Deciding on an age that is appropriate to leave your children at home will vary from one family to another, and one child to another. This is always a tough question to answer because there are many factors that will affect your decision as to whether or not your children are ready to stay home alone.
Factors to take into account before allowing your kids to stay home without supervision include:
● Age. Deciding on what age to leave your kids at home is tricky. Typically kids shouldn’t be left alone until they are at least 11 years old. From there, you have to use your best judgment in deciding whether or not your kids will be able to handle the responsibility of staying home.
● Laws. Some states have laws that regulate the minimum age when kids are allowed to stay at home alone. For example, the minimum age to stay home alone in Maine is 8, while Illinois has a minimum age of 14.
● Maturity. Age is one thing, but maturity is an entirely different factor to consider. An 11 year old, for example, could be more mature than a 13 year old. Judging the maturity of a child is left to your own conscience, and should never be taken lightly.
● Number of Kids. When leaving a child at home, be cautious of making them responsible for other kids. Young kids can be unpredictable and create too much pressure.
If you are comfortable leaving your child at home, take the following into consideration to better prepare yourself and your child for the responsibility:
● Practice. Take a few practice runs to see how they do by themselves. If they are able to handle the time alone, you will feel more at ease when something arises that you do actually have to leave them alone.
● Numbers. Have all of your emergency information and contacts handy and easily accessible to your child before you leave them alone. If you have a security system, have them on alert in case your child attempts to get a hold of them. Make sure your child knows knows the number and web address (e.g. HomeSecurity911.com) should an emergency arise.
● Notify Neighbors. The first few times you leave your child alone, or until you are completely comfortable, it is helpful to let your neighbors know that your kids will be at home alone so that they can be there quickly if something were to happen.
● Talk it out. Talk with your children to see if they are ok with staying at home. You will be surprised at how honest kids can be with important issues like this. It’s a good sign of maturity and readiness.
Knowing when your kids are ready to stay home alone will vary from one kid to another. There is no best way to tell when they are ready. Depending on certain factors, you will have to decide when to let them stay home and trust that they are able to handle it. Talk with your children and see if they are up for the idea of staying alone. The more open you are about the responsibility involved, the more independent and self-assured they will feel when the time comes for them to stay home alone.