Giving your child a key to the house is a big step. It gives them a significant responsibility as well as an added layer of autonomy. While it may provide the kids with a lot of freedom, it also gives the parents a little freedom, too. However, there are a few risks involved. We know that many kids can be careless, and lost keys are an unsettling consequence. A misplaced key can be a hazard and potential breach in your home security.

We love kids, and we want them to learn and grow. A lesson with risks doesn’t mean it’s not a lesson worth learning. Here are some ideas and practices to put into place to reduce the chance of lost keys as well as safety-netting for other circumstances.

Leash It

A really effective way of preventing keys from being lost is to attach it to something much harder to lose—like their backpack! Putting keys on a lanyard and clipping it or tying it to the backpack ensures that as long as they’re carrying their backpack when they come home, they have their keys. A retractable keychain works very perfectly for this as well.

This serves the double purpose of ensuring that they have the key when they approach the door as well as ensuring that the key goes back in the bag once they’re done.

No Keys Under Rocks

Never hide your house keys under rocks or under doormats or in a hole in the park or above the lamp near the garage. Just don’t do it. It’s a huge risk to take to just leave a key outside, waiting for intruders to pick them up! What’s more, burglars always scout out a house before they break in. They watch for patterns to know when no one’s home or what entries are the least secure—or whether or not you actually use that alarm system that’s installed in your home. A burglar eyeing your house is sure to see the kids lifting that rock or lamp cover and scuttling in the home. They’ll copy that same behavior once they find the chance.

An alternative to this practice is to give spare keys to trusted neighbors. If you or your kids are ever locked out of the house, you resort to the trust of a friend rather than a rock. Ideally, since kids usually come home from school during the day, you can look for a friend or neighbor who has at least one person in the household who doesn’t work or stays home (maybe a stay at home parent or a grandmother who watches the house).

Have a Plan

Planning for bad scenarios makes the thought of them less scary, and it’s easier to keep a level head when they actually happen. Create and rehearse a plan with your child for when they cannot find their keys and are locked out of the house. Come up with a list of nearby public spaces where they can spend their time safely until a parent is home (e.g. a library, community center, or shaded park).

Having a plan means that they will know what to do, you’ll know where to find them, and no one will panic if it happens. It gives both you and your child confidence and peace of mind for this big step in growing up!

Share this with your friends and family members to keep kids and households safe.