Archive for consequences

Can I Leave My Traumatized Child Home Alone, Ever?

Hello Parents,

A common questions I get asked…

When Can I leave My Child Home Alone?

Every parent wants to know—when is it ok to leave my child at home alone? Whether you and your spouse just want to enjoy a date night or you’re hoping for a quick kid-free trip to the grocery store, it’s important to ask yourself a few questions before you head off.  Assume nothing.

Here are 4 questions to consider:

1. At what age is it LEGAL to leave my child home alone?

A lot of states have age minimums. A lot of states don’t

But you know as well as I do that the chronological age of the child does not tell you a thing about the emotional age of a child recovering from complex developmental trauma. So while we should most definitely take into account the state’s legal guidelines, be sure to consider all 4 questions on this list before heading out without the kids.

As it stands, only 3 states have a legal age limit for leaving kids at home, while 10 others have an age “guideline.” The reality is, if a child is reported to be unattended, local Children’s Services will be the ones to determine whether that child was left inappropriately—even if there isn’t a strict law in place.

While the law is a helpful resource, one thing is certain, you have to make sure your child is ready no matter what the law says.

2. What signs does your child show that indicate they are ready for the responsibility?

Think for a minute about your child’s overall sense of judgment.

  • Do they willingly follow house rules without reminders?
  • Do they generally make good decisions and understand the consequences of poor decisions?
  • Do they demonstrate good impulse control?
  • Are they problem solvers?
  • Can they follow a set routine?
  • Are they generally aware of their surroundings or do they have tunnel vision at times?

Many children recovering from traumatic childhood experiences will not be able to be left alone at home ever.  It is just a fact.  And many will be able to be left early on because their impairment is limited or resolved.

Leaving a child at home is a super-duper big deal and it needs to be a good decision for all involved.

Does your child WANT to stay at home alone? If your child struggles with fear, anxiety, nightmares, etc., staying at home alone might not be something they’d like to do (even if their peers want to).

By answering the questions above honestly, you can have a good sense if your child is ready for this type of responsibility. And, if they aren’t, you can identify areas for growth and make a plan to help your child demonstrate mature behaviors for the future.

3. What skills are needed before leaving your child home alone for the first time?

Once you’ve determined that your child is behaviorally mature enough to be left alone, it’s time to make sure they have the appropriate skills required to function on their own.

The beauty of preparing a child to stay home alone is that you’re simultaneously giving them the skills to be a competent, responsible, capable adult.

Take a look at this list and see if your child has the necessary skills to fly solo in your house.

Does your child…

  • Know how to make a snack?
  • Know who to call in an emergency?
  • Know basic first-aid and where the first-aid kit is located?
  • Know where the fire extinguisher is located and how to use it?
  • Know full name, address, and 2 phone numbers of emergency contacts?
  • Know parents’ full names?
  • Know how and when to call 911 and what information to give the dispatcher?
  • Know how to operate the microwave?
  • Know how to lock and secure doors?
  • Know what to do if someone comes to the door?

If you can confidently say “yes,” to each of the above questions, that’s a good sign your child is prepared to function at home for a short period of time without you.

Still not sure if your child has the appropriate skills? 

4. Is it better to leave an only child home alone or is it better if there are siblings?

This question can only be answered on a case-by-case basis, but there are a few guidelines to consider when determining whether or not it’s best to leave siblings at home together.

First of all, just because a child possesses the skills and behaviors described above to stay safely at home, doesn’t mean they’d be as successful with a sibling around.

Think of “adding a sibling” as “adding another ball to juggle.” Sure, as individuals, they can take care of themselves, but when given a new distraction or a new task to manage, can they do both?

Furthermore, if sibling rivalry plagues your household, then leaving the kids at home together probably isn’t the best choice.

Either way, here are a few thoughts to consider before you decide if they’re better together or better apart…

  • How long do you plan on being gone?
  • What are the ages of the kids?
  • Can they work collaboratively without one child “taking charge”?
  • Have they consistently modeled appropriate behavior with each other?
  • Do they use appropriate conflict-resolution tools?
  • Do they physically harm each other in conflict?

As with everything in parenting, this takes time. It’s important to ensure your child feels confident when staying home alone by themselves before you add a sibling to the mix.

Important tip for leaving siblings home together: Don’t put one in charge of the other—that’s a recipe for sibling competition and resentment. Instead, give each child a specific task—one is in charge of making lunch, ones’ in charge of cleaning up, the other selects the movie, etc. That way they are working as a team for the success of the afternoon alone.

Action Plan for Leaving Kids at Home

What do you do once you have made the decision to leave your child(ren) home alone?

Test run for sure. For your first time away, don’t plan on being gone for longer than 15 to 30 minutes.  Hardly time to go the post office, right?  Right.  Also, hardly enough time to burn the house down either.

Before you leave, make sure any and all hazards are locked up. No matter how much you trust your child, you’ll have greater peace of mind knowing you’ve left them in a safe environment. Here are just a few items to be sure you’ve secured:

  • Guns
  • Alcohol
  • Medications
  • Knives

Next, it’s time to run through some scenarios. Does your child know what to do if:

  • there’s a small fire in the kitchen?
  • the smoke alarm goes off?
  • there’s severe weather?
  • a stranger comes to the door?
  • someone calls for a parent who isn’t home?
  • there’s a power outage?

Lastly, lay out some simple ground rules and have them posted for a reminder.

  • No friends allowed over
  • Don’t open the door for anyone
  • No stovetop cooking
  • Complete chores
  • Never tell anyone you’re home alone—even friends—and don’t post on social media
  • Finish homework before technology/TV time
  • If there’s an emergency, call 911 FIRST, and then a parent
  • Don’t leave the house.

Final Thoughts

I get it—there are a lot of factors to consider when you leave your kids at home. The last thing you want is them to reenact Macaulay Culkin’s performance in the classic movie, Home Alone.

I hope this is helpful.

 

Love Matters,

Ce

The Attach Place/Local Community Upcoming Events Calendar…

Join the Love Matters Parenting Society Membership…
Love Matters Parenting Society for a THRIVING Life with Children from Difficult Beginnings. Check it out.  You are going to love it, I promise.

While the Love Matters Parenting Society membership is closed to new members, you can join the free public Love Matters Parenting Group on Facebook until March 2020 when the membership opens again.  

HIATUS: NO SUPPORT GROUP until further notice. ADOPTION SUPPORT GROUP is taking some time off.  NO SUPPORT GROUP until further notice. If you would like ongoing support, you might be interested in Love Matters Parenting Society above.  Those who are doing it are really getting what they came for.  Check it out.

AUTISM Support Group:  Monthly Strictly Social Autism Spectrum Disorder Night for Tweens (11 yrs – 16 yrs) at The Attach Place. Open to the public. Every third Monday from 5:30 to 7pm.  Gluten-free snacks provided. Please RSVP to Andrea@attachplace.com so we get enough snacks. This is a  monthly social group for the youth; and caregivers will have an opportunity to connect, chat, and chill in a separate space. There will also be occasional fun field trips, like bowling, ice skating, roller skating, etc. A donation of $5.00 will be accepted for food and supervision if you are able, but please don’t let that be an attendance barrier because the group is FREE.  ASD kids need a social life and this is a great way to make it happen.

GIVE A BOOK OF SUPPORT TO A FELLOW PARENT ON THE ADOPTION JOURNEY: Drowning With My Hair On Fire: Insanity Relief For Adoptive Parents by Ce Eshelman, LMFT.  Daily inspirational reading for those who sometimes find it hard to keep hope alive. There is hope for healing.  Buy from Amazon or order a discounted copy here.

 

 

 

Consequences, Hmmm, for Children from Difficult Beginnings

Dear Parents,

I am often asked, “When can we use consequences with our child?  You want us to be teaching and supporting brain change, we get it, but when is the brain ready for consequences?”  My first response, Children from difficult beginnings cannot make sense of consequences until they experience felt safety from the inside out.

And then, my second response–for one thing, consequences can be effective when a consequence can be imposed without a flipped lid, red zone, blow out that lasts for 5 hours.  That’s a good sign.

When you feel your attachment is strong with your child because you have done so much excellent attunement, bonding, and relationship building.

If you are going to impose a consequence, there are some things to keep in mind.

When I studied with Jane Nelson of Positive Parenting some 30 years ago, she called these the 5 Rs and they are spot on.

Respectful:  Never deliver a consequence when your lid is flipped, so your higher brain is in charge of your presentation.  Always use clear, kind, matter-of-fact words, that have compassion in them.  “I see you are choosing to miss your Kindle time tomorrow” in response to your child not stopping Kindle time when asked.

Related: If you can’t relate the consequence to the negative behavior, then a consequence is probably not the right intervention.

Reasonable: There is no room in a consequence for “shame, blame or pain.”  A child will learn nothing about the problem behavior if the consequence is delivered in the form of punishment.  Consequences are reasonable in time, duration, and intensity and punishments are unreasonable in that they create shame, blame or pain.  Children do not need to hurt to learn.  Thank goodness, right, or Spanish class would have been seriously abusive for many of us.

Revealed:  Before you level a consequence, let the child know what the consequence is.  Did you see that word “before”?  If you didn’t know you would go to jail for robbing a bank, everyone would be tempted to do it and half of us would.

Repeatable:  When you give a consequence, make sure you ask the child, “Please tell me what you heard, honey.”  It always needs to be repeated back to you for understanding and brain wiring.  If the child refuses to repeat it back, then probably time to stop the thing that is causing the consequence for a few months.  What?  Yep, put that scooter right in the rafters for a few months if you child refuses to repeat back the consequence of riding it in the street.  Your child is not mature enough for that activity right now.  Try again in a few months.  Will a fit be pitched?  You bet your sweet high tops there will be a red zone reaction.  That’s okay.  You are the parent and you need to act like a parent.  Giving the same privilege over and over to misbehavior and refusal is the definition of insanity.  Blowouts, whining, begging, name-calling, breaking things, etc. should not end in the child getting her way.  You are putting a pin in that behavior if you cave of the next time she wants something you don’t want her to have.

And there you have the quickest, easiest lesson on using consequences well. 

Just one last reminder, if leveling consequences using the 5 R’s isn’t working, consequencing is the wrong intervention.

Love Matters,

Ce

The Attach Place Upcoming Events Calendar

Look what is coming at the end of August…August 28th to be exact–Love Matters Parenting Society.  Don’t miss this. Come for the content and stay for the company.

https://www.lovemattersparenting.comLove Matters Parenting Society for a THRIVING Life with Children from Difficult Beginnings

UPCOMING In-Office ADOPTION SUPPORT GROUP facilitated by Ce Eshelman, LMFT:   Adoptive Parent Support Group, August 14, 2019.   Support Group is every 2nd Wednesday of every month from 6 pm to 8 pm online. Open to the public.  Free childcare provided.

AUTISM Support Group:  Monthly Strictly Social Autism Spectrum Disorder Night for Tweens (11 yrs – 16 yrs) at The Attach Place. Open to the public.  NEW DAY: Every third Monday from 5:30 to 7pm.  Gluten-free snacks provided. Please RSVP to Andrea@attachplace.com so we get enough snacks. This is a  monthly social group for the youth; and caregivers will have an opportunity to connect, chat, and chill in a separate space. There will also be occasional fun field trips, like bowling, ice skating, roller skating, etc. A donation of $5.00 will be accepted for food and supervision if you are able, but please don’t let that be an attendance barrier because the group is FREE.  ASD kids need a social life and this is a great way to make it happen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.attachplace.com

 

GIVE A BOOK OF SUPPORT TO A FELLOW PARENT ON THE ADOPTION JOURNEY: Drowning With My Hair On Fire: Insanity Relief For Adoptive Parents by Ce Eshelman, LMFT.  Daily inspirational reading for those who sometimes find it hard to keep hope alive. There is hope for healing.  Buy from Amazon or order a discounted copy here.