Is My Child Old Enough to Stay at Home Alone?

The life of a parent is certainly a busy one. There are dozens of things to juggle, all whilst taking care of your little ones. There will be times where you need to arrange for alternative childcare, like when you pop to the shops or go back to work. While they may not be small anymore, before leaving your child at home alone, you’ll need to think about whether it’s the right call to make. To help you with that, we have shared some guidance below from a prep school in Northwood.

Babies and very young children

Babies and very young children are incapable of helping themselves in the event of an emergency and should never be left home alone. Even if that’s for 15 minutes. This includes if they are “safe” in a play pen or even asleep, you never know what might happen so do not leave them alone.

Old Enough to Stay at Home Alone
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Under 12’s

It is not recommended for primary aged children between the ages of 6 and 12 to be left home alone. This is because, at that age, children do not have the maturity to deal with most situations. Things like having to look after other children, dealing with an accident, making food for themselves without supervision and walking or getting the bus back home from school can all pose potential risks that could result in serious accidents.

Secondary school aged children (12-16)

Most people will agree that once a child is at high school they are capable of being left home alone for a short while. However, regardless of how old they are and that you can leave them at home unsupervised, it is something that you should still think about carefully. They are still children that are learning about the world around them and may not know how to act in an emergency. If you do need to leave them at home you should talk to them before doing so to see whether they feel comfortable and make them aware of any ground rules. If in doubt, you should always see if there’s an adult available to supervise, or who is nearby should they get scared or need help, this could be a neighbour or a friend who lives locally.

Before you leave any child alone always make sure they know how to contact you if they need to as well as how to contact another adult should you not answer as well as the emergency services in case something serious does happen. By having ground rules and a safety plan in place both you and your child will feel more confident about the situation when it does happen.