While the National SAFEKIDS Campaign recommends that no child under the age of 12 be left at home alone, age-specific regulations vary from state to state. Kentucky and Indiana do no have laws about what age a child has to be to be left home alone so parents have to use their best judgement. Here is a suggested chart, but you know your child best.
There are several factors to consider when you are thinking about leaving a child home alone. Many times the child will tell you when they are ready.
1. Do you live in a safe neighborhood and do you have neighbors close by that your child can go do should they need help or get scared? Consider giving a neighbor you and your child trust a heads up that the child will be home alone.
2. What are your child’s fears and how could those effect them being alone? For example, if your child is afraid of storms, then don’t leave them if there is a possibility of severe weather.
3. Take into consideration the maturity of the child. Some children are ready at an earlier age than others. Do you trust your child to make good choices while you are away?
4. Make sure your child has access to a phone for emergency and knows what to do in different situations. Children should understand that they need to keep the door locked and not open the door to strangers. Do some roll playing about different situations so they know what they can and can’t do. For example, your child isn’t allowed to use the stove but they should be able to use the microwave with instruction.