How to Know if Your Child is Ready to Stay Home Alone

Parenting is Full of Decisions

Some parents struggle with leaving their kids at home alone, some barely blink before deciding. Like many other decisions, this is a family-by-family thing.

At my house, we can finally leave all three kids alone- briefly.

This was a hard decision to make,

They know not to go outside, not let anyone in the house, and he’s not allowed to cook using anything but the microwave if Matthew or I am not home. They also know what to do if a tornado hits, and so on. We went over this “a million times, Mom” before I left them alone the first time.

Julian wasn’t ready for a while- we tried a few times, leaving him with Cameron, but he got nervous and he decided that he didn’t like not having an adult around. This is okay, so we will try again in a few months or whenever he brings it up again.

Lily is almost 12 and I didn’t think she was ready until one day she just didn’t want to go to Walmart. I reminded her of the rules and was gone for less than a half hour.

Cameron does like being left alone- I think he usually takes a nap unless I leave him a chore to do.

Kids need independence. This is a well-known thing, but where do you start? Where do you let go? It’s enough to freak you out, and if you’re like me and listen to a lot of true crime podcasts, you really don’t want to let your kid do anything alone.

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You can start this endeavor by going online. Look up information for your state- how old your child needs to be before you can legally leave them alone at home. Some states, like Kentucky, don’t have a specified age, but here, if they are under 11, Child Protective Services might show up. I found my age and other information on We Have Kids

Other Concerns:

  • Is your child able to physically and mentally able to take care of themselves?
  • Does your child feel okay staying home alone? Some kids totally love it. Some kids don’t.
  • Does your child know what to do in case of emergency and know who to contact?
  • Are there other kids to be watched or will this child be alone? Is that child able to handle that responsibility?
  • Are there special needs involved? Julian is fine in this department, but I wouldn’t want him trying to cook unsupervised. He would have to follow the same rule that Cameron does. I’m afraid he would get distracted and walk away, resulting in a fire. Besides his anxiety, I have no other issues with leaving Julian at home alone. I just wouldn’t leave him without Cameron just yet- not until he’s 100% ready.
  • Do they follow the rules you give them during a test run? We did this and the boys did great. I came back once and Cameron was talking to his friend Craig out of my bedroom window. He couldn’t go outside and Craig couldn’t come in, so that was the best he could do until I got back. He ran outside as soon I walked in- I gave him points for creativity.
  • Time limits. Some kids are fine to be left alone all day- mostly older teens, but start out with less than 2 hours, so that your child feels a bit independent but yet not scared. This seems to work at my house. Increase the time as the child gets a bit older or more comfortable with the situation.

This can be a bit nerve-wracking, but can be a good thing for all involved. The keys are communication and knowing what works for your children.

How do you feel about leaving your kids alone at home? Were you left at home alone a lot as a child?

Pics are from Google and minimography

27 thoughts on “How to Know if Your Child is Ready to Stay Home Alone

  1. Shiree Mullen says:

    This topic has been on my mind lately. I’m excited to be able to run some errands while my kiddos stay at home. I had better start preparing them now!

    Thanks for joining #WanderingWednesday with Confessions of Parenting! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kate says:

    This is such a good list! My boys are toddler, but I’ve always wondered about this – I was babysitting other kids when I was in 5th grade! lol Pinning this for future reference! Thanks for sharing! #wanderingwednesday

    Liked by 1 person

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