It’s a freedom your child will likely appreciate as well. The more independence your child is allowed, the more self-confidence they build, and the more you will learn that they can be trusted.
However, that doesn’t mean every child is ready to stay at home alone, and it doesn’t mean you’ll feel comfortable leaving them at home while you’re gone. Make sure they’re confident and you’re confident in their ability to stay home with these tips.
Make Sure They Know What to Do in an Emergency
It doesn’t matter if you’re leaving your child home alone for the first time or you’re hoping to leave your child home alone for longer periods of time, you have to go over what they should do in an emergency over and over again. A good place to start is to talk about what to do in the event of a natural disaster.
Go over what your child should do if there’s a fire in the home, where to go in the event of a tornado, and how best to protect themselves if there’s an earthquake.
You should go over other emergency situations too, like what to do if your child gets injured while they’re at home. Continue talking about possible emergency situations and review safe areas in your home often.
Go Over the Rules of the House
If you want your home to run smoothly, it’s important to have house rules and to make sure everyone knows what those rules are. That includes having rules that should be followed while you’re away from the house.
Make a list of rules that works for your home. Include things like:
- Don’t enter private areas, like sibling bedrooms, without permission
- Pick up after yourself
- Stay inside and keep the door locked
- Which friends are allowed over
- Which appliances they’re allowed to use
You should also consider rules for technology when you’re away from home. They should know which devices they can use, what they can watch, and which websites they can visit.
Go Over Rules for the Phone
The phone should have special rules in your home when you’re away. For example, you may require your child to call as soon as they get home after school, or you may want to designate a time to call and check in while you’re away.
It’s also a good idea to go over how to answer the phone when your child is home alone. You may want your child to look at the caller ID and only answer calls from people they know. If they answer a call they aren’t familiar with, they should never reveal that they’re home alone.
Leave for Age-Appropriate Amounts of Time
One of the most important questions you can ask yourself is what age is best to leave your child at home alone. Instead of asking how old they should be, you should instead consider their level of maturity.
You may have an seven-year-old that can handle being left alone while you go to the gas station, but a nine-year-old may not be confident enough yet.
The amount of time you’re gone is especially important. A quick trip is a good idea for younger, less mature children, while older teens may be able to be left alone overnight.
Consider a Home Security System
When you think of home security systems, you probably think about how they can protect you from burglars. It turns out, using home security cameras can also help you keep an eye on your child while they’re home alone.
Indoor cameras can be checked in real time, which means you can make sure they are at home after school, and you can make sure they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing. Outdoor cameras can ensure your child isn’t inviting guests over who aren’t supposed to be there while you’re gone.
Leaving your child at home alone is a big deal, but that doesn’t mean you should worry every second they’re by themselves until you get back. By following these tips, you can make sure your child is safe to stay at home as soon as they’re ready to hang out by themselves.