Tweens & Teens
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

Is Your Child Ready to be Home Alone?

Each year, millions of parents are faced with the decision of whether or not their tween or young teen is ready to stay home alone. It's a big decision, and one for which there is no clear cut answer. Each child is different, and only parents know if that child is responsible enough and ready to take the leap to being home alone!

Leaving a Child Home Alone

Because many families have working parents, millions of teens and tweens go home after school to an empty house or need to spend some time home alone during the summer. It can be a source of worry for many parents, but it can also be a time of independence for kids. If you think your child is ready to try staying home alone, keep these tips in mind:

  • Have a lengthy discussion about responsibility and trust. Your child needs to know what a big decision this is and that you trust them to do the right thing.
  • Put a set of rules and guidelines in place so that your child knows what is expected of her and what the consequences are if she doesn't follow them. You may even want to create a behavior chart or chore chart that lists the things your child is expected to do, such as chores or routines, so that she keeps busy and gets things done.
  • Have an emergency plan in place that your child knows about. Discuss everything from what to do if there is a fire, to a tornado warning, to a stranger on the phone or at the door. Your child needs to be completely schooled about how to handle such situations.
  • Consider what activities need to be discussed, such as having friends over, using the Internet, cooking, etc, when you are creating guidelines. Also, make sure your child knows she should not announce to people that she is home alone.
  • Start small for the first couple of times by leaving her home alone for short periods of time - like 30 minutes or so. Try increasing the time you're away by 10-15 minutes for the next couple of times and see how it goes.
  • Make sure you child knows safety rules and emergency numbers when she is home alone.

In most cases, staying home alone is much more difficult on parents than it is for teens. It is difficult for parents to not be there and to start giving kids that independence. But if you feel your child is ready, and you have all the safety measures in place, you will be helping to create a successful situation!