Friday, September 17, 2010

Accessing Your Child's Readiness for Self Care

During your child's school years, you will eventually consider the possibility of your child caring for him or herself instead of being cared for by others. Many children take care of themselves after school, in the evening, on weekends, or during school vacations - whenever a parent or other adult cannot be home with them. It is estimated that a quarter of our children care for themselves after school. Of course all children will eventually have to take care of themselves as part of their maturing process.

I often get asked at what age is a child allowed to stay at home alone for a few hours. There actually is no "legal" age set in Hillsborough County for this. It depends on many factors, including the child's maturity level and safety of the neighborhood. There is simply no magic age at which children develop the maturity (and good sense) needed to stay alone.

Your own feelings as a parent are also important in making this decision. Do you feel comfortable with your child staying alone? Are you ready to give your child more independence and freedom? Has your child earned more freedom? Are you confident that your child will be safe and will make wise choices while home alone? Will you feel good about your child's care?

For more information on how to prepare your child for self care, see our publication "Home Alone: Children in Self Care" at

At what age do you think your child was (or will be) ready for self care?

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