Shocking House Fire: Is 11 Too Young To Babysit?

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An 11 year old girl in Sheboygan, WI recently was left to babysit her 3 younger siblings when a fire broke out, the middle child managed to escape but is in critical condition. The oldest girl went back into the house to get her younger brother but she died, along with her brother.

Since the incident occurred, there’s a lot of debate about how old is old enough to babysit?

Many tweens or teenagers, like my nieces, are interested in babysitting in order to have some spare cash. However, some parents are hesitant to let them babysit – are they really mature enough? Are they really capable of taking care of younger children?

Most states do not have any laws stipulating how old a child must be to stay home alone. So the decision is basically left up to the parents. It’s pretty obvious to most parents that a six-year-old is too young to be left alone in the house – but what about a ten- or eleven-year-old?

Ten or eleven, seems to be the acceptable age to leave a child alone for short periods of during the day, provided they’re not afraid and you think they are mature enough to cope. But you may want to wait another year or two before leaving them alone at night, especially if they’ll be looking after a younger brother or sister.

Consider the following when making the decision to determine if your child is old enough to babysit:

  • It basically all boils down to maturity – age doesn’t always represent maturity. Some ten year-olds can babysit extremely well, while other sixteen year-olds aren’t ready. How to determine if they are mature enough?
    • Can they communicate well with you, their peers, children, and other adults?
    • Can they follow instructions well and complete them timeously?
    • Do they do their homework and have good grades?
    • Do they take responsibility for their actions and do they learn from mistakes?
    • Are they respectful, patient and kind?
  • Also consider the following
    • Do you live in a quiet neighbourhood and does the area have a low crime rate?
    • Do you have a working alarm system installed? Does your child know how to operate it?
    • Can your child understand and follow basic rules, like keeping doors locked not opening it for strangers?
    • Has your child shown good judgment in past situations?
    • Do you have any family members or neighbours who can get to your house rather quickly in case of an emergency?

If you do decide to leave your children at home alone, make sure that you are easily accessible on your cell phone. Also, call in regularly to make sure things are going smoothly at home.

RELATED: Do You Recognize the 3 Causes of Death Among Children

One Comment

  1. Joanna

    September 1, 2016 at 3:26 am

    I was 12 years old when I started babysitting. But my parents were home next door or close by. Two children are more then enough for a 12-16 years old. I was well trained in first aid,no one else was allowed in home, doors were locked, phone working, never fell asleep even if they said I could. Never past midnight. Babysitter pick up and drive home.

    When I was 15 I was allowed to babysit after midnight. But never passed 2 am. Parents were told I would not do that.

    At 16 i took on bigger families but I was very mature and responsible. Again my parents or brothers were a phone call away.

    Under 12 is to young. I had except if it was daytime and maybe taking them to the school playground. Never by myself. I always took another girlfriend to help.

    We also had a babysitting course run by our local PD and they would refer parents looking for qualified babysitter, new to area help you too. I was 15 then.

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