‘Instead, in the UK the choice is left to parents who know their children best and can use their own judgement about when best to leave a child.
‘Children under the age of 12 are rarely mature enough to cope in an emergency and should not be left at home alone for a long period of time.
‘Needless to say, babies, toddlers and very young children should never be left alone.’
Some tips before leaving your child home alone
A good thing to do if kids haven’t been left at home alone before, is to start by leaving them for just 20 minutes whilst you visit the supermarket, to see how they feel. If there are no concerns, they can then gradually extend their absence for longer. Soon they’ll be comfortable by themselves until mum or dad return home.
Make sure you leave them in a safe environment:
Make sure that kids know how to open and close all the locks and windows in the home and how to use the keys. While they may be old enough to know about general hazards in the home, it’s still a good idea to explain the dangers of everyday activities that can lead to a household accident, such as leaving cooking unattended or drying clothes too close to a heater.
Set some strict rules! Set some ground rules around what they can and can’t touch, use or do.
For example, instructing them not to answer the phone or the door when there are no adults home. It may also be a good idea to minimise the use of appliances or sharp cooking utensils, especially if kids are still in their early teens.
Prepare them for an emergency If children know how everything works and what not to touch, there shouldn’t be too much to worry about.
However, make sure that they know exactly what to do in the case of an emergency. Write down all emergency contacts and numbers and make sure they know who to call for different circumstances. For example, asking a neighbour for assistance if they can’t find the family pet, rather than calling the police.
Also ensure there is a first aid kit at home and that children know where it is and how to use the basics properly.
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