Is Your Child Ready To Be Left Home Alone and Should You Leave Them?

There will come a time when parents are faced with the decision to leave their children at home on their own. Whether an emergency calls for the circumstance or your child asks to be trusted with the responsibility, a parent will be faced with this situation at some point. There are plenty of things that you need to consider.

Legal Factors
Is your child old enough to be left alone on their own?

Compliments of Kids

There are only three states in the US that require a child be of a certain age before being left at home alone. In Illinois, children need to be 14 years old in order to be left alone, in Maryland 8 and in Oregon 10. Just because the other states do not have any official age restriction does not mean that there aren’t other things that you need to consider. There are other child protection laws in place that you need to be aware of and you can look to these laws when it comes to determining when it may be appropriate for you to leave your children at home alone.

Taking on Responsibility
Are they mature enough?
If your state does not identify a certain age as being appropriate to leave a child at home, you will need to use your own discretion. Some children mature quicker than others, but as a parent you will need to use your judgement as well as your own knowledge and familiarity with your children to know whether or not they can handle being alone on their own. Children should be relatively self-sufficient, well-behaved and they should also know what to do in an emergency.

Being Prepared
Do they know what to do in the event of an emergency?
In the event that something should happen, it is important that you trust your children to take care of themselves and do the right thing. Do they know who to call in the event of an emergency? Do they know what numbers to call and what to say? Do they know what to do about strangers, people coming to the door, or answering the phone if it rings? These things are all good to know, and even though no one wants to think that anything will happen while they are away, it is always important that kids are prepared regardless.

Setting Ground Rules
What can or can’t they do?
You should also make sure that your kids know what is and isn’t allowed. Depending on their age and skill level, are they allowed to cook? Can they have friends over? Can they use the computer? And if they are watching younger siblings, make sure that they are aware of what the younger kids can and cannot do as well, and make sure that they know how to be authoritative and responsible in an appropriate way with younger siblings, as well.

There are many things that you need to keep in mind as a parent, and sometimes you will learn new things like rules and exceptions once you begin to experience letting your child stay at home alone. But remember, the most important thing is to trust and know your child before making any big decisions when it comes to giving them such a responsibility.

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