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Children with both parents working are often left alone at home without supervision after-school hours. These children are more vulnerable to juvenile delingquency, alcoholism, gangsterism and drug abuse. Their physical and emotional well-being is also at risk. The decision to leave children at home isn't an easy one, so here are some useful guidelines for working parents whom have no better alternatives:

1. Inform children about house rules and parents' expactions. Write down
these rules and put it up on the wall or on the fridge after reviewing the
rules with the children to make sure they understand the rules.

2. Help children to memorize their own address, phone number and your
office phone number as well as emergency phone numbers such as the
police, the fire brigade, family doctor, and trusted neighbours or relatives.

3. Rehearse with the children on how to answer the phone, take messages
and deal with strangers and peer pressure.

4. Teach children on how to prepare simple meals or snacks. Show them
how to safely use appliances. However, if it is at all possible, avoid
allowing them to cook.

5. Teach children on what to do if they lose their house key, miss a bus,
are approached by a stranger, find a broken window at home or injure
themselves. Rehearse these situations with your children.

6. Let children know why and for how long you will be away. Return
home promptly or call if you are late.

7. Communicate with your children about what they have been doing while
you were at work and remind them that you are stil their protector,
advisor and parent. Do not over-burden your older children with
parenting decisions for their younger siblings as they are not old enough
to shoulder all the responsibilities.

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