Friday, January 27, 2012

10 Times it Might Be Okay to Leave Kids Alone

Parents often struggle with the concept of leaving their children home alone. When are they old enough to take care of themselves and possibly their siblings? Will they be vilified by their friends and relatives for leaving the kids home alone? What if there’s an emergency while they’re away? Sometimes a situation will arise to force the issue. Here are 10 times it might be okay to leave your kids alone for a short while.

  1. Close neighbors – If you need to run to the store and don’t want to drag the kids along, it could be alright to leave them alone if there’s a neighbor close by. If you’re on good terms with your next door neighbors they may be willing to be available in an emergency. Make sure your neighbor knows that you’re going to be gone and the let kids know they’re there if needed.
  2. Emergency – If there’s an emergency you may not have any choice but to leave kids alone. You may be faced with a situation where you need to leave suddenly and there will be a brief time before a sitter can get there.
  3. For their safety – Another scenario is when it’s safer to leave the kids alone than for them to go with you. If someone has a gun to your head, you certainly don’t want to put them in harms way also.
  4. When they’re sleeping – If the kids are sleeping and you need to run to the corner store that might be okay. If you’re only going to be gone for 5 minutes, it would be a shame to wake them up. Of course a nanny cam or baby monitor would be ideal for this situation.
  5. Constant contact – Cell phones and two-way radios make it easy to stay in constant contact if you need to leave your children home alone. Although it’s not foolproof, being in close contact while you’re gone can give you some peace of mind.
  6. If they ask – Some kids will let you know when they’re ready to be left alone. If they feel mature enough to take care of themselves instead of being forced to go on brief errands, they’ll say so.
  7. Short errands – Of course the first time you leave kids alone you don’t want to stay away for hours. If you know a short errand will only take 5 to 10 minutes if you leave the kids home, but it will take twice as long to take them with, that may be the deciding factor.
  8. Sitter has to leave suddenly – A situation may arise that your sitter has to leave unexpectedly and it will take a few minutes before you or someone else can get home. In this case, it might be okay for the kids to be on their own in the interim.
  9. If they’re occupied – If the children are completely engrossed in a television show or video game, it may be alright to leave them to their own devices for a while. If they’re totally occupied while you’re gone, chances are they won’t be looking to get into trouble.
  10. As a test – If you’re just not sure if your kids are ready to be left alone, you could set up a test. Tell the children you’re going to be gone for 10 minutes to run an errand, but just drive around the block instead. A nanny cam would also come in handy to observe their behavior while you’re away.

All children mature differently so there’s no set age to determine when they’re old enough to be left on their own. Hopefully it’s before they turn 18! The key is to let kids know what the rules are and make sure they follow them while you’re gone. Start with leaving for a few minutes at a time and work up to where you can trust them to be alone for an hour or two. Eventually they will be able to fend for themselves for longer periods of time.

Taken From Full Time Nanny

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