I have 2 daughters, one is an adult, the other is in Middle School. Both of them were in daycare when they were younger, and as they turned 12, the question came up, are they old enough to stay home alone?

The answer to that is both yes and no. Minnesota does not have any actual laws that dictate how old a child must be before leaving them home alone, however, there are guidelines that are followed:

"Guidelines for Unsupervised Children

  • Children ages 7 and under should not be left alone for any amount of time
  • Children ages 8-10 should not be left alone for more than 3 hours
  • Children ages 11-13 should not be left alone more than 12 hours
  • Children ages 14-15 should not be left alone for more than 24 hours
  • Children ages 16-17 may be left alone for over 24 hours with an appropriate plan in place"

This all depends on the maturity of the child of course. My older daughter has developmental delay, which meant she needed the supervision that younger children needed. I could not leave her home alone for more than 20 minutes or so when she was in Middle School, for her own safety. Now, my younger daughter can be left alone, in fact, she has started babysitting, for a few hours here and there.

The main thing to keep in mind when trying to decide if you can let your children stay at home alone, is, how mature are they? There are children at age 10 who can stay home alone and be fine for a couple of hours, and there are children who are 17 who can't be trusted to be home alone for more than 30 minutes.

The guidelines are there to help you as you navigate through your children growing and maturing. You can also reach out to MNPrairie County Alliance if you have any questions or concerns about the ages of your children.

portrait of young children by a snowman
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