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Teen baby sitters emphasize training, networking

When Jillian Diehl goes to work, it doesn’t seem like a job.

As a regular baby sitter for the Hulseberg family in Sycamore, Diehl said she sees John and Laura Holseberg and their three daughters, Natalie, 9, Claudia, 6, and Aubrey, 4, as family.

The Holsebergs said the feeling is mutual.

“They look forward to her coming over,” Laura Hulseberg said. “That makes me feel good.”

Diehl, 15, has been busy this summer caring for the Hulsebergs’ daughters once a week and looking after children from a handful of other families. Many teenagers her age have been doing the same to bring in some extra cash.

But the babysitting industry can be hard to break into without experience.

Diehl said she’s been ­baby-sitting her younger sister and cousins since she was 10, which was good practice for her job now. She also completed Kishwaukee Community Hospital’s Safe Sitter course when she first began to take on babysitting jobs.

Kish Hospital’s Wellness Program Director Courtney Russell teaches the daylong course, which prepares children ages 11 to 13 for the responsibilities of baby-sitting and how to handle situations that may arise while on the job.

The course teaches a variety of tips and skills including how to changing a diaper, appropriate activities for younger children, how to discipline them and what to do in case of an emergency, she said.

The class also gives the ­sitters-in-training suggestions on how to market their services safely.

“We recommend starting with families, friends and close neighbors,” Russell said. “If you do a good job, they’ll spread the word. We really stress to the kids: It’s important to get a referral from someone because safety comes first.”

Diehl said she landed all of her baby-sitting jobs by networking through volunteering and word-of-mouth among parents.

Diehl met Laura Hulseberg while helping out with Natalie Hulseberg’s Girl Scout troop. Laura Holseberg said she wanted to hire Diehl after seeing the way she interacted with the girls.

“It was more important for me to know she was a responsible kid and good with children,” Laura Hulseberg said.

Over the years, Diehl said the most challenging part of her job has been disciplining children when they misbehave, which is something she’s glad she learned in the Safe Sitter class.

“You can’t be mean to people’s children,” she said. “But you still have to teach them the right way.”

John Hulseberg said he is grateful for Diehl because she provides her own activities for his daughters that don’t involve sitting in front of a TV or computer screen. He also appreciates her detailed briefing of everything that happened while he and his wife were away.

“That shows maturity and responsibility,” he said.

• Note to readers: This story was changed to correct the spelling of the Hulseberg family's name.

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