Is the Right Babysitter Watching Your Kids?
As a parent, it is nearly impossible to never have an occasion where you have to leave your child with a babysitter. If you’re one of the lucky ones, you have parents or in-laws in town, making this much easier. But for those who have to find a qualified babysitter, someone who isn’t a trusted family member, the task can be very daunting. After all, you don’t want to leave your most cherished treasure with just anyone!
When I recently surveyed some friends on what qualities they look for in a babysitter, I got a lot of good answers: someone who is good with kids, honest, a good role model, respectful, friendly, etc. All of these answers are great qualities and definitely ones that I would consider important. But at the end of the day, I think the biggest question you have to ask yourself when choosing a babysitter is, “Will he or she keep my child SAFE?” (And I mean that in both the emotional and physical sense.) When it’s all said and done, it won’t matter if your babysitter does all the dishes, is the friendliest person you’ve ever met or makes straight A’s in school if you come home and your child is hurt or not alive.
Nothing replaces safety when looking for a good babysitter. I have heard some babysitter “horror” stories. Some of them are mild, such as letting the kids stay up way past their bedtime, getting locked out of the house with the kids, or accidentally setting off the security system and scaring the daylights out of the parent who gets the call from the security company. Those are things to avoid, for sure, but I also heard some TRUE horror stories. I heard about a babysitter taking the two oldest children to the park and leaving the baby at home alone in the crib. I heard about sexual molestation. And I heard about a child being thrown against a wall because he was crying. But the worse one I’ve heard, that I can hardly bear to repeat, was when a young sitter was watching four children…..only she wasn’t actually watching them, she was on the phone most of the time….and the children were jumping on the bed in the other room. Later, the youngest child was missing. He was found dead between the wall and the mattress. How tragic!
My husband and I own a safety company in Jacksonville, FL called Safety First CPR & Safety Training. Last summer we added Child & Babysitting Safety certification courses to our course list. I have to tell you….even though I’m a mom, I own a safety company and I’ve been working in childcare for many years…..there were still many things that I learned from the curriculum! Since our daughter is only 2 years old and we have family in town, we haven’t had to use a hired babysitter yet. But going through that curriculum (from the American Safety & Health Institute), I quickly realized how important it is for parents to only use certified safety-trained babysitters. There’s just too much at stake not to!
If you have a son or daughter who babysits (or is about to start), please send them to a class to get trained and certified. We also always recommend that babysitters be certified in Child & Infant CPR and Basic First Aid, as well. You can find Babysitting courses available in your area by checking at http://www.hsi.com/takeaclass and looking for a training center that offers CABS (Child & Babysitting Safety.) The Red Cross also offers them, as well as many local hospitals.
If you are a parent LOOKING for a babysitter, it is fine to consider teens that you know, but do require them to become certified in Babysitting Safety and CPR first. Ask to see their certification cards before hiring them.
Every parent needs a night out from time to time…..give yourself that break, but just do your due diligence first in hiring the right babysitter!