What is an Appropriate Age to Let Kids Stay Home Alone?

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When I was younger I was left home alone as early as 10. Back then things were much different. We could stay outside until the street lights came on, without checking in every few minutes. We could walk to the store to stock up on 5 cent candy and we could follow the dickie dee around with our bikes all over the neighborhood.

Now? Most of these would not only be scary, but dangerous for all those involved.

What is an appropriate age to let kids stay home alone? What about walking places alone?

I think the age varies from child to child. While one 11 year old can handle half an hour on their own, another may not be able to and could do more harm than good. There are lots of things to consider when leaving a child home alone.

  • Age. If your child is under 11 it’s probably not a good idea to leave them alone for any period of time.
  • Maturity. If your child is a bit immature even at 15, waiting to let them stay home alone until they are mature enough to handle it will more than likely save any anxiety, panic and fear. If your child isn’t very serious about things, and takes a lot of things as a joke. It probably isn’t wise to leave them alone.
  • Length of time. If you plan to go out for more than half an hour, and pretty far from home you need to make sure your child has been alone for a short period of time before going longer. Start with 15, then go to 30. Up from there if you feel your child is ready.
  • Can your child deal with an emergency? Do they know what to do? Can they get a hold of you within 1 minute if needed?

If you are thinking your child is mature enough, old enough and knows how to handle themselves when alone – here are a few tips to consider discussing with your children before each stay at home alone time:

  • Don’t answer the door: The doors are locked, and they stay locked.
  • Don’t tell anyone you are alone: With social media all the rage getting excited and announcing one is home alone may be appealing; caution your children why this is a bad idea. Telling friend’s isn’t a great idea either – they could show up, tell others, or announce on social media on purpose, or not.
  • Don’t go anywhere: Make sure to be firm on staying inside. There is no going outside for any reason. Watch tv, play a game, read, or do puzzles.
  • House rules: A good reminder of all the house rules before leaving is a great idea. Just because you aren’t being chaperoned there doesn’t mean the rules still don’t apply.
  • In case of an emergency: Have a plan just in case an emergency were to arise. Have a neighbor know when the child will be home, make sure everyone has the emergency contact numbers.

If your child is ready to stay home alone you will know. You know your child best. If you aren’t sure, there are agencies you can call to speak with (without giving your name, or any identifying information) and they can give you some guidance.

What do you think? What age do you think is appropriate to leave home alone? What about to walk places alone?

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