Age isn’t always a factor when it comes to your child staying home alone. There are varieties of other factors that are important to look at before you can leave children at home by themselves. From knowing home safety rules and having emergency skills to their level of responsibility and personal feelings, there are many questions to be asked before letting them lock up behind you.
Does your child know what number to call in an emergency? Does your child know how to use the fire distinguisher? Do they know what to do if they hurt themselves? Do they have stranger and situational awareness? Do they know to ask who it is before opening any doors? (In addition, that if they do not know the person, to say, ‘please come back another time.’)
Do they know what to do in the event of a natural disaster that could occur in your geographical location? (I.e. Hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes.) Do they know their home address and phone number to give to the police if they need to call? These are all very important questions to ask yourself and them. If they do not have many answers, it is time to go over the required skills, repeat some lessons, and let them stay home alone at a later date.
Home Safety Skills
These skills are different from emergency safety skills. Does your child know not to cook on the stove without supervision? Do they know not to use Daddy’s power drills in the closet? Do they know that the phone is only allowed for emergency calls only? Do they know not to leave the house when you leave them home alone? Do they know to evacuate the home if there is any sign of fire and to run across to the neighboring house? Do they know where to find your phone number in case they need to ask you something? Home safety skills are essential for your child.
Sit down with your child and ask them what they believe is responsible behavior while at home alone. If they tell you what you believe is responsible behavior and if you feel like they can handle themselves, then you can give it a trial run. It’s also a great idea to keep them busy when home alone. Give them a project to complete or something creative to do.
Are They Ready?
It is important to check in with your child and see if they are ready for this big step. Do they feel comfortable and confident with staying at home alone? If they show any signs of being nervous, wait a bit longer before letting them stay at home.
When you do let your child stay at home for the first time, start small. Go grocery shopping for an hour and see how they do on their own. Try this a few times before letting them stay home for longer periods of time. The more confident they become, the more confident you will feel with them staying at home as time goes on.
What makes you feel like your child is ready to stay at home alone? Please share with us!