Protecting Your Family: Is your child ready to be left home alone?

Protecting Your Family: Is your child ready to be left home alone?
Protecting Your Family: Making homes safe for the elderly (Source: WAFF Staff)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Summer is here, and a lot of parents are facing a difficult decision. With the kids out of school, is this the summer to trust them to stay at home alone? How will you know if your child is ready?

We sat down with Pam Clasgens from the National Children’s Advocacy Center to ask her these exact questions.

Pam says there’s no magic age where a child is ready, and Alabama has no specific laws about it either. Instead, it’s up to you as the parent to make the call. Clasgens says it’s all about observing their behavior when you’re with them. “If they’re following your rules in the normal course of a regular day, and you’ve been able to leave them at home for short periods of time and they’ve done well... then you know you’re getting close.”

Clasgens says one way to gauge their maturity and decision making process is to play the “What if?" game with them. “'What if I’m at work and somebody comes to the door? What would you do? What if the phone rings and they ask ‘Can I speak to your mom or dad?’” Clasgens says it’s important to let your child work out their answers to these questions by themselves, rather than having you instruct them. Once they answer, correct them if needed, then ask the questions again later to see if they’ve learned the correct ways to handle those situations. Clasgens says the child will remember it better if they work out the answers on their own with your help, rather than if you just dictate “do’s and don’ts."

Clasgens also recommended several links from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. You can find those links below:

NetsSmartz.org online safety kids for families

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