Many parents leave older children home alone for the first time during spring break.
While every child is different, the general rule is children under age 11 do not have the decision making skills to stay home alone.
Before leaving a child home alone, here are some questions to ask:
- Can your child get ready for school on time with little supervision?
- Does your child follow rules about bedtime and homework?
- Does your child understand consequences of decisions?
- Can your child handle being alone, fear and boredom?
If you answer yes to the questions above, here are a few more things to assess.
Can your child:
- Lock and unlock your home?
- Perform simple tasks such as making a snack?
- Solve problems and know when to seek help?
- Know how to contact designated people for support?
- Understand what is an emergency?
- Know when to call 911 and what to do in an emergency?
- Feel confident and secure when alone?
You and your child will need to set rules about having friends over, using the phone, internet and computer and leaving the house, as examples. Are you confident that your child will follow these rules? The child needs to help set the rules as well as rewards for following them and consequences for breaking them.
Parents need to keep their end of the bargain. Think of what your child will need to be successful such as easy to fix snacks and contacts for problems and emergencies. Parents need to tell children when they will be home and call if they are running late. If possible, parents should provide some fun activities to break the monotony of being home alone.
If there are multiple children at home alone, they need to understand their responsibilities for each other and for following the rules. Are you sure older siblings will not mistreat younger ones? If you are unsure, you may want to identify an alternative to leaving them alone together.
If you are not sure your child should stay home alone, Tulsa offers a number of spring break camps in all price ranges and for all ages. Start your search here:
Our outpatient children’s services are available during spring break for children who struggle with emotional, behavioral or substance abuse issues. Feel free to request an appointment at 918.492.2554.
As always, if your child is in an emotional, behavioral or substance abuse crisis, call the CALM Center at any time, day or night, at 918.394.2256.
Everyone at Counseling & Recovery Services of Oklahoma hopes spring break is enjoyable for your children and worry free for you.