When Can Kids Go It Alone?
Parents often wonder when to expect certain milestones in their child’s development. There’s no “perfect” answer but pediatricians usually recommend the following guidelines:
Self-feeding is okay from about 7 months of age with starters like rice puffs and a Cheerio. Be cautious of choking and never leave your baby or child alone.
Hygiene is always a big topic at mommy and me classes. Toddlers brushing their own teeth, using the potty on their own, and getting dressed and undressed are all wonderful tasks that allow 18-month to 24-month-old toddlers a sense of independence and great pride. Allow them to explore their independence but always guiding them along the way. Some tips are to keep their dresser drawers and closets well organized so that they know where everything is and can pick and choose their own clothes. Encourage their choices and avoid criticizing mismatched stripes and plaids. Be positive about their newly discovered ability to dress themselves, rather than how they look.
There’s no magic age for toilet training, but 18 months is typically on the early side and usually by 4 years old, most kids are holding it on their own. Some preschools require children to be toilet trained before they start.
Average 5 year olds can make their own breakfasts and usually find delight in trying to fill a bowl of cereal all by themselves. Of course we wouldn’t suggest a child whip up a Denver omelet, but by 5 to 6 years old, a child should be able to fill a bowl of cereal and pour the milk as long as mom or dad don’t mind the occasional spill. A couple of suggestions would be to have plastic bowls in a low cupboard that they can reach and purchase half gallons of milk verses the heavy and cumbersome gallon size. Be sure to be the first to open the half-gallon and pour the first serving of every container, as they tend to be very full and splash out quickly.
By time a child is 10 to 12 they should be able to cook a meal and follow the recipe for something simple like macaroni and cheese. At this age most kids understand ¼ cup fractions and the like, but pay special attention to teaching them about boiling water and that it can give burns and how to turn the stove off after every use.
As children mature, parents can add more responsibility that teaches them time management, organization, and responsibility. As for leaving a child home alone, there are no laws in Ahwatukee stating what age a child can be left at home alone. A parent is responsible for the decisions he or she makes about their children being left alone, but in some states such as Illinois, the law states a child has to be 14 years old to be left home alone unsupervised.
It’s easier said than done, but try not to compare your child to others, as each child is unique and develops at their own pace. If ever in doubt about your child and their development, talk with your pediatrician and administrators at your child’s school.