Staying Home Alone

Children are often excited to show how "grown up" they are by being able to stay at home by themselves. But many times this new experience can be challenging for children. You may want to approach leaving your child home alone based on many things, including the child's:       

  • Age        
  • Health        
  • Maturity level          
  • Time they will spend alone        
  • Time of day the child will be left alone        
  • The availability of a nearby adult

The National SAFE KIDS Campaign recommends that children be 12 to 13 years of age before being left unattended. They further suggest that parents should make the transition to leaving their child home alone progressively -- leaving the child alone for an hour when they can still be relatively close to home -- then increasing the time and distance as the child proves trustworthy.

Allowing older children to stay home unattended after school and until parents return from work -- 3:00 until 5:30 PM -- is a good test for those who have shown themselves to be responsible during shorter time spans.

Parents should always know the "three W's" when their children are unattended. 

Where are they? Who they are with? What are they doing?

Of course, your child needs to know where you are, how they can contact you if they need to, and when you will return. If you are running late, you need to call your child and let the child know when to expect you.

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