I’m so lucky to have an older brother. He’s about 6 and a half years older than me, and growing up, my parents left him in charge. My brother and I weren’t wild partiers. In fact, for reasons I’m not going to go into this article, our idea of partying was using the loud sound system while we cleaned the house when our parents were gone for the evening.

I don’t really remember what age we were left alone, but I feel it was when my brother was 15, and I would have been 9. That seems about right. And it was usually just for an evening or a couple of hours if our parents went out shopping or for dinner; nothing like being gone for a few days. In those instances, we were left with the grandparents.


Now that I’m grown up, I don’t have any kids, but my best friend does. The oldest is in her teens, and I asked if she’s been left in charge yet. “God No!” was his reaction. I laughed too hard to go into details of why not. But that got us talking about “what age is it okay for a child to be left home alone?


According to the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, “there is no federal or Washington state law regarding the age at which children may stay home alone or babysit.” It is really up to the parent to decide how mature the child is. When the decision is made, start with shorter stints and then increase them. WSDSHS also says how “most authorities agree that leaving a 12-year-old alone at home for an hour or two is acceptable,” but shouldn’t be left in charge of other children.


Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Leave Your Kid Home Alone:

If you are on the fence, WSDSHS suggests asking these questions before heading out, leaving the young one in charge.

  • Can your kid be counted on and stay clear-headed in an emergency?
  • Is your child truthful?
  • Do they follow instructions and rules?
  • Is your child scared or nervous about staying home alone?
  • Can your child calmly dial emergency services, know your home address and phone numbers, and explain any given situation?

There are many things to think about. Having these questions in my mind, I now understand why my brother was the one left in charge! Good job, mom & dad! What do you think? What age do you feel is okay to leave a child home alone? At what age were you first left “in charge”? Tap the App and let us know!

If you feel a child is being abused or neglected, please call 800-562-5624.

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