Many of our teens are smart, capable young people who are self-sufficient, self-motivated, mature enough to be left on their own, and responsible enough to be in charge of someone younger. I will never forget the first time I realized that my son could stay home and finish up his homework while I ran to the market. It was liberating for both of us. A few years later, he was even old enough to babysit his younger sister. Of course, it isn’t fair or wise to assume that an older child knows everything he or she should about caring for someone younger; something unexpected can always occur. Whether your teen is an older sibling ready to be in charge of a younger one, or a would-be babysitter interested in earning money looking after neighborhood kids, the effort spent learning the basics of CPR, Stranger Danger, and when to seek help can help you and other parents to feel good about leaving your teen in charge.
The American Red Cross and Safe Sitters are two national organizations that offer classes in multiple locations. They cover everything from changing and diapering babies to CPR and even how to be a successful businessperson -- because after all there is more to babysitting than looking after a younger sibling. For many teens, this can be a first ever job; your child can learn much about life working as a caregiver, and the initial foray into the world of entrepreneurship can be quite empowering. Prospective employers (moms and dads in the neighborhood) will be impressed if your child can present them with evidence that time was taken to learn a little bit about safety and emergency preparedness.
While not a substitute for practical training, there are also several babysitting kit books available online that come with business cards, reward stickers, and calendars in addition to having health and safety information - including a popular one published by American Girl. These kits can be useful tools for a young sitter to have handy.
A teen learning CPR on a baby doll. Photo via Bigstock
A teenager who takes the time to become certified in CPR is one who can be trusted; and babysitting is an early opportunity for a young person to appreciate the link between education and employment. A student who completes one of the following classes receives a certificate as a trained babysitter:
1. The American Red Cross
The American Red Cross offers multiple classes across the country, starting with babysitting basics and moving up to advanced child care training. Classes cover CPR, general safety emergency preparedness, and also how to run a business. For more information, go to the American Red Cross web site.
2. Safe Sitter
Safe Sitter was started by a pediatrician whose colleague’s child choked to death in the care of an untrained adult babysitter. Dr. Keener has made it her mission to educate teens and adults in all matters of child safety including CPR, Stranger Danger, animals, and power outages. Check the web site for a class near you.
3. USC Verdugo Hills Hospital
In Glendale, this is a one day seminar course that covers CPR, accidents, telephone skills, and when to seek outside help. A schedule is available on the web site.
4. CPR For Life
In Chatsworth, this program offers classes that emphasize professional behavior, decision making, business development, and first aid. A handbook and other materials are included, as well as a babysitting certificate. While the babysitting class does not include CPR or First Aid certification, other classes offered do.
Top photo by Parker Knight/CC BY 2.0