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What Your Child Needs to Know Before Staying Home Alone

What Your Child Needs to Know Before Staying Home Alone

When your child becomes older, the question comes up. “Mom/Dad, when am I allowed to stay home alone?” That’s a tricky question that many parents don’t know how to respond to. So when is a good time to let your children stay home by themselves?

Some Things to Think About

Guy reading a newspaper while laying on couch

Age plays a pretty important role in this subject. Some states even have rules on how old your child should be before staying home alone. These ages range between 8-12. When your child becomes 8, that’s when to start thinking about when YOU are comfortable leaving your child at home by themselves.

Also, think about the maturity level of your child. This plays a significant factor in the question as well. Maturity differs in every child at every age. Do you believe your child is mature enough to be at the house alone for a while? Will they be able to complete chores, clean up after themselves, do their homework?

Along with their maturity level, think about their personality. For example, is your child able to handle staying home alone, or does their personality enjoy having people around to feel protected?

Will they be able to act appropriately in emergencies? Are they old enough and mature enough to work properly if something goes wrong?

Before leaving them at home, think about these factors and how they will handle this responsibility.

If You Decide the Answer is Yes…

girl holding a phone

If you believe your child is ready to take on this responsibility of staying home alone, here are some things they should know before doing so!

Keep a list of essential numbers where they can see it. On this list, put 9-1-1 for emergencies, parents’ cell, and work phone numbers, relatives nearby, and neighbors’ phone numbers. Then, in case of emergencies, big or small, they will have all the numbers they need to call. Make sure they know how to call 9-1-1 properly and why they would need to. Also, if your home has an alarm system, teach them how to use it.

Lay down rules about what appliances they are allowed to use. Think about how much cooking experience they have and how much you trust them with a stove or an oven. Before letting them use these by themselves, thoroughly teach them the proper way to use them.  

What if the doorbell rings or the telephone rings? Give them a rundown of how you would like them to react. Most teenagers have a cell phone. They can tell whose calling their phone. But if it’s the house phone, it might be better to let it run to voice mail. If it’s important, people will leave a message. The doorbell is a touchy subject. Share with them different situations and how you would like them to act.

Parents Preference

Most of this comes down to your own preference. That’s why asking yourself the questions above is so important! To learn more about letting your child stay home alone, head over to the American Red Cross. This is a tough decision; think it over thoroughly!