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House Rules: Staying Home Alone


Though every family has different rules, these basic rules are a great foundation to build on. If your girl is ready to stay home alone, introduce her to these “golden rules” from A Smart Girl’s Guide: Staying Home Alone to help her (and you!) feel safe, confident, and in control.

Rule 1

Always lock the door

Believe it or not, leaving your key in the door by accident is an easy thing to do. Your girl can avoid this mistake by forming a good habit. As soon as she walks in the door, help her decide on a special spot to put her key, such as on a hook or in a dish. Encourage her to make it the first thing she does after she shuts and locks the door behind her.

Rule 2

Check in

Impress upon her how important it is to always let her parents know where she is. She should call to keep you up-to-date if her schedule changes one day or is so busy that it gets confusing. And set a standard of always checking with a parent before she changes her plans.

Rule 3

Never tell anyone you’re alone

Something as simple as answering a phone call can be tricky when she's home alone. Assure her that it's okay to let a call from a number she doesn't recognize go to voicemail. If she does answer a call and the person asks to speak to an adult, teach her to politely ask who's calling and reply “She's busy right now. I'll let her know you called.” Encourage her to end the call after that: there is no need to offer any other details or explanations.

Rule 4

Trust your instincts

If she’s uncomfortable about a situation, reassure her that she should pay attention to that gut feeling. Her instincts will help keep her alert. If something doesn’t seem right—the walk home, a neighbor, a stranger, anything—tell her to call you. It’s never silly to listen to those “funny feelings.”

Rule 5

Never let anyone in the house

Her best bet is to never unlock the door and never let anyone in the house. Ignoring the doorbell isn’t rude if it keeps her safe. Talk to your girl about specific rules for your house.

Rule 6

Have a backup plan

No matter how prepared and responsible she is, accidents sometimes happen. Whether she’s lost her key, missed the bus, or forgotten her homework at school, she needs to have a backup plan when something goes wrong. Talk to her about what to do—and who to turn to for help—when things don’t go according to plan.

Adapted from A Smart Girl’s Guide: Staying Home Alone ©/TM 2009, 2015 American Girl
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