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16 November 2010

Kids looking after kids

In developing countries such as ours, it is not unusual for young children to be left in the care of older siblings. Is it fair to expect a child to take on this responsibility?

In developing countries such as South Africa, it is not at all unusual for young children to be left in the care of older siblings. Is it fair to expect a child to take on this responsibility? Health24 investigated.

"Children also don't have a perception of the ability and inability of younger children to judge space, depth and distance. But even if a child had realised that his siblings were in danger, he would not have the influence nor the physical strength to restrain or rescue them," says Ryklief.

  • the environmental circumstances of the situation
  • a child's level of maturity, dependability and ability to make reasonable decisions
  • his/her relationship to the parent
  • physical or mental limitations
  • the time of day or night
  • age of other children to be supervised
  • frequency of being left alone and
  • the accessibility of a parent or other adult.

  • Set firm rules, with clear dos and don'ts.
  • Prepare your child to deal with situations that may arise.
  • Keep in touch if you're hard to reach.
  • Make sure the home is safe and secure.
  • Point out potential hazards and risks and explain how to control them.
  • Hold fire drills with each child, "practising" what to do and where to go in case of fire.
  • Teach children basic first aid and have a first aid kit available.
  • Have emergency numbers pasted next to the phone.
  • Have children practice emergency calls with you, giving their full address and directions if necessary.
  • Have a clear understanding about use of ovens, stoves and other appliances.

 
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