Leaving Your Child Home Alone. Things to Consider. It’s obvious that a 5-year-old can’t go it alone, but that most 16-year-olds can. Make a “Practice Run” Even if you’re confident about your child’s maturity, it’s wise to make some practice runs, or home-alone trials, before the big day. Handling the Unexpected.
The thought of leaving a child home alone can unnerve any parent. As mature as your son or daughter might be, a lot could go wrong. But does that mean you shouldn’t leave your children home alone until they’re teenagers? Blogger Mique from Thirty Handmade Days thinks otherwise, offering a handy chart with guidelines on when to let your child stay home solo.
She emphasizes that every state has different laws on this topic, but hopes that her compiled guidelines can help start a dialogue and provide parents important information. After considering the safety of your neighborhood, how comfortable your child feels alone, and how well-behaved your child is, she suggests that kids can be left alone starting at 8 years old.
Up until they’re 10 years old, they “should not be left alone for more
than 1½ hours and only during daylight and early evening hours,” she suggests. That time doubles once the child is 11, and by 13, she says kids can be left alone for even longer than that, but not overnight. Once the child hits 16, they can be left alone for up to two nights in a row.
Whether it’s a snow day home from school, an unexpected business meeting, or a childcare arrangement that fell through, there probably will be times when you’ll need to leave your child home alone.
It’s natural for parents to worry 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, giving them a sense of self-confidence and independence.