Elementary Schoolers
Bullies & Cyber Bullying
Behavior Problems
Classroom-Student Behavior
Extracurricular Activities
Internet & Technology
Kids Health & Safety
Parenting Styles & Skills
Peer Pressure
Positive Discipline
Sibling Rivalry
Sleepovers & Bedtime

Children Home Alone? Are they Ready?

At some point, every parent has to face the question: Is my child ready to be home alone. Children often want access this option well before they are actually ready. While it's nice that your child is interested in such independence, you still need to use caution when implementing this big move!

Determining Readiness to Stay Home Alone

As a parent, only you know if your child is actually ready to be home alone. There is no definitive age that a child must reach to be left home alone.It is more a maturity issue that varies by the child. Some children are ready for brief home-alone stays by age 10-12. But earlier than that, most parents would agree that kids are not quite ready to take on such a responsibility.

Parenting tips to consider when it comes to child being home alone:

  • Check with your local police department to see if there are legal restrictions for leaving your child home alone. Some cities and states may have laws regarding how young a child must be before he is allowed to stay home alone.
  • Do not leave your child in charge of other children or siblings the first time you are leaving him alone. Let your child adjust to taking care of himself before he takes on the role of babysitter as well.
  • Start with a short period of time away at first. For example, go to the grocery store for an hour and then right back home. Make sure your child knows how to reach you or a neighbor in case of an emergency.
  • Make sure your child has a way to contact you or another adult, and what to do if he encounters problems or safety issues.
  • Let your child know that now is the perfect time to start establishing trust and show his independence. Consider giving him a few chores or activities to do when you are gone so he knows what is expected of him.
  • As a precaution, make sure your child knows that the stove is off limits when he is home alone. Heating food in the microwave is fine if he knows how to use it, but handling boiling water unsupervised can be dangerous even for the most responsible young child.

At the elementary school age, children are usually considered too young to be home alone for an extended period of time. If for some reason you need to do so, ask a trusted neighbor to keep an eye on your child or be available to the child should he need help. It's always is better to err on the side of caution!