Safe Babysitting

“Baby-sitting? Yes, I think I know how to do it. The parents tell me what to do, and I just follow their instructions.” This statement may have been true in days past, but with the growing number of kidnappings, child molestations, and break-ins, most baby-sitters need to be better prepared. Teaching your children the following guidelines will help them be better prepared to baby-sit responsibly and safely.

Accepting a Baby-Sitting Job

1. Make sure both you and your parents know the people you are baby-sitting for. If you do not already know the family, find out who recommended you; then ask that person about the family. Do not baby-sit for strangers.

2. Before you leave, give your parents the family’s name, address, and telephone number.

3. If there is going to be someone over fourteen years old in the house while you are baby-sitting, discuss the situation with your parents before you accept the job.


1. Do not walk or ride your bicycle to or from the job alone after dark.

2. Call your parents when you leave to come home so they will know when to expect you.

3. If the person you are baby-sitting for has been drinking or would have to leave the children alone to take you home, call your parents for a ride home.

4. Ask the person taking you home to wait until you are safely inside the house before he or she leaves.

5. Have your parents leave the porch light on for you.

Information You Will Need

1. Find out where the telephone is and get a list of necessary phone numbers—the place the parents can be reached, the family doctor, the nearest family relative, and neighbors who could help in an emergency.

2. Get any special instructions for the care of the children.

3. Know the location of switches and taps to turn off power, gas, and water in case of an emergency.

4. Know how to lock the doors, how to completely close the drapes, and how to turn on the lights at night.

5. Find out approximately when the parents will return.

While You Are Baby-Sitting

1. Keep the doors locked, and do not open the door to strangers.

2. Don’t allow anyone to come into the house unless arrangements have been made and explained to you by the parents before they left.

3. Answer the phone politely, and keep a written record of all calls. Never indicate that there is no adult home or that someone is out of town. If the caller asks for someone, say that the person cannot come to the phone just then, but you would be happy to take a message and have him or her return the call. Do not give your name, address, or the name, address, or phone number of the people you are baby-sitting for. Hang up immediately if the caller is annoying or obscene. Report such a call immediately to the police, your parents, or a neighbor.

4. Don’t invite your friends into the house.

5. Stay awake unless you have already made other arrangements with the parents.

Outside Activities

1. If you plan to take the children outside or on an excursion, make sure you get the parents’ permission before they leave.

2. Keep me front door locked while you and the children are playing in the backyard.

3. If you take the children for a walk or other excursion, lock the house and take the key with you.

4. Have the children go to the bathroom before you leave so they won’t have to use public rest rooms.

5. Stay away from lonely, deserted streets, empty buildings, and other dangerous areas.

6. Keep the children with you at all times.

7. Never accept a ride with a stranger—no matter what the circumstances.

8. In an emergency, have someone call your family, the police, or an adult you can trust and who can come to your aid.

9. If you think you are being followed by a stranger, go to a nearby home, store, or gas station. Call the police.

10. If something seems different around the house or if a strange car or truck is parked at the house when you return, do not go in. Call the police from a neighbor’s home.

Helping your children learn these basic concepts will help them become better and safer baby-sitters.

(Information for this article was taken from Self-Protection for Baby-sitters, PXRRS0293, a pamphlet prepared by the Relief Society. It can be ordered from Church distribution centers for 10¢.)

Dealing with Dyslexia

A college graduate leaves her scriptures at home, afraid she will be called upon to read in Sunday School. A first-grader with the highest IQ in the class sits in the lowest reading group. What do they have in common? Dyslexia—a condition of the central nervous system that can make written and spoken language a nightmare of confusion.

If your child has dyslexia, he may reverse or invert letters, words, or numerals when he reads or writes. As he speaks, he may transpose sounds and say “shiplofting” when he means “shoplifting.” As he listens to others speak, he may also confuse the order of syllables, words, and numbers he hears. He may find handwriting to be extremely difficult.

Some people wrongly confuse dyslexia with a low degree of intelligence. Many dyslexic children are exceptionally bright, but their difficulties with language may make them low achievers in some areas. Parents who educate themselves about the problem are more apt to be patient and understanding with their child. Education can also help parents avoid unnecessarily expensive, ineffective measures that promise quick and easy solutions.

What Can Parents Do to Help?

The prognosis depends on how soon educational therapy begins and how effective it is. The longer a child fails, the more emotional damage he will sustain.

Work closely with your child’s teachers to make sure his learning needs are being met.

Help your child establish good study habits. He needs a quiet place to study where he can work at the same time each day. He will have to study harder than other children. Help him understand that while you can help him in some areas, he must make the major effort himself.

Create Positive Learning Experiences

Help your child to have positive experiences with language. Fill your home with interesting books and magazines. (Large type is easier for him to read.) Take turns reading a sentence, paragraph, or page, ask questions about the reading to find out if he remembers the sequence of events. Let him lay his hand or a card beneath the line he is reading. Give him time to “sound out” words, but don’t let him struggle unduly. Keep him moving through the book, and recognize when it’s time to stop. If reading is not rewarding, he won’t want to do it again. Above all, make reading enjoyable! All educational experiences need not involve the formal classroom. Expose him to museums, nature, concerts, and educational television. Include him, if possible, in your hobby. Build a relationship in which you spend time talking together. If something he says doesn’t make sense, don’t criticize or ridicule. Ask him to think about what he just said. After Church, ask him to tell you the main idea of one talk or lesson.

If your child fails to master language skills that his peers grasp with seeming ease, he may feel inadequate. Learning to cope emotionally and to compensate for deficits is crucial for dyslexic children. Help him identify the things he does best, and build him up. Perhaps he’s a good listener, artist, or bike repairman. Praise him for these things. Teach the value of good character traits, too. Everything worthwhile is not measured by test scores.

Above all, keep things in perspective. Teach him to laugh at his mistakes rather than to worry about them. As he learns to overcome this handicap, he will be better able to confront other challenges in his life.

For more information, contact the Orton Society, 724 York Road, Dept. PRT, Baltimore, MD 21204. Donna Leishman Morgan, Hanford, California

Inside the Cupboard Doors

Are your bulletin board and refrigerator covered with papers? Do the notes always get knocked to the floor? Eliminate the clutter by posting notes and reminders on the inside of your cupboard doors.

Post a list of your family’s favorite menus inside a cupboard or near your stove, where you can use it in planning meals. An “everytime” grocery list of items you buy nearly every time you go to the market eliminates the aggravation of forgetting something. Lists of cooking or cleaning hints and recipes you use frequently can be tacked or taped on the cupboards, too.

Posted handouts from Relief Society, Sunday School, and Primary will remind your family of lessons they learned the week before. You can also post scriptures, poems, or pictures of your family. Put lists of children’s chores on the inside of the broom closet door at the children’s eye level.

Using this newly found space is not only fun, it also leaves your bulletin board free for posting important, can’t-miss items. Paula J. Lewis, San Bernardino, California

[photos] Photography by Wes Taylor