Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sue Scheff: Tips for Parents - Teens Staying Home Alone

By Denise Witmer

When your preteen is too old for daycare, what do you do? As it happens often when parenting a teen, it’s tough decision time. You’ll either need to find someone to watch him/her, like a school mate’s parents, a relative or a neighbor or start allowing him/her to stay at home alone. Here are five tips if you choose to let him/her stay at home:

Establish a routine and write it down. Set a time to get up, a time to have breakfast, a chore to be completed, etc. Perhaps some reading before television or letter writing to pen pals or grandparents can be added. Brainstorm a list of things to do together and then make it a part of the routine. A healthy routine will become a habit. It promotes a good attitude and keeps your teen active. It is all to easy to fall into a unhealthy routine of sleeping half the day and then doing nothing but playing video games when a teen is home alone in the summer or spending all of their time on the phone with friends after school. By coming to a consensus, writing down the routine and checking up on your teen, he/she will follow it and be a much nicer person to come home to.

Make your expectations and the rules clear. Set up some rewards/consequences for following/not following the rules. Be sure to be fair and firm with the rules and let your teen have a say.

Role play situations with your teen. Examples: a stranger comes to the door, answering the phone or if your teen falls and hurts himself. Do each situation the right way and the wrong way. Have your teen tell you why the wrong way was wrong. This will help you both to communicate clearly about what is expect in each situation.

Inform your workplace that your child will be 'calling in'. While personal calls may be frowned upon, your parenting responsibilities need to take priority. You and your teen will feel more comfortable if you establish a call time. Most employers will be understanding of this.

Have a back up plan available if things should go awry. If your teen gets sick or is able to handle a whole day alone, perhaps having him go to an afternoon camp or to a friends. You could also have a relative or neighbor check on him/her. You will worry less if you have an alternate plan in the wings.

Teens Home Alone FAQ:

At what age is it okay to leave my teen home alone after school?
At what age is it okay to leave my teen home alone overnight?
My teen is going to be home alone this summer. What can I do?
We are going away and do not want to leave our teen home alone. What should we do?
We've heard our teen is planning a party in our home while we are going to be away. What should we do?
Our teen had a party while we were away and there was underage drinking. What should we do?

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