One decision that all parents eventually face is the issue of when to let their kids stay home alone. Each child has a different "home alone age" at which she can safely remain home by herself. Making the choice to let a child be home alone is dependent upon her maturity level plus a number of other factors. The best way to get your child feeling comfortable is to begin slowly with short trips out for errands. Read on for a brief guide on determining when your child is ready to stay home alone and how to prepare her for that experience.
Examine Your Child's Maturity Level
Most children are ready to stay home alone for short periods of time by 8 years of age. In order to determine if your child is ready, you need to examine her maturity level. Can she be trusted not to break any items in the house or cause any other problems? Will she know how to react if something should go wrong? Will she be able to contact you in the event of an emergency? Can she be trusted to stay at home while you're away? If you answered yes to all of these questions, your child may be mature enough to stay home alone for short periods of time.
Examine Your Child's Physical Development
There are also physical concerns about leaving a child home alone. If your child is too short or not strong enough, she may have a difficult time opening doors or reaching a telephone in the event of an emergency. Consider the various items your child may need to do while you're away and make sure that she's fully able to perform those tasks on her own before leaving her by herself.
Consider the Other Options
Before you leave your child alone, consider the other options you have for her while you're away. Could a babysitter or other family member watch over her for short periods of time? There are also programs in most communities that could help, such as after school care centers, or group play dates. You may wish to work out a system with another parent to have children play together during times when one parent needs to be away. All of these are potential alternatives to leaving your child by herself.Consider the Safety
One other important factor to consider when deciding if your child is ready to stay by herself is safety. Think of the area in which you live or where your child will be staying; consider the safety of the location. If possible, inform trusted neighbors so they can keep an eye on your child while you're away. Make sure that your child knows how to lock the doors and to avoid contact with any strangers while you're out.