When is it safe to be alone at home?
Summer can be challenging for working parents. It’s fairly well accepted that
children under 8 shouldn’t be left alone at all, but older than that, it depends
on the length of time, your child’s maturity level, your home environment and
your neighborhood. If you’re reaching the point where it seems your child may be
getting old enough to stay home alone, consider these things:
- Try it out for short periods of time and talk about how
your child feels things are going.
- Make sure there’s a trusted adult your child can count
on at all times.
- Discuss what to do if someone knocks on the door, if a
pet gets out, if a friend wants to come over, if the electricity fails, etc.
- Make sure your child knows to call 911 in an emergency,
and has a list of other numbers to call.
- Call periodically to check in and see how things are
- Don’t stop talking about how things are going, even if
it seems like everything’s fine. Make sure your child feels comfortable
telling you about things that make him or her uneasy.
And remember this: children under 11 should not be
responsible for caring for other children.
Sources: American Academy of Dermatology; American Academy of Pediatrics; American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons; American Camping Association; American Red Cross; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; K. Handal, The American Red Cross. First Aid and Safety Book. Little, Brown and Company, 1992; Marion County Children’s Services; Medical College of Wisconsin; National Highway Transportation Administration; The National Institutes of Health; National Safe Kids Foundation; The National Safety Council; Students Against Destructive Decisions; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency;