harder to snag because many adults are vying for the same spots—babysitting usually offers some flexibility so your teen can still make it to soccer practice, SAT prep or a family trip. And it's the perfect pick for tweens who are too young for office jobs and internships. "Sitting gives young people many more skills than a basic entry-level position," says Suzanne Byron, Ph.D., a Seattle-based instructor for the American Red Cross Babysitter's Training program.
"It's an opportunity to learn about being an entrepreneur, develop people skills and build confidence." Since most parents begin lining up summer help in May, now is the ideal time to encourage your kid to get down to business.Is She Ready to Babysit?
Any parent knows that dealing with little ones can be challenging at times. "When something goes awry, like a child won't go to bed, has a tantrum or breaks something, a sitter needs to think on her feet and figure out how to handle it," says Melissa Marchwick, executive vice president of Sittercity.com, the largest parent-sitter matchmaking website in the U.S. How do you know if your tween or teen is up for the task? Generally preteens are ready to be babysitters by age 11, but kids mature at different rates, so you have to assess your child honestly. Ask yourself: