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Leave Those Kids Alone: Page 2

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Continued from Leave Those Kids Alone.

Home Alone Survival Guide
These days there are guidelines for everything--from what age to potty train to how old your kid must be to log onto Facebook--but when it comes to giving your progeny the keys to the house and saying "bye-bye," you're on your own. Leaving kids home alone is not a decision moms take lightly. So we asked Samantha Wilson, Founder and President of Kidproof Canada/USA, to give moms tips on how to keep kids safe when you're not around:

The Time Is Right
Some parents leave their kids to their own devices when they're 7, for others, 17 still makes them nervous. The truth is, there is no "right" age. "Moms know their kids best," Wilson says. "They often know their limitations better than the kids themselves. Ultimately it is the parent's responsibility to decide if a child is ready, able and willing to be left unsupervised."

Test Run
If you think your kid is old enough, but you're getting cold feet (or they are), give them a test run. Take a trip to the grocery store for 30 minutes and see how it goes. Talk about it afterwards. Ask them how they felt. Ask them if there's anything you can do to make them feel confident and prepared.

Fire Drills
Walk through the house with your kids and check that the doors and windows lock and that they know where a non-cordless phone is (in the event of a power outage). Show them the fire extinguisher and make sure they (and you!) know how to use it. Check the fire detectors and discuss how to evacuate in the event of a fire. "Reduce the risk as much as possible, so that if something does go wrong, it is relatively minor and can be dealt with," Wilson says.

Survival Tools
Giving your kids a cell phone will help them feel connected. Also, show them where you keep the First Aid kit, and make sure it's well stocked. Make a list of important phone numbers and tack it up in an obvious place so they know who to call. Make sure a friend or neighbor is nearby who could help out in an emergency.

Babies Watching Babies
Babysitting is something of a rite of passage for most teenage girls. But for moms, the thought of two kids home alone together sounds like a nightmare waiting to happen. But it can be a great opportunity for teens (and a cheap night out for mom and dad!). Most kids start babysitting around age 12. Wilson suggests teens take a babysitter training program first, like

Mom's the Boss
Just because mom is not around doesn't mean she's not still in charge. Lay down rules for what your kids can and cannot do when you're not home. You could even tack the rules up on the fridge. Some good basic ones are: The Internet is strictly off limits. No friends over. Don't answer the door for anyone. Don't answer the phone if you don't know who it is. Remember, you may not be home, but you're still the boss!

So moms, it's time to weigh in: when would you leave your offspring home alone?

next: Joe Loves His Mama Biden
6 comments so far | Post a comment now
Renee September 5, 2008, 10:16 AM

I was a latchkey kid for around 1-1/2 hours after school starting at age 8 or 9. I knew the rules-no cooking, no answering the door except to family, no going outside, keep the doors locked, etc. I just hung out and watched tv. I did live in a safe neighborhood so I never remember feeling afraid. But I have a coworker who won’t let her 12 year old stay home with her 17 year old and they’re both great kids!!!!

Liz September 5, 2008, 10:36 AM

I have a 7 year old and a 10 year old. My kids have had short amounts of time home alone (15 minutes up to a couple of hours) and it’s worked out well for us. We have the same rules Renee had and we live in a super small town, so the kids have done well. My 10 year old has done the home alone thing for a couple of years..since he was about 7. He’d just hang out in his room and read or play video games. The 7yo isn’t as big on being alone or with her brother, but she handles it pretty well..and of course they blow up my cell phone at regular intervals with *mom, how long until you’re home?* It’s working great for us, but I have friends with kids the same age that would never dream of leaving their kids even for a quick trip to the post office.

Summer September 5, 2008, 12:34 PM

I think it depends on how well your kids handle themselves… how mature they are. Some kids will have a meltdown if left alone and other kids can handle short times just fine. Also do you live in a safe area? Do you kids have emergency numbers in case something happens to you i.e. car accident? My 10 year old has had some time alone here and there but never longer then a few hours… and he can reach me or any relative by his phone.

Laura September 5, 2008, 2:47 PM

I have been leaving my 9 and 12 year old girls home alone for about a year now. Sometimes it’s for a dash to the market, others it’s a period of 4 or so hours. (I am less than 3 miles away when that occurs) They are both rather independent and intelligent. I give them tasks to keep busy and they both know how to make basic meals. My oldest has taken a babysitter course at the local community center. I have always told them: I trust you and have confidence in you. If you ever question something, I am no further than a phone call or a text. At the very least, before you do anything ask yourself, “What would Mom say?” lol- that always gets ‘em!

Theresa September 5, 2008, 4:36 PM

I can’t see leaving my kids at home alone for any length of time, but my oldest is 5. I would say 7, 8 or 9 is too young, but I don’t think I cna say with certainty becuase my kids aren’t that age yet.
I’m sure there are many kids who are fine alone at 8 and some who aren’t at 12. I think it really depends on the child.

Proud Mom September 30, 2008, 1:48 PM

It really depends on the individual child. Some kids are mature at 8yrs old and then you have some that are still immature at the age of 17yrs old. Only the mom and the child will know when they are ready.

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