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As our children grow, so do our doubts and questions. Inevitably at some point the one we are considering today will emerge: when can we leave the children alone at home and how to do it.
Today there is no consensus among experts (psychologists, pedagogues or pediatricians) regarding deciding an age from which we can leave our children alone without problems, since it is more a matter of individual maturity than of chronological age.
We know that each child matures at their own pace, that each one acquires greater or less autonomy and responsibility based on multiple factors (social, emotional, educational and / or family), as a result of their ability to cope with unfamiliar situations when alone at home varies greatly from one child to another.
Along with the maturational aspects of each child and the family educational model,we must take into account the legislation in this regard in each country. In Spain, leaving children home alone can lead to significant legal consequences, from sanctions to the intervention of social services who can request the withdrawal of custody due to negligence or abandonment if it is concluded that the child is in a situation of risk.
In agreement with other professionals and as far as possible a child should not be left unsupervised under any circumstances. However, if you have no choice, It shouldn't be before 12 years old no matter how well others propose 10, since until they reach this age (in general) they do not know how to react appropriately to an unforeseen event or to ask for help adequately if necessary.
Taking into account these first ideas: maturity of the child and legislation, before the key moment arrives we must ask ourselves other questions about our child's ability to stay home alone. We must ensure that the child:
- Has knowledge and ability to take care of himself during the time that he will be alone.
- Obey rules and know what are the limits that you should not cross.
- Is sufficiently responsible and prudent.
- Knows what to do in an emergency and who to call.
- He's not afraid of being alone.
- Knows how to handle household supplies without putting himself in danger.
Parents must 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 an early age.
It is convenient to prepare them gradually to see how they react to this new situation, leaving them alone for a few moments at home At the same time, we give them a series of guidelines such as who to call in an emergency and rules such as not leaving the house or opening the door to any stranger.
We can start with small drills: going out to the landing of the staircase and staying there for a few minutes before entering so that later we can leave them alone just enough time to throw out the garbage or buy bread. In this way we can check 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 or she is afraid or feels insecure without our presence, as it could become a highly negative and traumatic experience.
You can read more articles similar to When can we leave the children alone at home, in the category of on-site autonomy.