At what age should a child be left home alone?

What age does a child need to reach to be left home alone? This topic often comes up in discussions with clients. Michigan law has no definite answer to this question. However, according to the Michigan Child Protection Law, a child age 10 and under is presumed to be too young as a rule of thumb. Children age 10 years and younger are considered not responsible enough to be left home alone, according to this law.

Consequently, it would seem then that children age 11 years and older are responsible enough to be left home alone, at least for a reasonable period of time. Child Protective Services looks at this issue on a case-by-case basis, but logically, age 2 is too young, and age 11 is old enough in most cases. Other states seem to weigh in at 12 being the appropriate age at which a child can be left alone, although the state of Georgia says age 8.

Other factors to consider are:

  • How long will the child be home alone?
  • What time of the day/night will the child be home alone?
  • Is there a trusted adult nearby that the child can call in an emergency?
  • Are younger siblings being left under the child’s supervision; and, if so, has the oldest child attended babysitting safety training?

In conclusion, a typical child age 11 years or older is presumed to be responsible enough to be left alone. There can be exceptions. Although this gives some guidance on the question, as with most parenting decisions, you would have to use your best judgment.