Moms Talk Q&A: Children Home Alone

What age is it OK to leave children home alone?

Sarasota Patch invites you and your circle of friends to help build a community of support for mothers and their families right here in Sarasota.

Each week in Moms Talk, our Moms Council of experts and smart moms take your questions, give advice and share solutions.

Moms, dads, grandparents and the diverse families who make up our community will have a new resource for questions about local neighborhood schools, the best pediatricians, 24-hour pharmacies and the thousands of other issues that arise while raising children.

Moms Talk will also be the place to drop in for a talk about the latest parenting hot topic. Do you know of local moms raising their children in the Tiger Mother's way and is it the best way? Where can we get information on local flu shot clinics for children? How do we talk to our children about the Tucson shootings? How can we help our children's schools weather their budget cutbacks?

So grab a cup of coffee and settle in as we start the conversation today with a question raised in  by Diana Weber: What age is it OK to leave your child home alone? 

Weber writes: "Some states have strict age guidelines on how long and how old a child can be left unattended, even as young eight-years old. Florida, along with several states, has no age guidelines set, so a parent should use common sense when determining if their child can be unsupervised and make decisions on a case-by-case basis. Leaving children to be responsible on their own often leads to anxiety and worry for parents."

She later adds: "On the other hand, a latchkey situation can also instill self-reliance and independence in children who are trusted to take on this role.  Having a clear plan is in place such as a list of responsibilities and activities your child can do until you get home as well as straightforward household and safety guidelines can help ensure a positive latchkey experience."

Rebekah Rae March 16, 2011 at 07:02 PM
It depends on the maturity of the child. If it is an hour or less, perhaps 13 is o.k. I am not a fan of leaving a child unattended for more than that unless they are a mature 15 or more. Then again, some 15 year olds should never be left alone. It depends on the child. I think some parents out of the desire to not have to pay a sitter or take the child with them, make the erroneous decision to leave the child alone way too early. Cooking accidents,watching suggestive television shows, looking at pornography are things that could happen during this time and these things cause harm. Also, despite having many same age friends, children have feelings of loneliness and/or low self esteem that comes from spending too much time at home unassisted or unengaged with their parents. Children need their parents alot more than we assume.


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