One of the most challenging decisions that a parent has to make is when it is ok to start leaving your child home alone. Currently, there are various opinions on the matter, with ages ranging from eight, ten, and fourteen years old. Regardless of what you decide, it’s essential that you teach your kids some tips so that they are prepared and ready. Let’s get started.
Answering the door
One of the most important things you need to teach your children about is never answering the door. Today, home intruders and burglars are becoming more and more clever with their disguises, posing as a delivery person, or even stating that they are a “family friend.” It would help if you always stressed that your child should never open the door unless it is for an immediate family member. If someone else is planned to visit your home, inform your children and come up with a code word that they can use.
Another wise idea to keep in mind when leaving your child home alone is to organize an emergency contact list to keep next to the phone. This way, if something happens, or they need to ask a question, they can easily find that appropriate number. It can also be a good to try and get them to memorize your work/mobile number, just in case of an emergency!
If your child is going to be walking home after school or work, it’s certainly a good idea to have a curfew in place and discuss specific arrangements. This way, they know to come home straight away, rather than hanging with friends or taking a long way home. You might even suggest that they give you a call when they arrive so that you know they got home safely.
If you find that your child is getting concerned about being home, it’s a good idea to have a routine in place. For example, you might advise them to do their homework, practice any hobbies, and then allow them to watch television. If you want to check on your child, you can even have a look into getting the best home security system so that you can make sure they are ok. Most of them come with surveillance options which you can view via your smartphone or tablet.
Just like stranger danger, fire safety is a very important lesson you need to teach your kids about before leaving them home alone. They should be aware of what to do in case of a fire, such as the classic ‘stop, drop and roll,’ and to crawl underneath the smoke. It can also be beneficial to conduct this home safety quiz first. This way, you know the home is as safe as possible.
Lastly, if some type of accident does occur, you want to have an emergency action plan in place that your child knows about. For example, there might be a certain number that they should ring first or a neighbor’s house that they should visit. It’s vital that they are calm and collected and know how to get out of any situation. You should remember, however, not to scare them, but to educate them.
By following the above, you’ll be able to prepare your children for different sceneries and educate them about staying home. While the process might be overwhelming, it’s important to go with your gut instinct and choose the time that seems most right. You might even start leaving them alone for small amounts of time first, rather than an entire day.