Is My Child Ready?
Parents are legally responsible for their children’s welfare until they reach adulthood. Under some circumstances, a parent can be charged with neglect for leaving children unattended or left with under-aged children, including siblings.
Unfortunately, there is no magical age when youth develop the maturity and good sense needed to stay alone. However, there are some signs that can help you decide if your child is ready or not.
- They have indicated willingness to stay home alone.
- They are showing signs he or she can be responsible.
- They are aware of the needs of others.
- They are able to get ready for school on time.
- They can solve problems on his or her own.
- They complete homework and household chores with minimal supervision.
- They remember to tell you where they are going and tells you when they arrive home.
When developing rules for what youth can and cannot do while home alone, it is important to involve them in the process. Youth will respond positively to a long list of activities they can do. The may feel stifled with a long list of activities they cannot do. Try to keep the list of activities they cannot do to only the most important rules. For example: using the internet, leaving the house, answering the door or telephone, and using the stove to make a snack.
Parent-Child Communication is Essential!
If you and your child decide they are ready for self-care, the next step is giving youth some guidelines. Involve youth in decisions that affect them. If youth understand the reason for the rules and participate in developing the rules, they are more likely to follow them!
Below is an example of a list of activities youth can and cannot do when home alone:
What I Can Do
- Watch 30 minutes of TV
- Do my homework
- Read a book
- Complete an art project
- Make a snack not using the stove.
- Talk to Katie or Marci on the phone for 30 minutes.
What I Cannot Do
- Use the Internet
- Leave the house
- Play outside
- Have friends over