Is My Child Old Enough to Stay Home Alone?
Many parents struggle with leaving their children at home alone, because they are not sure what age is the appropriate age. Parents should consider the legal age requirement in their state, but other factors should be considered, such as maturity. Leaving a child at home alone is a huge decision that not only means the child is getting older and more mature, but it exemplifies the trust that the parent has in their child.
Reasons a parent may need to leave a child at home vary. Some children are ill, and the parent is not able to miss work, or find a baby-sitter at the last minute. Other parents may be going through a financial hardship, and after-school sitters or programs are too costly. A parent may be running an errand that will only take a couple of hours; therefore hiring a baby-sitter would not be necessary. Some children may be begging their parents for the opportunity to prove how mature and trustworthy they really are. Regardless of the reason, parents must make sure to follow rules and regulations of the state they live in. Keeping the child safe should be the main priority of the parent.
Some states have legal age requirements for leaving a child at home alone. For example, Colorado requires children to be at least twelve years-old to stay at home alone, but Illinois has a minimum age requirement of fourteen. States like Georgia and South Carolina set the acceptable age at eight. In California there is no age requirement, but a parent can be held accountable if the child is endangered. A local child-care agency can give parents advice on when it is okay to leave a child at home alone, and what type of boundaries the parent should set. Before making the decision to leave a child at home alone, it is always best to find a relative or family friend who may be willing to watch that child.
Children who stay home alone are considered “latch-key kids.” Parents need to have a thorough conversation with children who are going to be staying home alone. This detailed conversation should list what a child is allowed to do, and what that child is not allowed to do while their parents are not home. Telling children not to answer the door for anyone should be on the top of that list. Children should not leave the home until a parent has come home. Letting a child have company without any adult-supervision is not a good idea. Parents do not want to be responsible for another person’s child. Since the world is full of technology these days, it is best that a child not use his computer; this could decrease the chances of a stranger knowing the child is home alone. Parents should call the child multiple times within each hour, just to know he is okay. Children should have a list of emergency phone numbers near, which include the police, the parents work, cell phone and other family member contacts.
Outside of the state legal age requirements, there is no definite answer as to when a child should be left home alone. This is a decision parents need to make together, based on their living arrangements, child maturity and trust level.
Jennie is an author,blogger, mother and wife. To ensure the protection of your loved ones, visit http://www.selecthomesecurity.com/adt-prices-and-equipment.html and buy a home security system today.