If you’ve watched the Home Alone movies then, you’ll agree with me that they’re every parent’s worst nightmare come to life. I might have thought the movies cool and funny when I was a kid but when I watched them now, the only horrified thought that came out of my mind was, “How could Kevin’s parent not know the soonest that he was left behind?!”
Leaving kids at home ALONE is one big step for every parent. When this matter comes up, questions like is my child responsible enough? Is it safe? Is he even old enough to leave alone at home in the first place? surface. But the ultimate question we, parents, perpetually ask is AT WHAT AGE IS IT OK TO LEAVE KIDS ALONE AT HOME?
One blogger did a research about this and came up with a very helpful guideline on this hotly debated topic. While some states don’t touch the matter at all, there are also states that set suggested ages for kids — if they’re at this age then, they’re safe to leave at home alone at a certain part of the day.
Mique, blogger and founder of the Thirty Handmade Days site, collated all she researched online and through her talks with police officers from her area in one very informative infographic.
Putting Mique’s research and general infographic in a nutshell,
- Kids 7 years old and younger should not be left on their own at home at any time of the day even if there are states that allow kids as young as 6 to be left at home alone [like Kansas].
- Kids aged 8 to 10 years old can only be left alone at home for one and a half hour tops and only during daytime.
- Kids within the 11-13 age bracket can be left at home on their own for up to three hours but not on the late hours of the night.
- Only kids 16 and up can be left unsupervised overnight for two consecutive nights but not more than that.
Are They Ready?
For me, Mique’s infographic and general guidelines on when it is OK to leave kids on their own at home sound reasonable enough. Can I see my nine-year-old son being fine if left alone at home for more than an hour? Yes.
However, one health site strongly advises against leaving kids younger than 10 at home alone even for an hour or so. Accordingly, kids under 10 left on their own devices is never a good idea as children within this age bracket don’t have the maturity and the skills to deal when emergency situations come up.
Additionally, there are other factors to consider besides your children’s maturity when it comes to this matter.
For one, you have to think if the area you live in is safe. Is it near busy streets or is the neighbourhood generally quiet? Is the crime rate within your area/neighbourhood high? Do you have someone, a neighbour perhaps or one person who lives in your building, you know you can trust and count on to look after your kids in case of emergency?
It’s Up to You!
You, the parent, know your children well. When it comes to this matter, trust your parental instinct. Nobody is the best judge but you when it comes to your children’s maturity on how they handle responsibilities delegated to them so, you can gauge well if they’re ready to be left on their own devices at home for a few hours.
Work out what’s most comfortable to you and your family as long as it’s within the boundaries of the laws in the area/state you live in, if there are any.