4C was recently contacted by Channel 9 News to get our opinion and advice to assist parents with one of the hardest decisions a parent must make…what age can I leave my child alone. School age children begin to insist they are old enough to stay home alone. With the down turn of the economy, many parents have faced challenging child care options. Seeking advice on when is the right time to leave a child alone is a smart option.
There are a few things to consider. Each child is different. One child may be ready to be home alone at the age of 12 and another child may not be ready until the age of 14. “The decision about whether your child/children are ready for self-care is a continuing process rather than a singular event.” It will begin with allowing your child to be left alone for short periods, a brief 20 minutes while you run a short errand. The process is one of developing skills in your child and increasing confidence in the parent- with frequent monitoring of the self-care arrangement. Please consider the following tips when preparing to leave your child home alone:
- Can your child lock and unlock doors and windows unassisted
- Can your child tell time
- Can your child recognize danger or a dangerous situation
- Can your child solve conflicts without adult help
- Does your child have a sense of security and confidence
- Does your child have the skills to handle boredom and fear
- Does your child handle personal responsibility
- Does your child understand expectations
- Is your child willing to stay home alone
- Will your child seek help from another adult if the need arises
A few other options to consider are safety of your home, a list of emergency phone numbers, who is allowed in the home with your child/children, responsibilities for your child, cooking guidelines, telephone and door guidelines and overall communication.
School-age child care professionals differ on if and when self-care is appropriate. Neither 4C nor any school-age professional can decide what is safe or appropriate for your family or your children. The information provided in this blog or our website @ www.4cforchildren.org is just a guide to use as you consider , evaluate or prepare for self care in your home. The final determination of whether or not, or when to leave school-age children home, unattended by an adult, is the full responsibility of each parent.
Watch the 4C for Children interview on WCPO