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Age is Only a Minimum Guideline for Readiness to Be Home Alone

Age is Only a Minimum Guideline for Readiness to Be Home Alone 8/16/19North Dakota guidelines for children staying at home alone allow 9-year-olds to take on this responsibility for up to two hours during daylight hours.  (This is for home ALONE self-care, and not for the care of younger siblings.) However, there is much more to this important decision than age alone.

As the adult/parent, you need to assess:

Is your child prepared for the many situations, or any emergency, that may arise?

Is he/she mature enough?

Is he/she observant?

Can your child detect and interpret signs that would indicate danger, trouble, or problems?

Does your child know and respect the house rules that you have established?

Is your child realistic about his/her capabilities and limits?

Is he/she safety conscious?

Is he/she trustworthy?

Does your child have good decision-making skills?

How close or accessible would a trusted adult be if your child needed help?

Guidance from www.Parentslead.org can help you access your child’s readiness to be home alone. 

The ultimate responsibility for the safety, care, well-being and behavior of your child or children remains with you: the parent or caregiver, whether you are there to personally supervise or not.

To avoid confusion about what you expect, establish rules.  This will add to your child’s sense of security. Consider how your child will check-in with a parent when they arrive home after school. Discuss food, chores, friends, appliances, activities and other possible scenarios, and write out responses.

Encourage your child to discuss his/her feelings about being home alone. If they are afraid, make arrangements for childcare.

Develop confidence by having your child practice being home alone while you are outside in the yard or taking a nap. When ready, graduate to running short/quick errands close by.  Work up to the two-hour maximum.  Talk with your child about his/her home-alone time each time you return so you can address any issues and make a plan for the next time.

Photo Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/children-tv-child-television-home-403583/ (downloaded 8/20/19)

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