Staying Home Alone: Is Your Child Ready? [Infographic]

There is no magic age when children are ready to be left home alone. Children mature at their own pace, but usually are ready to stay home alone for brief periods of time when they are 10-12 years of age. However, a child’s age doesn’t always reflect his or her maturity and readiness to take on such a large responsibility.

Three characteristics children should possess before accepting the responsibility of staying home alone include:

THEY ARE CONFIDENT and comfortable staying home alone for short periods of time. They do not feel the need to join you when you take the dog for a short walk or go to a neighbor’s house for a visit. If they need reassurance in assuming this responsibility, read When Your Child Is Afraid To Stay Home Alone for great guidance on taking steps toward self-sufficiency.

THEY ARE PREPARED and know how to answer the phone, who to call for help, and what to do in an emergency. They know what to do in a power outage or during severe weather and are not intimidated by those situations. Learn more about preparing your child to stay home alone by reading Staying Home Alone: A Big Step In A Child’s Independence.

THEY ARE INDEPENDENT and can prepare simple meals and snacks for themselves. They get themselves ready in the morning and can pack a lunch for school. They can make decisions for themselves without your care and direction. 5 Questions To Ask Before You Let Your Kids Stay Home Alone will help you feel more at ease about stepping away for short periods of time.

Before you leave your child home alone, make sure your child knows:

EMERGENCY NUMBERS

  • 9-1-1 for emergencies
  • Parents’ work and cell phone numbers
  • Poison Control 800-222-1222
  • The phone number of an available back-up adult such as a relative or neighbor

SAFETY RULES

  • Keep doors and windows locked and don’t open for any reason.
  • Don’t post online that they are home alone, even within their social network of friends.
  • Don’t go outside without permission

If you still have questions, check out What Age Are Kids Ready To Stay Home Alone for additional information and behaviors to look for in your child before you allow him or her to stay home alone or purchase a copy of Safe@Home and facilitate home alone safety training with your child.

Safe Sitter

Founded in 1980, Safe Sitter® is the only national nonprofit training program exclusively devoted to preparing young teens in grades 6-8 to be safe in unsupervised settings, whether home alone, sibling sitting or babysitting.