Eventually, the time comes for parents when they no longer have to hire a babysitter anymore every time they go to work or run errands. As this is an attractive alternative for both the parents and the children, as their children get older, many parents ask themselves, "What age is a child ready to be left home alone?"
There is no clearcut answer to this question, as it will depend widely on a number of things, including the laws in your state and the ages of the other children in the home. It's best to check your state or local laws before considering it, as they each vary widely. For example, in Illinois, it is illegal to leave a child under the age of fourteen home alone. In Maryland, on the other hand, the child can legally stay home at the age of eight. However, if there are other siblings in the house who are not of legal age, someone at least thirteen years old has to be present to supervise. So you couldn't legally leave your nine year old to watch over your six year old.
Because the failure to adhere to these laws could result in neglect charges, it's important to be aware of your state or county's laws before leaving your children home alone, no matter how mature or responsible that child may be.
However, just because a child is legally able to be home alone doesn't necessarily mean he or she should. Emotional maturity must be taken into consideration as well. Your child should know the following before you leave him or her alone:
•Contact information and location
Your child should be able to tell a 911 operator or police dispatcher his name, address, and directions to his house (or at least landmarks) if it's off the beaten path. He should also be able to tell the name of his parents and where they can be located.
•What To Do In An Emergency
The child should be capable of calling 911 and also knowing under what circumstances that is necessary. In addition, he or she should know what to do in case of a fire or if a stranger comes to the door or calls.
There are other things to take into consideration as well before leaving him or her home alone. Consider the following as well:
•Is your child comfortable being alone?
If your child expresses fear over being left home alone, or if he has had a bad experience being left home alone, you may want to reconsider leaving him or her completely alone.
•Do you live in a safe neighborhood?
If you live in a potentially unsafe area, it may not be a good idea to leave a child home alone.
Has your child ever played with fire or other dangerous things? Kids who are always getting into things or searching out new adventures, like climbing trees or roofs, should probably not be unsupervised.
•Do your children fight often?
Squabbles between siblings are normal, but leaving two kids who fight all the time, especially when it gets physical, alone is not advisable.
The above tips will help you to determine at what age your child should be left home alone.