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Should my child have friends over when they’re home alone?

Every parent wants their child to have friends, especially friends that are a positive influence on your kiddo. But when they’re home alone, what do you do? Allow your child to have friends over? Cut off all communication with their friends and ban them from ever coming to the house? 

If your child asks, “can I have a friend over while I’m home alone?” the short answer is, no. Set the boundary from the very beginning that your child is not to have anyone over when they are home alone. 

We know, we know…your kid will think you’re the worst for banning any friends while they’re home alone. But it’s a necessary boundary to set for both your child’s safety, your peace of mind, and the safety of your child’s friends! It might be a tough boundary to set and a hard conversation to have with your child, but safety is the number one priority for your child, especially when they are home alone. 

Kids’ brains are still in the crucial stages of development, and as much as we want to assume they’ll always make the right choice, it is not realistic to expect this of them. Instead of setting them up to make poor decisions while they are with their friends unsupervised, it’s important to take out the variable of having friends over while they’re home alone. If your child knows that this is a non-negotiable from the very beginning, it will quickly become a nonstarter when discussing what they can and cannot do while home alone. 

We always want to create opportunities for success for our children, but allowing friends over while they are home alone is not one of them. As they grow older and more responsible, say after a few years of showing you that they can follow the boundaries you’ve set for them, you can reopen the conversation about friends coming over, but at the beginning, it is important to take it off the table completely. 

Help your kid save face with their friends by making it a rule they have to follow. By being the “bad guy” in this situation, your child will be free of the pressure of explaining why they might not want a certain friend over while they’re home alone. It’s our job as parents to set our children up for success, and not allowing friends over while our kids are home alone is an essential part of ensuring this!

But what if your child really wants to talk to that friend and they think having them over while they’re alone is the only way to achieve this? Offer the privilege of using the phone to call them while they’re home alone (depending on the age of your child.) This shows your child that you aren’t trying to punish them by not allowing friends over and they will start to understand that the boundaries you set are for their own health and safety, not punitive!

And as always, make sure your child knows to never open the door…for anyone. Even if it’s a friend that popped over to say hi. Give them a script to say if this ever happens: “Sorry, I can’t let you in, my mom said no one else is allowed in the house. I’ll call you tonight and we can plan some time to get together!” 

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How much structure is enough?

How much structure is enough?

Ah, the ever challenging question…how much structure is too much (or not enough) for your child when you leave them home alone? 

Do you plan out every minute that you’re away? Do you let it be a free for all and have them figure it out themselves? 

Well, honestly, the answer is somewhere in the middle, and always depends on the age of your child, as well. 

Set realistic expectations

We know it’s tempting to schedule your child’s minute-by-minute itinerary when they are home alone. I mean, who doesn’t want their kids accounted for and maybe even doing some helpful tasks around the house? Realistically, though, doing this will set your child up for failure. Despite your best-laid plans, your child is not a robot, and therefore, cannot be programmed like one. 

Figuring out how to strike the right balance between structure and allowing your child some freedom and responsibility is difficult, but so, so crucial. 

Offer guidance

Initially, you need to offer guidance based on your expectations of your child while they are home alone. Be very clear with these expectations. Do you want them to have a certain amount of homework done when you get home? What about tasks around the house? Do they have screen time limits you expect them to follow? What should they do if a stranger comes to the door? 

Lay out these expectations with your child before leaving them home alone. Over time, your child will take more initiative in helping to set their “to-do” list while they’re home alone and they will learn how to be accountable for their words and actions. 

Clear consequences

It’s also important that you explain to your child what the consequences are if they don’t follow your explicit expectations. Make sure the consequence is related to what you’ve asked them to do or take away something they really want to do. For example, if they neglected to put the dishes away and clean their room while they were home alone, then they can’t go to their friend’s house tomorrow. 

It won’t take many of these consequences for them to realize that it’s just easier to do what you’ve asked. It’s important that you don’t overload them with things to do while they’re home alone though so they don’t feel overwhelmed. Structure is important, but there is a balance you must strike to make it effective. 


Learning how to take accountability for their actions is crucial to your child’s success, both while staying home alone, but also once they enter college or the workforce. Set your child up for success with some structured expectations of what they should do while home alone, but also allow your child some freedom to choose…with limits!

A stronger relationship

The best part is that as your child learns that you trust them to stay home alone and complete the tasks you’ve asked them to do, your relationship with them will grow stronger. Oh, and who could forget…some chores will even get done! What could be better than that combination? 

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Should my child answer the door when home alone?

As our kids grow older, we often wonder how much freedom to give them, especially when they’re home alone! I mean what kid doesn’t want the freedom of staying home alone for a few hours? 

And as the parents, after years of needing to find a babysitter, or having to haul our children along with us for errands, having a child who is old enough to stay at home alone for short periods is the best thing since sliced bread! 

Staying home alone allows your child to feel a sense of responsibility and maturity, both essential tools for their growth. But with this freedom comes some anxiety, especially about what to do if a stranger knocks on the door. 

Often our children will want to answer the door either out of curiosity or kindness and parents will often wonder, should their child answer the door while they are home alone? 

Simply put, no, they shouldn’t. 

Staying home alone doesn’t have to be a difficult transition for your family. Set the expectation that from the very first day your child stays home alone, they don’t answer the door for anyone! 

Nope, not even someone who claims to be delivering a pizza! 

We know, we know. What child will say no to that? Some people can be very persistent and convincing, so your child should know that anyone who needs to enter the home will have the necessary tools to do so, like a key or the access code. 

Help protect your child and take away their anxiety about what to do if a stranger comes to the door with our “Home Alone” course.

As they get older, your child can learn (with your explicit instruction) that it’s okay to open the door for some people — like a real pizza delivery person! But until then, encourage your child to keep the doors locked at all times.