Q:

What age can a child stay home alone overnight?

A:

Most childcare experts agree that, depending on the maturity of the child, 15 to 17 is the age range at which parents can begin leaving children home alone overnight. With that said, however, parents who are thinking of leaving children within this range home alone should first check their state laws. Some states have laws declaring a minimum age at which children can be left alone.

Although childcare experts reluctantly provide an age range for leaving children alone overnight, they emphasize that parents should carefully evaluate the maturity, responsibility and safety practices of children prior to doing so. Children who struggle to follow directions or abide by rules should not be left alone overnight, regardless of age. Being left alone overnight should also not be a child's first home alone experience. It is recommended that parents leave children home for increasingly lengthy periods of time beginning at around age 12, again depending on the maturity of the individual child. The general safety of the area should also be considered in determining whether to leave a child home alone overnight. Clear rules regarding potentially dangerous scenarios such as kitchen use, car use (for children of driving age) and guests should be communicated and discussed prior to leaving children home alone overnight.

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