I realize this depends on the child and the situation. But on average, I'm trying to get a sense of whether I'm overly cautious. My DD1 is 9yo and in 4th grade and I've never left her home alone. She has a lot of anxiety, so maybe she wouldn't be ready, but on the other hand, I feel she would be helped by some mild forms of independence. I have no idea what the norm is. Alone for 5 min if I walk around the block? 10 min to drive to the drugstore? just wondering.
At what age do you let your child stay home alone?
This really is a "it all depends on the child" thing.
Our son is 10. We started leaving him home alone for 10-15 minutes at age 9. Last spring, just after he turned 10, he took a lovely course from the Red Cross entitled something like "When I'm in Charge". I'm now comfortable leaving him for about 2 hours (though an hour is more comfortable for me). We have very clear guidelines: No friends in, he has to stay home. No using the stove or anything sharp. Don't answer the door. Don't tell anyone we're not home. We practiced calling my cell and dh's cell.
He's a very cautious kid with a tendency toward anxiety. I have every faith that he'll follow the rules to the letter. For a child who was more "act first, think later" I might wait until they were older.
As for when, the first time I left ds home alone there was something his sister wanted to go to at school and he REALLY didn't want to go. Dh was at a meeting, and so ds either had to stay home alone or go to the Family Fun Night that he hated. That encouraged him to try staying home. If he hadn't been so motivated, he wouldn't have tried it. (As it was he was only home alone for 30 minutes, as dh came home from his meeting as early as he could.) So, your daughter, if she's a bit anxious, may need some pretty high personal motivation. You might need to wait until your daughter is motivated. You can start small with a walk around the block.
Here's the law regarding leaving kids home alone by state.
It's funny, my sister and I were left home alone as kids, my sister was 8 and I was 6, and because I got home first I was often home alone for 10-30 minutes before my sister's bus arrived. I guess that's pretty nuts thinking back.
I would not be happy about my son being left home alone until he was 9 or 10 probably. I don't know...but definitely not yet...what were my parents thinking?!
thanks for these great replies, plus the legal info. our state does not have an age limit. For myself, I don't really know that she's ready, and i'm not really comfortable with it yet. but we have neighbors who are home alone at 9, and other parents with the attitude that since we were all left alone young, they should be fine and we're just overprotective. It's good to see a more balanced approach with parents waiting a little. I think for now, we may start letting her stay home alone if we want to go for a walk around the block, and she is whining not wanting to go. it would be short, we'd be close, and she'd be motivated. thanks for the feedback!
well, my kid is still a baby so obv. does not stay home by herself. :) but when I was a kid I was allowed to stay home by myself at age 9. I was typically by myself for about an hour or so right after school while my mom was getting my sister from school. We weren't allowed to both stay home together until middle school age.
My DD1 is 8. I started letting her stay home for short periods this summer while I am in the neighborhood. We live 7 miles out of town in a subdivision, there is nothing around so I'm not about to run in and do a short errand but she can stay home while we take a walk or I will go to a friend's house down the street. She goes to the playground in our subdivision alone (very rural area here) so to me it isn't any different. DD1 does ahave anxiety issues about being alone but is fine during the day time. She knows how to call us and is very good about following all rules.
we started at about 6 or was it 7.
i had errands to run and dd just DID NOT WANT TO GO.
so i'd leave her for 15 -20 mins. i'd tell my neighbour and go. when i'd get back sometimes dd didnt even remember i was gone. at most times she was still doing what i had left her doing.
but this is my very cautious child. who follows the safety rules to a t. she also had a good idea of what to do in an emergency and how to be safe at home.
plus she has been bugging me to leave her alone since she was 4.
it is interesting. we didnt really leave her alone till she was 8. that is for an hour. after making sure our neighbors were home. we have gone from 1 to 3 hours (at dd's insistence). and she did fine. however she realized that 3 hours was too long for her. however i did the 3 hours for her to experience that 3 hours was indeed a long time. she can handle 2 but not 3. however not once was i afraid she would do something bad.
however now that she is into mystery books she cant be left alone for even 5 mins. her pretend mind is scaring her too much for her to be left alone. she hasnt been alone in a few months.
Well, at age 6 or 7 we let DS walk home from school without us (it was 2 blocks away), and the neighbours thought that was pretty scandalous.
At about 8 or 9, I left DS for a few minutes while I dropped the other kid off at school (the same one), and he was home not feeling well. It made more sense than making him get out of bed, dressed and dragged out on a cold day.
By 9, I was pretty comfortable letting them play unsupervised and leaving them alone home.
We had a lot of discussion and instruction on safety, appropriate activities etc. etc. There was also a gradual building of responsibility and trust before we got to the point where I would leave them on their own. They had to demonstrate that they were ready. They weren't impulsive types, so I didn't have to worry too much about that. If they were anxious about staying alone, I would have respected those emotions and not left them.
By 12, they had both completed Babysitter's Courses and were ready to babysit smaller children. For the most part, the course just went over information they had already covered with us and reinforced it.
I have left ds alone starting recently- He is extremely cautious- extremely and has a cell phone. I have left him for around 20-30 min at the most. DD i would never ever ever leave alone at this age.... she is 5 now but totally into everything and will be even at 8-10-12 I suppose.
she thinks she can do everything on her own.
I leave him for things like going to pick his sister up, running to gas station.
Totally depends on the kid.
When I mentioned this thread to my husband, he shook his head and started to (somewhat painfully) reminisce on all the things he did as a kid when he was by himself. He'd get into all sorts of mischief when he was younger, and when he was older he said the only difference between him and the kids who got arrested was that he didn't get caught. I know that second thought is a step or three away from the intent of the question. Still, like some pp's have said, depends on the kid. BTW, his mom (75) still has noooo idea the kinds of things he did around the house and around the neighborhood.
My hubby waxes poetic about this sometimes, too. However, he can also tell you the day that his younger brother and he fell off a concrete wall and literally busted their scalps open. Bleeding profusely, they knocked on a few doors until someone helped them and called their mom home from work.
This was in the 1970's... I bet even fewer folks are home during the day now. But I guess some kids now have cell phones by age 8.
My children are 7 and I haven’t left them home alone. They play outside while I am inside or vice versa. They can ride their bikes/scooters around the street, which makes one large circle, if there are two or more children. I am not sure when I would be comfortable leaving them alone while I do errands and they have not asked to be left home alone.
I started babysitting at 14, but at that age my mom still hired a sitter for me and my siblings (aged 12 and 10) because she didn’t think I should watch my siblings – not sure completely of her reasoning since I was watching other people’s children.
For those of you who babysat at 12…I would not hire a sitter that young. My sister’s son is 11 and she left him home with his 8yo sister for the first time this summer while she ran around their block with her 2yo. Maybe we are more paranoid/fearful than most. My daughter has epilepsy so I also worry that she will have a seizure. But even without the epilepsy, I would worry something could happen. Of course we all know stories but there are a several tragedies that touched people my family knew and that is most likely shaping our decisions even though the odds of something bad happening are unlikely.