One of the toughest calls for any parent to make is knowing when their children are mature enough to stay home by themselves. Getting a babysitter can be a time-consuming process, and you might not be willing to constantly have other people in your home. As such, the day when you can trust your kids to take care of themselves for a few hours while you’re out of the house is a good one.
But how will you know? When is your child old enough and mature enough to handle staying home alone? That’s a hard call to make. Here are some tips to help you figure out the best ways to get a handle on your child’s readiness for being left on their own.
There Is No Magic Number
Every child is different. Some eight-year-old kids are perfectly fine to stay home alone, while some fourteen-year-olds might not be there yet. There’s not a specific age at which you can definitively say that any given child is ready to stay home alone.
However, there are some general rules of thumb you can rely on to make that call.
How Independent Are They?
Are your kids good at solving problems on their own? This is a good measure by which to tell if they’re ready to be left at home by themselves. Even if you’re only gone for two hours, there are a lot of chances for problems to arise. This goes double if they have younger siblings they might need to keep up with, too.
If your kids are constantly coming to you for help with even simple problems, then you can assume they aren’t ready to stay on their own yet. Conversely, if you’ve seen them solve complex problems without needing your assistance, they might be able to handle it.
Can They Follow Instructions?
When you leave your kids at home, they need to be able to follow your instructions to the letter. Simple instructions like not answering the door to people they don’t know, not telling people they’re home alone, and not turning on the oven or shower are important for them to follow explicitly.
So, if you’re certain that your kids are good at following your instructions and can solve unforeseen problems without much issue, it’s probably safe to leave them with a cell phone to contact you and a pizza for dinner. Otherwise, consider shelling out for the babysitter for a little while longer.