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Home Alone

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-Thinking about leaving your child home alone, whether you're working parents or just need a date night, make sure you take the proper precautions to keep your kids safe while your gone. -The one question most parents asked what is the law. There is no law specific to when you're child is ready to be left home alone. -Director of the New York Safe Kids Coalition, Rosemarie Ennis says it's less about a number and more about maturity. -What is recommended is that the parent understands if the child has enough physical and mental and emotional maturity so that they would be able to handle any type of emergency and then be the judge as to if that child is now ready to be on their own. So, what we'd like the parents to do is first take a preliminary survey with your children and ask right in front. If the child is showing any sign of fright, always experiencing nightmares or has a fear of loneliness, this child is not ready to be on her own or to take care of younger siblings. -Rosemarie says making sure your child is safe and comfortable while on their own, starts with being prepared. -Walk your child around the house so you're certain he or she feels secure in their surroundings. Check if your child is capable of handling door locks and opening and closing the door behind themselves. Make sure your child has no fear, anxiety, or misconceptions about staying home alone. Start with some short trail runs to make sure your child feels comfortable being left alone. -I think preparation is the big word. We know they're ready when they're prepared, then they're ready. -Being prepared includes teaching your child how to handle emergencies. First, go over with your child what constitutes in emergency. Post emergency telephone numbers in plain sight like on the fridge. Tell children and practice with them when to call 911. Also let them know when it's appropriate to seek a neighbor's help or to just call mom and dad. Teach them some basic first aid techniques. Rosemarie suggests enrolling kids in first aid and CPR classes. -Also, you have to set very strict rules with children. They do well with rules. You may not want friends in the home when the child is home with the younger brothers and their siblings. -You may wanna limit the time that they're on computers. You may wanna ask that they do their homework. -When you leave the house, be aware of what you maybe leaving available to your children like alcohol left in an unlocked cabinet. Also, be aware of the appliances you allow them to use without adult supervision. You may also want to go over what they should say if they answer the phone and someone asks for mom or dad. Don't say, "My mom and dad are not at home. Instead, say, my mom and dad are not available. Please give me your name and number and let them get back to you." And go over when if ever they should answer the door and who was allowed into the house when the child is there alone or with younger siblings. -Of course, we have the famous line all the time I rang the door bell and they would not answer. Once inside the house, they do not answer. There is no rule except the parents' rule of who can come in when mom and dad are not home whether it'd be their friend, their neighbor, whatever, it must be very strictly adhered to. -More and more kids are coming home to an empty house after school. -When we talk latchkey in today's time, it's very apparent that our society is dictating because of economic stress, the need for parents to-- both parents have to work, number one, that's the first thing. The high cost of child care is now causing families to have to leave children alone and they have seen a tremendous increase in the millions of children being left between the hours of school ending at 3:00 o'clock and the arrival home of the parents from the full-work day somewhere in the vicinity of 6:00 and 7:00. -If you were the parents of a latchkey kid, it's important to do the following. Find with your child a safe route to home from school, the child to take the same safe route to and from school everyday and never deviate. That way, if the child does not make at home safely, parents and authorities will know where to start looking. Set up a message system so you're child is able to notify you once he or she has arrived home safely. Before entering the house, the child should look at the doors and windows. If it appears that they have been opened or tampered with, it may not be safe for the child to enter the house, instead, have them go to a neighbor or call 911. Telling your child not to share with peers or strangers the fact that they go home by themselves. Do not allow your child to wear a housekey on the outside of their clothing in an obvious location. -It has to be somewhere on the body that's not seen, that does not advertise on market, I am a latchkey child and she was a good place. And please do not leave your key under the doorstep, okay? Under the mat, on the stoop this is not where it goes. It's access to anyone. -In the end, most kids are eager to help and to show you how grown up they are. -Children are, today, so in tune to what's going on. I think that we don't give them enough credit. That's my personal opinion. I think they want to help their parents. They're seeing the situation wherein they know some of their parents cannot afford to go child care after work. They're very well aware of it. They're willing to help out whether it's a simple, you know, an accolade given out a dinner table or a simple reward show signs of appreciation for their maturity and their responsibility.