Tips for parents of children home alone

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TIPS FOR PARENTS OF CHILDREN HOME ALONELeaving children alone at home understandably gives many parents pause – especially when it’s the first time. Even so, many preteens reach a point where they’re ready to stay home alone for a short time without an adult. While this transition can be stressful for the child, parents are usually the more anxious ones.

The first thing you need to determine is whether your child is ready to be home alone and if they are at the right age. Check with your local child protection authority to confirm that your child is legally old enough to be on his or her own for a short time. Check your gut instincts based on your child’s behaviour – does he or she act responsibly with most independent tasks?

As you and your child prepare to take this step, consider some of these tips:

Top 5 Home Alone Tips

  1. Be sure your children know how to unlock and relock the doors properly. Provide them with their own set of keys. Don’t leave a house key anywhere outside the home. If you have a security system, make sure your kids know how to disarm and reset it if needed.
  2. Check around your home for potential safety concerns. Make sure off-limit items such as alcohol, tools, matches or lighters – are out of reach or stored in locked cupboards. If you have a pool, talk with your child in advance about rules to follow. Even for children who know how to swim, it can still be safest to have them not use the pool alone when no one else is at home.
  3. Ensure that children know how to react in an emergency. Do they understand what an emergency is and can they call 911? Do they know where your first aid kit is located and how to properly use its contents?  Practice calling 911 on an unplugged telephone. Rehearse what to say to the 911 operator. Make sure they know their address, phone number, closest major intersection, entry code (if in an apartment) and how to give a short description of an emergency.
  4. Make sure your children can answer questions about their own medical history. This is especially important if they have existing medical conditions such as asthma or diabetes, or allergies to medication such as penicillin.
  5. Ensure that your children have your work, cell, other contact numbers and the numbers for least two additional emergency contacts – preferably trusted friends, relatives or neighbours.  Make sure your children know and trust these contacts.

Allowing your child to stay home alone is a milestone that helps kids gain independence and become more mature. While the first trial runs of letting your children stay at home by themselves might be somewhat nerve-wracking for you, with some groundwork and clearly defined rules, your kids will gain confidence and comfort knowing that they can handle the responsibility all on their own.

For information and resources for your family’s needs, contact Family Support Services at 1 866 833-7690 or visit workhealthlife.com.

Sources:

Canada Safety Council 

Home Alone Safety 

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