Guidelines for Leaving Children Home Alone
On the pages of our portal we have discussed the following questions of child safety:
Child’s safety: domestic traumatism
Protection of children against harassment
Alone at home
But the topic is not yet finished. There is nothing more important than the life and health of children. The following article will continue the discussion of the topic.
It is hard to know if your child is ready to be left alone in the house. It is wrong to consider only the age of child. Most ten-year-old children are quite independent to stay alone in the house, but sometimes some eleven-year-old kids cannot be left alone; meanwhile, some nine-year-olds are already skillful enough to solve problems by themselves. You can never be sure that your child will act adequately in an unknown situation. One of the best ways to check is to compare the age with other criteria.
Is the child ready for unexpected situations? Watch if he or she acts reasonably when deciding what to do. Can he or she concentrate and be mindful? Is he or she independent (can stay without you)? If you are not sure, try to leave the child alone for a short period of time. Increase the time gradually -- this will be more comfortable for both you and your child. Tell the child the rules of appropriate behavior. When leaving the house, lock the door and explain to the child that the door shouldn’t be opened to strangers.
Children should not tell strangers that they are alone in the house. Sometimes parents ask their children to say that they are “at home but busy at the moment”. You can think of a special signal, for example three rings of the doorbell, which would mean that the parents have come home.
Make sure that the child knows exactly what to do if a stranger knocks on the door. It is better to ask the child to stay still and call one of the parents –- an opened door is an open danger.
Explain to your child that he or she should not go outdoors unless he or she asks for permission. This will also protect children from strangers. If your child doesn’t understand the importance of these measures, than he or she is still too young to stay home alone. Minimal risk while cooking is another problem. Kids should be able to eat alone without any risk of fire or injury. Show children what products can be eaten cold, and you will prevent possible fire.
It is not likely that your child will get in an unexpected situation while you are away, but in case this happens he or she should know what to do and whom to call.
Before you leave the child alone make sure that:
- He or she knows how to give the first aid;
- He or she knows phone numbers: 911, your work number, or the numbers of your relatives;
- He or she knows and can use the evacuation plan.
Talk about natural disasters that are possible in your region. Show your child the radio station or TV channel which informs about natural dangers.
All children are different, and it is only you who can decide if they are ready to stay alone. Let them make the next step to independence and you will increase their self-esteem.
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