At What Age a Child Can be Left Alone and Why
As a parent of a school-aged child, you might wonder when it’s OK to leave your child alone for short periods of time. This question depends on the age, maturity, and development of your child as well as the laws in your state. Read on to learn more about the factors you should consider when deciding whether your child will be safe if left home alone.
Age and Maturity
While age is an important consideration, your child’s maturity level is just as important according to the federal Child Welfare Information Gateway. In general, children should never be left alone in the house before the age of 8. If your child is older than 8, ask yourself the following questions before letting him or her stay home independently:
-Can your child care for himself?
-Does he or she generally obey the rules and make the right choices?
-Does your child respond well to unfamiliar situations?
-Does your child want to stay home alone? If he or she is fearful, consider waiting six months to a year before broaching the subject again.
-Does your child know what to do in case of emergency? Is he or she familiar with how to call 911 and what to do if the phone or doorbell rings?
How safe your child will be if left home alone depends on the circumstances. Parents should consider:
-The safety of your neighborhood
-Whether you have an alarm system, and if your child knows how to operate it
-Whether family members and friends are nearby and available in case of emergency
-Applicable house rules. For example, will your child be allowed to have friends in the house? Is TV time allowed, and how much? What chores are expected after school?
-Do you have a first aid kit?