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Families living on one income is a rarity, making it almost unperceivable to think of a parent being home on a daily basis to greet their child when he/she comes home from school. The birth of the two income household was the beginning of the Latch Key Kid. Many parents are forced into this situation due to various reasons. One of the most common reasons is when a child becomes too old for a babysitter, usually when they become a preteen.
Children and teens are curious creatures and will test their limits if the opportunity arises. Although Latch Key Kids are told the Do’s and Don’ts of being home alone, there are many hidden dangers for parents to watch out for as your child becomes a teen. With continual training, encouragement, and a proper set of guidelines, the task may be a little easier.
To begin with, have your child call you when getting home from school, giving them a warm welcome. Set a certain time for homework to be finished and tell them of any chores that are expected to be completed.
Never allow other children in your home while you are not there. There are many hidden dangers behind closed doors. With teen pregnancies on the rise, never give into this. Don’t be afraid to ask neighbors to keep an eye out for you. Come home early on occasions. These issues are not a matter of trust, they are a matter of common sense.
If they are going out to "play", always know where they are going and who they are with. Never allow them in someone else’s house. If you feel that they are responsible enough, buy them a pager so you will always be able to get a hold of them.
Another area to watch out for is smoking. If there are adult smokers in the home, keep tabs on the amount of cigarettes kept in the house. Also, it is advisable to not keep any alcohol in your home during the Latch Key Teen years. A sip here and there could go unnoticed and a habit is formed.
Other areas to watch out for is the television and the computer. Both of these dangers are obvious - sexual predators are lurking, whether it is on a cable channel or on a web site. Always set the parental controls.
Most of all, talking to your child about the areas of danger will keep an open line of communication, letting them know that you are there to help. Don’t be afraid to be bold with your rules and guidelines. Praise builds self esteem and confidence, so it is wise to praise children for even the smallest positive behavior.
Lastly, let your child/teen know how much you love and trust them. If staying home is not an option, use common sense. Trust your instincts and keep an ear open for warning signs.
A safe teen is a child who is loved and disciplined. Society will welcome them into adulthood with open arms.