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Home alone for the summer: How young is too young?

The best and worst US states for children
Posted at 9:22 AM, Jun 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-07 10:58:14-04

LANSING, Mich. — There's no law in Michigan to determine how old your child can be left home alone at, but Child Protective Services says no earlier than 10-years-old.

Experts say one way to tell if a child is ready to stay home alone is giving them a trial run.

See how they do while the parent runs a quick errand for an hour.

Another thing parents can do is ask their children if they are okay or comfortable with staying home alone.

Now, kids mature at different rates so if a parent is thinking of leaving their child home alone experts say not to base it just on the child's age.

Joan Jackson Johnson, clinical psychologist, "One of the concerns you have is if one of the young kids who are not mature enough o make the appropriate decisions may abuse or spank a kid or hit a kid because they're frustrated with the lack of response from these kids."

Before parents leave their child home alone set boundaries if the child want to cook, go outside, watch TV or go on the computer.

Strangers can also be a big concern.

"You have to really make sure that kids lock the door, don't let strangers in. Some of the real basic things kids don't think of. You never open the door and don't answer questions in terms of who's there with you," said Johnson.

A child left home alone should have their parents phone numbers as well as other adult contacts in case of an emergency.

Experts say parents should also check in by calling their kids while they are away to see how they're doing.

Another thing they can do is have a trusted neighbor or friend stop by their house.

They also say parents shouldn't leave their children home alone too much.

They suggest other options like summer camps to keep kids busy and involved.

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