Do you have a son or daughter interested in babysitting? There are a number of ways to prepare young people for the responsibility of caring for small children, and the American Red Cross has a course designed to do just that. Tweens and teens can learn several valuable skills that may come in handy โ€” or even save a life โ€” on a weekend babysitting job.

The Red Cross Babysitting Trainer's Course is a one-day class designed for 11-15 year olds and prepares them for various situations they could encounter when babysitting, such as household accidents and injuries. The course also teaches problem-solving skills, general infant care, and even how to interview for babysitting jobs.

Resources for Babysitters

The site also includes printable templates such as a Family Information Card, a Family Interview Form (with child information and emergency numbers), and a fantastic Activity Booklet filled with games, projects, and snack recipes babysitters can use with young children. (Note: Some of the activities in the book will require preparation ahead of time, and permission from the parents).

Life-Saving Information

Shelby Stokenbury, an almost-teenager, recently took the course and was glad to learn some skills that may help out in potential life-saving situations:

"One of my favorite parts of the course was learning things I never thought would matter."

Though she was pleased to learn general skills like diaper-changing basics, Shelby felt learning CPR and the Heimlich maneuver were the most important.

Shelby's mom, Tammie, is relieved that her daughter has learned some emergency skills, and agreed that CPR was of utmost importance.

"CPR is a big skill to learn. It gives me a little more security knowing that she (Shelby) would know how to react in a terrible situation."

Tammie emphasizes that making sure your child has training in these skills is very important before allowing them to babysit. When asked about her advice to parents of potential babysitters, she listed confidence as an important asset โ€” something the course helps give students.

"I would tell parents that your child needs to be confident that she can take care of another person unsupervised. Don't allow her to do it until she is ready."

Find a course in your area by contacting your local American Red Cross chapter.

Contributor's note: I took this babysitting course many years ago. It was my first introduction to CPR, and helped me organize information I needed when parents left me with their children. The Red Cross is performing a valuable service with this course, and I'm glad it's still helping to prepare young people after all these years.

And another note: Writing this information reminded me that, although I have had CPR and First Aid Training several times, my certification has run out, training information has changed, and I need a refresher. Making sure your teenager or babysitter for your own children has these skills is a good idea, having it as a parent is even more important. Check your local Red Cross chapter for training in your area.

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