CHILDLINE ADVICE: Help knowing if your child is ready to be left ‘home alone’

As the summer holidays finally get here, something our Childline counsellors and colleagues on the NSPCC Helpline are expecting to hear more about is the appropriate age for allowing children to stay at home alone.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 25th July 2022, 12:00 am

With the need to work and other family commitments, it’s inevitable that many parents and carers in the North East will be in two minds about whether they can leave their child home alone.

It can be very difficult to know what’s best to do for your child, and it’s natural for parents to worry.

While guidance is available, there’s no single rule for all children. Every child is different.

Also, while there is no legal age after which a child can be left home alone, it is against the law to leave a child alone if it puts them at risk.

Learning to be independent is an important part of growing up, and as children get older, they will want to experience more freedom.

Parents and carers must decide how ready children are to be left alone.

However, young people appreciate being invited to develop their own independence, so be sure to have regular conversations about how they would feel about being left without supervision.

You might be surprised that they feel ready to be left by themselves.

Even so, it’s important to check whether they are worried about anything and if they know how to contact you or another trusted adult whenever they need to.

By involving your child in these plans, you can help them develop independence at their own pace, ensure they’re being listened to and understood, and help keep them safe.

The NSPCC website has information and a quiz to help parents determine whether your child is ready to spend time alone at home.

Parents can also speak to the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 8005000 or email [email protected] for support.

The most important thing to remember is that a child who doesn’t feel comfortable should not be left alone, and our Childline counsellors are there 24 hours a day on 0800 1111 or through the Childline website – www.childline.org.uk - to support children whenever they need it.