There will come a point in your child’s life when you will need to leave them alone in your home for a period of time. This might seem a scary concept, but it’s all part of them growing up. It’s important that you instil good security practice in your child from a young age, so your child knows how to keep themselves safe. We will go through some tips and advice about educating your child on security (without frightening the life out of them!)
Your child needs to know they’re safe
It’s important that you reassure your child that they are safe, especially if you are updating or changing your home security method. Chat about your security measures; focus on what it does to keep your home safe, rather than what outside forces can threaten your home (burglars and bad guys etc.).
Installing cameras is a new, modern way to secure your home. However this could cause small children to become afraid and teenagers to moan about their privacy. Our advice would be to involve them in the camera installation, ask them wear they think the cameras should go and show them how they work. Reassure your little ones that they were safe before the cameras were installed, and are even safer now. Maybe make a game if it, see if they can spot daddy on the video feed etc.
As your child gets older and understands more about security, you may want to outline the responsibilities they have for keeping the house safe. Start small, like making it their job to make sure the door is locked; this will instil a habit of checking every time they leave the house as they get older.
If you have a security system then it’s important that they know how to turn it off and on, especially if they leave or return from school while you are not in the house. Do some practice runs, be sure they have memorised the code and make sure they know what to do if the alarm goes off and you’re not home.
Once they hit their teens and are coming and going from your home alone more frequently, they need to know how to secure the house. This could involve making sure all the windows are shut and locked, checking the alarm is set and they may need reminding that there is more than one door in the house.
Safety when home alone
It is not unusual that parents teach their children to not answer the door or phone when they are home alone. This is a great way of keeping your child safe while you are out of the house; however, it’s not for everyone. If you want your child to be able to talk to people either over the phone or through the door, it’s important to set some rules as to how to handle it.
One really important thing you need to teach your child is to NEVER let anyone know that they are home alone. If someone rings and asks to speak to an adult, teach your children to say that you are busy, rather than that you are out. If your child is a bit older then you could get them to take a message, teach them to ask for a name, number and reason for calling. This way you can be sure that anyone who called is not a threat. It’s also important that your children are taught not to give out any information about your family, such as the address of the house, phone number or name.
These rules apply for your child talking to someone through the door. One of the most important rules you can teach your child is to NEVER open the door to a stranger when you are not home. If you are happy for them to speak to someone through the door, then you might want to consider installing a peep hole, or a smart doorbell you can talk through.
Install a smart security system
These days there are 100s of smart security systems out there. You can read more about smart security systems here.
Installing a smart doorbell would allow your child to see who is at the door, without letting them know they are in the house. You will also be alerted to anyone approaching the front door, so you can see remotely if anyone suspicious attempts to gain entry. This gives a new level of security for parents and added piece of mind.
You can also get smart locks for your front door; these are particularly helpful if you don’t trust your child with a key. Smart door locks often come with apps, which means you can activate ‘virtual keys’, once activated your child will just need to scan their phone on the lock and it will open.
These smart security systems may give you peace of mind and added security, but they do make it easy for a child to become complacent about security. Seeing as you can lock and unlock your front door remotely with these smart door locks, it makes it easy for a child to get into the habit of not locking the door when they leave.
If you do choose to get a smart home security system then it’s up to you to instil and enforce the same rules we talked about above.
Have an Emergency Plan
It’s important that your kids know what to do in the event of an emergency, for example this could include a break in or a fire.
If you have instilled the rule that your child should never leave the house without you, it’s important to discuss times when it would be appropriate. The police advise that if an intruder does enter your home, the safest thing to do is leave (where possible) you need to relay this information to your children. Discuss different routes out of the house, any back doors or conservatories etc. this applies to if there is a fire, your child needs to know the safest and quickest way out of the house. For each emergency scenario, come up with a simple step by step plan of what to do. Practice this regularly to make sure you child knows exactly what they are doing.
Your children should also have a list of numbers they can call in an emergency. These need to be written down in an obvious place or programmed into their phones. These numbers can be 999, a trusted friend or neighbour as well as extended family, grandparents for example.
Its good practice to go over these measures with your children every couple of months, to make sure they haven’t forgotten what to do in an emergency, also the more you practice the more comfortable they will feel doing it in an actual emergency.
Its not just home security that you need to talk to your children about. With more and more children having access to sites such as Facebook, twitter, Tik Tok and WhatsApp, it’s important for you to talk to them about online safety.
With 34% of children aged 12-17 having experienced some kind of cyberbullying it’s important that you talk to your children about it. It’s interesting to note that 11.5% of kids have admitted to actually cyberbullying someone. So you need to talk to your children about not just being a victim of cyberbullying, but also the perpetrator.
Online predators are another risk when using the internet; an online predator is an adult that uses the internet to entice children for various types of abuse. This is something you needs to talk to your child about, so they know what to look out for. Encourage your children to stay in ‘safe’ websites that are aimed at children and have safeguards in place. However you should always be aware of any online activity your child has.
There are also an unlimited amount of inappropriate websites your child can access online, so make sure you have the right internet protection. Most internet providers give you the option of blocking certain websites and can filter internet searches, they can also block any inappropriate pop ups.
The key to all security related worries involving your children is to talk to them about it and be prepared. A child that is unprepared for unsafe situation is more vulnerable than one that is. Whether it be locking the front door or not talking to stranger online, your child needs to know how to keep themselves safe.