Keeping latchkey kids safe

Filed under: Teens, Work Life, Health & Safety: Babies, Day Care & Education

I worked full-time outside of the home throughout Christie's childhood. For the first 10 years or so, she spent her after-school hours either in day care or at Grandma's house. The cost of daycare was killing us financially, and while Grandma was free, she wasn't always available. Eventually, Christie became a latchkey kid, spending about three hours each day home alone.

Along with the start of the school year comes a brand new batch of latchkey kids. While you may never feel completely comfortable about it, there are some things you can do to help ensure your child's safety and your own peace of mind. The first thing to consider is whether or not your child is mature enough to be home alone. There's a good article on that subject here.

If you do decide the time is right, having some clear-cut rules and instructions will make things easier and safer for everyone. Obviously, your child should know how and when to dial 911, smoke alarms should be tested regularly and emergency procedures established. But there are other things to consider, such as will your child answer the phone and what will she tell callers? Does he know how to turn off the water main? The circuit breakers? Are friends allowed in? The Headquarter Counseling Center in Kansas has some good tips on things to consider when leaving your child home alone. Did they miss anything? How do you ensure your child's safety and well-being when you aren't home?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.