Leaving Your Child Home Alone

Deciding if your child is ready to be left home alone can be a tricky decision.
 
There are lots of things to think about. Plus, there are no hard and fast 'home alone' rules or laws because every child is different. Whether you or your child are comfortable with the idea will often depend on how mature and adaptable your child is – and we all know how much this can vary from child to child.
 
What the law says:
 
Strange as it may seem, there's no set age for leaving children home alone. The law simply says that you shouldn't leave a child alone if they'll be at risk.
 
There's such a wide variation in the rate that children mature that it would be almost impossible to come up with a "one size fits all" law. Instead, the choice is left to parents. They know their children best and can use their own judgement.
 
That's not to say that there are no laws on leaving children home alone. Parents who are judged to have put a child at risk by leaving them on their own can be taken to court and even sent to prison.
 
There might not be a specific legal age to leave children alone but it's safe to say babies, toddlers and young children should never be left alone, even if it's just while you pop down the road. Even if they're sleeping peacefully when you leave they could well wake up and get very upset when you're not there to look after them.
 
Things to consider before leaving a child home alone:
 
No one knows your child quite as well as you do – so use your knowledge of what they're really like to answer these questions. This won't give you a definite answer about whether the time is right to leave your child alone at home, but it'll certainly give you plenty to think about.
 
Does your child seem to be responsible and mature for their age and always do what you tell him or her?
 
Would they be able to fix themselves something to eat and drink and would you be happy with them using the cooker or microwave?
 
Can you imagine how they'd cope in an emergency like a power cut or a flooded bathroom?
 
Would they know what to do if the phone rang or someone came to the door?
 
Would they know how to contact you or another family member or friend if they needed to?
 
How would they feel about being left alone – pleased to be given the responsibility or scared by the thought of it?
 
But remember, if you or your child are even the teeniest bit unsure about leaving them at home on their own, it's always best to be on the safe side and arrange some other kind of care for them such as a babysitter or childminder.
 
This information is taken from the NSPCC. 


 

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