With summer break here, many working parents will begin to leave their children home alone over the next couple months. Costs for day-care and babysitters can be a suffering cost for many parents, so they will go with the alternative- leave their children at home on their own. If this is the case with you and your children, you should first check to see if this is legal in your state. If there is no law pertaining to leaving your child at home, then it is important to follow some helpful guidelines.
As a parent, it is up to you to decide whether or not the child is mature enough. Nobody knows more than you! There are not necessarily any concrete rules for determining if your child is ready to take on the challenge. Experts believe that when a child is able to handle difficult situations calmly, then they have reached a necessary level of maturity. In addition, experts advise against leaving a child under the age of 10 at home alone.
Parents, you know your kids more than anybody. The following questions may help you decide if your child is ready:
- Has he or she been responsible in the past? If so, what type of situations and how often?
- Is your child physically and mentally ready?
- Does your child obey rules?
- Does your child feel comfortable being at home alone?
- Have you experimented with short "home alone" periods? (If not, try running a quick errand to the grocery store or getting gas)
If you are satisfied with the answers to these questions and feel confident that your child can handle it, it is important to let your child know what to do and who to contact in case of an emergency. Here are some safety considerations:
- Set rules for your child to follow
- Make sure your child knows how to contact you at all times.
- Remove fire hazards and install smoke detectors.
- Teach your child basic first aid and have a kit available.
- Make your child memorize his home address and phone number (if they haven't already)
- Teach your child how to answer the phone and door. Never tell callers that they are home alone.
- Keep all doors and windows locked.
Take the time to carefully discuss these issues with your kids. Each child is unique, and what may work for one child may not work for another. Imagine various situations in which you think each of your kids would respond, and then teach accordingly. These discussions will help the child feel more comfortable and reassure you that they are capable of being left at home. Enjoy a safe summer!