Tip of the Month: Staying home alone? Is your child ready?
It sneaks up on you... the day arrives and your child asks "Pleeease! I don't want to go to the store with you... can I stay home instead?". This can be an exciting (and scary) time for both parent and child (mostly scary for the parents!). This is a popular question in our workshops.... "is my child ready?" and "What is the age law on children staying home alone?"
Many parents think the "law" is age 12. So it comes as a surprise to find out that in most states there is no age "law" minimum for kids staying home alone, just recommendations. The "recommendation" for Washington state is 10, but it is not a law.
Only you can determine if your child is ready (and the situation is safe) to stay home alone... we have complied a partial list with some good questions to help get you started and help you gauge the maturity and readiness of having your child staying home alone for short periods of time:
- Does your child know how to dial 911?
- Does your child know your full name and address?
- Does your child know how to operate the phone correctly?
- Do they know what to say if someone asks if their parents are home?
- What are your rules regarding cooking or playing outside when you are gone?
- Can your child respond correctly to "What if" situations such as "What if the power went out? What if there was a fire.
- Have you reviewed your rules on answering the phone or the door if you are not home?
- What are your rules about having friends over?
- Does your child show an interest or confidence in staying home alone?
- If your child will be watching a sibling, do they get along? Will a younger sibling respect the rules and authority of the older sib?
- Does your child know what to do if they become injured while home alone?
- Can your child lock and unlock the door to your home?
- Is your child physically capable and physically healthy enough to stay home alone?
All the best!