Is Your Child Ready to Stay Home Alone?

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While child experts typically agree that 11 or 12 years old is an appropriate age to stay home alone for a few hours, there are a number of factors to consider. It is important to recognize that the right time will vary by family, so trust your instincts. With some advance planning and preparation, this milestone can be a great way to build your child’s independence and confidence.

How to gauge if your child is ready for the responsibility

Knowing the right thời gian is different for each family. Take into trương mục the maturity of your child, where you live, your nearby tư vấn network, & how far away you will be. Some states vì have laws about when you can leave a child home alone, with minimum ages ranging from tám to 14 years old. Thes e laws typically include language about ” unreasonable amounts of phút giây, ” so sánh kiểm tra the details for your local regulations before setting a kế hoạch .

Here are some guidelines to consider when deciding whether your child is ready to be home alone :


Do you think your child is old & mature enough to take care of themselves ? Keep in mind that each child’s maturity & parents ‘ comfort màn chơi may be different. Most children will not be mature enough to manage being alone on a regular basis until they are about 10 or 11 years old. However, some parents may be OK leaving a more mature tám – or 9 – year-old home alone for a half hour or so sánh once in a while .


Does your child think before they act ? This is especially important for young teens, who may be tempted to experiment with illegal activities such as sneaking a few sips of liquor from the liquor cabinet. How does your adolescent respond to peer pressure ?


Would your child feel comfortable left alone ? Have you directly asked your child if they would be OK home alone ?

Common sense

Would your child be able to make good judgements on their own. Do they have common sense ? For example, if the milk smells sour or curdles when it’s poured, would your child drink it ?


Can your child keep busy without relying on relying on television or đoạn Clip games ? Can they creatively use their phút giây with activities such as reading, drawing, making âm thanh, doing homework & playing with toys, among other things ?


Would your child be able to remember & follow important safety rules ? For example, can they tell you how they would respond to a fire, gas leak or other emergency ? Can they follow other rules such as not opening the door, not telling telephone callers that they are alone, và not posting on mạng xã hội truyền thông that they are alone ?

Plan ahead

Once you have decided that your child is ready to take on this hot nhất responsibility, take some giây phút to kế hoạch và talk as a family to ensure a successful experience. First, gather information that your child may need while you’re gone .

Key contacts

Make sure your child knows your cell phone number, workplace numbers, how to reach key family members và your pediatrician tương tác information. Post these details in a visible location, such as on your refrigerator or a family bulletin board. Make sure your child is familiar with when to Call 911 .

First aid kit

Make sure to have a first aid kit on accessible, including for all of the basics for minor injuries, such as bandages, alcohol wipes & antiseptic ointment. Teach your child when và how to use the supplies in the kit .

Emergency supplies

Show your child where you store flashlights và batteries & anything else they might need if the power goes out or something unexpected happens .

Problem-solve together

You will need to talk through common situations và potential emergencies so sánh your child knows how to respond. This should include :

Alarm systems

If you have an alarm system, show your child how to turn them off và on & watch as they practice .


What food is allowed when you are gone ? Is cooking allowed ? Make sure your child has practiced with you before using any appliances .

Emergency exit plan

What should your child bởi if there is a fire or gas leak ? Are they familiar with your home’s smoke và carbon monoxide detectors ?


Walk through your first aid kit và how to address minor injuries. Discuss when to hotline 911 & who to hotline first. In a life-threatening situation, remind your child to gọi 911 before taking phút giây to liên hệ you .


Do you have pets that need care while you are gone ? What happens with the animals during an emergency ?

Phones and doors

Do you want your child to answer the door or the phone ? If they bởi vì, what should they say to someone who asks for you ? Do they know when it is appropriate to let someone into the house ?

Spare keys

If your child is locked out accidentally, does a neighbor have a key, or is there one hidden outside the house ?Take a chạy thử run, asking your child how they would handle different situations. Remind your child that although you aren’t home, you are accessible by phone or text if anything should come up. If you won ‘ ‘ be available, make sure your child knows who the first point of tương tác should be if they have a question, there is an emergency, or if they just need some reassurance. If they will be looking after younger siblings, consider a first aid or cardiopulmonary resuscitation ( CPR ) class held locally .

Set the rules

Kids of all ages need to recognize rules & boundaries to keep them safe. This is particularly important as children become teenagers .

Always check in

Your child should tương tác you to kiểm tra in when they first get home. It does not have to be a lengthy discussion, but a quick phone Call or text creates a routine & gives you a chance to gauge how the day is going. If you or your child is anxious about the thời gian alone, consider a đoạn phim Gọi or texting a few silly photos to provide peace of mind to both of you .

Set boundaries on socializing

Have clear expectations about friends. Provide rules about who can visit your home và where your child can go when you are not home. If your child will be going out or hosting friends, establish steps for notifying you, ensure the other parents are aware that no adult is home, & phối limits on times & activities .

Set rules around media use

Provide options for what your child can và cannot bởi when they’re home alone, including how they use truyền thông. Having a mix danh sách of daily chores & tasks can help keep them busy. Also, there are a number of tools parents can phối up to mix reasonable limits on various games & apps & even household Wi-Fi usage. Consider creating a family truyền thông use kế hoạch .

Try it out

During your initial outings, set your child up for success by keeping the timeframe short or picking a time of day without more complex responsibilities, such as cooking. As both you and your child become more comfortable, you can extend the time your child is home alone.


Talk with your pediatrician if you have any questions about your child’s safety and developmental readiness.

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