University of Florida

Leaving Children Home Alone

With summer vacation dwindling down, you may have to leave your children home alone after school. For parents who have not left their children alone before, it can be a daunting decision.

However, once you determine whether your child is ready to be home alone, then you can feel less anxious, knowing you made the right choice.

Questions to Consider

Children’s mental, physical, social, and emotional maturity can affect whether they are ready to stay home without an adult. Be sure to consider the following questions when determining your child’s readiness to be home alone.  

  • Is my child okay with being home alone?
  • Can my child perform everyday, physical tasks such as making snacks, dialing a phone, locking and unlocking doors?
  • Is my child able to solve small problems on his or her own?
  • Does my child know how to stay safe during an emergency?
  • Does my child consistently follow rules, and is he or she honest?
  • Have I allowed my child to spend some time alone, even while I’m at home?
  • Does my child know and trust any nearby neighbors?

Safety Tips

With advances in technology, such as cell phones and computers, your child can contact you or someone in nearly an instant during an emergency. However, making sure children follow safety tips can put your mind at greater ease and make them feel more comfortable alone.

  • Make sure your child has important names and telephone numbers in case of an emergency.
  • Let your child know your schedule, and tell him/her where to go for help.
  • Set up rules, such as computer use, TV time, any visitors, and homework schedule, to provide your child with an established routine.
  • Have your child call you when he or she gets home.
  • Be sure your child knows the fire escape routes.
  • Teach your child how to use certain kitchen appliances for making snacks. 

By asking yourself a few questions and providing your son or daughter with a few safety tips, you can feel confident that your child is ready to be home alone. 

Adapted and excerpted from:

M. Ferrer and A. M. Fugate, “Home Alone: Children in Self-Care” (FCS2223), UF/IFAS Entomology & Nematology Department (Accessed 07/2014).

When to Leave Your Kids Home Alone,” Florida Department of Children and Families (Accessed 07/2014).


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