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Parenting 911: Is My Child Ready to Stay Home Alone?

Expert advice to identify when your child can go solo at home.

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The problem:

It’s summertime and there are going to be periods when my child isn’t in a planned activity. He is asking to stay home alone and I’m tempted to let him try it. How do I know if my child is ready to be home alone

The expert:

Lindsey Einhorn, Ph.D., licensed clinical psychologist at Parker Pediatrics and Adolescents (parkerpediatrics.com)

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The solution:

There is not a specific age that determines whether a child can legally be left home alone in Colorado. Age 12 is a generally accepted guideline, but many factors have to be considered. Ultimately, it is up to the discretion of the parents.

When determining your child’s readiness, ask the following questions: How mature is your child? Do they handle things responsibly (i.e. homework, chores)? Does your child follow the rules and generally have good judgment? How do they handle unexpected situations?

Communication is key. Ask your child if they feel ready to stay home alone. Have a detailed discussion about your rules and expectations related to this responsibility. Your child should know what to do if there is an emergency, if the phone rings, if someone knocks on the door, and if there are any activities that are not allowed. They should also have all necessary emergency contacts.

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