How to Prepare Your Child to be Left Home Alone

It can be a big moment, the first time you leave your child home alone, even if you’re just running to the shops. You’re so used to taking them with you almost everywhere you go, leaving them behind when you go out can feel very strange. If you’re contemplating taking this first step towards granting your child greater independence, check out these key tips which can help guide you through this exciting (as well as just a little sad) time.

Are They Ready?

The legal age at which you can leave your child home alone varies state by state if you’re in the USA. Some countries, such as the UK, don’t even have a legal age, so it’s up to you to decide when your child is mature enough. You can test this out by asking them to help out more on trips out—try sending them around the superstore to pick up a few items for you while you browse the vegetable aisle. If they complete this task with success, this can be an indicator that they can listen to you and remember key information, so this is a good sign if you’re thinking about leaving them home alone.

Set Out the Rules

Have a few conversations with your child about them being left home alone before you actually do it. This will prepare them for it, and ensure that they understand your rules and expectations while you’re gone. Make sure that your first trip out is fairly short, and be clear with them when you’ll be back by, so they don’t feel that you’ve come home early to try and catch them out.

Leave Them a List

If you’re going to start regularly leaving your child home alone, it’s a good idea to create a list of key information (including any emergency contacts they may need). You can then laminate this and stick it somewhere they will see it, such as on the fridge door. Although it’s unlikely they’ll ever need to use it, it can create more peace of mind for both of you.