SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — When to leave kids at home is a big decision for parents. Many states, including Missouri, do not have a law dictating when it’s allowed.
KOLR10 turned to Mercy pediatrician Dr. Laura Waters, for some guidance.
“11-12 is the average recommended age when you can start leaving kids at home alone. You know your kid better than anyone else, so some kids are going to be ready at that age and some are definitely not.”
But even she will tell you there’s no magic age.
And add more than one sibling into the mix, that further complicates things.
Because even if your older kid is ready to stay at home, they may not be ready to care for themself and a sibling.
That’s the case for mom Sharla Hawks – who also works at Mercy.
She has two boys, Kendrick And Klayton, ages 6 and 10.
“He’s (Klayton) a big gamer, and completely oblivious to a lot of things. And my youngest wants to be wherever my oldest is, so I almost feel like I should wait until my youngest is old enough to stay on his own at home before I even let them stay home alone.”
If it’s something you decide is right for your family, it’s important to have a basic emergency plan in place and written down.
But also, think about if there’s someone who can get to them quicker in case of an emergency, a relative, or neighbor.
And then there’s a lot to consider that’s completely up to parents.
-can kids answer the door, if so, what should they say?
-same goes for a home phone if you still have one?
-then, what about cooking?
-having friends over?
More than half of all states lack laws for leaving kids home alone. But of the ones that do have legislation, the minimum age to leave kids home alone ranges anywhere from 8 to 12 years old.