parent and child hands playing together in park

Last week there were several debates in the media about children being left home alone. As I have a son who is 11 years old and leaving primary school in July, I thought it relevant to share my views on this topic. My son is starting to become more independent, although not as independent as some of his peers. Some of his friends are taking the bus on short journeys and some are happy to stay at home alone for a period of time. We aren’t quite there yet on both accounts (although he has had 5 minutes on his own at home whilst I chauffeured my youngest to an activity). It may be another month before he asks for me to leave him alone at home for 10 minutes. I have to say leaving him at home with his younger brother is not going to happen for a very long time.

Encouraging Children To Be More Independent

Does it matter that my son is not quite ready for being alone in the house? Not really. All children will be different and some will feel more comfortable being at home alone than others. This may be because they feel responsible enough and secure in their own company. They don’t panic should anyone call or come to the door. They know what they should do in a given situation (not to answer the phone unless it is on their mobile and it is a number they recognise, as well as not answering the door).

I think it does depend on your child but you can prepare them to be left alone.

  • Ask them what they think they can and can’t do whilst alone and discuss their ideas.
  • You can also put different scenarios to them and see how they would respond. Be realistic with the scenarios though as you don’t want to frighten them.
  • Talk about their plan should something happen that is out of their control – perhaps the burglar or smoke alarm goes off – what would they do?

Knowing what to do will put many children at ease knowing what to do. Be guided by them. If they want you to do it in small steps, leave them for 5 minutes, then 10. And when they are ready to be left make sure they have your phone number and know exactly where you are going to be. What do you think? Here is more information on leaving children home alone if this is something you think your children are ready for and you are happy with.


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