Leaving your child home alone for the first time is a fairly major milestone in a parent’s journey.
As the mother of two young kids, I’m glad this moment is still several years away.
Still, like most parents, I wonder: At what age is it OK to leave kids home alone?
Keep reading to see her chart, and here’s what you need to keep in mind when making this decision for your own family.
Get Familiar With Your State’s Laws
Curiously, some states have laws that specify the age kids need to reach before they can stay home alone (Illinois is 14 for example, whereas Maryland is 8). Others offer a “suggested age,” and some states don’t touch the matter at all.
Becoming familiar with your state’s law is important, as there can be serious legal repercussions for leaving kids alone before the law deems them ready.
Get Input From Guidelines
From her research, Mique, the blogger and founder of the site Thirty Handmade Days, crafted some general guidelines.
Kids should never be left alone until they are 8 years old, and kids between the ages 8-10 shouldn’t be left for more than an hour-and-a-half or during night-time hours. Don’t assume they’re looking up at the night stars with a telescope made for children.
Kids ages 11-13 may be left alone up to three hours but not “late at night.” Per her research, only kids 16 and up may be left unsupervised overnight.
Remember: You Know Your Own Child Best
I have to say, some of these recommendations sit better with me than others. Can I envision my 8-year-old nephew being fine if left alone for an hour in the middle of the day? Yes.
But as with most child-rearing decisions, it depends on the kid.
A less mature elementary-age child perhaps should not spend time alone until closer to age 10.
Likewise with the recommendation that a 16-year-old may be able to stay home alone for two consecutive nights: If you’re a parent of a child that age, you’re probably thinking “yes, definitely” or “no way” depending on the maturity and capability of your child.
As a mom, this chart is a helpful start for knowing when it will be OK to leave my littles home alone (Is “never” an option? Just kidding. Sort of…).
The true answer lies with what you and your family are comfortable doing and what your state law specifies, if you live in a state with such legislation in place.
Mique pulled information from this FindLaw article, a website called Latchkey-Kids.com and she spoke to police officers in her home state of California before putting her recommendations into this helpful chart:
What do you think is an appropriate age to leave kids home alone? Share your thoughts on Facebook.