Tonette Kelly

Life Is For Living and Learning

Leaving Your Child Home Own Alone

Happy Teens

I am often asked how old a child should be before you leave them home alone and there is no simple answer.

In the United Kingdom there is no specific age limit for leaving a child home alone but it is an offence to leave a child alone if it places them at risk. Parents can be prosecuted if they leave a child alone and unsupervised ‘in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health’ (Children and Young Person’s Act).

The test for you then is to determine the maturity of your child and their emotional and physical cabaility to be left alone.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) believes that:

  • children under the age of about 12 are rarely mature enough to be left alone for a long period of time
  • children under the age of 16 should not be left alone overnight
  • babies, toddlers and very young children should never be left alone

Some children may be mature and confident enough to be left alone at 12 years of age whilst others may not be ready until aged 14 or even later.

It is important to speak to your child about how they feel about being left alone. If they have no issue with it why not give them some test runs of an hour or so and see how they cope.

When you do leave your child alone:

  • leave a contact phone number for you and make sure you can answer it quickly
  • leave a list of contact people in case you can’t be reached for some reason
  • remind your child of your rules before you leave in relation to watching television, using the computer and answering the phone and door
  • speak to your child about what they should do in the case of an emergency (like a fire)
  • let your child know when you will be back and be on time
  • ask your child what they will be doing whilst you are gone

Before you leave check again that your child is happy to be left alone.

If not arrange a babysitter.

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April 11, 2011 - Posted by | Children, Uncategorized | , , ,

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