Sometimes, due to tight deadlines and busy schedules, some parents find it hard creating a balance between work and home. These parents sometimes rely on the help of nannies and housekeepers. As the child grows older, some parents see no need for nannies or housekeepers and find it okay to have their children stay at home alone; after all, they are much older now and independent. It is okay to give your child some room to exercise their independence but in some cases, it may be associated with some level of risk.
For kids below the age of five, it is easier for parents to understand that they need a babysitter or daycare as they are too young to be left home alone. For kids above 16 years, it is considered that these kids can easily manage situations when left alone. The challenge most parents are faced with is managing middle-aged school kids. There is always the doubt whether they are old enough to be left home alone or whether it is okay for their self-esteem to still have a babysitter looking over their shoulder.
No matter how well parents try to manage their time effectively to avoid facing these tight situations, there will always occur occasionally; there will always be that emergency flight, business trip or delayed traffic jam that prevents you from getting home in time to your kids. These are some of the risks associated with leaving your kids at home alone:
• High level of boredom and loneliness
• There is a tendency for them to develop fear
• Threats from strangers
• Poor academic performance as they have no one to attend to them
• A tendency to engage in delinquent behaviour
Now, what do you do when you find yourself in a circumstance where you have to leave your kids home alone? It is important to establish some ground rules and safety/health precautions to help keep your kids safe even when they may have to be home alone. Below are some of the ways to do this:
i. Train them on how to attend to emergencies that are likely to occur at home
ii. Keep kitchen utensils (like knife) away from them
iii. Keep items like prescription drugs and alcohol away from their reach
iv. Get them a pet for companionship
v. Make food and other basic needs available so they don’t have to go outside to get it from an external source
Leaving your child home alone unattended may present some risks but when you prepare them fully, it serves as an avenue to develop their independence and self-confidence. Be aware of the dangers associated with leaving them alone and make adequate provision to keep them safe from such dangers.