Summer is here, and for a lot of parents, it means their children are home for the summer. While kids love this time of year, it can be particularly stressful on the parents. This is due to the fact that, unfortunately for adults, they don’t get a summer break. Adults still have to go to work to earn enough money to provide for their families.
The decision to leave kids alone is a big one. It is not something that should be done lightly. Some kids can handle the freedom and responsibility of being home alone, while others cannot. It is up to the parent to determine if their child can handle being on their own for extended periods of time.
The parents will constantly be worried that something might go wrong. What if there is a fire? They can’t help out or protect their kid when they are at work. That is why it is important to teach kids about fire safety and establish rules and emergency plans for the kid to follow in the event that something happens.
How Young Is Too Young?
When determining how young is too young for a child to be left alone, there is no definitive answer. It has to be determined on a case by case basis. Some kids mature faster than others, which leads to some being ready to be left alone earlier. In some states, there are age limits for how old a child needs to be in order to be left alone. In the state of California, there is no age restriction. Parents will have to use their best judgement to determine if a child is mature enough to be left alone.
While there isn’t a definitive answer, there are some recommended guidelines. Typically, children under the age are not capable of judging cause and effect, which can lead to bad decision making. It is recommended that no child under the age of 7 be left alone.
For ages 7 through 10, kids typically can’t watch over themselves for extended periods of time. However, they can be left home alone for short periods of time. Around the age of 12 is when kids usually become mature enough to be left alone for extended periods, though not overnight.
Teach Your Kids
If you have to leave a child home alone, make sure that he or she understands several things. Parents should create rules and make sure the kids understand the consequences of breaking those rules. For instance:
- Young children should not answer the door when they are home alone.
- Kids shouldn’t answer the phone when alone.
- Children should stay within the house when they are by themselves.
- Children should never use the oven by themselves.
- Especially for young kids, they should not use sharp knives or scissors without adult supervision.
- Kids should know to never play with matches.
- They also should never mess around with electronics, such as taking apart a wall socket.
On top of that, it is important to teach the child about what to do is something goes wrong when they are by themselves.
- They should know where the first aid kit is.
- They need to know who to call if something bad happens, such as a parent, a trusted neighbor, or even the authorities.
- Lastly, there should be an evacuation plan in place for the children in the event that there is a fire.
- Kids should know to stay low to the ground in the event of a fire to avoid excess smoke inhalation.
- They should know to get under a sturdy piece of furniture in the event of an emergency.
Giving children this knowledge should help keep them safe when they are by themselves. It will also help keep them safe in case an emergency occurs.
What Happens if Something Goes Wrong
Hopefully, nothing ever goes wrong, but that is not always the case. If something goes wrong, the parent will be responsible for the child and any damages. This is on top of any injuries the child might have sustained. This is every parent’s worst nightmare, which is why it is important to carefully consider whether or not a child should be left alone. The wrong decision could have extreme consequences.
Of course, this is all dependent on the child. Some kids mature faster than others and are capable of being left alone at an earlier age. A parent needs to know their child, and teach him or her how to properly behave when home alone. This can drastically reduce the chances of something going wrong while the parent is away at work this summer.