Guidelines for Children Staying at Home

— Written By

If you are in a situation where your child will be left at home, here are some helpful hints to guide you on whether you should leave your child home alone.

First as a parent you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • How long will I be away?
  • What time of day will I be away? Will I be gone during the day and return at night?
  • Will my child need to prepare food to eat?
  • Is there food in the house that my child can eat with no preparation?
  • Is the neighborhood safe where I live?
  • Do I know of a neighbor nearby who could help my child if needed?

Next you have to look at the maturity of your child:

  • Is my child physically able to lock and unlock the doors?
  • Does my child know how to use the phone-emergency numbers to call and their physical address?
  • Does my child know when to answer the phone and what to say when the parents aren’t home?
  • Do they understand who a stranger is?
  • Do they know what to do if someone knocks on the door?
  • Can my child solve small problems that may arise being alone?
  • Will they be watching siblings? Are they ready to do that? Can they solve problems with siblings?

Some states have a set age for children to be able to stay home alone; however, each child matures differently. One 12 year old may be fine to stay home alone but another one may not.

Before the time comes for your child to be left alone:

  • Set rules and expectations for your child being alone
  • Make sure your home is safe (poisons, firearms, alcohol, etc are secured to keep your child safe)
  • Make a list of phone numbers (your phone # and a neighbor/relative)
  • Have first aid supplies available and explain to your child how to use them

If you need any resources (first aid, watching over siblings, or cooking) to teach your child, email julie_lyvers@ncsu.edu.