At what age is it safe for a child to stay home alone?

What is the recommended age of a child before they can stay home alone for an evening?

Submitted by lstewart

This isn't an easy answer. It depends on your child, her ability to follow directions when you're not there to supervise, and the safety and attitudes of your community. Some 10-year-olds might be ready to handle this big responsibility, but on the other hand, many 13 -year-olds might not be mature enough to handle the emergencies that could pop up. Here's a great list of behaviors your child should exhibit before being considered safe to stay home alone:

http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/pdf/5321.pdf

Answered by Parents Team
Community Answers (5)

At 10, I brought this up with my son and he said it sounded "scary" so I dropped it. At 11, I brought this up and he said it sounded okay, so I left him during the day and walked to the neighbor's house for a half hour trial run. He knew where I was, how to get there, how to call me and when I'd be back. After that, I would leave him to run to the store (30 minutes trip) only during the day. By 12, he was good with longer time periods and sometimes after dark. By this time, we had a year of discussions on when to call mom, when to call the fire dept, when to call the police, when to call an ambulance, when to call the neighbors. He could handle anything in the normal course of events and we had discussed how to handle emergencies. He knew the rules of staying on his own (no cooking except microwaving, nobody allowed in the house, no leaving the house, even to play in the yard, except in cases of emergency, keep his phone near him and turned on). My long-winded reply is really that it isn't a specific age. It's dependent on the child when you start the process and important that you consider it a process, not an immediate step.
Submitted by annerdr1

Also you have to take into account some states laws on age when leaving your child alone. I know some states its 12yrs, make sure you know your state laws on age restrictions when leaving your child alone even if they are responsible enough to you to stay home CPS may not see it that way.
Submitted by emankuswane

12
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It really depends on the child and how long you are going to leave. To the store and back? or a whole day. Look for the laws in your state. (some actually have them. I had a 16yr old and a 12 yr old... I din't trust the 16yr old, but as long as the 12 yr old was home with him I would leave them for a few hours.
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