As our children grow up, so do our doubts and questions. Inevitably, at some point, the one we raise today will arise: when we can leave the children alone at home and how to do it . Today there is no consensus among experts (psychologists, pedagogues or pediatricians) to decide an age from which we
As our children grow up, so do our doubts and questions. Inevitably, at some point, the one we raise today will arise: when we can leave the children alone at home and how to do it.
Today there is no consensus among experts (psychologists, pedagogues or pediatricians) to decide an age from which we can leave our children alone without problems, since it is more a question of individual maturity than chronological age .
The age to be alone at home depends on the maturity of the child
We know that each child matures at their own pace, that each one acquires more or less autonomy and responsibility depending on multiple factors (social, emotional, educational and / or family) so their ability to cope with unfamiliar situations by being alone at home varies a lot from one child to another.
Together with the maturational aspects of each child and the family educational model,we must take into account the legislation in each country. In Spain, leaving children alone at home can lead to important legal consequences, from sanctions to the intervention of social services who can request the withdrawal of custody due to negligence or helplessness if it is concluded that the child is at risk.
Coinciding with other professionals and, as far as possible, a child should not be left unattended under any circumstances. However, if you have no choice, should not be before age 12, for others to propose the 10, because until this age (usually) do not know how to react appropriately to an unexpected or ask for help properly if necessary.
How to know if the child is ready to stay alone at home
Keeping in mind these first ideas: maturity of the child and legislation, before the key moment arrives, we should ask other questions about our son's ability to stay home alone. We must ensure that the child:
- Has knowledge and ability to take care of himself during the time he will remain alone.
- Obey rules and know what are the limits that should not go beyond.
- It is sufficiently responsible and prudent.
- Know what to do in an emergency and who to call.
- He is not afraid to be alone.
- Knows how to handle household supplies without putting himself in danger.
How to prepare the child to learn to be alone at home
Parents should prepare our children before leaving them alone so that they feel safe without our presence. We must provide them with the necessary resources to guarantee their physical, emotional and psychological integrity, promoting their autonomy and integral development from a very young age.
It is convenient to prepare them gradually to see how they react to this new situation, leaving them alone for a moment at home while we give them a series of guidelines such as who to call in case of emergency and rules such as not to leave house nor open the door to any stranger.
We can start with small simulations: going to the landing of the staircase and staying a few minutes there before entering to be able to leave them alone just enough time to throw away the trash or buy the bread. In this way we can verify to what extent the child is prudent and responsible and how he reacts to this new circumstance.
But we should never leave a child alone if he is afraid or feels insecure without our presence as it could become a highly negative and traumatic experience.