At a certain point, you will left with a decision to make about letting your child or children home by themselves. How do you know if the time is right?
Where it probably isn’t a good idea for a 5-year-old, a 16-year-old can probably manage. The in-between age is where it gets dicey. The truth is, there is no right or wrong answer. There are some laws in regards to this issue, but for the most part it is up to you to decide whether your child is ready. Consider the following:
- Your child’s age and special needs
- Level of responsibility he or she has displayed with household chores and homework
- How the child responds to unexpected situations
- Whether he or she understands and is able to follow rules and safety measures
- Whether the child knows basic first-aid procedures
- Whether the child knows how to work your security system
Before leaving the child home alone for several hours, do a “practice run” where the child is alone for 30 minutes to an hour to see how it goes. Make sure you are easily reachable. Ask how your son or daughter felt about it once you return. If all went well, he or she is probably ready for the real thing. Keep emergency numbers out in the open in case of emergency, and run through what to do if something were to happen (severe weather, small fire, someone comes to the door, someone calls, etc.).
Before leaving, set some ground rules and keep any hazardous items (lighters, alcohol, prescription medications) stored away somewhere safe. Cover your bases, and all will be fine! If your child sees you nervous, he or she may become nervous as well.
Courtesy of Kids Health