Many parents have commitments at work or school but don’t want to leave their children home alone, fearing their children will wander the streets are get into trouble.

Unfortunately, some parents have very hectic and busy work schedules and require long hours away from home. They have no choice but to leave their children home alone, even if it is for just a few hours a day. Known as “latchkey kids,” such children will need to stay home alone while their parents are away from home.

Why Are They Called Latchkey Kids?

The term ‘latchkey kids’ refers to the kids who return to an empty home by operating the latch key to enter it by themselves. The kids are often responsible for the key, that is often strung around their necks or kept hidden under a rug, or the mailbox for them to access easily.

5 Must-follow tips to keep latchkey kids safe at home

Establish Ground Rules

Your children must understand the rules that you have enforced as well as the reasons behind the rules. Rules will give your children a sense of structure and establish boundaries for them to adhere to. Ground rules will help your children feel confident, and certain key rules should be highlighted.

The first is that they should call you as soon as they enter the home. They should also not enter the home if they notice anything strange or suspicious. Examples may include broken glass, a door that is open, smoke, or strange noises.

Your children should also not operate any heat appliances while you are away. They should also not inform anyone, including the postman or delivery person, that they are home alone. 

Unexpected phone calls should also not be answered by your children. Caller ID and voice mail will be waiting for you when you return home. They should also not open the door if anyone rings the doorbell or knocks on the door.

Build Relationships With Neighbours

Build a strong and trusting relationship with your neighbours. They can serve as an emergency contact if something goes wrong. They can also serve as an extra set of eyes to supervise your kids while you are away.

If your children arrive at the door of your house and feel afraid to enter the home, they should have a place to stay while the police investigate.

Use a Key Safe

Kids tend to be absent-minded, so losing things is very common. The last thing you want is your children being stuck outside the house, especially during the winter. If your children arrive home and realize that they have forgotten the key inside or have accidentally lost the key, they should know where the spare key is hidden.

Better yet, you can install door locks that can be locked and unlocked via your phone. Simply ask your children to call you, and you can unlock your house’s door remotely via your smartphone. By doing so, you will never have to worry about keys being lost or misplaced, or worse yet, being stolen by an intruder.

Restrict Online Access

There are both pros and cons of providing children with digital freedom. On the one hand, freedom allows them to explore new frontiers and broaden their knowledge. On the other hand, too much freedom can lead your children into forbidden territory. Some parents will not lock any content, as they believe that doing so will restrict their children’s ability to grow and learn. 

Others will not allow them to use their computer altogether while they are at work, fearing that they may enter dangerous chat rooms or adult websites. However, there is a way to enjoy the best of both worlds.

To do so, you will need to enforce security rules for your children to use the internet. You should also purchase and install a device that can monitor WiFi. Your children should be informed where, when, and for how long they can use your computer and your internet services.

Also read: Personal Child Safety Attains New Levels With This Brilliant Invention

Use a Smart Security System

The best way to keep your children safe and sound is to install a state of the art smart security system to monitor your children when they are home alone.

You can install cameras that will allow you to check up on your kids while you are away at work. Two-way talk features can also be employed so that you can easily communicate with your children and see what they are up to. However, a security alarm system is almost worthless if the owner does not know how to operate it. It would help if you taught your children about your security alarm system and how to arm and disarm the unit.

Disarming a security alarm system, in particular, is a must, as they will need to know what to do asap if they accidentally set it off. The last thing you want is terrified children, annoyed neighbours, and police arriving at your door due to a false alarm. Walk them through the process calmly and rationally, and observe them closely as they unlock and lock doors to ensure that they follow protocols.

Security alarm systems can save lives and protect valuable assets, but only when they are used properly.

In closing…

Ensuring that your children are safe should be a top priority when you are busy earning a living. While you may not have a choice as to whether or not you want to work, you can choose how to protect your latchkey kids.

A security alarm system will protect your children when you leave as soon as they enter your home. Studies have found that many criminals will not even attempt to break into a home with a security alarm system, so it serves as a superb deterrent.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

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Devishobha Chandramouli

Devishobha is the founder of Kidskintha- a global parenting and education collective, and the host of the global virtual conferences hosted on the platform. You can also find her voice on the Huffington Post, Mother.ly, Entrepreneur, Lifehack, TinyBuddha, Thought Catalog and many other publications.

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