When can you leave kids home alone?
Here's what parents and children need to know.
Being able to stay home alone is a big milestone for both kids and their parents but there are several considerations to keep in mind. The term "latchkey kids" has grown since the ‘70s and ‘80s as the growth of two income families rose. If your child insists they don't need a babysitter, knowing the rules around latchkey children and leaving kids at home alone is important. Here are a few things to think about before leaving kids home alone.
What age can kids stay home alone?
Each state has different age restrictions and rules so understanding when you can leave your kids home alone is important. There are states that do not have guidelines to follow but always consider how old, independent and mature they are.
How long can kids stay alone?
Start with a short amount of time — 30 minutes to an hour — and gradually increase it as both you and your child feel more comfortable.
How would they handle important situations?
- Kitchen safety and meal prep. Your child should know basic kitchen safety rules, including how to safely use the oven, stove and knives and how to clean up after a meal. It may be a good idea to set out snacks or a premade meal for your child while you're away.
- Visitors. Does your child know what to do if someone comes to the door? One of the safest options is to advise them not to open the door while you're away.
- Emergency situations. Your child should know what constitutes an emergency and what steps to take if one should arise. He/she should know basic first-aid and feel comfortable calling you or 911.
- Phone calls. In case of an emergency, your child should be comfortable making phone calls and speaking on the phone. He/she should know what to do if the phone rings while you're not home.