In Victoria, it's against the law to leave a child alone for too long. But how long is "too long"? An hour? The whole afternoon? And does it matter where they are? Is it safer for kids to be alone at home compared to outside?
“In Victoria, it is an offence for a person responsible for a child to leave the child unattended for any longer than is reasonable, without making appropriate arrangements for the child’s supervision and care. This includes leaving a child at home, or in a car, or anywhere else unattended. In Victoria there is no set age at which it is legal to leave a child unattended. It depends on the child and the situation.”Department of Families, Fairness and Housing
Figuring out when your child is ready to stay home by themselves is a big step – for them and for you. Every kid is different, and there's no set age when all kids are ready for this.
Trusting your kids to be safe at home, especially between ages 9 to 12, can be nerve-wracking for parents. But there are good reasons to let them have a little alone time. It can teach them to be responsible, and hey, you might even get out for some kid-free time!
Knowing when your kids are old enough to be left home alone depends on the individual child. Most experts say that by age 10 or 11, it’s okay to leave a child alone for short periods of time (under an hour) during the day, provided they’re not scared, and you think they’re mature and responsible enough to handle it.
However, you may want to wait another year or two before leaving them alone at night.
Ask yourself these questions to help evaluate if the time is right to leave your child home alone:
It’s important to talk with your child about the responsibilities of staying home alone and how they should react in different situations.
Before you leave your child at home by themselves, make sure you
Before you let your tween stay home alone test out some “what if” scenarios with them. Encourage them to consider what they would do in these situations and agree on the safest way to respond.
And now you should both be ready to give staying home alone a go. Despite having discussed all the above, you want to ensure that you and your child are calm. For the first attempt, only leave your child for 30 to 60 minutes at the most. Once that goes smoothly, check that both of you are feeling comfortable and give it a longer try next time.
You probably tell your kids not to open the door if someone knocks or rings the bell – especially if you aren’t home.
But that is giving a potential burglar the wrong message. The crook thinks “Sweet – no one is home”.
Instead of telling your kids not to open the door when you’re not home, tell them to yell loudly: “Dad! Mum! There’s someone at the door!”.
Thieves want a low risk and high reward. They will usually knock or ring the bell first to see if there’s someone’s home. If they think there is someone around, their risk of being caught increases and they will likely take off to try somewhere else.
If you’re not keen on your kids yelling out, investing in a camera doorbell that you can interact with via your smartphone. That way you can respond to unwelcome visitors even when you’re not there.
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