Summer is just around the corner and for many parents that means, their kids are out of school for the season. Because your kids will be home throughout the day during the summer, you may be wondering, at what age can my child stay home alone?
First and foremost, you should discuss staying home alone with your child. This is important so you can gauge how they would feel if they were to be alone. Some kids don’t like the idea but others beg their parents for a chance to try it.
It’s important to note that these recommendations are for children staying home alone, not for children babysitting their younger siblings.
When can your child stay home in the daytime?
We recommend starting to try out staying home alone during the day. The darkness can be scary to many kids (and adults!) so, it’s best to try this while they feel as safe as possible.
Kids around age 11 or 12 may start spending short periods of time at home alone. Whether they let themselves in the house after school or stay home alone while you run to the store, testing it out for a short amount of time is best.
When can you child stay home at night?
Once a child feels comfortable being home alone during the daytime, they may be ready to stay home alone in the evening. For most kids, that means about age 12 or 13.
Giving your child something to do while they’re home alone will help them feel less lonely and scared, especially at night. For example, suggest they try reading a new book, practicing an instrument or working on a hobby.
Safety while home alone
Whether your child is staying home during the day or at night, it’s vital to make sure they know how to stay safe and who to contact if they feel unsafe.
Go over safety rules for the kitchen if they’ll be doing any cooking while they’re home alone. It’s a good idea to practice what they would do in a real emergency, just in case anything ever happens.
Kids who are home alone might worry that someone could break into the house and hurt them. Remind them to always keep the doors and windows locked at all times. This will keep people out and put their worries at ease. In addition, make sure your child knows how to unlock the doors and windows in case of an emergency.
- How to dial 9-1-1.
- Your home address and phone number.
- The name, location and phone number of where you are (at work, out to dinner, etc.).
- The name, phone number and address of a trusted neighbor.
- The name, phone number and address of another emergency contact person, such as a grandparent or family friend.
Other kinds of emergencies could come up, too, like a toilet overflowing, a fire, or if any of your children get sick or hurt. Just in case, they should have these items available on the counter or memorized:
You child should never tell people they are staying home alone or post pictures to their social media channels that they are home alone. This will help keep them safe.
Decide what to do if the phone rings or if someone knocks at the door. Remind your child, it’s never a good idea to tell someone that they’re home alone. And if they get home and the door is open or a window’s smashed, don’t even peek inside. Instead, go to a neighbor they trust for help.
Staying home alone is an important step to help your child become more independent. However, only start this when they feel ready – do not rush it if they are uncomfortable.