Sooner or later, all parents face a dilemma: to leave or not to leave the child at home alone? Some recall how independent they were at the age of their child, while others think with horror about the movie «Home Alone». However, not all mothers and fathers have the opportunity to give the child to the grandmother or call a nanny. Then a number of questions arise: when is the best time to leave a child at home alone and what should be foreseen?
Is it legal to leave a child at home alone?
In most countries, with the exception of America, there is no legislation governing the stay of a child at home without adults. Simply leaving a baby unattended cannot be attributed to the legal definition of a “life-threatening and health-threatening condition”, since a calm, quiet stay of a child in an apartment does not threaten his life and health. It becomes dangerous if the baby is locked up without food and water, or if he constantly cries, disturbing the neighbors.
If the child is in excellent spirits and in excellent health, then no one can prevent parents from leaving the child at home. The main thing is to be guided by common sense and make the child’s stay at home safe and comfortable.
At what age can children be left at home?
There is no specific criterion for the age at which children can be left alone. Parents should rely on the character of the child, his personal characteristics, skills and abilities. Some children are already quite independent and responsible at the age of 7-8, and some need to be constantly monitored even at the age of 12.
As a rule, you can start the first conversations about staying at home on your own at the age of 5-6. The child should be instilled with the idea that he will gradually become independent: he will begin to ride the bus himself, heat up his own food and stay in the apartment without adults. If the baby is afraid of such conversations, it is worth supporting him and telling him what awaits him. It is very useful to say that being independent means being able to help both yourself and those around you.
Why independence is important
Psychologists do not advise keeping children in «greenhouse» conditions. Thus, moms and dads deprive kids of the experience of solving various everyday problems. This is especially important in stressful conditions. In a state of stress and anxiety, people often forget everything they have been taught. However, the ability to cope with sudden tasks when a child is alone at home is an ideal springboard for developing the qualities necessary in life: quick reaction, resourcefulness, cunning, courage, dexterity.
How to understand that the child is ready to stay at home alone?
Before leaving children alone at home, parents need to make sure that the child is ready for such a serious step mentally and physically. You can determine the readiness of a son or daughter by simple points. So your child:
- knows how to use a home and mobile phone, knows emergency numbers, numbers, names of parents and close relatives;
- does not have strong phobias (darkness, silence, height, closed space);
- knows and observes parental prohibitions on the use of dangerous objects (sharp knives, matches, household chemicals);
- does not have a vengeful, vindictive character and does not have the habit of rebelling after prohibitions and restrictions;
- can be without mom or dad for more than 2-3 hours without tantrums, crying, resentment;
- knows that in dangerous situations it is necessary to call the police or turn to neighbors;
- has a daily routine and follows it independently without any parental control; can calmly go about his business (lessons, games, housework);
- able to warm up a meal or prepare a simple dish;
- knows how to handle basic household appliances (kettle, mobile phone charger, computer):
- knows how to behave in dangerous or potentially dangerous situations.
How can parents prepare their child?
It is recommended to start preparing a child for independent pastime at home with the basic rules. Moms and dads need to make sure that the son or daughter does not open the door to strangers, does not turn on the gas stove unnecessarily, and be sure to contact if something goes wrong. The ideal option is to ask the baby questions in a playful way for training. All situations should be discussed: from a broken pipe, a fire, to the smell of gas in the apartment.
It is better to start giving the baby to himself from a short time. For example, from a 20-minute trip to the nearest supermarket. Upon returning, you should make sure that the child is not afraid.
Leaving children at home alone is a difficult but necessary experience, thanks to which children take the first steps towards self-reliance and independence.