5 Tips to Keeping Latchkey Kids Safe
“Latchkey kids” is a popular term for kids who stay home alone, particularly after school. According to Bloomberg, this term is applicable to roughly one in nine US kids between the ages of five and fourteen. There are many things that contribute to this: parents who work, a cutback on school-sponsored after-hours services, and the high cost of child care. Of course, some kids become latchkeys because they want to: they beg their parents for the opportunity to stay home by themselves.
While a child home alone may not be ideal for some moms and dads, it is usually safe. This is especially true if precautions are taken. So, if your son or daughter has the house to themselves, remember the following:
Be Proactive About Accidents
The bad news about in-home accidents is that they’re common: they account for nearly 13 million injuries a year (with children and the elderly most often injured). The good news is that they’re largely preventable. To keep your kids as accident-proof as possible, instill certain ground rules. Don’t allow them to bathe, cook, use candles, or play outside unless you’re home to supervise.
Make Sure Your Kids Can Reach You
The easiest way for your child to reach you is with a cellphone. Still, in the event they can’t, make sure they have nearby adults to call on in emergencies. Grandparents, uncles or aunts, and neighbors are good choices.
Teach the Basics
Some of the basics worth teaching your kids include: how to dial 9-1-1, not to answer the door for people they don’t know, and not to advertise that they’ll be home alone. The latter is especially important if your children has access to Facebook, Twitter, and other types of social media.
Consider Video Surveillance
It might be a bit “Big Brother” and somewhere George Orwell will find himself smiling, but video surveillance offers you two advantages. On one hand, it provides peace of mind: you can look at the video and physically see that your kids haven’t burned your house down. On the other, your kids will know you’re watching so they won’t engage in bad behavior (like the aforementioned burning down of the house).
Curiosity might be most dangerous to felines, but it’s resulted in a few skinned knees and missing teeth in children, as well. In short, idleness is asking for trouble. Thus, instead of allowing your kids to stay home alone without any guidance, assign them chores. Chores not only keep them busy, but they also instill character. A University of Mississippi study that took place over the course of twenty-five years found that children assigned chores had a greater sense of empathy, were better adjusted, maintained better relationships, and were more accomplished in their careers.
Many children relish the opportunity to stay home alone: they cherish the independence and trust. Sure, there is an inherent risk any time a child is left to their own devices, but proactivity goes a long way. The above tips don’t guarantee safety, but they encourage it.
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