Leaving house key with children ‘can cause psychological problems'

Many working parents give priority to their jobs and not children due to financial compulsions

Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News
A boy is entrusted with the keys to his apartment. There is the possibility of childrenforgetting to switch off an electric gadget or leaving the door open.
18 Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: A girl in fourth grade was found with the door key of her apartment in the classroom. Her parents leave for work early morning before she goes to school and they come back late evening after she reaches home.

Everyday she locks and unlocks the door in the morning and evening while leaving for school and coming back and stays home alone until her parents are back.

"We were shocked to hear this from a girl in fourth grade!", a principal of a school told Gulf News on Wednesday.

"Then we made a detailed enquiry with other children and found one more similar case too. A girl in seventh grade was also bringing her door key to the school," said Rajendran Padmanabhan, Principal of Sunrise English Private School in Abu Dhabi.

Needless to say about the safety and security risks involved in this case, he said.

"You can point out a hundred possibilities of such risks. Apart from that the small children taking such responsibility [of safekeeping an apartment or home] will develop serious psychological problems," the principal explained.

"Even we elders sometimes doubt after leaving home that whether I switched off the electric gadgets, closed the door properly or something like that. So what will be the condition of a small child?" he asked.


And there is all the possibility children might commit any such mistakes like forgetting to switch off an electric gadget or leaving the door open etc, he said. "Then they will be thinking the possible ways to cover up that mistake to avoid punishment from the parents."

Imagine the mental state of a child who is preoccupied with such thoughts, the principal said.

Since those children have the freedom to do whatever they want after reaching home, they will plan many things everyday, he said. While attending the classes they will be thinking all these things which affect their concentration and interest in studies, Padmanabhan said.

"They will end up with poor performance in studies, affecting their level of confidence."

Children already have a low level of concentration and such responsibilities affect their mental capacities, he said. In effect it may leave a psychological scar in children, he said.

He immediately called up the parents of those children to his office. They said they did not have any other option because both of them were working.


"When I explained all these problems, they were convinced and promised me they would arrange someone to take care of the children at home," the principal said.

The parents kept the promise given to the school and the children were never found with door keys again, he said.

The principal said many working parents are giving priority to their jobs because of their financial compulsions. "But what is the use if you earn money and lose your children?"

He suggests all working parents must make it sure that there is somebody to take care of children at home in their absence. "Otherwise both parents should not work; one should stay at home."

Not good enough

A child in grade one vomited in the class and she was taken to a hospital. Asked about the food she had in the morning, it was revealed that a part-time baby sitter feeds her before going to school, said Rajendran Padmanabhan, Principal of Sunrise English Private School in Abu Dhabi. Her parents also leave for work early morning before she goes to school, leaving her with the part-time babysitter who drops her to the school bus, he said.

Part time babysitters would be busy with too many similar assignments and always be thinking of rushing to another assignment without giving enough care to the child, he said. He called up the parents and asked them to arrange somebody at home to take care of the child full time in their absence. They admitted their lack of care and brought a family member from home country to take care of the child.


  • Gail

    Dec 22, 2011 7:17

    If the cost of hiring a maid is affordable,no parents will ever dare to leave the child alone at home.

  • smitha

    Dec 22, 2011 7:05

    I empathise with such parents who have to leave there kid with the Babysitter or leave them alone . but do the parents have any option .It is so expensive to go for a house maid added to that so many issue with the maid .At least govt should liberalise the process for acquiring a maid . the charges, deposit and finally the salary is so high. It is easy to hire a office staff than to hire a maid .It is a humble request to authorities to please look into matter before some serious issue surface .

  • Yam

    Dec 22, 2011 4:22

    If you are all parents residing in UAE with an average income, definitely facing this problem. We parents will never wish our kids to be left alone, but the situation are pushing us to do this because we all want to give a better future to them. Giving them good education will cost a lot of money and giving our kids a normal life here will cost a lot too. From the living expenses to education and unforseen expenses means a lot of money. We even end up of dept just to run the daily expense in the house.

  • Raman

    Dec 22, 2011 4:17

    Unfortunately, the script is very poorly narrated or the view expressed in the article is very negative. This happens when someone goes over board in the act of empathizing.Talking about the children left alone at home, no parent will allow a child age below 6/7 to be home alone even with/without sibling lesser than his/her age. No parent would allow a child home alone to do any work which involves safety e.g. using a gas, using electric gadgets etc. How long does the child get to be on his/her own after returning back from school? Dont they go for classes or some extra curricular training? Children are trained to operate the elevators or the precautions of using them. In case of fire the child is aware thanks to school trainiing. When a parent does leave his/her child alone considering their age they know to monitor the child in terms of safety.This gives an opportunitiy to do things on their own and feeling of pride for being responsible.If one chooses to be negative the safety list one can draw for the school can be a long one. Prefer to avoid troting on those lines as it will good in our interest.

  • Shameer

    Dec 22, 2011 3:38

    8 year old girl at home alone is very difficult to digest. Few days back we heard a news of falling 4 year old home alone, child from high rise building in Sharjah. 8 years is not much different. I am happy to see that at least the parents realized their mistake and corrected which is a true example to others who has a sense. Learning big things at small age would definitely increase stress.

  • Syed Fahd Basir

    Dec 22, 2011 3:37

    Children should be responsible, but leaving them home alone is seriously wrong. A CCTV might detect a fire in the home where a child is asleep, but will it be able to transfer the parents or concerned authorities to the premises on time? Note if the parents are working, they really will not have the time to view the CCTV images. There are also other elements such as invitation to robberies, child molestors, etc. The list can go on as much as your imagination allows. It is better to be safe than sorry.With the number of people falling out of buildings in the recent past, a child home alone is an opportunity for adventure. My son wants to fly like a plane or Buzz Lightyear (character from movie 'Toy Story'), indeed the thought/idea would come to him of doing the same, but home alone will give him allowance to execute such thoughts.Give it a thought, stay safe.

  • Jitendra

    Dec 22, 2011 2:52

    Agreed what principle did was right, but is it affordable to all the families? Why can't school take some initiative to keep such children in school busy with some activities or getting their homework & revision done until parents collect them. Of course this will involve some cost, which parents will be able to bear for benefit of their children.

  • Mohammad Rafiq

    Dec 22, 2011 2:41

    Without any doubt, I would say that it is sheer greed of parents that makes them blame financial constraints as an excuse for their irresponsible behavior. Another possible reason for parents not to leave their job is due to ego problems between them. If one leaves the job, he/she has to depend financially on the other, which they can't even think of considering the financial freedom he/she has enjoyed until then. They prefer leaving their children alone than cutting off source of their free flowing income. Otherwise I don't think any reason in this world could justify this atrocity towards their own children. Parents, just think for a second, why they are called 'children'. Even adults behave insanely during some extreme emergency situations at home, then how could you expect a small child home alone to handle such situation sanely (God forbid)?

  • SJ

    Dec 22, 2011 2:10

    Lack of affordable day care facilities

  • Reji

    Dec 22, 2011 12:39

    I do not understand if this principal of school was born as a principal. I am 40 now and I used to keep the keys of my home all my life since both my parents used to work. I think that would make children more responsible. People try to come up with the negative side for everything in life. I don't understand how such a principal can encourage children or teachers. I think the teachers and children of this school will not take any chance in life .

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If the cost of hiring a maid is affordable,no parents will ever dare to leave the child alone at home.


22 December 2011 19:52jump to comments