One of the scariest moments in the lives of every parent (solo or not) is the first time you leave your child home alone. Leaving the child home alone and teaching them all about home security -it is a very complex and tricky issue and it should be handled carefully and smartly.
What does the law say?
Well, not much. In most countries, there is no single law that stipulates when a child can be left home alone. Some states in the US (Maryland) and in Australia (Queensland) have their own laws, but most of the time, this is not regulated by the law.
It is left to the discretion of the parent and this is where one needs to be extremely careful, even before we get to the home security issue.
What to ask myself?
If you are thinking of leaving your child home alone, these are some of the questions that you need to ask yourself are:
- Does my child usually make rational, mature decision?
- Will my child be scared being left alone?
- Does my child know what to do and who to call in case of emergency?
- How long will you be gone?
- How safe is your neighborhood and town (city)?
Remember that these are just some of the questions that you need to take into consideration. In the end, however, you are the only one who can determine whether your child is old enough and mature enough to be left home alone for a certain period of time. There are 9-year-olds who are much more mature than some 15-year-olds, and this is where the parent needs to decide if their child has reached that age where it will be comfortable being left home alone.
What about home security?
In most cases, the children know very little about home security. They usually leave and come home with someone, and they probably do not even know the password for the alarm, let alone something more complex.
Before you even get to the point where you might leave them alone, it is perhaps time to beef up your security. Let’s face it. Many of us do not have the time to get around to do this while some of us believe that bad things only happen to others. Security experts have told us that the number of homes with less-than-spectacular (to put things mildly) security is surprisingly large.
You should also start talking to your child, letting them know all about the home security features that you have. They should know how to lock the door, they should know the password to the alarm system, how to use the video door phone, etc.
In addition to this, you need to ensure that they know never to let anyone in. If they are a bit older (over 15), you might be less stringent about this and leave it to their discretion if it is someone they know, but strangers should never be allowed in (hence the title of the article).
One of the best ways to approach leaving your child home alone is to do it in increments. First time, make it an hour, hour and a half at the most. If they are younger, you can start with half an hour, even. Then, seeing how they react to it and how well they handle it, you can increase the time.
Of course, if you think at any time that they are scared and that this is too strenuous for them, stop doing it and wait some time before you try again.
Bio: James D. Burbank is a father parent of two and he tries to learn something new every day. He had help from Sydney-based locksmiths when writing this article.