It can be an overwhelming feeling, from worrying if they will be safe, how they will cope and what could happen in an emergency.
You might decide to leave them at home as a school holiday starts or try the new routine for your family on a weekend afternoon.
Although there is no legal age a child can be left home alone, it’s against the law to leave a child alone if it puts them at risk, reports the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).
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The charity also states babies, toddlers and very young children should never be left alone.
Here are some ways you can be reassured your child will be safe when the time comes, according to Child Law Advice.
Safety precautions you can take before leaving your child home alone
- Leave your child with a contact telephone number so they can reach you if they need to.
- Be available to return home straight away if required.
- Explain to your child the potential dangers of being left at home alone.
- Talk to your child about keeping safe at home.
- Give clear instructions about what to do if there is an emergency.
- Make sure your child knows how to contact emergency services and ensure that there is always someone they know who they can contact in an emergency.
- Leave a list of trusted people they can contact.
- If you have neighbours who you can trust inform them and ask them to keep an eye out in case there is an emergency.
- Explain to your child who they can contact if they need to and not to be worried about doing so.
- Put obvious dangers out of their reach.
- Look out for potential risks and eliminate them.
- Make sure that your child is happy about the arrangements.
- Tell your child what time you are expected back and make sure that you are back on time.
The NSPCC website adds: “As your child gets older, talk to them about how they feel about being left home alone. If they’re worried, work out what parts of being home alone worry them. Do they feel safe in the neighbourhood? Are they afraid of the dark?
“Talk about anything that’s bothering them and discuss a solution. Understanding why they don’t feel comfortable will give you an idea of how to help – or why they might not be ready to be left alone.
“We would always recommend leaving a child younger than 12 years old with family, a friend or in childcare.”
More information about child safety and advice can be found on the NSPCC website.