Is Your Child Ready To Stay Home Alone?

How do you know if your child is ready to stay home alone? Is there an age at which children can stay home alone safely?  Megan Galgano, mother of three teens and an educator of 15 years of KidProofColorado joined us today on Dr. Lynne Weighs In to tell us what we need to know.

What is Kidproof? North America’s leading provider of child safety education.  Our belief is that Knowledge is the key to staying safe so Kidproof’s purpose is to empower kids and parents with critical knowledge. We are proactive and focus on prevention.  Our classes are designed for kids 4-14 and we have a few parent seminars as well. We come to you. We go to schools and community centers and hold our classes on Bully Proofing, Cyber Safe, Stranger Smarts, Home Alone and more.  In addition, Kidproof’s newsletter and blog offer fantastic resources for parents on how to set parental controls, how to recognize  eating disorders, how to know if your child is the target of bullying, and so much more. to learn more.

What do we need to consider to determine if our children are ready to stay home alone?

  • There is no legal age to be left alone.
  • Every child is different.  Some 9 year olds seem ready and some 12 year olds very uncomfortable.
  • The Key is that BOTH parents and child must be ready.
  • Convenience should never be part of the decision.
  • Both parents and kids have rights and responsibilities.
  • Parents have right to trust child is capable of being home alone.
  • Parents have right to trust child will abide by rules of house
  • The child has right to say he is not comfortable being home alone.  The child has right to be able to reach parent (or another adult) at all times while alone.
  • Kids don’t have many years of experience to draw from, so “what if” discussions or role-playing are very important to be sure the child is ready.  Examples: “What if the doorbell rings” “What if a friend wants to come over.”
  • Parents should review with child how to call 9-1-1.  State emergency, give phone number, address, major cross-streets, if anyone hurt, remain on phone until told to hang up.  It is important to tell child it is okay to call 9-1-1, even if child accidentally starts a fire cooking something when they weren’t supposed to use stove.  Kids need to hear parent say the most important thing is to get out of the house.

What are our rights and responsibilities as parents when we leave our kids at home alone? How do we communicate our expectations?

Parents and kids should come up with a list of rules or expectations for times child is home alone.  This should become a formal contract the child and parent sign to show agreement and acceptance.  The contract should address:

  • If friends can come over.
  • If the child may go outside or remain inside while alone.
  • If the child can use microwave or cook while alone.
  • If child should call parent upon getting home after school.
  • Who the child can call if parent cannot be reached.
  • If the child should answer the door or phone.
  • If the child can use the computer or go online while home alone.
  • That child should not tell anyone he will be home alone.
  • That parent has the right to check up on child.

For more information, parents can find classes in their area, sign up for the informative newsletter, or access the blog all from the website  Follow on Facebook Kidproof Colorado and Twitter @KidproofColo.

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Comment by Lynne Kenney on April 14, 2011 at 9:38am
Hey Moms! TY for all ur great comments. Together we raise happy healthy kids.
Comment by dactylway on April 13, 2011 at 6:02am
Great things to think about here. My 8 1/2-year-old begs to stay home alone (for a few minutes), but as soon as I'm out the door, there he is, right behind me! I think it's going to be a few years before either of us is truly ready.
Comment by Joi Hardaway on April 9, 2011 at 7:33pm
This was great as this is sucha hard decision to make. I agree that everyone in the family should be on board and understand the rules of the house!
Comment by Valerie (ADisneyFamly) on April 8, 2011 at 8:54pm
Be careful when telling others that there is no legal age that a child can be left home alone. I know for a fact that Illinois has one of the strictest laws regarding this. Believe it or not its 14. yes 14.  And that would be because some family left their kids home alone & went on a little vacation without them. After that, the state passed these age restrictions, and that was about 20 years ago.
Comment by Nettiema Ramblingsfromamotherof3 on April 7, 2011 at 2:00pm

Thanks so much, great info.

Comment by Lesley P on April 6, 2011 at 11:45am

Thanks so much for the useful info.

 I have printed this off & will discuss with DD11 and DH40+.


Comment by Shane D. Shirley-Smith on April 6, 2011 at 11:08am
Thanks for this!!!
Comment by Barbara on April 6, 2011 at 10:52am
Great info. Thanks for contributing such a comprehensive piece.




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