Latchkeys: Time Limit

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I can't blame all these things on my mum though.

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We would come home from school, find a packet of crisps, turn the telly on, amble around the house, avoid homework as best as we could, and generally get up to mischief, like smoking at the age of They have a dinner every night and I'm there at school plays and do all the things that my mum wasn't able to do because she had to work. While there is more childcare for younger children today than before, a report earlier this year said thousands of older children are alone at home between 3pm and 7pm.

The report by the charity Action for Children suggested such children run a higher risk of delinquency. The law offers some protection to children. While there is no legal age limit at which children can be left alone - it's an offence to leave children on their own if it places them under risk.

Like Lizzie, Sandra reacted to her latchkey experience when she became a mother, striking a secret pact with herself to stay at home at least until her children went to school. She went on to have three children and feels fortunate to have been able to keep her wishes.

But it came at a price.

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A qualified teacher, she was away from her profession for 10 years and it wasn't until her youngest was at school that she decided to return. I remember having an interview and they said to me "you'll be so out of date now you wouldn't be any good to us in the teaching profession. But that's the other side of the coin. Interesting to read the article and it almost sways against 'latch-key' in its tone. My daughter now 12, has had a key since senior school last year. She is trustworthy, reliable and her mum has no issue with her being responsible and practical - safety included - plus by the time she does after school clubs and visits grand parents once a week, the five afternoons are gone.

I was a latch-key kid as my parents had no choice - there's even less choice these days and worse times to come with the economic situation.

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Managed properly and the responsibility it gives kids, its a powerful growing up tool for them. Nick, Wakefield. My kids from the age of 9 would get home on their bus about 1 hour before me, but there was no slacking. Each day a list of chores was put on the board in the kitchen, they had to do those and their homework. Rewards were good for ensuring that things were done, privileges withdrawn and other assorted punishments meted out if they didn't.

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Now in their 30's they have been able to live independently and successfully, have professional careers and are good cooks. They may have been "latchkey kids" but they were taught responsibility, independence and respect. Dilys, Inverness. From about the age of nine, I would walk myself home from school, up until I finished my A-levels and left for university. I'd often be at home alone and sometimes with my younger brother until 6pm when my mum would get in. I really don't think it's a big-a-deal as is suggested in this article.

It teaches responsibility and independence. Obviously it does depend on the child but I think in most cases this experience can allow the child to develop into an autonomous being: too many children are spoon-fed and cannot look after themselves properly when they leave home. I am 20 this year so I am a more recent example of this kind of upbringing. Alex, London, UK. I came home from school, I wasn't allowed friends around, I did my homework then had simple chores to do hoovering, kettle on etc , before my mum arrived home from work, then I could meet up with friends.

I think something could be learned from this regime. Lesley, Hertfordshire. A 12 year old shouldn't need their mother around all the time! From the age of 12 I was always in after school on my own with siblings, and we were perfectly happy and have all grown into highly successful happy adults in a very close family.

We enjoyed the couple of hours before Mum got home playing, reading, doing homework etc. I always felt it was important that we had the time to learn to be independent adults and have a bit of responsibility. By 14 we would often be getting the dinner started to help out our parents. Jo Blogs, London. Most Popular Now 56, people are reading stories on the site right now.

Latchkey Kid: Make Home-Alone Time Happy and Healthy

Search term:. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more. Make sure they know to abide by general safety rules, like locking doors and windows, not opening the door, and not letting a stranger into the home. In the modern age, a lot of child safety issues arise from the web. Bullying, inappropriate material, or simply a distraction can be caused by access to the internet.

Get a device that can monitor WiFi and place safety rules on internet access. Also tell children when, where, and for how long the are allowed access. Sometimes there will be neighbors who choose to watch neighborhood children before parents are able to get home.

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If you are in a neighborhood group then check to see if you have a similar program, or ask around and see what other parents do. Many schools or local groups offer after school programs to keep kids productive once the school day is over. These may be academic, athletic, or other, but there is surely an after school option that will fit your child's interest. How old should a child be before being left home alone?

Pros Prepares children for independence Boosts confidence Relieves some parental stress. Cons Lack of supervision or authority can lead to bad habits Children could place themselves in danger May add additional worry to a parent. Home security helps. Before you go Latchkey Set rules, expectations, and proper safety guidelines. Have emergency contact information readily available.

Lock up anything that is dangerous or needs to be kept away, including alcohol, firearms, poisonous or flammable materials, personal items that can be ruined, et cetera. Have a fire escape plan and plans for other emergencies. Have a first aid kit and all necessities readily available food, water, et cetera. If you change plans or get caught up, make sure to let kids know because they may worry. Provide chores and healthy activities.

Never place one child in charge of an other if multiple are latchkey.

BBC News - What's it like to be a latchkey child?

Be cautious where you hide house keys. Practice to make process. Build relationships with neighbors. Abide by general safety. Restrict online access. What are the alternatives?