As your child ages and you begin to give them more freedom, a time will come where you will be faced with the dilemma…can they be left home alone?
The answer is different for every parent because it comes down to the individual child. It is completely natural to worry about your child’s safety no matter how old they get. However, making a plan and putting some rules in place will help you to prepare for this new milestone.
Here is some helpful information from an sixth form in Hertfordshire on allowing your child to stay home alone…
Is it legal?
Remarkably there is no legal age requirement for leaving a child unattended at home. However, child protection authorities say that ‘it is an offence to leave a child alone if it places them at risk.’ Therefore, it is critically important to evaluate your child’s readiness.
Is my child ready?
A parent should trust their instincts when deciding if their child is ready to be left home alone. It is important to take into consideration your child’s maturity level and problem-solving skills, as well as their own feelings about being left on their own. If there is any doubt, then it is best to wait a bit longer until you both feel more comfortable.
How can we make a plan?
Emergencies – Make sure that your child knows exactly what to do in an emergency. Discuss potential situations, such as a power cut, a fire or a stranger at the door and explain what they should do in each scenario.
Contact numbers – Always let your child know where you are going and what time they can expect you back. Tell your child who to call in an emergency and leave all important contact numbers. This should include all family members and neighbours phone numbers in case they can’t reach you.
Food & drink – Can your child confidently operate kitchen appliances without adult supervision? Make sure that your child is capable of safely preparing food and drink on their own. If you are worried, then you could prepare their meals or snacks before you go out.
Online safety – Finally, it is important to talk to your child about what they are going to do while you’re out. For example, if your child has access to the internet, it is important to explain cyber safety and ensure that they do not mention to anyone online that they are going to be home alone.