What age can you leave your child at home alone? – The Sun | The Sun

KNOWING when you can leave your children home alone is a big decision for a parent.

The law can be slightly fuzzy when it comes to an exact age but if you think your children might be mature enough to stay home alone, here's what you need to know.

How old do your kids have to be before they can be left at home on their own?

There is no legal limit or minimum on what age a child can be before they are left at home alone.

But, the law states that parents and carers shouldn't leave little ones alone at home or in a car if they could be exposed to risks.

Much of the guidance comes from social expectations and parents' trust in their children.

This means parents can be left to decide if their kids are mature enough to be home alone.

It is thought that because mums and dads know their youngsters best, they can make the best decision on whether they can manage on their own.

For most children, they begin to be left home alone from around the age of 11, when they move up to secondary school.

It can be a good idea to leave your child for small periods of time and build up to longer as they age.



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What are the guidelines given to parents about leaving their children on their own?

The NSPCC gives guidance on leaving your child home alone and even has a quiz to determine if your child is ready.

They say that under no circumstances should babies, toddlers or young children be left by themselves.

Infants and young children aged 0-3 years old should never be left alone – even for 15 minutes while you pop down the road.

This applies not just to leaving them home alone but also leaving them alone in your car while you run into the shops.

Children under the age of 12 are rarely mature enough to cope in an emergency and should not be left at home alone for a long period of time.

At 16 years old, the guidance says they can be left alone overnight but before this age it is not advised.

A lot of the guidance relies on parents listening to the needs and feelings of their child and deciding whether they think they are ready.

If they don't feel ready or you are not sure it is the best thing then don't leave them home alone.

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If you do make the decision it's important to you make sure to take sensible precautions.

For most children, if you are needing to leave them, it’s better to leave them with someone – particularly if they’re nervous or have complex needs.

When your child, is ready to be left alone it is sensible to set some rules and childproof the house.

Leave your child with a way to contact you in case of an emergency, like a phone number. Leave the number written somewhere they can find (not just in their phone).

You need to be available to come back should your child need you at any time.

Make sure that any potentially dangerous things like tools, knives and prescription medicines are safely out of harm's way before you go out.

If you have neighbours who you trust, tell your child where to go in case they need to evacuate the house and who to speak to.

Make sure your child knows what time to expect you back and what do in the case of you being delayed.

For children with allergies, remove anything that may trigger a reaction from the house and make sure your child has access to a first aid kit and an EpiPen if they need one.

If you have pets, think about whether it's safe to leave your child home with them unsupervised.

Can parents be prosecuted for leaving kids at home on their own?

There is no strict law but parents can be prosecuted for leaving their kids home alone.

Parents who leave their child home alone in an environment which puts them at risk can have charges brought against them.

If it is deemed that kids have been neglected because there are no adults around, criminal proceedings can be brought against the parents.

And if they are found guilty of neglect, they can face a fine or even a prison sentence.

Leaving your child alone in a car can also result in prosecution.

If you leave children alone, even with a friend, under the age of 16 and something happens you could be liable for both children not just your own.

If your looking for an alternative consider whether child care is an option for you.



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Don't leave them with a friend for the first time being home alone as this can encourage dangerous or bad behaviour, although it might seem helpful.

If you don't trust your child by themselves, they shouldn't be allowed alone with a friend either.

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