Can I leave my 10 year old home alone

If you’re the parent of a 10-year-old and you’re wondering whether when it will be okay to leave your child home alone, you’re in good company. It’s one of the most common parenting questions. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers. While most children develop the maturity and the skills to be safe while home alone sometime between the ages of 10 and 12, every child is different, and some are ready to stay home alone before others. So how do you know when your child is ready? Look for these things:

  1. Your child can do things independently. They get themselves dressed and ready for school in the morning. They can fix themselves light meals and snacks, like a bowl of cereal or a peanut butter sandwich. When they get a small scrape, they know where to find the home first aid kit and can put on a Band-aid® without help.
  2. They have taken a home alone safety course. Children that take a home alone safety course, like Safe@Home, learn the skills they need to be safe while home alone. For example, Safe@Home students learn what to do if someone calls or knocks on the door when they are home alone. They also learn how to handle household emergencies like what to do if the power goes out or they smell smoke. In addition, they learn basic first aid skills and how to call for help from a back-up adult or 9-1-1 when necessary.
  3. They are confident. If your child is afraid to stay home alone, that’s sign that you should wait a while. Your child may not be emotionally ready to be left home alone. Sign them up for a home alone course so that they develop skills to handle potentially dangerous situations. Encourage them when they do things independently. Finally, give them time to mature.
  4. Your child is in an appropriate environment. Before leaving your child home alone, ask yourself if your child is in a safe environment with access to everything they need to stay safe and healthy. Of course, this includes basics such as proper locks on doors and windows, working smoke alarms, food, running water, first aid supplies, and a phone. They should also have the phone number to reach you, as well as the cell phone number of a back-up adult that is close by, like a neighbor or family friend. In addition, clearly post the phone number for emergency services (9-1-1) and Poison control (1-800-222-1222) in a visible place.
  5. You’ve done some successful test runs. Start with short trips away from home – to a neighbor’s house down the street or to the corner drugstore to pick up a few things, for example. If these short trips have been handled successfully, your child may be ready to be home alone for an hour or two.

Finally, don’t assume that children who are ready to stay home alone are also ready to babysit younger siblings. Babysitting is a big responsibility and requires additional training in child care, injury prevention, and rescue skills. When your child is ready to babysit, look for a Safe Sitter® class in your area.

Can I leave my 10 year old home alone

Barbara Stuckwisch

Executive Director at Safe Sitter, Inc

Barbara has been leading Safe Sitter, Inc. since 2013. She relishes the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of families and communities across the country, and she has two teenage children that keep her on her toes and serve as a daily reminder of why the work of Safe Sitter® is so important.

A common question asked by many parents is: "At what age can my children be left at home by themselves?”.

What does the law say

The law provides no clear direction as to what age a child can be left at home alone and so as a parent you need to use your own judgement based on your own family circumstances and the age and maturity of your children.

Although in many cultures it's usual for children to care for brothers and sisters, in Australia the law says that it's the parents responsibility - and legal obligation - to ensure their children are safe and properly looked after.

Leaving older siblings in charge

When a child or young person under the age of 18 such as an older brother, sister or teenage friend cares for children, the question of negligence or liability could arise.

If something goes wrong then a parent may be held responsible not only for their children but also for the carer aged under 18. For these reasons, it's better if carers are adults. A person who's still legally a child would not be judged against the standards of responsibility expected of adults.

When you have no choice

If you have no choice, it's important that the child left in charge:

  • is reliable and mature, capable and responsible and makes the other children feel safe
  • could cope with an emergency by knowing what action to take and where to go for help
  • can handle any disagreements or fights that may arise and know what to do if the other children ‘play up’ or disobey the ground rules
  • knows what to do if a child falls ill.

The oldest child is not necessarily the most capable to care for others.

Setting clear rules

It's important to be clear about what children can and cannot do during your absence. These rules may differ for those minding your children from the rules that apply when you're at home and in charge.

For example, making a hot drink, turning on the heater, running the bath or using the toaster may seem like simple tasks when you're there but may not be allowed when you’re away.

How long will you be away?

Will it be for a few minutes, an hour, a morning or a full day? How long you are going to be away will make a difference to what you decide to do. You need to think about the age of your children, how they feel about being left alone and most importantly, how capable they are.

Babies and toddlers have a different sense of time from adults. An hour is not long for an adult but to your toddler it's endless and could cause distress.

Babies or toddlers should not be left at home alone under any circumstances no matter how short a time.

Teenagers, on the other hand, might ask you to let them stay home alone. This is a normal part of adolescence when young people are trying to feel more independent.

Once again, the age and maturity of your child will make a difference. For example, you may feel very confident in a 13-year-old child that you know is very responsible but quite worried about a 16-year-old you're concerned may take risks.

Here is a checklist you can use to ensure your children know what they can and can’t do and how to deal with emergency situations while you're out.

Do your children know:

  • where you're going and when you'll be back
  • how to contact you
  • how to use the telephone
  • where emergency numbers are listed (they should be next to the phone)
  • their own phone number and home address
  • the phone numbers of trusted friends, neighbours or relatives
  • where to find the first aid kit and how to use it
  • how to use deadlocks
  • what to do in case of fire
  • what to do if someone knocks on the door
  • whether or not they should answer the phone if it rings
  • how to judge if another child is unwell and help is needed
  • how to contact the doctor, hospital, police and fire brigade in an emergency
  • if friends are allowed to be at your place while you are away
  • if they can play outside
  • whether they can use the swimming pool
  • if they're allowed to go to the shops or visit a neighbour
  • a special family password or code to use if you call and they need help.

These tips have been adapted from ‘Home Alone’, Parenting magazine 6-12 years. NSW Department of Community Services. 1999. Copyright (c) Parenting SA, Government of South Australia (1996).

How long can 10 year olds be alone?

Children ages 8-10 may be left alone for no more than 3 hours. 3. It may be acceptable for children 11-13 to be unsupervised or to babysit with the expectation that the parent, guardian, or caretaker will be returning within 12 hours. 4.

Can you leave a 10 year old in the house?

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) advises that: babies, toddlers and very young children should never be left alone. 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.

How long can a 10 year old stay home alone in Australia?

No legal age for leaving children home alone There's no one law in Australia that says how old your child has to be before you can leave them alone. In Queensland, if you leave a child under 12 years of age for an unreasonable amount of time without supervision and care, you have committed a criminal offence.

What age can a child legally leave home in Australia?

Once you turn 16, you won't normally be forced to return home by the authorities as long as you've got a safe place to go and you can financially support yourself. If you're under 18 and leave home, the police and Child Safety may investigate the reasons why you left home.