Parenting tips to keep in mind when leaving kids alone at home
Leaving children alone at home can be worrisome for parents but with proper preparations, the experience can contribute to the overall development of the child. Here are a few tips that parents can follow when leaving kids alone at home.
Everyone loves to spend time with their children but in modern times where both the parents are working it leads to circumstances where you have to leave the child at daycare or alone at home. Leaving a child without any supervision or guidance can become a cause of worry for parents. It's important to teach children about the do's and don'ts to follow when they are alone. (Also read: Children should be at least 12 years-old before being left home alone for longer hours )
In an interview with HT lifestyle, Nidhi Tiwari, child psychologist, shared, “Leaving children alone with proper planning and preparations helps in developing a sense of responsibility with in them and play an important role in boosting their confidence. Staying alone helps them better understand the difference between good and bad, strangers and guests. The experience can make the child responsible and disciplined."
Check out these few points to feel more confident and better prepared when you leave child at home:
1. List out important numbers
When a child is alone it is important that he or she knows at least three contacts by heart. Make sure to give the contact number of a trustable person who lives in the neighbourhood or nearby so that in case of any emergency, help can be provided as soon as possible. Also, tell the children about other emergency contact numbers such as ambulance, fire brigade and police. If a child faces difficulty in remembering all the numbers, make a list and stick it to the refrigerator or any other place where it is visible to the child. Make sure to keep checking on the child, keep in touch and answer right away when they call. You can also ask a friend or neighbour to keep an eye on the child.
2. Set rules
It's very important to set some ground rules when the child is left without any supervision as they might end up watching TV all day or playing video games. Make a list of some ground rules and make the child understand why it is important to follow. The list should include TV hours and the type of shows they can watch, you can also set a limit for the Internet. Make sure that the child doesn't mention to anyone that he or she is home alone. Tell the kids about kitchen rules and instructions regarding how to use the oven and other utensils and set rules about the things they should stay away from such as knives, lighter and other sharp objects.
3. Safety rules
The safety of a child is of utmost importance when they are left alone. Teach them how to deal with emergency situations like fire, robbery, medical crises or any other emergency. Make sure to at least tell them two escape routes from the house. Make sure you have a first aid kit at home with all essentials and teach the child how to handle basic first aid. Lock the items such as alcohol, sleeping pills, tobacco, car keys, lighters and matchsticks. If you have an open electricity board make sure to put tape on it and also teach children how to shut off electric circuit breakers or replace fuse safely. Tell them how to use a fire extinguisher in the case of any fire emergency. This will not only ensure the safety of a child but also educate them and make them aware.
4. Stock up the supplies
Make sure you have all the important items or supplies before you leave the child alone. Stock the kitchen with all the food. Make sure you leave some fruits or healthy snacks for the kids. It would be even better if you can make a small box of breakfast, lunch, dinner or mid-day snacks. Therefore the child will be aware of when to eat what. If your child is on any kind of medication make sure you leave the medicine with the prescribed doses to avoid overdose or ingestion. Have flashlights or candles at home in case of a powercut.
5. Keep the child busy
We know empty mind is the devil's home. When a child is a home alone they can get indulge into a variety of activities such as playing outside, playing with water etc. Therefore it is important to not leave them idle. Know your child's interests and leave them with some educative and creative activities such as puzzles, drawing, mind games, craft clay etc. Set some targets for them and you can also reward them when they complete it. This will not only motivate them but also encourage them to follow targets or deadlines. You can also leave some educative cartoon films for them.
6. When and how to open the door
Teach the children to not open the door to any stranger, no matter what they are offering. Many times children are drawn toward strangers because of sweets or chocolates. Make the child understand to only open the gates when they know the person. Let the child know beforehand if anyone is scheduled to visit the house. Even if they have to open the door make sure to tell them to first see from the keyhole or from a window. Also, let the child know by what time you will be back home therefore the child will not be left waiting for you.