When is it okay to begin leaving your child at home alone? The answer really is different for every child. In general, children under 10 should not be left on their own, and babies and younger children should not be left alone even for a few minutes. Before leaving your kids at home alone, make sure that they are mature enough to be on their own (even if only for a few hours). Here are some questions to ask yourself.
- Is your child at least 10 years old?
NOTE: Please check local laws to be certain your state has not set a higher age limit for children staying home alone.
- Does your child feel at all frightened or apprehensive about staying home alone?
- Does your child follow your instructions and your rules?
- Can you count on your child to tell you the truth?
- Can your child be counted on to stay clear-headed in an unexpected or emergency situation?
- Can your child calmly dial 911, give their full name (and yours), street address and phone number, and explain the situation?
You might feel most comfortable starting out with short trial runs, leaving your child home alone for 15 minutes or so and gradually increasing the amount of time your child spends alone. Take it slowly, staying within the comfort level of both you and your child.
Here are some measures you can take that will helpt to protect your kids even when you are not around:
- Let your kids know exactly what you expect of them - discuss your house rules.