Are your children old enough to be
home alone?

As a parent, how do you know when your children are ready to be home alone? Every child is different and it depends on more than just their age. All parents should make this decision very carefully.

Contact your local Child Protective Service agency for more information on the laws in your state.

Even if your state laws allow your children to stay home alone, it is your responsibility to make sure they are prepared to take care of themselves before you leave them alone.

Questions to ask yourself, before making this decision.

  • Does your child want to be left home alone? Is your child comfortable being alone or does he get lonely or frightened easily?

  • Is your child ready to take care of himself?

  • If you have guns in the house, are they locked up?

  • Is your house in a safe neighborhood? Do you have locks on all of the doors and windows?

  • Does your child know how to contact you? If he or she can't reach you, is there another adult nearby they can reach when needed?

  • Is your child willing to follow your rules about answering the door and the phone when you aren't home?

Ways to prepare your children to be home alone.

  • Start out by leaving your children at home for short periods of time, about 15 or 20 minutes.

  • Establish rules. Make a list of what is allowed while you're gone. Can they use the toaster, stove, oven or microwave?

  • Have snacks handy for them too, most kids come home from school hungry.

  • Review safety rules and act out possible situations.

  • Make sure your children are comfortable with being alone and know what to do in case of emergency.

  • Have important phone numbers by the phone;
    emergency numbers
    both parents work numbers
    both parents cell phone numbers

    Also, if a neighbor is usually home and willing to help in an emergency, have their name and phone number available.

  • Teach safety and first aid to your children. Show them where you keep the first-aid kit.

  • Set up a routine for your children, snack time, chores, homework. After their homework is done, allow them to have free time to watch tv, read or listen to music.

  • When your children do start coming home from school to an empty house, ask them to give you a call so that you know they made it home safely.

If your children aren't ready to be alone, don't force it on them to save money or make it more convenient for you. Just wait until they are a little older and try it again, when they are more a little more mature and ready to be on their own for short periods of time.

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