When your child is old enough to stay home alone for the first time, the milestone can be tough for a lot of parents to handle. Just because they may be old enough doesn't necessarily mean they're ready for the responsibility.
Here are a few things your child should be able to handle on their own before they're left alone - even for short amounts of time:
- Emergency Contacts: In addition to knowing your number and how and when to call 911, keep contact info for utility companies and poison control accessible. If possible, it's a good idea to have phone numbers for neighbors you trust available as well.
- Rules and Expectations: When leaving your child home alone, you're not leaving them "in charge." You, the parent, are always in charge whether you're home or not. The rules and expectations you have for your children still apply, even when you're not there to enforce them.
- Safety Precautions: Make a list of pre-approved callers. Kids should know they are only allowed to answer the phone if the person calling is on the list. They should not advertise that they are home alone to anyone on the phone or on social media. Most importantly, they should stay inside with all the doors locked and know not to answer the door under any circumstances.
Remind your child that staying home alone is an important step in their life education. One day they'll
hopefully likely move out of your house and live on their own. Like everything else, it's best to learn in small steps.