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When Is It Okay For A Child To Stay Alone Without An Adult's Supervision & Care?

When is it okay for a child to stay alone without an adult's supervision and care? No Texas law specifies an age, but the law says that a child should not be "placed in a situation that a reasonable person would realize requires judgment or action beyond the child's level of maturity, physical condition, or mental abilities." Pre-school children cannot be left alone, as they are not capable of caring for themselves.

When deciding if your school-age child can stay home alone, think about the child's age, abilities, maturity, behavior, and judgement. Also, consider the length of time plus the activities in and around your home a neighborhood.

Does Your Child?

  • Feel safe and comfortable being home alone?
  • Know how to call 911, you, and other emergency numbers?
  • Know where the emergency phone numbers and the home address are posted by the telephone?
  • Know basic first aid and where to find your first aid kit?
  • Know the fire exits in your home in case of a fire?
  • Know the family's plan for emergencies and what neighbor or relative will be available?
  • Know all safety rules, including limits for using the microwave, stove, oven, scissors, knives, and other potentially dangerous items while you are away?
  • Know how to handle telephone calls? How to use the answering machine to screen calls? Which calls to answer? Or to tell callers that their parent "is busy"?
  • Know to never answer the door or to allow strangers in the house?
  • Know to call you first before allowing any unexpected, know person to enter?
  • Know not to enter the house if something looks different and to immediately call you from a neighbor's house?
  • Know to lock the doors once inside the house?
  • Know and use internet safety rules?

After Doing The Above & Knowing Your Child's Abilities, Have You:

  • Arranged for a reliable and trustworthy, nearby friend, neighbor, or relative to be available for your child?
  • Posted emergency numbers and practiced with your child drills for fires and other emergencies?
  • Set the guidelines with your child about activities and guests while alone?
  • Deciding if the arrangement is working for your child:
  • Start with very brief absences.
  • Call while away.
  • Drop in.

After Being Away, Talk With Your Child. Find Out:

  • Are the family's rules being observed?
  • Are your child's activities what you have agreed upon?
  • If siblings are staying alone together, how do they get along without you?
  • What have trusted neighbors observed?

I found Fathers For Equal Rights through my church. Fathers For Equal Rights empowered me to do the right thing for my son through critical knowledge, and strategic access to affordable legal assistance.
  -- David A. - Dallas, TX

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