Legal age for children to stay at home alone, female life

As children get older and bigger, it is normal to wonder how old it is when children stay home alone. Most parents want to give their child an appropriate level of freedom without burdening them with responsibilities that they are not yet ready for.

Legal age for children to stay at home alone: ​​guidelines

Most states do not have an official minimum age at which children can stay at home alone. Only a few have established legal guidelines:

  • Georgia – 9
  • Illinois – 14
  • Maryland – 8
  • Oregon – 10

However, many states have guidelines that are officially listed and recommended by various child protection agencies:

  • Colorado – 12
  • Delaware – 12
  • Kansas – 12
  • Nebraska – 11
  • North Dakota – 9
  • South Carolina – 8
  • Tennessee – 10
  • Washington – 10
  • Wisconsin – 12
  • Wyoming – 12

Any state that is not listed has no official nationwide guidelines or laws regarding the legal age at which children can stay at home alone. With this in mind, the National SAFE KIDS Campaign recommends that no child under the age of twelve be left alone (despite the fact that some states recommend or even enact laws that allow you to leave your child alone at a younger age) not at least twelve, most agencies recommend finding another solution for childcare.

Consider further before leaving your child at home alone

Every parent knows that age does not always match maturity. There are many children who are not yet ready to be left alone at twelve or thirteen. Think about your child’s level of maturity.

Attitude and ability to follow instructions

Is your child impulsive and prone to hasty or hasty behavior? Is he or she constantly making bad decisions about personal behavior? This is a sign that your child is not mature enough to be home alone. You need to know that your child is able to think in an emergency and follow any instructions that you may leave.

In case of emergancy

Another thing to think about is what your child should do in an emergency. Is there a neighbor that your child can walk to if someone gets hurt or something else happens? Are you going to be far away or unreachable? A child should always have an adult nearby who they can call in an emergency. This adult should be available if necessary. In some cases, walking to the grocery store for 15 minutes may be acceptable. , But no longer, which would take several hours.

How does your child feel??

If your child is afraid to stay home alone, this is a good indication that he is not ready yet. Remember that you should regularly ask your child how he feels about staying at home. While he / she may not mind staying at home while you walk to the grocery store in the middle of the afternoon, he / she might mind staying at home in the evenings.

Caring for younger siblings

Common sense should prevail when you think of younger people siblings to take care of your eldest child. The general suggestion is that older siblings are not responsible for younger siblings until they are teenagers. Of course, it depends on how young the younger siblings are and how willing they are to lead the older child consequences become. You don’t want to set your child up for failure by forcing them to look after a younger sibling that makes them unhappy to stay home alone.

Prepare so that children stay home alone

Nothing can prepare your child to be more mature. However, if your child seems ready to stay home alone, there are several things you can do to prepare your child for this big step.

  1. If you are leaving your child at home for the first time, only leave them for a short time. Go for a short shopping spree or go to a neighbor’s house for a cup of coffee. This way you are not out of reach when your child needs you.
  2. Make sure your child knows how to use a phone. Place emergency numbers and other information in a prominent place.
  3. Make sure your child knows what it can or cannot do. This includes what he / she can eat, what he / she can see and possibly what he / she can do on the computer.

Parent resources

It can be scary if you Your child to leave alone at home for the first time. However, if your child is mature enough, this can be an important step in building trust and independence. For more information, see:

  • The child support service offers tips and guidelines to help you decide if your child is ready.
  • KidsHealth opens the discussion of what factors to consider before leaving your child at home.
  • Latchkey-Kids offers a system called CARE that calls single children to make sure they’re safe and doing well. The system is used by a variety of law enforcement and child support agencies to help parents who need to work and leave their children at home alone.


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Christina Cherry
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