Are you comfortable leaving your child home alone?

What is a good age to start leaving children home alone?

 

Today’s children are NOT the same as when we were kids. That being said, I would never in my life trust a 12-year-old with my 2 and 5-year-old (in the instance they’re baby sitting). I’m not judging your child or their abilities. They just aren’t the same as when we were that age. We didn’t have electronic devises sucking our brains out and distracting us from the task at hand. These days, 12-year-old’s have Instagram and Facebook, they’re snap-chatting each other and don’t have the same mentality that we did as 12-year-old’s.

When I was 12, I would babysit alone, at night, for hours a 2 and 3-year-old.

I was trusted and I had the knowledge to make sure they were fed, not to walk away from them in the bath tub or outside while playing. Being CPR certified is strongly encouraged, also. It isn’t that I have lost faith in our children, I have just observed them being raised differently, we are in fact in a different era. I do see a lot of times on the Facebook pages I follow, moms asking what would be considered a good age to leave their child(ren) alone for short stints. There’s always going to be a difference of opinion. Some moms who trust their children, with proven actions that they’re capable of staying home, and other moms, who are like me. It paralyzes them with fear thinking about leaving them  alone.  I cannot speak on the side of leaving a child at home, yet. My Children are still small.  I think with a few rules and safety tips put into place and I believe even by state (each state may have different laws when leaving children at home) kids can be left alone.  I am in Arizona.  According to the Arizona Department of Economic Security’s website, Arizona does not designate an age when a child can be left alone, but it is up to the discretion of the parents.  Child Protective Services (CPS) will investigate if neglect is reported including: “failure to provide supervision that places a child at an unreasonable risk of harm.”  

Photo by Joseph Gonzalez

 

 

If you don’t let your child play outside unsupervised, they’re clearly not old enough to be home alone. Any child under the age of 7 should NEVER be left home alone. Age 8-10, the “appropriate” length of time left alone would be no more than 30 minutes. This is being said with the understanding that you’ve placed your child at the ability to be left alone and not burn the house down and never at night…. Right! It’s said ages 11-12 they should be capable of a 3-hour home-alone-stay without issue, but again, never late at night. Ages 13-15 have the maturity level to know right from wrong, and if your child shows you they have the ability to stay home alone, you can leave them unsupervised but never overnight. As we move into the teenage years, a 16-17-year-old clearly has the ability to stay home alone. It isn’t advise leaving them more than 2 nights alone, as we all know from growing up, we like to get into some mischief. We all know at 17 if our parents left we wanted to throw parties! Again, always at your discretion and your child’s level of maturity.                        

Lets also not forget that there are some things that every child should know and learn. Because there is always the case where an emergency arises and they should be prepared. Make sure to arm your children with the important information if these cases arise.

  • Name, address and phone number. In the case of an emergency where they may need to call 911, these three things are basic information they will be asked by emergency personnel.
  • If you live in an area where you know neighbors and trust them, always let them know you’ll be leaving and let them know the length of time if possible in case the child(ren) need help or have problems. Make sure you talk with your child about entering other homes and only being done with permission. They should always know what is OK and what is against the rules.
  • Periodically checking in with your child(ren) so that they know you’re making sure things are alright and also to help with accountability!
  • Leave a list of emergency numbers for them so they have a plan and can put it into play if anything happens.
  • Always leave the children with a set of rules before you leave. What they can and cannot make in the kitchen, leaving snacks and prepared meals is always a great idea with the younger crowd learning to stay home alone.
  • First aid kit. God forbid anything happen that they need to call emergency but they should always know where to find the kit in case they have cuts or MINOR things to care for.
Photo by Ben White
Making sure your child(ren) are prepared will only benefit everyone.

Knowing safety procedures and having plans set in place will help everyone adjust to leaving children home alone as they grow! While these are just suggestions to help a parent with this next phase, there are many websites you can visit to verify safely leaving children home alone and a suggested age along with each states laws.


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