Friday, April 13, 2012

When is my Child Old Enough to Stay Home Alone?

Kyla Boyse, R.N.

There is no set age at which all kids are ready to stay home alone. You know your child best.
Consider factors like:
  • Can your child make good decisions?
  • Do they know how to handle an emergency?
  • Will they make good use of their time?
  • How mature are they?
  • Does your child know and follow house rules?
  • Are they familiar with safety guidelines, such as what to do in case of fire?
  • Are they comfortable using the phone and cell phone?
 Moving your child to this level of independence is a process.  If you think your child is ready, you can make sure they know all the important safety and house rules. You can useYourChild's babysitter resources as a starting point: Talk to your child about their feelings about being home alone. Start small, with short periods away, and gradually increase the time you are away if everyone is comfortable with it.
Basically, if your child is age seven or younger, they should never be left alone. Kids ages 8-10 can be alone briefly, and ages 10-13 for longer periods, provided there is back-up supervision. Babysitters should be at least 12-13 years old, and can babysit for longer periods as they grow older. Again, this is a very individual decision, and these ages are only general guidelines. You need to decide if your child is mature enough.

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