A parent recently asked me when I thought it was safe to begin leaving your child at home alone for short periods of time. For example, when running to pick up another child from a school activity, a quick trip to the grocery store or to pick up cleaning. In other words, brief periods of time to let your child begin to show some independence, especially as they are losing interest in riding along for errands.
I usually think most children are ready to spend 20-30 minutes alone at home between the ages of 10-11, but every child is different. It depends on a number of things including how your child feels about being alone, the length of time, and if you and your child have discussed how to handle emergencies and getting a hold of you or a neighbor in case there is an emergency or even just a question that needs to be answered.
Well, this topic brought up an interesting question, what do you do when you leave your child alone and there is not a home phone? I have never even given that a thought as I am old school and still have that landline in my house. It just gives me a good feeling to know that it is there, even if it rarely rings. (although the kids know to call the home number as I typically turn off the cell as soon as I hit the door from work).
More and more families have given up a home phone and I think this brings up so many different topics for discussion, but for starts how does your child call you when you leave them alone? Or how do they call the trusty neighbor if they need something. Do you get them a cell phone? Do you have to have an extra cell phone to have at home? It seems to me that a home phone is important for just that reason. In case of an emergency, your child can pick up the phone and call for help, assistance or just a friendly voice. I don't think they need a cell phone!
Also, landlines are relatively inexpensive. Cell phones for 8,10, 11 year olds? Sounds inappropriate and expensive. Wouldn't it be easier to keep a home phone so children can learn to answer a phone, use good phone manners, and when you are ready to let them stay at home by themselves for a few minutes, there is always a phone available. I don't know, just seems easy solution to me.
What do you think? I would love to hear from you!