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Home Alone

Home Alone

Every parent eventually faces the decision to leave their child home alone for the first time. Parents need to make sure their child has the skills and maturity to safely handle the situation.

Evaluation of child’s maturity:

  • Is your child physically and mentally able to care for him/herself?
  • Does your child feel comfortable or fearful about being home alone?
  • Does your child obey rules and make good decisions?

Circumstances

When and how a child is left home alone can make a difference to his or her safety.
Consider the following questions:
  • How long will your child be left home alone at one time?
  • Will it be during the morning, afternoon or evening? Will the child need to fix a meal?
  • How often will the child be expected to care of him/herself?
  • How many children are being left home alone? (Children who may be ready to stay home alone may not be ready to care for younger siblings).
  • Is your home and neighborhood safe and free of hazards?

Safety Skills

Your child needs to know what to do and whom to contact in an emergency situation. You may want to consider enrolling your child in a safety course.

Consider the following questions:
  • Does your family have a safety plan for emergencies?
  • Does your child know his or her full name, address and phone number?
  • Does your child know where you are and how to contact you at all times?
  • Does your child know the full names and contact information of other trusted adults, in case of emergency?

Parent Tips

The following suggestions may help you prepare your child and to feel more comfortable about leaving your child alone.
  • Have a trial period

    Leave the child home alone for a short time while staying close to home.

  • Role play

    Act out possible situations to help your child learn what to do.

  • Establish rules

    Make sure your child knows what is and what is not allowed when you are not home.

  • Check in

    Call your child while you are away to see how it’s going, or have a trusted neighbor or friend check in.

  • Talk about it

    Encourage your child to share feelings with you about staying home alone.

Don’t overdo it. Even a mature, responsible child shouldn’t be home alone too much. Consider other options, such as school programs, community centers or churches.