Staying home alone was forever changed in parents’ minds when the Home Alone movies came out in the 90s. And while the issues they faced in those movies were exaggerated, it’s important for your children to know what to do when they’re home alone.
For most parents, the first time you leave your child home alone is a big step. It’s natural to be anxious. You might wonder what age is appropriate, how long is OK and what your kids should know before you take that step.
There are really no laws on the books about the correct age. You‘ll need to make a judgment call based on what you know about your child. All kids mature at different paces so consider not only your child’s age, but how he responds to various situations. My general recommendation is by age 10 or 11, most kids are ready to have a trial run. Keep in mind – just because your child may stay home alone doesn’t mean he’s ready to watch other kids.
When teaching kids about home safety, they need to know what to do in different scenarios and have clear-cut rules. Should he open the door if someone knocks? What if it’s the adult neighbor she knows? Or a delivery man with flowers? Should she answer the phone? What about making snacks using the microwave or oven?
Here are some good tips to keep handy if you’re considering leaving your kids home alone:
Finally, remind your children that they must show responsibility to be able to stay home alone. It’s a privilege to be earned.
Julie Eldridge is a pediatric educator and teaches safety courses at Mercy Children’s Hospital.