There comes a time when every parent questions if their child is ready to stay home alone. For some this is a sign of growth and independence in their child, for others it is a time they dread. Either way, it is bound to happen!
There is an ongoing debate on what age is appropriate for children to stay home alone. To make it easy for you, we’ll start with a simple answer; it is not a one size fits all!
The first way to know if your child is ready to be left home alone is to check your state laws! Several states in this country – The United States – have a minimum age requirement for children being lawfully allowed to stay home alone, while other states leave the decision to the parents by not providing a law or clear guidance. Click here to see your state law regarding age. It goes without saying, that all state laws should be followed.
The maturity and the safety of a child should be the main points taken into heavy consideration after checking your state law, before leaving them alone. Just because some state laws may say your child might be left home alone at the age of 10, some children that age may not be ready. Strand Security of Myrtle Beach wants you and your family to feel comfortable with this new stepping stone in your child’s life, therefore we are offering some ways to consider maturity and safety of the child and your home.
Home Alone: Is Your Child Mature Enough?
Before leaving your child home alone their maturity must be taken into consideration and thus this is the second way to know if your child is ready to be left home alone!
First of all, you will want to know how your child feels about being in the home alone. If they feel anxious then they probably are not ready. However, some children may feel excited and have a sense of pride about being alone at home.
There are several questions to ask before leaving a child…
Can the child lock and unlock all the doors, as well as the windows?
Can they use the telephone and operate appliances properly?
They must be able to read and write a message, give directions, and follow emergency procedures.
Do they know basic first-aid procedures?
Also consider how your child handles certain situations…
Is your child showing responsibility with following directions, homework, and chores?
Does your child panic or get anxious when things do not go as planned?
Do they follow rules and safety measures?
How does your child react to strangers?
Home Alone: Keeping Your Child Safe
It is important to take certain measures to assure the safety of any child left home alone and if you feel your home provides a safe place for your child to be alone this is the third way to know if your child is ready to be left home alone. The following suggestions will help protect your child.
- Schedule times for parental contact throughout the alone time.
- Discuss how the telephone should be answered and what information is ok to share and not share. (Never let a stranger know the child is home alone.)
- Establish a code word in case you need to communicate to your child through a third party.
- Discuss and determine who should be allowed in the house.
- Rehearse possible situations your child might face. Rehearse what to do in case of a fire, power outage, tornado, security alarm set off etc.
- Make a list of rules. Is it ok to play with neighborhood kids or play outside? Which activities are not allowed?
- Rehearse what to do if a stranger knocks on the door.
- For an extra safety measure, install a security system. This will allow you to be notified when your child has arrived home from school and also allows you to check on them from time to time.
Home Alone: Prepare Activities And A To Do List
Prepare a list of fun activities and chores for the child to do. This will keep them active and will help pass the time.
- Make a craft center.
- Make a list of certain chores to be completed for each day.
- Create a homework checklist.
- Set ground rules for electronics and TV.
- Create an appropriate snack list.
There are several factors to consider before making the decision to leave a child home alone. Discuss the factors with all family members and set consequences for breaking the rules.
Once you feel that you and your child are both ready for this next step, it is important to do a practice round for a short period of time where you go out an maybe run a quick nearby errand or visit with neighbors. If everything goes well, then you are all set. You and your child have now reached a new stepping stone in life.