Kids Home Alone
Summer is approaching quickly, and the kids are out of school. This might be the year your family has decided your children are old enough and responsible enough to stay home alone for a couple of hours while you’re running errands or even all day while you’re at work. There are lots of ways to make this a positive growth and development experience.
- Discuss safety rules so kids know your expectations:
- for answering the doorbell,
- answering the telephone,
- taking messages,
- leaving the house,
- locking the door and so forth.
- Have the kids make a poster of emergency numbers in addition to 911.
Numbers to include might be the next door neighbors and grandparents who are home all day or easily accessible. Be sure to include Mom or Dad’s office numbers and coach them about calling the office to check in with you.
- A daily routine helps things run smoother.
Kids are more likely to follow the routine when they help plan it. Set times for breakfast, lunch and healthy snacks. Include exercise, play time outside and walking the family pet. Agree on time limits for playing video games, as well as watching movies and TV.
- Teach simple meal preparation.
- Keep safety in mind, such as heating foods in the microwave, but not using the oven or broiler, using hot pads and trivets for holding hot dishes, and knife skills.
- Help children prepare meals in the evening for the next day with your supervision, then only warming food is required when they are alone.
- Role playing situations in advance.
This will prepare children to deal with boredom, loneliness, being locked out of the house, a skinned knee and cleaning up after spills.
- Schedule activities and provide supplies.
Reading books, completing art projects or going to the neighborhood pool or library with friends can fill an afternoon with fun and productivity.
- A quick review of the day over the dinner table or at bedtime aids communication.
It also provides a forum for parents to evaluate the child’s success each day and quickly correct the course if necessary. Most importantly, praise for the child’s success can be given in liberal doses to build their confidence and self-esteem.