Are You Ready to Leave Your Kids Home Alone?

With the beginning of every new school year, parents struggle with this question. We’ll help you make the decision.



All parents face the question of when to leave kids home alone, and none more directly than those who must work after school is out for the day. The old-fashioned expression “latchkey” kid applies to today’s children more than ever.

If your kids are home alone every day after school or just occasionallay, there are things to bear in mind to make the experience safer and more comfortable for you and your children.

First, make sure your son or daughter is ready to stay alone. Before you go any further, ask him if he wants to be by himself, or perhaps take care of younger siblings. If the child is obviously reluctant, look into other solutions.

If both you and your child feel the time has come, go over safety rules and set up guidelines. These will make both of you feel better. Keep in mind that states have laws regarding the age when youngsters can be left unsupervised.

Encourage a Routine
Everyone feels more secure with an established routine. Go over the after-school routine with your kids so that they know what you expect. And then make sure they stick to it.

For instance, after they call you, they might make a snack and sit down to do homework. After homework, they could watch television or play a computer game. Some parents don’t allow children to go online until they are home.

Keep in Touch
You or your spouse should call the kids at least once after they have checked in to make sure all is well. This also reminds the kids that you are going to check in at unannounced times.

If your plans change even a little (you have to stay late, you stop by the store, you are stuck in traffic), call your child. This way, no one will worry.

It’s crucial to go over daily schedules and transportation. Keep track of when your child is going to a game, an after-school activity, or a friend’s house.

Finally, talk to your children regularly about how they feel about being alone. Your confident 12-year-old may change her mind after a few weeks, or you may find you are not as comfortable as you thought you would be.

As with all things related to child care, be flexible and be prepared to make other plans. Leaning how to manage on their own is an important part of growing up for all children. Approach it with common sense and sensitivity.