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!
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, delegation, motivation, trustworthiness, and more.
In this article, you'll learn how babysitting and leadership go hand in hand, how to effectively lead children, and how to develop important leadership skills 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 young people, 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 important life skills that will benefit you in your future career.
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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 wonderful 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 are put to the test.
Babysitting Work Fosters Leadership Skills
Babysitting is all about building relationships, finding compromises, 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 trustworthy and experienced enough 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 children will also be an area where your leadership skills can shine. Sometimes kids don't want to do things, and it's your job as a babysitter to find ways to get tasks done with minimal crying and tantrums (See our guide to Calming Upset Children).
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 might imagine an army general barking orders or the owner of a company making demands. But true leadership is a lot more nuanced, especially in modern times.
If you've worked other jobs, 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 seeks win-win solutions. Everybody wants a leader they can relate to and who they feel is fair and shows empathy (source).
We all had at least that one teacher in school who was super strict and ran their classroom like a dictator. People may have followed their orders out of fear, but, this obedience often comes with resentment. This kind of harsh leadership tends to backfire, causing more misbehavior when people think the person in charge isn't looking.
As a babysitter, you'll quickly learn that kids don't respond well to always being bossed around! So bossy leadership is what 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 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 reveal your particular leadership style.
You can use trial and error to develop your own sense of leadership by adopting strategies and techniques that work and dropping those that don't.
You might also think back to outstanding leaders in your life, a particular teacher, boss, or parent. Think of a past leader that you respected, and then imagine yourself in their shoes. How they might have dealt with a particular 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.
You can reason with most older kids, and you’ll soon see they 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 reach 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 be "because I said so." Of course, a good leader tries to de-escalate situations before they reach the melting 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 a title. What exactly makes a good leader?
Here are some leadership skills that I think all good babysitters show:
Being An Effective 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 also need to be an active listener. A good leader hears what people are actually saying, not just what they want to hear.
Communication includes non-verbal information, such as your body language and how you present yourself.
Writing is another important form of communication. Babysitters regularly send texts and emails to parents about babysitting jobs, and you may need to leave notes summarizing your day with their child.
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.
For example, you might ask a child to clean up their own toys and put them away after they're finished playing with them. For older children, you might encourage them to help 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 and delegating tasks to little kids. Later in life, those delegation skills you picked up as a babysitter could come in handy if you're leading a team or an entire department of a company you work for.
Going out and getting babysitting jobs shows motivation. You might be babysitting because your parents made you get a job, but hopefully you're at least partially motivated to do it for yourself.
A motivated leader is willing to go the extra mile and do little extras like tidying up the house 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. Recognition, rewards, and other motivation strategies keep kids doing what you want while also staying out of trouble.
Giving kids responsibilities is 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 a huge factor for babysitters. You need to show parents that they can trust you to be left alone with their children in their home. Every word and deed either reinforces or erodes the trust you are building. If you show a lack of integrity, it might be the end of your babysitting career.
Integrity refers to the moral principles that you use as guidelines for your behavior. If you have integrity, your words and your actions match in a positive, benevolent and consistent way. Using the family’s wifi without permission or giving the child more treats than the parents allow are two examples of a lack of integrity on your part. Other examples include:
- Posting photos of the children or commenting on the state of the house on social media
- Helping yourself to the client’s fridge or bar
- Breaking something and not admitting your fault
- Texting or internet browsing while you should be supervising children
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’d 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.
Being responsible is a bit different than being trustworthy. While trustworthiness covers reliability and integrity, responsibility includes a willingness to accept the blame if something goes wrong. A good leader owns their failures as well as their successes.
See our complete list of babysitting responsibilities.
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. Being confident is a skill that you can master just like anything else. Babysitting is the perfect place to start building up your confidence. Every small step you take interacting with adults, every little challenge you overcome with tricky kids boosts your sense of mastery and builds you into a confident person.
Not feeling confident enough to ask for the babysitting rate you deserve just yet? Check out my article: How To Negotiate A Babysitting Rate.
Kids and parents alike want to deal with a positive babysitter.
A negative or cynical sitter comes across as not truly being invested in their job. Negativity doesn’t convey trustworthiness or relatability. It makes everyone uneasy.
A positive 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 who feel upbeat about you are more likely to follow instructions and stay in a good mood themselves. Parents are more likely to see you favorably and recommend your services to other parents—or even give you a raise!
What does being positive mean exactly? It's being friendly, cheerful, and empathetic. It's handling conflict in calm 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.
There will be times as a babysitter when 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 plan ahead about what the result of their decision might be. They consider the resources at hand and think of novel solutions when necessary.
Creative babysitters constantly come up with new crafts and play activities to keep the kids they're watching busy. They're innovative 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 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.
An important feedback skill is learning to listen without becoming defensive. A good strategy to help you remain open and calm is to ask questions to clarify. Doing so gives parents reassurance that you are paying attention to their concerns, and it shows that you are thinking about how to apply the feedback.
Feedback goes the other way as well. You should be able to respectfully offer suggestions and honestly report to parents.
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.
Plans change. Sometimes parents may call to 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. For example, the family may have a particular bedtime routine that seems out of order to you. For the sake of the kids, you adopt their way so their routine isn’t disturbed.
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. A flexible babysitter adapts babysitting strategies accordingly.
Flexibility is necessary for proper negotiating. If your position is completely rigid, negotiation can’t occur. It’s helpful in these situations to look for a ‘win-win’ solution. This means your needs and their needs are weighted similarly. You don’t have to be a doormat or a bulldozer!
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 natural leaders. But with effort and practice, I think even the most introverted person can make an outstanding leader.
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.
Babysitting shows and develops 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 effective and can lead to problems.
An experienced leader knows how to effectively negotiate and come to a compromise where everyone wins and is happy.
A respectful, nurturing, and caring leader can get things done while also being positive and constructive.
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