Today was LV’s birthday. He finally turned 9! I say finally, he hasn’t actually had to wait any longer than the year that every one else is allotted. But as his birthday is in the summer holidays he has watched all his class mates, bar one, turn 9 before him.
While commenting on Sunday Stars last week I read a post by Lisa, who blogs over at Mumma Scribbles, about leaving children at home alone. Poor Lisa had an awful experience as a 12 year old and now as a mother to young children is questioning what age is considered appropriate, you should go and read her post here.
After reading the comments, where the perceived ‘appropriate’ age varied from six up to 15, I decided I needed to share my own opinions on this matter. But first I just want to go over the legalities with you.
Of course herein lies the problem.
There is NO legal minimum age for leaving children home alone. Here is the link to the government website. It simply contains a tiny bit of information released by the NSPCC which you can read in full here.
Basically it is the parents responsibility to decide if a child is capable enough to be left home alone and to ensure that they are leaving them in a safe environment with food and heat. Until they are 16 the parent is responsible if anything goes wrong and can be prosecuted for neglect if it does.
So what is my opinion? Do I believe there is a specific ‘ideal’ age to leave a child alone? Do I believe there should be a legally binding lower age limit?
Well, To begin with I believe it depends on each individual child and only the parent can make the final decision.
I currently have two almost 14 year olds, an 11 year old, an eight year old and a 20 month old. And yes, shock horror, I have left them all in the house to pop to the shop. I have left my oldest four while I visited somewhere in the valley. I have left my oldest three, while I have been out of the valley for a few hours.
Do I get concerned about them?
Of course I do! I am their mother after all.
My daughters can all cook a meal for the entire family, not just themselves, they can make hot drinks safely and use sharp knives responsibly. They can change nappies (although they object to stinky ones!), they can bathe a toddler and put him to bed (not that they do these things while I’m out,I’m just making a point). They would act responsibly in an emergency.
My eight year old son walks the 15 minutes to and from school every day, on the very rare occasion he has needed to let himself in, he just watches the TV till someone comes home, which is always within 15 minutes. He can make himself toast or a sandwich and a drink. He has a mobile with everyone’s numbers and knows what to do if there is an emergency.
O is a toddler, of course I wouldn’t leave him alone, I’m not an idiot!
I know I can trust MY children because I have taught them to be independent and are capable of taking care of themselves. I also trust my children not to do anything stupid whether it be purposefully, like sliding down the stairs on a baking tray. Or accidentally, like leaving food in the oven and going out. They are all pretty sensible kids. I have a mobile phone, as do they. We can be in contact instantly, we also have family and friends dotted all around the valley where they know they can go for any reason at all.
They are also completely happy and comfortable to be left.
At eight, or even 12, YOUR child may not be sensible enough to be left home alone. At 14, they still may not be comfortable being alone for hours at a time. There is nothing wrong with that, all children are different.
What you have to keep in mind is at 16 those children are no longer really children. They legally allowed to leave school and home, they can get a job, have sex, make their own decisions in life, they can enlist in the armed forces (albeit with parental consent) to learn to fight, and kill, for their country which they can then be doing as young as 18.
Yet at 15 some parents still don’t believe they are safe enough to be left in the comfort of their own home.
Surely as parents we are doing a complete disservice to our children if we haven’t prepared them to be self sufficient well before that? How can they be expected to survive in the adult world if they have never been given the opportunity to fend for themselves for even a few minutes?
Do I believe that the government should make a legal minimum age for leaving children alone?
Actually no I don’t.
Let’s say a law was made stating that infants are not allowed to be left home alone. Could parents then legally leave 3 year olds in bed while they went to the pub? So what if they created a law that under 12’s were not allowed to be left? What would happen to all the children of working parents, or parents who have kids in different schools, who are perfectly capable of walking to and from home and then wait for a parent to come home from work? How many families would suffer because one parent (or the only parent) would need to stop working, even though some of these children are in secondary school?
I believe that ultimately it’s up to each set of parents and the children themselves to decide when the right time is, no one else.
So what do you think? Do you believe there should be a legal minimum age? How young do you think is too young to be left home alone?
You may well have guessed from the title that this post is about school trips. You may also have sensed a tone of disbelief in the pricing of said school trips!
Well, let me just set the scene with a little back story for you first.
It’s 100% guaranteed that if you take your toddler’s nappy off and you dont want them to, they will instantly pee on the floor, your lap, or in your bed.
But that one time you need really them to pee on command? It is like getting blood (or urine!) from a stone. That is until the millisecond your not looking and they pee on the sofa of course!
So having had to go through this ordeal recently I thought I would pass on my tips, with a little humour thrown in for good measure, because, well, if you don’t laugh you’ll cry right? So here are my: READ MORE »
So last week’s post about my 13 year old twins’ behaviour was a very heartfelt post. One that was written when my emotions were still raw. One that I possibly shouldn’t have written until I had calmed down a little. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to take any of it back, I mean every single word that I wrote. I just possibly could have worded things a little differently
Firstly, I’d like to thank everyone who commented, it really made me feel so much better. This parenting business is bloody hard work and we all need to back each other up!
So after a week I feel ready to let you all know what we are doing to tackle the problems that arose, I have had to break it down into two parts as it was getting a bit long winded so in this post I’ll cover how we are dealing with:
- Being disruptive in class
- Answering back
- Being cheeky/rude
- Extreme lack of effort
So what have we done to tackle these problems?
Firstly, we talked a lot. Especially to Ff, she seemed completely in denial that she had any issues. Now if it had just been one teacher I could pass it off as a clash of personalities. But it wasn’t, it was every single teacher, although her English teacher really does seem to have it in for her (I may go into this in a future post). I spent a lot of time over the weekend pointing out to her (both of them really) how the way she talks could be deemed as rude. I explained how sometimes just changes in the way she said it, her tone of voice, rather than the words she is using, would make a huge difference. It felt like I was having a go at her all the time, but it was something that needed doing.
Now before I go on let me just get something straight. I don’t want to quash her personality in any way. She has always been a very spirited child, a rebel, always needing to be different to every one else. I’m sure the fact that she is one of twins has exacerbated this issue. They are both sarcastic and being extremely bright their wit is especially sharp. I don’t want to make her feel that she can’t express herself, just that there are occasions that it is inappropriate. She has to relearn how to talk to people with respect, after all this is what we taught them all when they were toddlers!
The next problem we talked about was being disruptive in class and their lack of effort. They are in the top sets for everything and always get good grades in tests and assessments. But their overall grade will also depend on class work and occasionally on how the teacher ‘feels’ each pupil has worked. Obviously the teacher will be less inclined to mark their work high, if their effort and behaviour is questionable. So although their grades have only dropped slightly now, if it isn’t nipped in the bud they could get themselves into real trouble. I think they are starting to understand this, but we are still in the very early days so I’m guessing it could go either way.
I’ll put the next post up tomorrow so you can see how we are attempting to deal with problems like ‘forgetting’ their homework and how they are being punished.
You can read the second part here.
Have you had to deal with badly behaved teens?How would you deal with teens who are acting this way? Let me know below.