Start By Communicating

  • Ongoing and open communication between parent(s)/caregiver(s) and their child(ren) is key to building a successful relationship. Having this foundation is also critical to a 10 to 14 year old being able to safely stay at home alone.
  • Parent(s)/caregiver(s) need to feel confident about their 10 to 14 year old’s ability to get home and to be at home alone safely.
  • The 10 to 14 year old also needs to feel safe and confident when home alone.
  • Communication between parent(s)/caregiver(s) and their 10 to 14 year old is important to their success of being at home alone.
  • Good communication is also important for relationship building as well as for the promotion of other healthy choices.
  • Parent(s)/caregiver(s) can model healthy ways of being, acting and doing things for those in their care.
  • An important part of communication is being respectful. Parents/caregivers should let their 10 to 14 year old know they are willing to provide well considered opportunities to have responsibility. The 10 to 14 year old also needs to show their parent(s)/caregiver(s) that they themselves can take on new responsibilities.

There is more to communication than just talking. Both the parent(s)/caregivers(s) and the 10 to 14 year old need to:

Be Direct

  • Say what you mean. Mean what you say.
  • You don’t have to agree with everything each other says. Provide well-considered reasons why you do not agree with the other person.

Respect Each Other

  • Respect one another’s feelings. Say to each other and show one another that you understand his/her feelings and experiences.
  • Praise ideas and good effort.
  • Ask for recommendations and communicate expectations.
  • Respect privacy.


  • Take the time to really listen to what is being said
  • Let the other person know that they can talk to you and that you will let them have their say.¬†Offer praise and appreciation to each other for open communication and trust.
  • Praise your 10 to 14 year old when they are opening up to you and talking.

Be Fair

  • Always be willing to talk things over. However, once you agree on a rule, it should be followed unless there is a situation where following the rule could result in an unsafe situation. Be flexible when needed.
  • Do not change the rules and safety plan without talking about it first with your 10 to 14 year old. Have regular check-ins about the rules and adjust them when necessary.

Keep Your Sense of Humour

  • There will be times when humour can be the one important thing that helps to get you through a tough situation.

Are You Ready?

When are 10 to 14 year olds ready to be left home alone?

  • Parent(s)/caregiver(s): Are you comfortable with your 10 to 14 year old walking alone to and from school, activities and home? Is your 10 to 14 year old comfortable with walking alone to and from school, activities and home?
  • The questions above must be talked over by all family members.
  • Completing the questionnaires Am I Prepared? and Am I Ready? and then comparing and discussing answers with one another will help you identify and find solutions for some of the issues you need to talk about.

Remember this is not a test. It is a series of questions to assess readiness to be left home alone.


Download a copy of the: