If you have reached a stage where you think your child is ready to be left home alone, but you are nervous about trying it for the first time. This blog is for you!
Knowing whether your child is ready will be different for every parent. It is completely natural to worry about their safety and question whether they are ready for the responsibility. However, making a plan and creating a set of rules can help you and your child to prepare for this new milestone.
To help you decide if your child is old enough to be left home alone, here is some great advice from an independent school in Hertfordshire…
What is the legal age to be left home alone?
You may be surprised to learn that there is no legal age requirement to leave your child unattended at home. However, child protection experts say that ‘it is an offence to leave a child alone if it places them at risk.’ Therefore, it is crucially important to evaluate your child’s readiness.
How do I know if my child ready?
Parents know their children better than anyone, so take into consideration their maturity level and problem-solving skills, as well as their feelings about being left on their own. If you are unsure, you could try a short practice run while you are nearby.
How can we prepare?
Above all you must ensure that your child knows what to do in case of an emergency. Discuss potential situations, such as a power cut, a fire or a stranger at the door and explain what they should do in each scenario. It is also important to consider how capable your child is to safely prepare food and drink on their own. Can your child confidently operate the kettle, cooker or microwave without adult supervision? If you are worried, then you could prepare their meals and snacks in advance.
What about Siblings?
If you have more than one child, you might feel more comfortable about leaving your children home alone together. On the other hand, if they do not get along it might not be such a good idea. Consider their sibling relationship. Do they fight a lot and will the younger child listen to the older child if you leave them in charge?
Remember to trust your instincts about leaving your children home alone. If you have any doubts then it is best to find alternative childcare until you are ready.