In today’s society, many parents have to work long hours and are often away from home. Their responsibilities as parents continue, however, and they may be looking for guidelines as to when to allow their children to be at home alone until the parents’ return. Local jurisdictions have recommendations for how much children can care for themselves, given their chronological ages; however, parents may want to consider some additional tips before deciding when to allow their children to be alone at home. Since what works for one child or family is not necessarily what works for another, parents need to be aware of the individual indicators of their child’s readiness. Parents must honestly assess and decide if their individual child is trustworthy and able to make wise decisions when faced with an unexpected problem when the parent is not at home.
Some questions for parents to consider are the following:
- Does your child follow your directions when you are not at home?
- Does your child know to check in with you by telephone or email after he or she arrives at home after school, and are the numbers and email addresses posted in your home?
- Do you have a trusted relative or neighbor your child can reach if you are not available?
- Is your child responsible only for self-care, or is he or she expected to care for siblings also?
- How close to home are you in case of emergency?
- How long will the child be expected to be alone?
- Have you practiced safety scenarios with your child so that he or she is familiar with the procedures you have approved?
- How comfortable is the child with staying at home without an adult?
- Does the child have emotional or physical limitations which would add an extra challenge to his or her staying at home alone?
Paying careful attention to your child’s unique developmental and emotional readiness will allow you to make an informed decision within your local jurisdictional guidelines so your child can be safe and comfortable while staying alone at home.
© 2012, Copyright 2013 Bristow Beat LLC. All rights reserved.