Is She Really Ready?
Before you make the big decision to leave your child in charge at home, make sure she is mature enough for such a big responsibility. Although some states have laws that determine the age at which children may be left unsupervised, most leave parents to figure it out on their own. The following guidelines should help.
The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry says older adolescents can handle the home-alone responsibility for limited periods of time. With younger children, aged 10 to 12, the academy advises parents to consider the individual child's maturity level and track record of responsible behavior.
Emotional readiness for being alone varies greatly from child to child. Would your child feel comfortable calling a neighbor for help? How about telling a caller that Mom can't come to the phone because she's busy? You also need to think about how your child might do in an emergency situation. If she cut herself while slicing a bagel would she know what to do? Can she remember instructions and phone numbers under pressure? Finally, is she able to talk about and express her feelings? Would she let you know if she were scared or lonely when you weren't there? Take a few weeks to observe your child and discuss these ideas with her.