Staying home alone? Is your Tween ready?

The questions of when your child is ready to stay home alone is a tough one. Here to help us determine the right answer is today's guest poster Kim Estes.

Kim is a child safety expert with 15 years of experience educating parents who works tirelessly to help us keep our kids safe and found of Savvy Parents, Safe Kids. Tween Us has talked about what the law says, and what it doesn't say, about staying home alone before, but every tween and circumstance is different. Kim provides us expert advice and guidelines for determining when your tween is ready to safely fly solo at home.


It sneaks up on you... the day arrives and your child asks "Pleeease! I don't want to go to the store with you. Can I stay home instead?" This can be an exciting (and scary) time for both parent and child (mostly scary for the parents!). These are popular questions: "Is my child ready?" and "What is the age law on children staying home alone?"

Many parents think the "law" is age 12. So it comes as a surprise to find out that in most states there is no age "law" minimum for kids staying home alone, just recommendations. The "recommendation" can range from age 8 -12, but often there is no age specific law. Check out your states home alone age recommendations here.

Only you can determine if your child is ready (and the situation is safe) to stay home alone... we have complied a partial list with some good questions to help get you started and help you gauge the maturity and readiness of having your child staying home alone for short periods of time:

  • Does your child know how to dial 911?
  • Does your child know your full name and address?
  • Does your child know how to operate the phone correctly?
  • Do they know what to say if someone asks if their parents are home?
  • What are your rules regarding cooking or playing outside when you are gone?
  • Can your child respond correctly to "What if" situations such as "What if the power went out?” or “ What if there was a fire?”
  • Have you reviewed your rules on answering the phone or the door if you are not home?
  • What are your rules about having friends over?
  • Does your child show an interest or confidence in staying home alone?
  • If your child will be watching a sibling, do they get along?
  • Will a younger sibling respect the rules and authority of the older sib?
  • Does your child know what to do if they become injured while home alone?
  • Can your child lock and unlock the door to your home?
  • Is your child physically capable and physically healthy enough to stay home alone?

When did your tween start asking to stay home alone?  Have you allowed them to do so? How'd it go?

About the Author:  Kim Estes is the owner of Savvy Parents Safe Kids and has worked with parents for over 15 years, educating them on various parenting topics. Kim is a certified prevention educator through the National Security Alliance, the Kid Safe Network and is a Darkness 2 Light facilitator. As a Child Safety Expert, Kim has appeared on local and national TV and radio shows, helping to raise awareness on the importance of prevention education. For more information about her work, go to

You may also like: When is a tween old enough and ready to babysit?

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