How Old is Old Enough to Be Home Alone?

alarm monitoringThe issue of latch-key children has been discussed for some time, but concerns about child safety in the modern age tend to heat up with every news story that covers the topic. 

Each state has different laws that govern at what age a parent can legally leave a child home alone. In the state of Georgia, for instance, children 9 – 12 can be left without adult supervision for up to two hours. In most states, children can babysit after the age of 13. It’s best to check the law in your city and state before you consider leaving your kids at home. 

Common sense would dictate that the child should be at least school-age before being left alone for any period of time; after that, it depends on the reason and duration of the parental absence and the maturity level of the child. A 7-year old who is good at following directions and is generally obedient could be left for short periods much more readily than a 10-year old with behavioural problems. 

There are benefits to leaving your children home alone for short periods. It lets your child know that you trust him, and he’ll learn repsonsibility and accountability. If you feel uncomfortable at the thought of leaving your child unsupervised, ease into it with a few trial runs of about 15 – 20 minutes. To put your mind further at ease, here are a few tips on helping them stay safe while they learn to be independent. 

Preparing Your Child

1. Make sure that your children know the basics of home safety, like when and how to call 911 in case of an emergency, the location of fire extinguishers and how to handle it if someone comes to the door. 

2. Check in at least once, but don’t overdo it; it’s important for children to know that we trust them, and this will help build confidence and maturity. If you have a close neighbor that you and your children know well, give them a heads up to check in if you will be gone for several hours. Let your children know that this neighbor is available if there’s trouble. 

3. Make plan with your child about what to do in the case of unexpected events like fire, electrical interruptions or other threats to their safety.

There is a middle ground between helicopter and free-range parenting, and every child is an individual. As a parent, you’re the best judge of whether your child can handle the responsibility of looking after him or her self and any younger siblings. For extra peace of mind, parents can install safety devices from a licensed, reputable alarm monitoring company.

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