When a child is small he generally remains glued to the parents, especially the mother. He will try to go to all the places where you go. This attachment or a thought of separation is often a case of concern when he goes to school for the first time. As the child starts to go to school, slowly he understands that he has to live away from parents sometimes. When at school he has the company of fellow students which keep him occupied.
Occasions do arise in the life of all when a kid has to be left at home when the parents need to go to some place where the children cannot go. Or there could be some meeting to be attended at odd hours, or it mostly happens that the mothers go out for work during school hours of the child, this situation is normally known as latchkey kids. If for some reason a holiday is declared in school, the mother may be in for an important meeting and then the child has to be left alone at home. Both of you have no choice.
Leaving the child alone at home is a cause of anxiety for both the parents. Though the parents may be reluctant but the child may be happy to be at home alone and once left, it could be a positive experience for him. Many things come for consideration of the parents when they decide in this regard. What has to be done depends upon the age of the child. A child of say 6 years of age may stay alone for a few hours at the most where as a child of 16 may stay back for longer hours or for a full day without hassles.
Generally children who have completed 10 years of age are slightly more mature and could be left alone as they have reached a stage where they can face a situation of emergency if it so arises. Also for consideration is the fact about the availability of help in case of an emergency. More home alone safety tips for kids are as follows:
- In case of unavoidable circumstances if the child has to be left alone, ensure that there is some telephone near him on which he can respond to your call. On a cardboard clearly write down the phone numbers of both the parents and leave it near the telephone. As the child grows, even if there is no thought of occurrence of such an occasion, teach the child to call you from the home phone. The child should be told to call you in case of any need and his call will not disturb you even if you are in an most important meeting. This will increase the confidence level of both of you.
- To start with, it will be better if you start to leave your child at home for short durations, say for thirty minutes. When you go to a nearby market, leave your six years plus child at home. Do ask the child to give you a call after some time and narrate his experience. Next time you can also make a call to the child so that you are sure that he responds to the call. Slowly the time can be increased.
- In addition to writing your telephone numbers, you should also write the numbers of security guard of the society or the building, emergency number of authorities of the municipality etc. so that if something unfortunate happens he can call for help.
- Never tell unknown people or less known people that you leave your child alone at home. Before moving out, lock the door from outside. Generally locking systems in homes are such that once locked the door cannot be opened from outside without the key, but a person inside can open it. The child should be fully aware that he can open the door only in case of emergency.
- Tell the child not to respond to the doorbell. Even if there is some visitor who rings the bell he should remain silent and not open the door. Instead of responding to the call from the door, he should call you on your phone to tell that there was a visitor. If the facility is available you can call the watchman to find out who had come to your place.
- Generally even small children know how to operate the TV he can spend time watching some show after completing his studies. He/she can also read good knowledge books and magazines. When you are back home do listen to the story of the child as to how he spent time alone and encourage him that he is a brave boy and things like that.
This way your child will be ready to spend slightly more time alone the next time and you will be more confident too.