Read These Safety Tips Before Leaving Kids Home Alone

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 40 percent of all school children spend at least part of their day home alone. Many kids find themselves on their own between the time they get off from school and their parents come home from work. Because children can face so many dangers during this time, it’s important for parents to educate them on how to behave and what to watch out for. Here are four tips to help keep your kids safe:

Establish a Code Word

Children are taught to avoid strangers, but sometimes emergencies require parents to take unusual actions. For this reason, Dr. Phil suggests that parents set up a code word with their children in the event of an emergency. If your child is approached by a stranger or even a friend of the family and told that he was sent by your parents, children should know to ask for the code word.

If you’ve given that person the code word, he can repeat it to your child, and your child will know it’s okay to go with him. Let your child pick out the code word so he or she has an easier time remembering it.

Handling Bullies

Bullies may not seem like a safety threat, but your child probably views them as a scary part of every day. Talk to your children about the negative effects of bullying and offer guidance on how to handle these situations. According, kids should avoid giving a reaction to the bully, especially if they are being pushed to give in to demands.

If ignoring a bully doesn’t work, your child should confront the bully and threaten to report him or her if it doesn’t stop. And encourage your child to keep his friends close, if possible—crowds discourage bullies from harassing.

Create a Check-in Routine

Parents aren’t always able to be waiting at home when their children return from school. When kids are supervising themselves for a period of time, parents should establish a check-in routine for kids to go through after school. The Florida Department of Children and Families recommends parents make a clearly structured task list and divide the duties, if you have multiple children. For example, one can call you to check in while the other prepares the after-school snack.

Other important tasks can include locking the front door, re-arming the security system and starting homework at the kitchen table. If your home doesn’t have a home security system, consider getting one to provide greater peace of mind when your kids are home alone. These systems and their providers can be found at If anything is amiss at the house, you will be notified right away.

Practice Home Safety While You’re There

When you’ve addressed the safety measures children should take, make a few practice runs while you’re at home. Have children come into the house and start their after-school routine while you are unavailable in a closed-off room. You can come out and check periodically to see how they are doing, offer feedback and answer questions. This will provide a greater sense of security for both parties once you’re actually out of the home.

Author: Kyle Lexington. Kyle is a business consultant and freelance writer with three dogs and three kids. They all live in upstate New York.