What Age Is It OK for My Kid To Stay Home Alone in Minnesota?

There is a question that every parent wrestles with at some point in this journey of child-rearing - when can my child stay at home all alone?  We think our kid might be ready to hang out and watch a movie while we run to the store real quick but...can they?  It is allowed?  Is there a specific age when it is ok to leave the house for a little bit without our child in tow?

There are two sides to this answer - 1) what your gut is telling you based on what you know about your child, and 2) the legal response.

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Assessing Your Child's Readiness to Stay Home Alone

Before we get to the legal side of things, here are a few points to consider as you assess if your child is ready to stay home by themselves.

  • Comfort & Responsibility: Are they responsible enough to follow rules and stay calm
  • Big Kid Moves: Can your child recognize potential dangers?
  • Life throws curveballs: If something unexpected happens while your child is home alone, can your child think fast on their feet?
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Checklist to Go Over With Your Child Before They Stay Home Alone

You've assessed your child's readiness and now you are thinking of running to Kwik Trip or Target for a quick errand.  Before you give a hug and say goodbye, below is a checklist that you should go over with your kid before you hop in the car.

Emergency Contact Name and Number: teach your child how to dial 9-1-1 and the type of situations this should be used

Lost Key Woes: what should your child do if they come home to an empty house but lost their key?

Doorbell Dilemmas: what to do if the doorbell rings or someone knocks on the front door

Phone Phantoms: what to do when the phone rings?

Home Alone Activities: what is ok and not ok to do when a parent or guardian is not at home

Boo-Boos & Burns: locate the first-aid kid, ensure it is fully stocked, and show it to your child

Fire Safety 101: go over the plan if there was a fire while you were away

Your Return Time and Contact Info: write your phone number and time you will return down for your child so they can look at it if they can't remember


Legal Response: What Age Are Kids Allowed To Stay Home Alone in Minnesota?

This next point is something that I know has shocked quite a few parents.  We have laws for so many things but when it comes to the safety of our kids, Minnesota doesn't give a specific age for solo kid time. The state of Minnesota does emphasize the fact that kids need to be properly supervised and each county sets its own guidelines.  Below are the general guidelines:

  • Under the Age of 8:  shouldn't be left home alone at all
  • Age 11 or 12:  may start spending a small amount of time home alone during the daytime (small amount of time after school by themselves, quick errand, etc.)
  • Age 12 or 13 (typically):  after your child is comfortable being home alone during the day, they are probably ready to stay home alone for parts of an evening.

Clay County in Minnesota has a document that lists a few more breakdowns with ages.  These aren't the guidelines for every county but you could use it as a gauge to see if your child is ready for this next stage.  You can find those guidelines here.

Sources - Minnesotaparent.com, Childrensmn.org

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