03 Jun 5 Ways to know if your Child is Ready to be Left Home Alone
5 Ways to know if your Child is Ready to be Left Home Alone (and 3 That They Aren’t)
Leaving your child at home alone for any length of time is a huge milestone. Whether you’re taking a few minutes to run to the store to pick up that one ingredient that you forgot for dinner or hoping that you and your spouse can head out for a date without needing to secure a babysitter, you want to be sure that your child is responsible enough to handle any issues that may arise in your absence. If you’re thinking about leaving your child at home alone, make sure that they’re ready by evaluating these key signs.
Your Child Is Trustworthy
You don’t typically get blindside by teachers or peers who let you know that your child has been in trouble all week. If something happens, they’re the one to let you know about it. You trust your child to handle basic responsibilities without feeling as though you need to look over their shoulder constantly. Leaving them alone doesn’t leave a knot of dread in the pit of your stomach as you worry about what could happen.
Your Child Knows How to Respond in a Crisis
In spite of your best hopes, emergencies can happen while you’re away. Does your child know how to respond if there’s a fire? What if something breaks? If a pet or sibling has a problem, how will they respond? Some children are better at handling those crisis moments than others. Ensuring that they aren’t left home alone until they are prepared to handle it if something does happen will help you feel more secure.
Your Child Knows How to Behave if Someone Comes to the Door (or Calls)
This can be as simple as remembering not to tell the telemarketer that Mom and Dad aren’t home or not getting up to go to the door unless they recognize the person on the other side. Make sure, however, that your child will abide by it. You might even want to do a trial run and have a friend or neighbor come by to see how the child will respond in your absence.
Your Child Can Operate Your Security System
If you have a security system, your child needs to know how to operate it, from turning it on (or off if, for some reason, they’ll need to leave the house while you’re gone) to using it to summon help. If they aren’t tall enough to reach the control panel or responsible and trustworthy enough to be trusted with the code, leaving them home alone might be impractical.
Your Child is Levelheaded
Your child isn’t likely to decide to do something crazy while you’re gone–say, coating the dog in shaving cream or climbing on their bike and riding down the street in their pajamas while you aren’t there. Chances are, your child will still be sitting right where you left them when you get back: sitting in front of a video game, reading a book, or even finishing up their chores.
On the Flip Side
There are also several key signs that, regardless of their age, your child isn’t responsible enough to be left home alone. If your child has any of these signs, leaving them at home by themselves might not be in your–or their–best interest.
Your child panics easily. Small noises make them jumpy and unexpected changes to the plan cause them distress. If an emergency occurred while you weren’t home, this child would have no idea how to react and probably wouldn’t deal with it well.
Your child is uncomfortable being home alone. While you think that your child is old enough, they’re begging you to let them go with you instead of being home alone. A frightened child should never be left alone and unprotected.
Your child has trouble with impulse control. From breaking into the liquor cabinet to taking off on a tear and trashing the house, you have no idea what your child will do if left to their own devices–and frankly, you don’t want to find out.
You should always check your local laws before leaving any child at home alone – they vary from state to state typically. Once you know the legal side, the ultimate decision of whether or not to leave your child at home without adult supervision rests with you–and you’re the person who knows them best. If you want to keep an eye on them or be sure that your child is protected while you aren’t there, contact us! When you can see your kids and arm the alarm you can have peace of ming that they have not opened a door or window and you can see what they are doing while you are gone. Then you can have that date night that you deserve and probably need!