This is a major problem for most parents as their child gets older. Before commencing on this discussion, please ensure that it is not wise to leave a child alone at home, particularly if they are 12 years or younger. Besides, in some countries it is not legal to leave a youngster who is 12 years old, alone at home.
Now assuming that he or she is above that age limit, how can we be sure that they can be left alone?
Take a scenario that if you did try leaving them alone at home once, only for you to come back early and find out that your trust factor has been broken. Maybe they might have had excess lot of companions at home and that they had not completed the tasks that you had asked them to complete.
Assuming that each family is different, there are obviously some great guidelines as to determine whether a kid is sufficiently dependable to stay home alone, even a portion of their time.
Does your kid follow the basic safety rules that you have set for them. Does he or she know where to go for help in the event that they needed some help? [Make sure they have access to all the emergency numbers].
Has your child or pre-teen shown remarkable change in completing household errands and chores, regardless of the fact that he or she cannot help contradicting them.
As a parent, you have to set clear rules, with the results for not meeting those rules. If your kid does not meet these fundamental criteria, do not stress too much.
Once you have settled on the choice to give them a chance to take a stab at being all alone, there are a few things you might need to consider:
DON’T be obscure about your rules. Try not to anticipate that your child will simply know what the rules are. Your thoughts and judgment skills need not be the same as your child’s.
DO be clear with your child about your rules. This means any daily chores and errands that need to be completed. In addition, rules as to how many companions can be in the house at one time, and whether your kid can leave your home to go to another place on his own. Being clear means less issues later.
DON’T treat results as a surprise.
DO advise your kid on what they stand to lose. You have to be not only clear about the rules, as well as clear about the results for meeting those expectations.
DON’T get into a situation, where you are unable to send your child any place, if staying home alone is not an option. Because, if your child comes to know that you don’t have a place to send them, why should they comply with any set rules?
DO have a back-up plan always. Try sending the child to a parent, grandparent or family friends, in case of an emergency. Also, ensure that the youngster knows where they will go, should they not follow the set rules.
DON’T ever over-schedule your child’s day. While it may be safer to give the kid a huge list of errands to complete, such an approach is most likely to be ineffective.
DO make sure to leave some free time. Always allow some free time with the list of chores. If there is no freedom to stay alone at home, your child will be least bothered in completing the set chores.
DON’T ever make the child stick to a rigid and strict structure at home in your absence.
Try to think from your kid’s point of view – would you do it if you were in his or her shoes. It is likely that you would try to complete the chores in the last half an hour or so. Therefore, your child is not much different.
DO give your kid a rundown of things you hope to be finished when you return home. Tell her or him that while they can pick when to do them, they cannot opt for not doing them. This will also teach them to effectively manage their time.
And one last point to remember.
DON’T ever try and make it into an all or nothing situation. If your child breaks the rules or even lies, don’t set a harsh punishment by removing any chance of leaving them alone at home, throughout the holiday season.
DO permit your child to earn his freedom back again always. Kids love their freedom, and taking this away from them would be disastrous. They would love to be in charge of their own day, and in a way, it is definitely a good motivating factor. So, always use that to your advantage by letting the child earn back your trust, even if they have broken the rules.
So, if you set a curfew or remove any chances of winning back that privilege of being home alone, why should they ever follow any set rules. Remember, kids will be always be kids.
You can however help them improve their behavior through clear set of rules and expectations and the related consequences. Find ways on how to improve their ability to follow rules, and more than that, keep them working towards a set goal. You want them to be responsible, and learn to balance their organizational and time management skills, as they grow older.
And obviously, they should be given more autonomy and freedom as they improve.
Image courtesy : panoramio_com
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