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Leaving a child home alone for a (short) while? WWYD?

post #1 of 85
Thread Starter 

From what age are you and your child comfortable for him/her to be home alone for a (short) while, and how long and under which circumstances, and how often? What, in tis regard, do you 'deem' appropriate in general, and then again, do you see it differently when specifically about you, your child and your home and situation or a particular occasion?

 

 

post #2 of 85

It really depends on the kid.  In third grade, I was home alone two days a week for a couple hours after school.  However, I fully understood not to try to use the stove or matches or anything unsafe, to not tell anyone on the phone mom wasn't home (although we had caller id so I actually just ignored numbers I didn't know) and to not answer the door.  I'd just get myself a snack from the fridge and turn on the tv or do my homework if I had any.

By the time I was 11, I was babysitting my 6 year old brother full time.

 

However, my brother couldn't have been left for a couple hours alone at 8.  He DEFINITELY couldn't have babysat full time at 11.  He wouldn't have been able to handle it.

 

My mom was also a single mom so its a good thing I was able to handle things like that.  She couldn't afford to put me in after school full time and it was much easier on the finances to have me babysit in the summer rather than sending us to daycare all day every day.

post #3 of 85

I have twin boys who are about to turn 9.  I regularly leave one of them alone for about an hour while I'm running the other kids around to lessons.  He just stays home and works on home work, then watches TV or does something in his room.  I think it really depends on the kids.  My boys are very mature (most of the time), and we live in a safe neighborhood where he knows many people he could turn to if he needed help. 

 

post #4 of 85
In my old state of Georgia 8 to ten year olds could be left alone for "short" periods of time. But to be in charge of other children they must be older than 12.

I live in Oregon now and I don't know what the law says here. My 15 and 17 years olds are safe to leave for several hours if hubby and I want to go on a long day hike.
post #5 of 85

haha by 17, I was home alone for full weekends so I could work while my family was at the land hunting.

post #6 of 85

My nine year old is fine on her own for a couple hours.  She does have easy access to help with family nearby if she needs it, and has the phone to call if she needs anything, but she really does fine.  She isn't allowed to use the stove on her own but she can use the microwave if she wants a quick snack or a cup of cocoa. 

post #7 of 85

Ive left my 9 year old for short periods. She has a very responsible personality though.

 

eta: she also has access to lots of neighbours, and an aunty all within a few houses.

post #8 of 85

My 8 year has stayed home a couple times while the rest of the family takes a walk. She knows how to call if there is an issue. I'm not ready to be away from the neighborhood yet while she is alone, town is 15 minutes away, but I can see that day will be coming. She is very much a rule follower so I'm not concerned about her. 

 

 

post #9 of 85

Around age 12 I am ok leaving them alone and having them babysit younger sibling alone for up to 2 hours maximum, with frequent phone calls home.  If there are no younger children in the house, maybe a very mature 9 and up -- it depends on maturity and saviness about personal safety.  Some kids "get it" and others just don't.

post #10 of 85

Ds is 9, turning 10 this week, and we just started leaving him alone in the last 3-4 months. He doesn't like to be alone in the house, so it's not very frequent. He's becoming more comfortable with it. The first time we left him, we were gone for about 45 minutes (he was getting over being sick, his sister had something she wanted to do, and dad had a meeting). Most times it's about 15-20 minutes tops.

 

Before I let him stay home alone, I confirmed that he knew how to reach us on the cell phone. I made sure he knew the rules about answering the door (don't do it) and answering the phone (let the answering machine get it). He was under strict instructions not to use the stove or anything else possibly dangerous and to call us if he needed us. He spent the entire time playing Wii and didn't even notice!

 

I'd be comfortable leaving him home alone for about an hour. After that I think he would be uncomfortable. He's a very cautious and responsible kid. (I remember that my mom went back to school when I was 10, and I came home to an empty house and started dinner. So, 10 can be mature enough.)

post #11 of 85

I've left my now 9 year old home alone for 1/2 an hour a few times.  However, part of the reason I felt comfortable with this was that we had a really awesome next door neighbor who always kept an eye on the house and a 120 lb dog who was very sweet but very very protective of ds.  Both my dog and my neighbor have passed away.  While I'm sure he'd still be completely fine, I just haven't left him since.

 

He does know my cell phone number and a handful of others who live close and he knows all the safety things I worry about (letting someone in, using the stove, etc). 

post #12 of 85

I've left my 8 and 5 yr. old sons alone for less than an hour 3 or 4 times now. They know to call us if they need anything, we know and trust our neighbors, they keep the door locked and don't open it for anyone (we tested), don't use the stove or knives, etc. The past couple times (the first times over 15-20 minutes) we let them play Wii while we were gone and we were <2 miles away. They loved it-- we usually limit their screen time to half an hour per day.

My sister and I were home alone after school every day starting when we were 7 and 5, and I remember us being very responsible. My favorite memory is when there was a tornado watch and I took her down to the basement with snacks, board games, blankets, flashlights, and a radio. If I could manage that at 7, I'm confident that my boys (especially my oldest) are capable of playing Wii for an hour.

post #13 of 85

Off topic, but sometimes it takes me aback that there are mothers here who grew up with caller ID.  We didn't even have a touch tone phone growing up (my siblings and I grew up in the 60's and 70's).  Not that it doesn't make sense that women who could be my own daughter is having children... I just, realize how much things have changed since my bell-bottom days when things like this come up.  It's funny.

 

Anyway, my dd was 9 in February and she absolutely does not want to be left alone at all.  She is so, amazingly, responsible and mature, and wins the award every year for her grade for "integrity"... she would probably be fine if I left her alone for 30 minutes.  But she doesn't feel comfortable with it.  Perhaps it's because she IS so responsible that she realizes that there are many situations she's still not old enough to handle.  Having a good head on the shoulders vs. having a good head on the shoulders to know your own shortcomings makes a difference in our book.  I highly respect that in her and she has a lot of common sense.  It will probably be another couple of years until dd is left alone for more than a 10 minute outdoor visit with the next-door neighbors, but I'm willing to go at her pace.

post #14 of 85

I remember being left alone for a couple hours at a pretty young age--don't remember how young. My parents left me and our two dogs home alone for 2 weeks when I was 15.

 

I saw some website that listed things your kid should be able to do before being left alone, like some first aid stuff that I still don't know as an adult. Well, it would be a good idea, I think, to teach them that stuff if you were going to be gone for more than an hour or so. Depending on who your neighbors are, maybe.

post #15 of 85
My kids are still young for this-- my oldest is six, and I will leave her alone in the house while we sit on the porch or chat with a neighbor, but that's as far as I'll go. Honestly, I feel she's safer outside, where there are neighbors she can go to if there's trouble. There are more dangers indoors, and I worry she might need help and forget how to access it. But I plan on using the same guidelines my mother used, unless there is some factor about my kids or our house or whatever that causes me to change my mind.

alone in the house for a very short time, in daylight (like the 20 minutes it takes to run to the grocery store)- nine years old
Alone in the house, for a few hours in daylight-- ten years old
alone in the house at night, for no more than a few hours--- twelve years old
alone in the house and responsible for siblings or other younger children-- thirteen
alone overnight-- 16
alone for more than overnight-- 18
post #16 of 85

We started leaving ds home alone when he was about 9 1/2.  He is not the sort of child who would ever really consider doing something he's not allowed to do, he just doesn't have it in him :)   He has stayed home for as long as 4 hours (for some reason he always gets sick on the day I have my specialist appts. that I can't miss!).  If dd stays home with him they can stay for about 2 hours before they start to fight, so anything longer than an hour or so we get a sitter.   We have super close neighbors and live in the sort of place that makes it almost impossible to know if someone is home so I don't worry much.

post #17 of 85

Georgia doesn't have any laws about it. 

post #18 of 85

I always thought this was a legal thing too.  I know for sure it's a legal thing in Texas with cars.

post #19 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic View Post

Off topic, but sometimes it takes me aback that there are mothers here who grew up with caller ID.  We didn't even have a touch tone phone growing up (my siblings and I grew up in the 60's and 70's).  Not that it doesn't make sense that women who could be my own daughter is having children... I just, realize how much things have changed since my bell-bottom days when things like this come up.  It's funny.

 

Anyway, my dd was 9 in February and she absolutely does not want to be left alone at all.  She is so, amazingly, responsible and mature, and wins the award every year for her grade for "integrity"... she would probably be fine if I left her alone for 30 minutes.  But she doesn't feel comfortable with it.  Perhaps it's because she IS so responsible that she realizes that there are many situations she's still not old enough to handle.  Having a good head on the shoulders vs. having a good head on the shoulders to know your own shortcomings makes a difference in our book.  I highly respect that in her and she has a lot of common sense.  It will probably be another couple of years until dd is left alone for more than a 10 minute outdoor visit with the next-door neighbors, but I'm willing to go at her pace.


And if your finger slipped out before you got all the way around the rotary dial, you'd have accidentally dialed the wrong number... lol.gif

 

My 9 yo ds is the same way, not comfortable or interested in being left alone.  I'll mail a letter a block away leaving him at home for about 5 minutes.  For a few years now, I've been leaving him in the car for 5-10 minutes if I can park up against the building so he doesn't have to cross the lot.  I think he'd rather be left in the car.  He feels like people are more available in an emergency.  He can just go in the store and there will be someone.  The house is more isolated and few neighbors are home during the day.  

 

post #20 of 85

We not only had dial telephones (and I can still remember the sound,) but my grandparents phone numbers both started with letters. They were either TU7-XXXX or TU8-XXXX.


 

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