In the news recently, there has been a lot of discussion on when should a child be left home alone? I have been very interested in this subject and have been asking myself this very question. I wrote about it on my website and discovered there are no laws stating an age children can be left alone. When should a child be left home alone?
It is down to parental judgement, when they feel their child is old enough and mature enough. On the one hand, this is good. As parents, we know our own children best. Children are not a one size fits all, some mature much quicker than others. It is good that there is still something parents themselves have control over.
However, I still feel a little lost with the guidelines. A lot of the guidance notes talk about children being left for long periods, whilst parents are at work. But what about just a short time. Does this make a difference? I know children can have an accident or other emergency at any time, but surely it reduces the risk.
My daughters are 6 and I would not leave them alone, they are definitely not old enough, even for just a few minutes. They would certainly not know what to do in an emergency. But, my son is 8 and I have been considering whether he will soon be mature enough to be left for just 20 mins during the occasions I need to drop his siblings off at clubs.
I don’t feel he would be old enough to be left home alone for long periods such as for regular work, but just 20 mins occasionally may be ok soon?
The NSPCC have some good questions on their website that I think would be important to discuss together before deciding. They also suggest that children under 12 are rarely mature enough to cope in an emergency, therefore should not be left home alone for a long period of time, but they don’t have any guidance for these very short periods.
What age do you think children should be able to be left home alone?
Were you left home alone as a child while your parents worked? From what age? How did you feel?