When to leave a child home is a hard decision for parents.Check out some ways you can figure out When Can I leave My kids Home Alone? + Guidelines for Leaving Kids Home Alone by State
With more and more parents working outside of the home or being on the go for so many different activities the question of when one can leave their kids home alone becomes one they start asking themselves. Having grown up in the 80’s ,our parents didn’t have this issue because there weren’t so many laws, society expectations and social pressures in place that pressured parents to make this a hard question to answer. We all remember the Mom on ET leaving her kids to fend for themselves when she went off to work. How many of us rode our bikes home from school by ourselves? Or how many of us went to the park alone as early as 8 years old? However, times have changed and so has parenting. So I’ve put together some resources to help parents when deciding when they should leave their kids home alone.
The National SAFEKIDS Campaign recommends that No child under the age of 12 be left at home alone. However, many times things happen and parents are faced with the decision to do so even for kids younger than 12. So here are some things to consider before making that decision since EVERY CHILD MATURES DIFFERENTLY. The big thing to consider is where is your child at maturity level wise? I know that my 1o year old is very mature and if left alone he would be fine and not have any issues. However, my 9 year old daughter is very impulsive and may not make the best decision if left alone.
Some other things to consider as well: How will your child handle an emergency? Will they be able to safely leave the building in case of a fire?How will they handle a visitor or someone at the door? What if an emergency arises, how would they handle it? What if someone breaks in? What if he or she gets injured? These are all things to consider before making a decision.
Below are general guidelines to follow when considering the age range for leaving a child home alone.*
7 & under – Should NEVER BE LEFT ALONE FOR ANY PERIOD OF TIME! This may include leaving children unattended in cars, playgrounds, and backyards. The determining consideration would be the dangers in the environment and the ability of the caretaker to intervene.
8 to 10 years – Should not be left alone for more than 1½ hours and only during daylight and early evening hours.
11 to 12 years – May be left alone for up to 3 hours but not late at night or in circumstances requiring inappropriate responsibility.
13 to 15 years – May be left unsupervised, but not overnight.
16 to 17 years – May be left unsupervised (in some cases, for up to two consecutive overnight periods).
*remember these are only guidelines you should check with your state law before determining this decision
How does your state rank? Although most states have no set laws for when a child can stay home alone most have some guidelines in place to help parents. There are only a few that actually have state laws you will find them below with a number and no asterisk.
If your state has no guidelines or laws set in place, it’s important to keep in mind the information above. You know your child better than anyone else and its important to take all of these facts into consideration before making this difficult decision.
Looking for other parenting resources? Check out some of my other articles here on my page.