Improving Your Parenting Skills

You know that you are a good parent, and you care about what happens to your children. A large part of parenting is managing your children’s behavior through some form of discipline. Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about disciplining children, and the wrong approach or a miscommunication could lead to the involvement of the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF).

Many parents have very specific ideas about acceptable forms of discipline, many of them coming from the ways they were raised. But children respond to discipline differently, so what works for one child may not work for another. The good news is that there is help available if what you are doing isn’t working, you are unsure what to do next or DCF does become involved in your life.

Different Types of Child Discipline

The point of discipline is to have a child take responsibility for their actions and learn about consequences. This starts at home by teaching children about rules and the importance of following them. What worked for your parents may not work for you and remember there was no social media when most of today’s parents were children. Also, there were far fewer distractions in past generations.

Determining what type of discipline is right for you and your child will depend on your views on the subject, your temperament and your child’s maturity level. The age of your child and their surroundings will also influence how to best discipline them.

Here are several types of discipline methods you can use:

  1. Positive Discipline

This type of discipline is based on encouragement and praise to teach children the right way to behave.

  1. Redirection

With gentle discipline, the focus is problem prevention, where the parent will redirect the child away from misbehavior.

  1. Behavior Modification

With behavior modification, the focus is positive and negative consequences. Good behavior is rewarded, and poor behavior receives negative consequences like a time-out.

  1. Setting Boundaries

With boundary-based discipline, the parent sets clear limits and outlines the consequences for crossing boundaries, such as a loss of privileges.

  1. Emotion Coaching

With this type of discipline, the parent focuses on helping a child better understand their feelings. When children can identify and name their feelings, they can develop more appropriate ways to deal with them.

How to Get the Help You Need With Child Discipline

Day-to-day life with children can be radically different than the fanciful depiction of parenthood in the movies. According to experts, kids require consistent and firm limits for their emotional well-being. Failure to establish these limits can lead to frustration and greater trouble down the road. If you’re doing the same thing over and over and it’s just not working, it may be doing more harm than good.

But what if you aren’t sure where to start? The best thing you can do is ask for help. There are thousands of websites and books devoted to raising children and discipline. Beyond these resources, you can sign up for a parenting class to get some personalized tips. If your child has been getting into trouble outside the home, you may also wish to investigate counseling for them or for your entire family.

What Happens When DCF Gets Involved

Parents in Connecticut have the right to reasonably discipline their children. But DCF and law enforcement may get involved if discipline crosses the line to abuse or neglect. Evidence of abuse can include things like bruises, scratches, injuries, and excessive physical punishment. Neglect involves the failure to provide adequate supervision, food, medical care, clothing, and education to a child.

Connecticut DCF recommends that parents avoid using physical means to discipline children. When DCF gets involved, they will look at the age-appropriateness of the discipline as well as the child’s size and ability to understand the punishment. Whether you intend to physically or emotionally harm your child or not, there is potential for DCF to step in and file a neglect petition.

If a neglect petition is filed, DCF must prove its case, but your parental rights are at stake. You need an experienced Connecticut DCF attorney who can quickly and appropriately respond to the petition and safeguard your and your child’s interests.

Speak With a Qualified Connecticut DCF Attorney

Child discipline can be challenging and controversial. Whatever method you choose, we would advise you to make it age-appropriate and consider the state’s law so that you can avoid involvement with DCF.

If the police or DCF do become involved in your life, it’s important to understand that you still have rights as a parent and citizen. At The Christie Law Firm, our attorney focuses on defending parents who have been accused of child neglect or abuse by the Connecticut DCF. Please contact our office at (860) 461-7494 to reach out to us online to schedule an initial consultation to speak with our experienced DCF Attorney.

Leaving Children Home Alone in Connecticut

Spend enough time online, and you are likely to see a few spirited discussions surrounding the most appropriate age to leave children home alone. It would be simpler if there were a law in place to settle the matter. Unfortunately, there are not any such statutes in Connecticut.

But a parent that makes the wrong choice about leaving children home alone could find themselves on the wrong side of the law and the Department of Children and Families (DCF). Specifically, Connecticut law requires that parents always protect and care for their children and make decisions in the best interests of the child. So, what is the right or wrong age to leave a child home alone? As with many things, the answer to that question depends on a number of factors.

Leaving Your Children Home Alone in Connecticut

It is universally accepted that 6-year-old is not equipped to go it alone but that most 16-year-olds would do fine. But what about those children in the middle? It can be tough to know when your children are ready to stay home alone, but the law may not help in some cases. Your choice comes down to your judgment and what is in the best interests of your child.

How to Decide When Your Child Can Take Care of Themselves

If you are unsure about whether your child can stay home alone, here are a few guidelines that can help you make an informed decision:

Age of the Child

Most experts believe that children should be at least 12 years old before being left alone and at least 15 years old before being trusted to care for a younger sibling. These are minimum guidelines, but some children may not be ready at these ages.

Child’s Maturity Level

A more important consideration is the maturity level of your child. Some children make sound decisions and carefully think through their actions. Others are impulsive and don’t make the best choices. When leaving a child home alone, this should be a top consideration.

Special Needs Children

Children with special needs may require additional consideration as they may not be able to safely and effectively care for themselves or for others. For example, 15-year-old child with developmental delays may not be considered safe to stay home alone or watch a younger sibling.

The Environment

Before you leave children home alone, think about the area where you live. Do you live on a busy street with a lot of traffic, or is it a quiet area? Are there neighbors close by that you know and trust to help your child in case of an emergency? Is there a lot of crime in or near your neighborhood?

The Circumstances

A parent running a quick errand is much different from leaving a child at home all day to figure out homeschooling by themselves or alone at night for any reason. How long will you be gone, and what are the circumstances?

Your Child’s Feelings

How does your child feel about being left alone? Some cannot wait for the opportunity to usher you out the door and feel that first sense of independence. If that is the case, do you think they will handle it responsibly? Others are more apprehensive about being left alone, and you should respect those feelings.

Your Experience

Finally, think about how your child reacts under pressure. Do they calmly handle emergency situations? Can they understand and follow safety measures? It might be a good idea to take short practice runs as you built up to longer stays home alone.

Special Rules About Motor Vehicles and Public Places

When it comes to leaving your children alone in a motor vehicle or public place, even just for a few minutes, the law does address this. Specifically, you could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor for knowingly leaving a child under the age of 12 in a car or unsupervised in a public place. If the event happens between the hours of 8 PM and 6 AM, the charges could be elevated to a Class C felony.

In cases like this, parents often make snap decisions about quickly running into a business. But those choices can be costly. Once the authorities become involved in any matter involving children, DCF will quickly open an investigation.

Speak With an Experienced Connecticut DCF Attorney

If you have made a decision about leaving your children home alone in Connecticut and the authorities or DCF disagree with your choice, you could be facing an uphill battle. When DCF opens an investigation for child abuse or neglect, things can happen incredibly fast.

What many parents are never told is that they have rights throughout this process. At The Christie Law Firm, LLC, our experienced DCF cases attorney will review your situation and outline your options. Our office can immediately step in to safeguard your rights and the rights of your children when DCF gets involved.

Contact our Hartford office today at (860) 461-7494 or reach out to us online to schedule your initial consultation.