Summer is coming and that means schools out for millions of American children. Summer also brings challenges for working parents of school age children. Many children need to take care of themselves while their parents are at work.
Staying home alone can be a positive experience for children – if they are ready to be left alone. They’ll feel proud that you allowed them to stay at home and many kids love the added level of responsibility.
You’ll want to determine if your child is ready to stay home alone. Since there is no test you can administer or magical age, you’ll need to assess for yourself when kids have the maturity and good judgment to stay home alone.
A good sign that kids may be ready to stay by themselves is when they can perform functions without your involvement. Can they get up on time? Do their own homework? Make decisions that show sound reasoning?
Ask your child if they are ready to stay home alone. Listen carefully to what they tell you. Determine what staying home alone means to them, especially in terms of their behaviors and responsibilities.
Assess your child’s maturity level. Experts say to focus on four big areas:
To find out if your child is emotionally ready to stay home alone, make sure they feel confident about being home alone. Do they seem willing to stay home alone? Are they afraid and can they handle any fear that may come up?
On the physical side of things, make sure your child can unlock and lock the doors and windows of your home. They should also be able to perform everyday tasks like properly answering the telephone, taking messages, making a sandwich, and cleaning the dirty dishes.
Check that your child is mentally ready to be left alone. Do they know how to handle small problems on their own and when to get help? Can they recognize danger and do they know how to stay safe? Do they understand what an “emergency” is and how to respond? Play “what if” games to see if your child responds correctly.
The levels of your child’s social skills are important. Can they resolve conflicts with their siblings without violence or your involvement? Can they easily discuss their thoughts and feelings with you? Do they understand when to get an adult for additional help?
A few other things to keep in mind before leaving your child home alone:
· Network with a neighbor that will be home while you are gone. It’s important that your children have an adult nearby that can help them in the event of an emergency or when they are frightened.
· Start slowly. Leave your child home for short periods of time until they get used to being home alone.
· Don’t overburden older children. Be careful when asking older children to supervise younger siblings. Experts point out that it’s best if all children can take care of themselves rather than relying on an older sibling.
· It’s never a good idea to leave children alone if the neighborhood or home is unsafe.
· Don’t leave your child home alone if they are adjusting to new family circumstances (divorce, new home) or if they have special needs.
My Alarm Center, an alarm company in Philadelphia and Seattle, offers a variety of effective and affordable ways for parents to monitor the activities of kids left home alone. Many families install a home automation system. These systems allow parents to view in real time what’s happening through their home security camera system, right from their smartphone or any web-enabled device. Parents can automatically lock and unlock doors at designated times, and they can control a variety of home functions right from their phone. Call us at 855-334-6562 for more information.