I know this seems like a simple question, but how old does a kid need to be to be left at home alone? I know when we were coming up, that was pretty common. If mom had to go to the store, she would leave me in charge of my siblings. She would do the same if she had to work. I grew up in a single-parent household and my mother had a couple of jobs to make ends meet.

Please know that there were some ground rules if and when we were left at home alone. They were very simple: Don't open the door for anyone, Don't leave the house for any reason, and don't let anyone in the house. If someone called the house, there was a rule for that too: Never tell someone I'm not home. Tell them I am sleeping, take a message and tell them I'll have her call you back. Sound familiar? Did we break those rules from time to time? To be honest, yes.

One thing is for sure things have changed from the 80s and 90s. Today, kids have more access to the outside world and the outside world has more access to them. Still, when comes to letting them stay at home alone you probably need to check and see if you live in a state where that is against the law or not, depending on their age.

In Louisiana, according to the Louisiana Revised Statutes 14:14:79.1 a child must be 10 years or older to legally stay at home by themselves. Does this mean heading out of town for the weekend? No! However, if you need to go to the store real quick or make a few errands under state law that is the age requirement. If parents feel their child is not ready, by all means, weigh the circumstances and decide what level of supervision they need especially when there are younger siblings involved. Kids mature differently, so the state age limit may not work for all households.

The National SAFE KIDS Campaign recommends that children not be left alone at home before the age of 12. On that same note, childcare experts say older siblings are usually not ready for the responsibility of caring for younger siblings until they are at least 15 or older. To help parents evaluate their child's maturity level childwelfare.gov has  a few helpful tips to make this decision a little easier:

• Is my child comfortable, confident, and willing to stay home alone?

• Does my child consistently follow my rules and guidelines?

• Has my child demonstrated good independent judgment and problem-solving skills in the past?

• Is my child able to stay calm and not panic when confronted with unexpected events?

• Does my child have the ability to provide his/her name, address, and phone number in an emergency?

• Do we have neighbors that my child and I know and trust?

It doesn't hurt to have an emergency list with names and phone numbers posted on the refrigerator in the event of an emergency.

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