Is it Safe and Legal for a 7-Year-Old to Stay Home Alone?


Knowing what the right age that a child is ready to stay home alone is complicated, and knowing if it is safe or legal for a 7-year-old to stay home alone is hard as well. 

Is it safe and legal for a 7-year-old to stay home alone? When child services look into a family they have stated that 7 years of age and younger is much too young for children to be home by themselves. In a few states it is even illegal, and it also isn’t very safe for the child. 

There is a lot that goes into parenting and it is hard to find the right balance of always being around and letting your children have some responsibility. There are some general guidelines that child protective services have set and some safety hazards that might make it clearer why 7-year-olds shouldn’t be left home alone. 

Why it Isn’t is Safe to Let a 7-Year-Old Stay Home Alone

I know lots of time when you have to run to the grocery store around the corner to pick up a jug of milk it can seem trying to have to pack up the kids and spend 15 minutes just getting them ready in order to take a trip that should normally only take 15 minutes at the most. 

Sometimes it seems easier to just leave you 7-year-old at home for a few minutes and save time. But it isn’t very safe to leave 7-year-old kids home alone. 

There are a lot of reasons that 7-year-olds shouldn’t be left alone at home, and why it isn’t safe. After a lot of research  I came up with a list of why it isn’t safe to leave 7-year-old kids home alone without any supervision. 

#1 Maturity  

I know that kids are getting smarter and smarter at younger ages because of the advancing world and advancements in education, but maturity levels have been staying the same. 

Children 10-years-old and younger haven’t had enough life experience to give them the level of maturity for staying home by themselves. A lot of situations can happen that can be unexpected and new for your child. 

When I was about 4 and so my older brother was around the age of 7 we were in the kitchen and he placed a loaf of frozen bread in the microwave to thaw it out. 

He didn’t realize though, that he needed to take the metal twist tie first. Soon sparks were flying and my older brother didn’t know what to do, so we both sat there and watch. My mother her the commotion and smelt the smoke, so she ran into the room and turned off the microwave. 

My brother is very smart and always has been but because he hadn’t been in that situation before he didn’t know what to do. This is now a funny story in my family but if our mom hadn’t of been home something terrible really could have happened. 

So, children need time to develop the maturity to know how to respond to new and unexpected situations before they are left at home to fend for themselves. 

#2 When Children are Left Home Alone Parents Have No Control

Every time a think of a child being left home alone the move Home Alone always starts to play in my head. Although the plot in this fast-paced movie ends all nice and cozy, there are a lot of thing that happen to Kevin that will make all parents cringe. 

When children are left home alone, the parents have no control over any of the situations and experiences that are going to happen. In Kevin’s case, this 8-year-old boy is left home alone and then is almost killed. 

Meanwhile, his parents have no control over the situation that is going on at home and so they really quite helpless. This situation is fictional, and hopefully stays fictional, but when parents are gone from the home there is little that they can control. 

They can’t control who comes into the house, what kind of media is played, even what gets put into the microwave is out of their control. So for safety reasons, it is better to not leave your 7-year-old at home alone. 

That way you can be there as a parent to supervise and protect your children. Who knows maybe you also will have to protect your children from metal in the microwave.  

#3 What Does Your Child Know? 

If you are ever questioning whether or not it is safe to leave your 7-year-old alone in the house  I have found a list of questions that help us see more clearly why 7-years-old is just too early for a child to be left home alone.

  • Does your child know basic first aid? If your child gets hurt accidentally do they know where the first aid kit is kept? Can they reach it? 

Would they know to clean out the wound? It’s important that children are mature enough to be able to handle a first aid emergency on their own.

That means that they will not only have the knowledge of where the first aid kit is and how to put on a band-aid but that they will also be able to do so in distress.   

These questions seem simple but really a child needs to be able to know how to do and be able to do basic first aid on themselves and others before they are mature enough to be left home all alone. 

  • Who are your emergency contacts? It is important for children to know who the emergency contacts are when they are left home alone. So they who to call when they need to call someone. 

Another important step is that they need to know when to call someone. It isn’t enough for a child to know that Grandma Susan is their emergency contact, but they need to know how to contact her and when. 

Most 7-year-olds don’t have this information memorized and really don’t have the experience necessary to know when they should call for help. Because of that, it just isn’t safe for 7-year-old kids to be left home alone. 

  • Do they know your evacuation plan? If there is a fire in your house will your 7-year-old know how to get out of your home quickly and safely? 

Evacuation plans are important and needed but most 7-year-old kids either don’t know or possibly won’t remember that plan. If you are away from home and a fire starts your 7-year-old will need help getting out. 

There are a lot of things that our children need to be taught before they are ready to be home alone by themselves. Sometimes when it is our own kid we forget to think of this, but whenever you leave anyone alone in your house you are making them in charge of your home and giving them the responsibility to keep it safe. 

So not only is it not safe for the welfare of 7-year-old kids to be left home alone, it is equally unsafe for your home to be left alone in the hands of a 7-year-old child. 

#4 The Benefit is Not Worth the Risks 

My husband is an accounting major and the other day he was trying to explain some things he was learning in class. I didn’t get pretty much any of it, but I did understand the idea that the benefit of some endeavors is not worth the risk. 

This is the same with leaving 7-year-old kids home alone. The benefit is simply not worth the risk. Any number of things can go wrong when kids are left at home alone. fires, break-ins, injuries, and more can all occur in under 10 minutes.

The benefit of saving 15 minutes at the grocery store or not have to pay a sitter to make up for the thirty-minute drive from work never outweigh the risk of any one of those things happening.

In Which States is it Illegal to Let a 7-Year-Old Child Stay Home Alone?

There are a lot of risk factors that are involved when we think about leaving our 7-year-old children home alone, but in most states ther are regulations against leaving 7-year-olds home alone. 

In some states, it is illegal to leave 7-year-old kids home alone.

This list is a list of states where there is a minimum age required by law, but a few are just regulations. The youngest age that it is legal to leave a child home alone in states that have laws is the age of 8. 

  • Maryland 
  • Rhode Island
  • Colorado
  • Delaware 
  • Illinois 
  • Georgia 
  • North Carolina 
  • Michigan 
  • North Dakota  
  • Oregon 
  • Tennessee 
  • Vergina 
  • Washington 
  • New Mexico 

Each state has it’s own laws and regulations, so it is important to check the state you live in.

Although not all states have direct laws saying that it is illegal to leave a child home alone at a certain age or younger, child services can investigate cases of children younger than 10 years old being left alone.  

If Child Services believes that parents leaving their children home alone is endangering the children in anyway the children can be taken away. In some cases, the parents can serve jail time. 

Children are important and although it seems like such a small thing to leave a 7-year-old child alone for a few minutes it can be putting that child’s life in danger. 

Why it is Illegal to Let a 7-Year-Old Child Stay Home Alone?

One of the biggest reasons to not leave 7-year-old children home alone is for protection. Laws are normally there to keep kids safe, and these laws are there for the same reason. 

There are a lot of people out there who do not understand why there are regulations on what age a child is able to stay home alone, and they don’t understand why the government has laws in place in some states because they think that should be a choice made by the parents.

To most parents, these guidelines and laws are a really great suggestion that is easy to follow and makes sense, but even some of these parents don’t love that the government is involved in their parenting choices. 

We have to remember though that most laws (other than speed limits) are made for the minority and the majority. And most laws are there for protection. The majority of parents aren’t neglectful of their children, but there are some that are and that is why there are laws. 

Looking at whether or not children are being left home alone can help the agents who work in child protective services to determine if the home environment is safe or not for the children there. 

This system isn’t perfect but it is needed to help keep the children in America safe. It also can help ensure that the children growing up are in safe and healthy homes. 

I didn’t create the laws and I don’t know the thoughts of those that did, but they seem to be there to try and do good and not bad. So, even though it may seem like an odd law or maybe even a law that shouldn’t be there it helps, and it can help parents try and find the right age that their kids can be left home alone. 

Ways to Help Get Away from Leaving 7-Year-Old Kids Home Alone

All of this being said, it can be hard to navigate leaving your 7-year-old home alone sometimes. Everyone has unique circumstances and they are not all cut and dry. 

I have written down some suggestions that might spark an idea to help in your decision of how to not leave your 7-year-old kid alone at home. 

Neighbors can be a great resource for last-minute grocery runs or emergencies. If you have a close relationship with your neighbors and feel comfortable with them watching your kids, they can be a great help in last minute situations. 

If you like the idea of having a babysitter or nanny help out when you can’t be at home but don’t really know where to start I found some reliable sites that may help.

#1 Care.com

 I love this website a lot because it is safe and secure. It is the largest online site for finding caregivers. I signed up to be a nanny on this site a couple of years ago and was very impressed. 

This site provides help to millions of people in hundreds of countries including people who need “babysitters, nannies, special needs, tutors, senior caregivers, pet sitters, and housekeepers” (Fatherly.com). 

It is simple and easy to use for any parent. Plus, they have an app which makes it even more convenient for finding the perfect sitter for your 7-year-old child.  

The site not only helps parents find babysitters, but it allows them to review the different sitters. Once parents have found the sitter of their choice they can book them right there on the site. 

Another great perk that Care.com offers its customers, is that payment for your babysitter can also be done online. This site is safe, trusted, and highly recommended. 

#2 Seeking Sitters

This website is a great way to find permanent/consistent babysitters or a last minute sitter for special occasions or emergencies. All of the recommendations from seeking sitters are certified caretakers. 

Seeking Sitters is different in that involves individual local franchises helping families find “one-time, full-time, part-time, or last-minute babysitting needs.”

-Fatherly 

All you have to do is submit an online request and Seeking Sitters will give you a list of recommended babysitters for you and your 7-year-old. Plus, because they are great for finding last-minute sitters it helps relieve stress for you as the parent and your child.

If you are looking for a more permanent position you can find great suggestions here. It is important to know and trust the person that is taking care of your child and Seeking Sitters is here to help you do that. 

#3 Nanny Lane

This site is for families that need permanent nannies to help take care of their kids. Whether you need a nanny during the days or only at nights this site has them all. 

It’s really quite an easy site to navigate and use. The first thing you do is create a profile for your family and their needs. That way the nannies on the site can get to know you. 

Then you can massage nannies and run background checks so that you find the perfect nanny for your family. It is a reliable site that can help you feel comfortable with whomever you choose to watch your child. 

Related Questions

Can 7-year-old children be left at home alone in the United Kingdom? There are no set laws in the United Kingdom saying that a child is too young to be left alone at home. That being said, the Coram Children’s Legal Centre suggests that no child under the age of 13 should be left home alone. 

What is a good app to help me keep an eye on my children? The app Family Locator is a great app for parents to watch over their children and make sure they are safe. You can set up guidelines for safe areas and non-safe areas and then get alerted if your child ever enters a non-safe area. You also get the real-time location of your children. 

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