Steps To Ensure Your Teen Is Safe When Home Alone
By the time children reach their teen years, most are ready to be left home alone while you are away. Certainly they are too old to have a babysitter. As a parent you know your child best. No matter what, you must decide if your teenager is responsible, mature and independent enough to be left home alone.
Factors to Consider
Discuss the idea of your teens staying home alone with your children. Allow them to come up with questions and situations. Ask them how they would handle things in various scenarios.
- In the case of an only child, make sure that they are ready and feel comfortable being left home alone.
In the case of an only child, make sure that they are ready and feel comfortable being left home alone.
Do any of your teens drive? How mature are they? How do they handle responsibility? Do they know how to do simple housework?
How will discipline be handled? It is a good idea to limit discipline to timeouts. If things become difficult, it may be better to simply wait. More serious discipline can be handled when you get home.
For multiple children, establish who will be in charge (it is usually the oldest, but it should be the most responsible) and make sure that each of them understands who will be the boss.
Decide whether or not cooking would be allowed. Who will be responsible for making sure the stove/oven is turned off when finished?
It is always good to let them share responsibilities so the entire burden isn’t on the oldest or the person in charge. Who will do the dishes? Who will set the table? Who will clean up?
Discuss with your teens and other children how to handle emergency situations. Map out a plan for each emergency scenario. Role-play and practice each one so they know what they should do in any given situation, including what to do should there be a need to take cover during a storm. Make sure they have a list of emergency numbers including neighbors, nearby friends and also the best way to get in touch with you.
Fire ~ Make sure all smoke detectors are working, and discuss and practice an evacuation plan and what to do if one should go off. Train your teens to distinguish if it is something minor and can be handled with a fire extinguisher or another simple method. Most important, is the safety of your family.
Storms ~ Depending on where you live, storms are inevitable. Make sure your teens are capable of responding in a sensible way to each type of threat. Remind the person in charge that you are just a phone call away. (When in doubt, they could possibly rely on a neighbor or close friend for advice.)
Home Invasions ~ In today’s world, we must be prepared for anything. Unfortunately, predators are everywhere. It is better for your teens not to answer the door, than to allow a stranger to know they are home alone. If there is any question about their safety, 911 is a simple solution and the best option in any emergency.
Phone Calls ~ With caller ID, it is easy to identify a caller. Any unknown numbers should be ignored and allowed to go to voice mail so they can be taken care of when parents are home. If someone asks for you, it is best just to say that you are busy, take a quick message, and hang up quickly.
Make sure teens realize that they should not let anyone know they are home alone. They should especially be cautious about this on Facebook, at school with their friends and if anyone should call on the phone or come to the door.
Train your teens to be aware of their surroundings, especially when they arrive home. Teach them to check in with you when they arrived home, or when they leave to go somewhere they have previous permission to go. If a door or window is open, or if they see any damage around the door or windows when arriving home, they should immediately go to a neighbor’s house and call the police. It is much better to be safe, than to enter your home where an intruder might be lurking.
Review Your Policies
Go over the rules that you expect your teens to abide by.
Company ~ Whom do you allow them to have over while you’re away? Which friends and acquaintances are acceptable and when are they allowed to come over?
Curfew ~ Give them a list of curfews and what kind of activities they are allowed to take part in.
Plans to Go Away ~ If you are planning to go away for a few days, alert neighbors, friends, and police of this. Ask them to keep an eye on your home and your teens while you are gone. Knowing this will help discourage your teens from taking advantage, and will help prevent them from having parties, or other unwanted activities while you’re gone.
Going to and from School ~ It is always best that your teens use the same route to go to and from school every day, unless they are driving. Teach them never to accept rides from friends without your permission.
Keep Them Busy ~ If they are busy, they will be less likely to do something they shouldn’t. Homework, chores, other responsibilities at home, music practice, sports, and after school activities all play a part in keeping their lives full of wholesome activity.
First Aid ~ Train your teens in basic first aid practices making sure they know where first aid items can be located if needed. Teach them CPR, because you never know when it may be needed in an emergency.
Security Systems ~ If you have one for your home, teach your teens how to use it properly, and the importance of never allowing the entrance code to be shared with anyone, not even a close friend.
The most important factor is that your teens and children remain safe and secure while they are home alone. Utilizing these simple steps will help ensure that safety.