One of the hardest parts of parenting is knowing when your child is growing up. Certain rights of passage, such as staying home alone or hanging out with friends alone, can be hard for parents to know when to allow.
How do I know if my child is ready to stay home alone?
Kids reach a certain age where they may become interested in the idea of staying home alone. While kids can stay home alone from the age of 16, the biggest question is whether your child is ready – it isn’t just about their age. In order to determine if kids are mature enough to stay by themselves for short periods, it’s important to consider their independence, maturity level, and ability to follow instructions. Safety should also be taken into account as kids need to handle any potential risks and react appropriately if something were to occur while they are at home alone. Despite these factors being daunting, having kids stay home by themselves can be a positive experience helping them take steps toward greater maturity and responsibility.
While there is no approximate timetable, and each child is different, here are some basic tips for keeping your child or children safe when they are home alone:
What are some things I need to consider before leaving my child home alone?
1. Home Security System
One of the best ways to ensure your child will be safe at home alone is to install a home security system. It not only protects your children from potential danger, but with new technological advances, parents can keep an eye on the house from their smartphones. While you are away from the home, apps from Rocky Mount security systems and other similar ones can alert you via email or text message if something changes in the security system, such as the alarm being triggered or turned off. Plus, new home security systems come with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, offering even more security to your home.
2. Phone Rule
When leaving your kids home alone, set up a rule where they must be near the home phone or their personal cell phone at all times. Set times when you will call or text them to check in and make sure everything is fine.
While it can be tempting to call them persistently to check in, trust that they are being responsible. Most children are likely to be responsible if they know their parents trust them.
Also, before you leave, make sure they know where the emergency contact numbers are and who to call in case of an emergency. If they are babysitting younger siblings, be sure to show them numbers for poison control and other numbers of the like.
If you have an older child who is capable of looking after their younger siblings, ask them to look after their younger siblings before going out. Even though it is usually implied that they will look after their siblings, they will appreciate that you are asking them and not expecting them to do it.
4. Trial Period
Before leaving your children home for an extended period of time, do a trial run. Even though kids who are growing into their independence look forward to being home alone, it can be scary for them, especially if left alone at night. Doing a trial run helps both you and your child, for they can gradually get used to taking care of themselves while you get used to the idea of them being home alone.
5. Talk and Trust
Talk to your children about why you’re concerned with them being home alone. For most parents, it isn’t that they distrust their child, it’s that they are worried about their child’s safety. However, many children mistake that worry for distrust. Before going out, communicate with your children that you do trust them to be responsible, but your reason for calling and checking in on them is that you are worried about their safety.
What are some emergency numbers I should give my child in case they need to call while I’m away?
Providing kids with access to multiple phone numbers they can call in an emergency can help kids feel more secure and ready to manage a crisis. Depending on the age of your child, it may be valuable to provide both 911 and contacts of close friends or family members such as grandparents, neighbors, and teachers – any trusted adults that kids can depend on for support when parents are not around. Also, have the specific numbers for your local police and fire department handy in multiple locations. Giving kids these vital numbers can help kids feel safe and secure if something unexpected were to occur.
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