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As your children age, it can be difficult to determine when they have reached a maturity level to handle staying home alone. Growing independence is a part of life, but leaving them home alone without any parental supervision can be nerve-wracking, especially the first few times.
While the decision is ultimately up to your discretion, there are few preventative measures you can practice to test out the situation and keep them as safe as possible while home alone:
1. Home Security System
A home security system not only protects your family and home when it is at its most vulnerable (at night and when no one is home), it also protects your children while they are home alone. Installing a security system from a reputable company can alleviate any concerns you have about your children’s safety while home alone. Most security systems have the option of security cameras, which can typically be viewed via a smart phone or tablet, giving you access to check in on the kids.
2. Trial Period
One way to get both yourself and your children used to the situation is to have a trial period. During this time, you can test out your children’s ability to stay home alone by leaving for a small period of time. Instead of leaving them alone for the first time for a few hours, leave them alone for 20-30 minutes. Your children begin to acclimate to being home alone while you are nearby. In case something happens, or they get scared, they can call you. Starting off small allows your children to grow used to their independence and learn responsibility.
Before assuming, if you have an older child who is capable of looking over their younger siblings, ask them if they would not mind looking after their siblings. Although it is typically implied that they need to care for them, they will appreciate and respect you for asking them instead of expecting them to do it.
4. Check In
For your sanity, you might want to check in every now and again to make sure everything is going all right. However, for your children’s sanity, do not check in aggressively. Set up specific times when you will call or text. Before leaving, inform your children of the house rules, one of which is that they must be near the phone at all times. And, when you or your spouse calls, they need to respond within a few minutes, otherwise their privilege will be revoked.
One of the most important aspects to leaving your children home alone is trust. If your children believe you trust them to be responsible, more often than not, they will want to prove you right. Talk to your children about why you are concerned about leaving them home alone. Clarify that it is not because you do not trust them, but it is that you are worried about their safety.
While it is a tough decision on what age is appropriate to leave your children home alone, using these tips can help ease the worry..