Babysitting & Leadership Skills

(How Sitting Can Make You A Leader)

Babysitting allows you to develop a number of important life skills that you'll be able to use in future careers and situations. Leadership is definitely one of those skills!

How does babysitting show leadership? While babysitting, you'll demonstrate a number of leadership qualities to both parents and the children you're looking after. Some of these traits include communication, delegating, motivation, trustworthiness, and more.

In this article, you'll learn how babysitting shows leadership, how to effectively lead children, and how to develop important leadership skills through babysitting that you'll be able to use for the rest of your life. I'll touch on some main leadership skills that you may want to focus on developing for yourself as a babysitter.

Gaining Leadership Skills Through Babysitting

For many kids and young adults, babysitting is the first job they'll ever have.

It's an opportunity for you to earn a bit of extra money. But more importantly, it's a way for you to prove your maturity and responsibility. It's also a situation that allows you to develop skills such as leadership.

Not everyone has the leadership skills necessary or is willing to take on the responsibility of babysitting. But for those who enjoy it, babysitting is a great learning experience.

You would think that babysitting younger kids is pretty simple and straightforward. But there are plenty of situations and potential problems that you can run into if you're not prepared.

That's where your leadership skills will really get put to the test.

Babysitting Work Fosters Leadership Skills

Babysitting is all about building relationships, compromise, and solving problems.

You'll demonstrate leadership as a babysitter while dealing with parents. In order to get a babysitting job, you need to convince parents that you're a trustworthy and experienced enough person to be put in charge of their child. You'll also use negotiating skills to work out how much you'll be paid for your services.

At the end of a babysitting job, you'll need to report what has happened to parents and hand the leadership of their home back to them.

Dealing with kids will also be an area where your leadership skills can show. Sometimes kids don't want to do things, and it's your job as a babysitter to find ways to get things done with minimal crying and tantrums.

You're doing great as a babysitter if the kids you're looking after see you as a leader and authority figure, but also find you relatable and may even consider you a friend.

Being A Leader Isn't Just Bossing People Around

When you think of leaders, you probably imagine someone like an army general or owner of a company giving strict orders. But leadership is a lot more nuanced than that, especially in modern times.

If you've worked other jobs, then you've probably dealt with people in leadership positions like bosses or managers already. Even if you haven't worked before, you've likely dealt with different kinds of teachers while you were in school.

What kind of leaders in your past experiences did you prefer?

The majority of people prefer a reasonable leader who listens to their concerns and comes to a compromise. Everybody wants a leader they can relate to and who they feel is fair and shows empathy [1].

We all had at least that one teacher in school who was super strict and ran their classroom like a dictator. When they're around people may follow their orders. But in addition to fearing them, most of their students probably secretly resented them as well. This kind of harsh leadership can also lead to people they're in charge of misbehaving more when they think the person in charge isn't looking.

As a babysitter, you'll quickly learn that kids don't respond very well to always being bossed around! So that's the kind of leadership that we want to avoid if possible.

Learn Leadership Skills As A Babysitter

Where do babysitters pick up most of their leadership skills?

If you've taken a babysitting course, then you should have some basic leadership training already.

A babysitting course teaches you how to make decisions, solve problems, and react to emergencies. All of those things are signs of leadership.

Babysitting courses will give you some basic tips and tricks on how to get kids to go to bed, use the bathroom, or take a bath.

However, aside from what you learn in your babysitting course, a lot of the leadership that you develop as a babysitter will just be through trial and error as you gain more and more experience.

As a babysitter, you'll be faced with lots of unique situations and decisions. How you deal with them will show your particular leadership style.

You can use trial and error to develop your own sense of leadership based on adopting strategies and techniques that seem to work and dropping those that don't.

You might also think back to great leaders in your own life. Whether that's a particular teacher, boss, or parent. Think of a past leader that you respected, and then try to put yourself in their shoes and understand how they might have dealt with the situation.

Not sure how to list babysitting when applying for your next job? Read my article: How to Add Babysitting to Your Resume.

How To Effectively Lead Children

Different kids require different leadership styles.

Depending on their age, temperament, and personality, you'll need to show leadership in different ways.

Older kids can often be reasoned with and respond best to kindness and respect. You can compromise with them or offer rewards if they do what needs to be done. If you're reasonable with them, it can be a calm and enjoyable experience for everybody.

A two or three-year-old throwing a temper tantrum is a different story. They can get to a point where they're completely irrational and unwilling to listen to reason. In that case, you may need to put your foot down as a leader and your reasoning may just be "because I said so." Of course, a good leader tries to de-escalate situations before they reach that point. But when you're dealing with a cranky, tired child, sometimes it's unavoidable.

In general, when you have to make a difficult decision or enforce rules with kids, it's best to start off positive and take their feelings into account. Often you can come up with a solution that works for both you and them.

Remember that kids are just tiny people, so give them the respect they deserve!

Take your leadership to the next level by reading our guide: How babysitters can nurture children and bring out their best.

Developing And Showing Leadership Skills As A Babysitter

Leadership is about being in a position where you're put in charge of people or an organization. But it's about more than just a title. What exactly makes a good leader?

Here are some leadership skills that I think all good babysitters show:

Being A Great Communicator

Babysitting will help develop your social skills and ability to communicate effectively. You'll have to talk to the parents, as well as kids.

In both cases, you need to be able to express yourself in a clear and concise way. You need to be able to explain and articulate your thoughts.

Communicating isn't just about speaking. You need to also be an active listener. A good leader hears what people are actually saying, not just what they want to hear.

Your communication can be non-verbal, such as your body language and how you present yourself.

In addition to verbal communication, you'll also need effective written communication like texting and emailing parents about babysitting jobs, or leaving notes summarizing your day with their child.

Delegating Tasks

Sure, you could do everything yourself as a babysitter. But a big part of the job is delegating tasks to the kids you're looking after as well.

For example, you might ask a child to clean up their own toys and put them away after they're done playing with them. For older children, you might get them to help you wash the dishes after dinner.

A good delegator knows the skills and capabilities of the people they're working with. They can also deal with feedback from kids and set reasonable expectations.

Today you're giving instructions to a toddler. But even basic delegation will help you develop your leadership skills. Later in life, your delegation skills could really come in handy if you're leading an entire team or department of a company you work for.

Staying Motivated

Going out and getting babysitting jobs shows motivation. In some cases, you might just be babysitting because your parents told you that you needed to get a job, but hopefully, you're at least partially motivated to do it for yourself too.

A motivated leader is willing to go the extra mile and do little extras like tidying up the house a bit after the child you're babysitting has gone to bed.

See our other productive suggestions for what to do when the kids are asleep.

You're not just motivating yourself. A big part of leading as a babysitter is motivating kids too. You can use recognition, rewards, and other strategies to keep kids motivated and doing what you want, while also staying out of trouble.

Giving kids responsibilities is also a way to motivate them and make them feel more grown-up.

You'll also need good persuasion techniques to convince kids to do some tasks.

Being Trustworthy and Responsible

Trust is huge for babysitters. You need to show parents that they can trust you to be left alone with their children and home. And you need to be constantly maintaining and reinforcing that trust. If you show a lack of integrity, it might be the end of your babysitting career.

Kids finding you to be a trustworthy authority figure is also important. If you make an agreement to give them a cookie after they clean up their toys, you had better stick to your promise! Otherwise, they aren't likely to trust or listen to you next time you make a similar offer.

For both parents and kids, it's important for babysitters to show leadership by being honest and open.

Responsibility is a bit different than being trustworthy. It's more about accepting the blame if something goes wrong. A good leader takes their failures as well as their successes.

See our complete list of babysitting responsibilities.

Showing Confidence

A leader appears comfortable and confident in their abilities and being able to meet their responsibilities.

Confidence can help you at any age. Whether it's dealing with a bully while you're still in school, or having the courage to ask for a raise at work when you're older.

Confident kids become confident adults. And being confident is a skill that you can master just like anything else. Babysitting is a great place to start building up your confidence.

Not feeling confident enough to ask for the babysitting rate you deserve just yet? Check out my article: How To Negotiate A Babysitting Rate.

Being Positive

Kids and parents alike want to deal with a positive babysitter.

Somebody negative or cynical comes across as not truly being invested in their job.

A good babysitter can laugh at themselves when things don't go how they expect. Even if you're really busy or dealing with a stressful situation, you should be able to keep a positive demeanor and put a more upbeat swing on things.

Basic things like making small-talk with parents or asking kids about their day creates a positive atmosphere. Kids that feel positively about you are more likely to follow instructions and stay in a good mood themselves. Parents are more likely to see you positively and recommend your services to other parents, or even give you a raise!

What does being positive mean exactly? It's being friendly and empathetic. It's handling conflict in empathetic and reasonable ways. It's showing respect and caring while also showing a little humor. And it's generally showing a desire to help others.

Being Creative

Sometimes as a babysitter, the right option is not clear and you have to make a hard choice. As a leader, you will need to be able to think outside of the box and come up with non-traditional solutions.

A creative leader is an analytical problem-solver. They can think critically and think ahead about what the result of their decision might be.

Creative babysitters are also constantly coming up with new crafts and play activities to keep the kids they're watching busy. They're innovating and imaginative.

Try some of our fun craft ideas that kids love and add them to your bag of tricks.

Creativity is also about being open-minded and listening to other ideas from kids and parents.

Be Able To Take Feedback

Good babysitters and leaders should listen to the feedback they're given by both parents and kids.

If parents lay out specific expectations, you should try your best as a babysitter to meet them.

When parents follow up and give feedback at the end of a babysitting job, listen and really take what they're saying to heart. Think of how you can use their feedback to improve the next time that you babysit, and what kinds of things you may need to change.

Feedback goes the other way as well. You should be able to respectfully give advice to parents based on your interaction with their children as well.

For kids, the feedback you give them may come in the form of mentoring, coaching, or positive reinforcement. Positive feedback can help build their confidence.

Effective feedback is specific and actionable.

Be Flexible

Plans change. Sometimes parents may need to call and let you know they'll be home a couple of hours late. Or they may cancel your babysitting shift at the last minute.

Leaders are flexible and can adapt to change.

Being flexible also relates to taking feedback which we discussed previously. Babysitters should be flexible enough to be open to suggestions and feedback.

Flexibility means being able to improvise and adapt to any crazy situations that might arise while babysitting. It's also about seeing people as individuals. You can't expect an eight-year-old to react the same way as a four-year-old and will need to be flexible enough to adapt your babysitting strategies accordingly.

Flexibility is necessary for proper negotiating. If your position is completely rigid, there's no real possibility for negotiating with kids or parents to occur.

See our complete list of qualities all good babysitters should have.

Are Great Leaders Born or Made?

There's some debate as to whether people learn to be leaders or if they're born to be leaders.

Personally, I think everyone has the potential to develop a wide variety of leadership skills. The more you practice them, the more natural and well-developed they'll become.

Leadership is a lifelong development process and anybody can improve their leadership skills if they have the desire. Some people are born with characteristics that make them better natural leaders. But with enough effort and practice, I think even the most introverted and shy person can still make a great leader if they want to.

I really think that leadership is something that has to start from within.

If you're interested in turning your babysitting into a full-time business, you should read my article: Babysitting As A Business.

Conclusion

Babysitting is a great way to show and develop your leadership abilities.

A good leader is someone with a combination of many interrelated personal skills such as effective communication, confidence, positivity, responsibility, motivation, and more.

A basic leader uses power and influence to get their way. But this isn't very effective and can lead to problems.

A more experienced leader knows how to effectively negotiate and come to a compromise where everyone wins and is happy.

Being a respectful, nurturing, and caring leader can get things done while also being positive and constructive.

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Written by:

Matthew Taylor

Matthew Taylor

Kidsit Founder, Editor, Illustrator, and father of three beautiful kids in Sydney, Australia.

Published: 20 May 2019

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