Is My Child Old Enough to Stay Home Alone?


If you’re a parent, you know how stressful it can be to think of your child stuck at home alone.

What if someone tries to break in while your child is there?

What if they get into a dangerous substance, or a heavy piece of furniture falls on them?

These are legitimate fears, and it can be tough to decide when your kids are old enough to stay home by themselves.

Let’s take a look at some tips from experts to help you decide when it’s time to stop calling the babysitter.

Under 9

Every child matures at a different pace, but most children under nine aren’t yet mature enough to stay home alone. They’re too young to make smart decisions about dangerous household items like the oven, cleaning supplies, and the bathtub.

It’s easy to picture a five-year-old jumping on the bed because they’re home alone, only to fall off and suffer an injury without anyone around to help. 

If your kids are under nine, it’s a good idea to call a babysitter even if you’re only going to be out of the house for a few hours. It’s better to be safe than sorry at this age.

Between 9 and 12

Preteens between the ages of nine and twelve are in a gray area. Some ten-year-olds are fine at home for a few hours, while some twelve-year-olds aren’t yet mature enough to stay home without supervision for more than a few minutes. This is a judgment call on the part of the parent. 

You know your children better than anyone, so ask them some questions about staying home without supervision. Do they think it’s safe to use the oven themselves? How would they respond to a stranger at the door? Would they tell someone on the phone that they were home alone?

If they can answer these questions to your satisfaction, they might be okay at the house alone for a few hours.

Above 13

Most teenagers are responsible enough to handle being home alone overnight without supervision, assuming there’s food in the house. You might feel safer leaving a teen alone in the house overnight if your neighborhood is relatively safe, or if your home has an alarm system. 

The biggest deciding factor in leaving a young teen home overnight is the proximity of trusted friends or family members. Make sure you have an emergency plan in place in case your child needs attention immediately.