Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Is Your Child Old Enough To Stay Home Alone?

With more and more households becoming two income households, the number of latchkey kids, or kids who are left home alone for a part of each day, is also steadily growing. According to NBC’s Today Show there are over 3 million children who are latch key kids today.

But before you decide to let your own child be a latch key kid, it’s important to evaluate if your child is ready for that responsibility. How do you know if your kids are old enough or responsible enough to stay home alone?

Here are some rules and guidelines that can help you make your decision:

Surprisingly, there are few laws or regulations on the books regarding what age a child can be legally left alone. Check out to see if the state you live in has any age restrictions in place. According to CARE (Call Reassurance), law makers are considering adding regulations to the law books due to the increase in latchkey kids.

You can also contact CPS (Child Protective Services) in your area to find out what they recommend.

According to Safe Kids USA, children should be developmentally mature enough to stay alone around age 12 or 13. Since children develop at different rates, however, your child may be different. If your child is a dare devil, has impulse control issues, or doesn’t like following the rules, you may want to hold off leaving him alone until he’s older. On the other hand, if your 11 year old is very responsible and follows the rules well, he may be ready and capable of being a latch key kid. As a parent you will need to evaluate your child to determine if he is ready.

Lynn Yaney, a child welfare professional in California, has said that children under the age of 7 do not possess the ability to logically consider cause and effect, so they should not be left alone. Kids ages 7 to 10 are not considered ready to stay alone for an extended period of time because they need supervision to structure their day. However, if there is a structured routine in place, these kids could stay alone for a short time, like after school. Kids 11 and older should be considered on a case by case basis, but should not be left alone overnight, per Yaney.

According to WebMD, tweens ages 11 to 12 may be ready to watch their younger siblings for short periods of time. To determine if your tween is ready consider the following questions:
  • Is your tween scared about staying alone?
  • Do you live in a safe area?
  • Does your home have an alarm system?
  • Would your tween know what to do in case of an emergency?
  • Do you have friends or family close by who could get there quickly?
  • Has your tween shown responsible behavior in the past, such as doing chores without being asked or completing homework assignments on time without being nagged?
After considering the answers to the above questions, you might feel ready to make a trial run on leaving your tween home alone. The next thing you should do is set some ground rules.
  • Are friends allowed to come over? How many?
  • Is it okay to answer the phone?
  • Should he answer the door?
  • What is okay to eat? Can he use the microwave?
  • How long is it okay to watch TV or play on the computer? Guidelines about what can and cannot be watched or played should be covered.
Once you have established some ground rules, make sure that everyone understands what is expected of them. Create a list of phone numbers for your tween just like you would for any babysitter. Here is a suggestion of some numbers to consider:
  • 9-1-1 (he may forget in an emergency)
  • You and your spouses’ cell phone numbers
  • Number for a neighbor or friends
  • Poison control
  • Police department
  • Your family doctor or pediatrician
After you have prepared your tween for what might happen you should do some practicing or role playing. Have a neighbor come over and pretend to be insistent on getting him to open the door. Go over what to do if the fire alarm goes off. Make sure your tween knows where the first aid kit is kept and how to use it. Ask him what he would do if the electricity goes out. You may even wish to enroll your child in a local babysitting course or a course designed for latchkey kids. These courses help develop and hone self-care skills.

After you are comfortable that your tween is ready to be left alone it’s time to try it out. For the first outing, plan to be home about 30 minutes after your tween gets home from school. When you return, find out how it went. Next time you go out, increase the duration to 45 minutes to an hour. Make sure you can be reached on your mobile phone. Keep increasing the time until you have exceeded the amount of time the kids will be left alone on an average day. Create some way for your child to check in with you when he arrives home after school.

Allowing your tween to stay home alone or to watch a younger sibling is scary, but it’s also a part of growing up. Your tween will be learning responsibility and maturity. If all goes well, you might even be able to go out alone with your spouse for dinner.

Source: Aupair Jobs

Friday, October 19, 2012

Community Empowerment Series!

St. Johns County Florida is getting ready for 2013 in a big way!

Starting February 2, 2013 will be a lecture series that will be like no other.

Celebrity speakers on parenting topics that can't be missed.  Limited free tickets.  This event will be held at The World Golf Village Hall of Fame IMAX Theater.

Starting immediately we are accepting sponsors.  You won't want to miss this opportunity!

The levels for individuals start at $100.00 and go as high as $10,000.00 for corporate sponsors.

Please check our site for the benefits of sponsorship levels.

I am personally proud to be part of St. Johns Education Foundation and Communities in Schools for St. Johns County.  Both are excellent organizations that are always putting our kids first.

Click here to visit Community Empowerment Series and visit our renown speakers!

February 2, 2013: Stacey Honowitz
March 9, 2013: Michele Borba
April 27, 2013: Theresa Payton

Friday, October 12, 2012

Does Your Teen Residential Therapy?

You have finally reached your wit's end.  It has come to a point where you have exhausted all your local resources.  The one on one therapy is no longer working, if it ever did.  The fact is, it is a fight to even get your teen to attend a session.  If you do get them to attend - how many times to they actually manipulate the therapist to actually believe there isn't an issue at all...... in some instances the blame can come right back to the parent!

Yes, manipulation of a teen is priceless.  They are the best at what they do.  However now is the time for the parent to be the best at what they are - a parent.

You decided it is time for residential therapy and you jump on the Internet and you start with Google by typing in key words.  Teen help, struggling teens, defiant teens, teen help programs, military schools, reform schools, troubled teens, rebellious teens, etc.

What you will find is a list of marketing arms that are very quick to "sell you a group of programs" rather than discuss what is best for your individual teenager.  I always caution parents to beware of these toll free numbers and marketing arms that you have no clue where you are calling and who is connected to what.

I once was at my wit's end - my story is what prompted me to created an organization to help educate parents about the big business of "teen help".  Take a few minutes to read - "A Parent's True Story" and you will realize that although you absolutely need to get your son or daughter help, you also need to take the time to do your research.

I have listed some "Do's and Don'ts" when searching -  these are some great helpful hints for parents.  This is such a major emotional and financial decision that I encourage to read through my website and learn as much as you can before making a decision.  I firmly believe in residential programs - I just also believe you need to select the right one for your child's needs.

Visit for more information.

Friday, October 5, 2012

It Takes a Village to Raise a Child Parenting Conference

Coming to South Florida!

When:  October 20th, 2013
When: 10:00am - 3:00pm
Where:  Miramar City Commission Chambers, 2300 Civic Center Place, Miramar, FL

It Takes a Village to Raise a Child Parenting Conference is a one-of-a-kind educational event which began four years ago in San Diego.  Susie Walton, founder and president of Indigo Village Educational Foundation, had a favorite quote, “It takes a village to raise a child.”  Susie created the Foundation – a non-profit, community-based initiative - to provide cutting-edge programs in parenting and life skills.  It serves as a vehicle to move these programs and services into the community for families regardless of their economic means.  Susie then held the first It Takes a Village to Raise a Child Parenting Conference to fund the Foundation’s vital work.

Learn more at and you can also purchase your tickets early. 

You can also contact Maggie Macaulay at 954-483-8021 for more information or email her at

 Be a proactive parent, grandparent and community - we will have safer kids and teens!