Anne Cherry has plenty of baby-sitting experience under her belt.
"I do it from like 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. every other Monday for a family in our church that has three kids," said Anne, a 15-year-old from Lawrence who is home schooled. "I like playing with them the best. We play with their toys, or we play house. The kids like me a lot. They look forward to it."
But Anne still wants to get better at taking care of the children she looks after.
So Anne, along with 10 other young people, recently participated in Safe Sitter, a baby-sitting safety course that's taught regularly at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.
The purpose of Safe Sitter a nationally recognized program is to increase the availability of young adolescent baby sitters who can provide safe, nurturing care for children and respond appropriately to medical emergencies.
Safe Sitter targets 11- to 13-year-olds, because young adolescents are routinely sought out as baby sitters.
The course curriculum focuses on these key areas: baby-sitting as a business; child-care techniques and child development; behavioral management; safety concerns; prevention techniques; first aid information; and procedures for clearing an obstructed airway.
To complete the Safe Sitter program, students have to pass a test to show that they've mastered the key concepts and have the skills needed to handle an emergency.
Only trained instructors at registered Safe Sitter sites are authorized to offer the program. There are Safe Sitter classes taught in all 50 states, as well as England, Canada and Israel. There are more than 200,000 Safe Sitter graduates.
Anne and several other girls who took part in the recent Safe Sitter course at the hospital shared their thoughts on the joys and headaches of baby-sitting.
The children Anne takes care of are 1, 6 and 8 years old. So she has her hands full.
The hardest part, she said, "is when the kids get in fights. You don't want to take sides or favor one (child) over the other."
It's important to let the children know who's in charge.
"I just get on them real hard, and I say, 'You shouldn't do this,' or, 'Your mom said you need to do this,'" Anne said.
She offered some advice to other young people who want to start baby-sitting.
"Play with the kids, don't talk on the phone and don't bring anything to distract you. See what their interests are, and take them to the park they love that," she said. "And if you're ever going to leave the house (with the children), leave a note so the parents will know when you'll be back."
Anne gets $20 each time she baby-sits for the family.
Ashley Morris, 11, baby-sits for three boys ages 1, 6 and 7 who live down the street from her.
Like Anne, Ashley said it's a challenge when the children don't get along or won't follow rules.
"It's hard when they get in fights, or they want something and they can't have it. They just have a hissy fit. I tell them they need to settle down, or they'll get in trouble by their mom," said Ashley, a sixth-grader at Williamstown Elementary School in Williamstown.
Her advice to would-be baby sitters: "I'd say if the kids want something and they can't have it if they give you the pouty face you shouldn't give in."
The last time Ashley baby-sat, she received $17 for her efforts.
Lena Warren, 11, has tried her hand at baby-sitting a few times.
"I've baby-sitted with a friend at someone's down the street. There was five kids. It went good two of them were older and could help," said Lena, a sixth-grader at Sunflower School.
She knows how to deal with children in her care who won't behave.
"Sometimes the kids won't listen to you. But you start to take a privilege away, and then they listen to you," Lena said.