Archive for Love Matters Parenting Mastermind

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.

 

 

 

7-Reasons Parents THRIVING are Essential for Healing the Hurting Hearts of Traumatized Children

Dear Parents,

Children who have been harmed by early neglect, abuse, and/or abandonment have dysregulated brains from the start.  To heal a brain with complex trauma, parents have to be nearly always prepared to ebb and flow as loving role models and co-regulators.  Here are 7-reasons why creating a THRIVING life for yourself matters to the quality of healing for your child from difficult beginnings.

  1. Parents who know how to take care of themselves physically with daily exercise are giving themselves a regular neuro-cascade of positive, naturally occurring, happy chemicals to THRIVE on. When a parent regularly exercises, the body releases chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins interact with the receptors in the brain that reduce the perception of pain. Dopamine and serotonin are impacted for a feeling of happiness, and stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol are decreased. When parents feel well-being and happiness, are less stressed, and have relief from aches and pains, children feel more stable and secure. Insecure children need that feeling every day to repair their toxic stress from childhood abuses.  Bodies THRIVE on exercise. I’m not really telling you anything new, am I?
  2. Likewise, parents who eat balanced meals—carbs protein, fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals and water–of organic (when possible), fresh fruits, raw and cooked vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats are providing the best fuel for their bodies and their brains. They are sick less often and teach by example how to eat for a THRIVING, healthy lifestyle. I know you already know that.
  3. A parent who gets small doses of respite every day (cup of tea on the porch in quiet for 15 minutes) and longer respite weekly (date night, theater, dancing) is creating a THRIVING mindset from which to show love and compassion, over a parent who is exhausted, compassion weary, and always on parent duty 24/7 365. Preaching to the choir now.
  4. Sleep is restorative to the body, mind, spirit. THRIVING requires early to bed, early to rise sleep habits (unless of course there is an atypical schedule in which sleep is even more important for daily repair and resilience). 7-9 hours of sleep for the average adult is the sweet spot. Positive sleep hygiene is contagious, and children need rested parents. Duh.
  5. THRIVING is skin deep. Human skin is on average about 20 square feet. When we are touched, receptors called Pacinian Corpuscles just under that 20 sq. ft. are depressed, releasing a signal to the brain. Actually, the signal heads straight to an important nerve bundle called the vagus nerve, which has tendrils that spread out throughout the body to many internal organs. The heart is one which can be positively impacted in that touch slows it down and decreases blood pressure. Even hand-holding or gentle hugging results in decreased cortisol, our stress hormone. A gentle massage can release oxytocin, a neuropeptide, that promotes feelings of devotion, trust, and bonding. Loving touch lights up the same part of the brain as does sweet tastes and pleasant smells. Parents who touch and are touched THRIVE.  Intuitively, this is pretty obvious, save all the fancy words.
  6. Playing is the antidote to adulting. While children need playtime with adults, adults need playtime for themselves to delight in the festivities of feeling child-like. Many adoptive parents are on their second round of parenting. A child-like spirit keeps a parent THRIVING well into older age.
  7. Mindfulness is the act of being present in the moment. Buddhists know through practice and science has shown that mindfulness increases the sense of well-being, restores the spirit, de-stresses the body, creates joyful connectedness, and focuses the mind on right now. Mindful parents are able to hold perspective when their children cannot. They personalize less the slings and arrows of raising children who are hurt and hurting.  Mindfulness is the nectar of a THRIVING life with children from difficult beginnings. If only one can “remember to remember” to be mindful.

If you’ve got this down, congratulations for living a THRIVING life.  That is no easy task and you should celebrate all your accomplishments and how you are significantly contributing to the healing of your traumatized child(ren) by thriving yourself. You are AH-MAZING!

If you are having just a little bit of trouble finding your way out of survival, give yourself a break. You are amazing, too. Raising hurting children is one of the hardest things you will ever do, and it is hard to THRIVE without serious support.  Not to mention it helps to be taught effective therapeutic parenting skills, right?

Really, I should know.  When I brought my children home, I couldn’t believe how exhausted, depleted, and resourceless I felt. I was truly just surviving.  It took me quite a few years to find the answers to parenting my children, while not only saving myself but by becoming vibrant and alive with children from difficult beginnings—THRIVING.  My mission is to share the way with parents everywhere.

You and your love matter,

Ce

The Attach Place Upcoming Events Calendar

Look what is coming at the end of August…August 28th to be exact–Love Matters Parenting Mastermind.
Love Matters Parenting Mastermind 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.

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.