How to prepare children to stay alone
The ANAR Foundation receives more than one million calls from minors who do not have parents next door at home to help them with a problem. If you have no choice but to leave your child alone in the afternoon, it is important that you prepare to stay alone and that knows how to face any eventuality. For this, you will have to dedicate time - for example, on weekends - and often remind you of certain rules that you should not fail to comply with.
Preparing children to stay alone means that they must know what to do and who to call in case of emergency. How to contact you at all hours. Know the names and phone numbers of other trusted adults. Specifically, you should be familiar with the use of the 112 emergency telephone.
They must also know what is going to happen. How long will he be alone? Where are you going to be and why? And you must also give him confidence and security, and tell him that you believe in him.
10 rules for when you are alone at home
For all this, it is necessary to establish some rules that we must all comply with when we stay at home alone.
1. That you know what is not allowed when you are out and leave a list of tasks or orders to be busy.
2. You must call him by phone to see how everything is going
3. We must insist that he not be entertained along the way back home
4. Must know when and how to answer the phone or to the doorbell.
5. You must abide by the rules of use of the telephone, whose use must be limited.
6. What friends or visitors can enter at home.
7. It is necessary to fix the responsibilities on the brothers.
8. You have to know what rules you have to meet in relation to free time and the use of television, videos, consoles, etc.
9. You must have limited access to television channels for adults and have an internet filter.
10. You have to talk to him when he returns home and share your feelings.
Alternatives before leaving children alone
Before considering leaving a child alone at home we must reflect on other alternatives, even if they involve a greater effort of organization or resignation.
If it were possible, we have to shuffle from changing jobs, to request a reduction in working hours. We can also try to negotiate schedules with the company, rely on family members, hire a student -it is cheaper- to accompany him for a few hours and help him perform his tasks; everything is preferable before leaving them alone.
There are some day centers that cater to children in these circumstances. We can also investigate whether public libraries near home or at school organize specific attention programs to combat the "key children" problem.
Also, there are public parks that have recreation and sports programs aimed at these children. Telephone companies have proliferated with sophisticated systems of calls to house to verify if the children are well and to warn the parents in case these have some problem. The most important thing is to be aware that the best gift a father or mother can give their children is their time. We can not afford to have a wrong scale of priorities, which damages them and consequently harms society.
Tips to prepare children who should be left alone at home
- The importance of age. Each child matures at a different rate but, generally, it is better to wait until adolescence to leave them alone, since they must have enough sense of responsibility to be left alone for limited periods of time.
- Fear to loneliness. Staying alone at home can be frightening and is a potentially dangerous situation for many children and teenagers. For example, there are more insecure children who let their imagination fly in the face of any noise and may suffer an anxiety crisis or be unable to concentrate for the study when they are watching everything. Others, however, can take advantage to connect to the Internet without control, with the risks that derive from contacting "with false identities" who pretend to be children of their age.
- Time, at times or long periods. Remember that it is not the same to leave our children alone for a short time or even an afternoon having prepared them properly for it, than to leave them usually alone for long periods.
- Minimize the risks. In addition to age and maturity, the child must have certain skills and abilities to be able to stay alone at home, minimizing risks.
It is good practice to test possible situations of danger and teach the child how to react to them. For example, "if your brother takes a lighter and sets the quilts on fire, what would you do?" And to do it as if it were a simulacrum.
- Rules to act. It is important to remember that you can never say that you are alone to whom you call by phone, or if you connect to the internet.
- Avoid abusing. Not even a mature and responsible child should stay alone at home very often. If you have to be out every afternoon, you can organize and review with your child every Sunday a concrete plan for each day, with goals that on your return you will examine together to praise or correct if necessary.
Advice: Miryam Peña. Degree in Pedagogy. Family Counselor
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