It is a difficult decision, knowing when your tween is ready to stay home alone. When they reach the age of eleven or twelve, they usually begin asking if they can stay home alone while you run a quick errand or visit with a friend close by. It is always best to not leave them until you are absolutely certain they are ready for that responsibility and only for short amounts of time at the tween stage.
There are some signals that tell you if they are ready to stay home alone while you run a quick errand. Do they understand the danger of strangers? That is one of the most important things to look for. Practice having someone come to the door as a stranger and see if they open the door. It is even better if there is someone you know but your child doesn’t to help you try this out. If they open the door willingly and without caution, you know they are not ready to stay home alone.
Do they obey rules well? There need to be clear cut rules when they are staying home alone such as not using the stove, not opening the doors and only answering phone calls that they recognize the phone number. You may have other rules you want to add that fit your specific situation. Their ability to follow your instructions tells you a lot about their maturity and their ability to stay home alone.
Make sure that they are ready to handle an emergency. Practicing a mock emergency is a great way to gauge how they might react in a true emergency situation. It gives them practice in case they ever have to handle a true emergency and gives you confidence that they are able to handle any situation that may arise.
If you are unsure in any way if they are ready to stay home alone, it is best to wait and err on the side of caution.
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