Leavin your Child Home Alone
Whether it's a snow day home from school, an unexpected business appointment, or a childcare arrangement that fell through, situations are likely to arise where you feel you have little choice but to leave your child home alone.
It's natural for parents to be a bit anxious when first leaving kids without supervision. But you can feel prepared and confident with some planning and a couple of trial runs. And handled well, staying home alone can be a positive experience for kids, too, helping them gain a sense of self-assurance and independence.
Factors to Consider
It's obvious that a 5-year-old can't go it alone but that a 16-year-old probably can. But what about those school-aged kids in the middle? It can be difficult to know when kids are ready to handle being home alone. Ultimately, it comes down to your judgment about what your child is ready for.
You'll want to know how your child feels about the idea, of course. But kids often insist that they'll be fine long before parents feel comfortable with it. And then there are older kids who seem afraid even when you're pretty confident that they'd be just fine. So how do you know?
In general, it's not a good idea to leave kids younger than 10 years old home alone. Every child is different, but at that age, most kids don't have the maturity and skills to respond to an emergency if they're alone.
Think about the area where you live. Are there neighbors nearby you know and trust to help your child in case of an emergency? Or are they mostly strangers? Do you live on a busy street with lots of traffic? Or is it a quiet area? Is there a lot of crime in or near your neighborhood?
It's also important to consider how your child handles various situations. Here are a few questions to think about:
- Does your child show signs of responsibility with things like homework, household chores, and following directions?
- How does your child handle unexpected situations? How calm does your child stay when things don't go as planned?
- Does your child understand and follow rules?
- Can your child understand and follow safety measures?
- Does your child make good judgments or is he or she prone to taking risks?
- Does your child know basic first-aid procedures?
- Does your child follow your instructions about staying away from strangers?
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