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When Are My Kids Old Enough to Stay Home Alone?

Question:

At what age should I allow my kids to walk home from school and be home alone for a couple hours?

Answer:

It is difficult to know when to allow your children to be alone and unsupervised by a responsible adult. Check with your doctor or local police to see if your state has a definite guideline on when children are old enough to be home alone. You should also consider the maturity level of your child and how much teaching you have done to prepare them to handle situations that may put them in danger.

You want them to make choices that will keep them safe. Have you provided them with a plan and a person to contact if something comes up they need help with? Do they have specific guidelines of things they can and can't do if there is not an adult in the home?

If you have done all of these things, their age is approved by your state and you feel comfortable, then it is your choice. Have a formal meeting with your children prior to beginning this practice. Give your children a chance to ask questions and voice concerns. Every couple of weeks, check with them to see how things are going, restate your expectations and make adjustments as needed.

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