Many people who grew up in the 90s might remember the classic Christmas film Home Alone, starring 8-year-old Macaulay Culkin, who was unintentionally left home alone during the holiday season. While the movie is fiction, many parents do leave their kids home alone. Of course, unlike Home Alone, real-life parents don’t leave their kids unintentionally.
Child protective services in the US don’t take child neglect lightly. Certain states have rules and age limits when it comes to leaving children home alone. And when it comes to leaving children in a high-risk area, authorities become more watchful.
What Do State Laws Say?
It’s highly advisable to study your state’s laws before leaving your child home alone. Your area’s laws and policies can consider leaving your child unsupervised as neglect, especially in an unsafe environment.
Currently, only three states have laws regarding the minimum age for leaving children home alone. Illinois, Maryland, and Oregon allow the minimum ages of 14, 8, and 10, respectively. Meanwhile, other states don’t have a minimum age, but they still require parents to give “adequate supervision” to their children.
At What Age Can You Leave a Child Home Alone in Texas?
According to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, there are no age limits for leaving your child home alone. However, adult caregivers are responsible for their child’s care. Thus, inadequate supervision can be classified as a type of neglect.
What to Consider Before Leaving a Child Home Alone
There are instances where it’s unavoidable to leave a child home alone. However, leaving your child without preparation can cause more trouble for both of you. Therefore, consider the following before leaving your child home alone.
Assess Your Child and Your Environment
Is your child physically and mentally mature enough to take care of themselves and the house? And is your home in a safe and well-monitored environment? If you answer yes to both of those questions, then you can consider leaving your child home alone.
Do a “Practice Run” with Your Child
Kidshealth.org recommends parents try a practice run with their children before leaving them home alone for long periods. Stay at a nearby and easy-to-reach area for 30 minutes to an hour while your child stays at home. You can then return and discuss the experience with your child. Once you think your kid is capable, you can try going out for longer.
Be Prepared for the Unexpected
No matter how prepared you are, unexpected things can still happen. That’s why you need to ready your child in case something were to occur. Teach them where the first aid kit is and give them a list of emergency numbers to call, such as 911. Telling them to unplug unused appliances and to not answer the door for strangers are also a few good ways to keep them safe.
There will come a time when you will need to leave your child home alone. While it can be daunting, it can be a great learning opportunity for you and your kid. With proper supervision, you don’t have to worry about a single thing.