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What age do you let your kids stay home alone?

post #1 of 63
Thread Starter 
Title says it all.

My oldest is 8 and I've begun thinking about when he'll be able to stay home alone for short periods.

I was 9 when my mom would leave me home for about an hour with my younger brothers -- they were 8 and 3 at the time and this was 20+ yrs ago.

How old? How long? What are the laws in your state? How do I find the laws for mine?
post #2 of 63
DD is only 3 so take it with a grain of salt In our state (FL) there is no set age - it is up to the parents' discretion.

I would say it depends on your dc. I dunno as I would let an 8 year old babysit younger siblings (too much responsibility for being so young imo) but I would totally allow a mature 8 year old to stay home for very short periods -- like a quick trip to the store, picking another child up from an activity... a pedicure or something of that nature.

I would make sure dc knew, understood, and agreed with certain "rules" I would feel comfortable setting for a child so young -- don't answer the phone or tell anyone you are home alone, keep the door locked, no answering the door unless it is a family member (like grandmom or whatever), no going outside, no using appliances other than maybe the toaster (or something simple and pretty fire-proof .... things of that nature.

My best friend's sons were 7 and 9 when she left them alone for short periods (like quick trips to the corner store etc) and she is a police officer so she obviously felt this was okay.

I think it depends on the child's maturity level and well, only you and your child know that

My mom would leave my sister and I alone after school until she got home from work (from only about 3pm to 530pm) when we begggggggggggggggggggged her not to have a babysitter anymore. We were about hmmm... 7 and 11? We did fine, but my sister was really mature as well and we had next door neighbors that were friendly and helpful in case of emergency (of which there never was).

Good luck in your decision.
post #3 of 63
We live with my FIL, though he is wheelchair-bound, not a hands on grandad, etc- and I will leave my 7 and 9yos

ETA for clarification- for short shopping trips or the like. Not for a day.
post #4 of 63
I think it depends on how long - and the individual kids...

There was a family that I used to babysit for that still had me come when the kids were 13, 11, 9... I wasn't there to 'babysit' the 13yo. But I was there to keep an eye on him. He had poor decision making abilities (he was perfectly 'fine' - just not very mature) and so he was likely to get caught up in things and do something dumb.

He wasn't ready.

I started staying home for short periods of time when I was 7 or 8. There was a store a few blocks from my house - and my parents were fine with my nanny being away for 20 minutes or so. But 10 or 11 I was allowed to stay home all day all summer. But my parent's owned their own business which was 5 minutes by car. So I would call before I did 'anything'... If I wanted to play outside I called and told her I would be outside for an hour. When I came in - I called her to let her know. A few times she called and got no answer and my dad was home really quickly.
post #5 of 63
Eight is WAYYYYYYY too young. Even my 11 yo isn't ready for it yet.

Any "quick trip" away from home could turn into something much bigger/longer if you got into an accident. And then you could be charged with child neglect.
post #6 of 63
I let my 11 year old stay home for about an hour and my 7 1/2 year old stay home for 5-10 minutes, like when I drop the babysitter off at the bus or if she gets off the school bus 5 minutes before I get home (she has her own key). I believe 12 is the age dd1 can legally babysit, but I'm not sure she will be mature enough to do that yet. And I would not leave my kids alone together for any major length of time until they stop fighting so much.
post #7 of 63
I didn't feel comfortable until they were about 12 or 13. I think younger than that is too young, unless you are next door or somewhere accessible.
post #8 of 63
I let my girls stay home alone for half an hour or an hour at a time starting around age 9 or 10. I'd certainly wait longer for a child who didn't seem mature enough.

I didn't let DD1 babysit until she was 12. I'd planned to do the same with DD2 but at 11.5 I decided she and DS were mature enough for her to watch him.

I checked the NYS CPS webpage before leaving DD1 home alone. It's pretty vague and said 'when the child is mature enough" and the babysitting page said to use judgement about the maturity of the babysitter and the younger child(ren).
post #9 of 63
My oldest is 13 and I don't let her stay home alone or with siblings. She doesn't have the maturity and self control yet and fights too much with her siblings for me to be comfortable leaving the house for even 5 minutes. Something that we are working on, but it will be a couple years at least....Most of her friends stay home alone and/or watch siblings
post #10 of 63
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by A&A View Post
Eight is WAYYYYYYY too young. Even my 11 yo isn't ready for it yet.

Any "quick trip" away from home could turn into something much bigger/longer if you got into an accident. And then you could be charged with child neglect.
Oh, I absolutely agree. I realized that my post came across as me being ok with leaving my 8 yr old with younger sibs. (They're 8,6, and 7 mos. NO WAY.) That's not it at all. It's just a topic that I've been thinking of in recent weeks.

I don't think it was safe for my mom to leave me home responsible for my younger brothers at 9 yrs old, either. (However, 1 car family, she needed the vehicle, so had to drive dad to work at 6 AM.)
post #11 of 63
My DS is 9. Last year I wouldn't leave him home alone for more than 5 minutes to walk to the mailbox. But this year, he has really matured and I will leave him home for an hour or sometimes two. However, I have several nieghbors that I could call if something came up. He also has their phone numbers if I am gone longer than expected and he can't reach me by cell phone.

He doesn't get to babysit his little sister yet, though. He is too easily distractable.
post #12 of 63
Here there are no laws on what age a child can be left home alone.

My oldest is 9 & I've left her for up to 1.5 hours by herself. Her sisters are 6 & 7. on occassion left her sisters by themselves for a few minutes. Once case of that was when it was -40F without the windchill & I had to run something to the school for one of my other kids(or pick them up). We are 2 minutes from the school.
post #13 of 63
DD was 10 before I started leaving her alone for short periods. It was more an issue with my comfort level more so than hers. I've never left her for more than an hour or two, but that's not because she couldn't handle it, just that I don't have anywhere to go for longer than that. I could not leave DS (8) alone or even with DD, they fight too much and I'm afraid they'd tear down the house while I was gone. That said, I will leave them in the house alone while I run. I'm usually gone for about 30 minutes, but I'm running past the house every 5.
post #14 of 63
Hmm... I was pretty young when I was left home alone, and shortly after that I was expected to babysit younger cousins. I was a mature child, but still. Anything could have happened. Especially at night.

I'm thinking 11-12 would probably be ok. But I don't think I'd do it before then. And even then not for more than 1-2 hours and not all the time. But if the kid weren't ready then it would be even longer.
post #15 of 63
Just want to say...

You can get the Canadian and American Red Cross babysitter certificate starting at 11...

http://www.redcross.ca/article.asp?id=628&tid=021
http://www.redcross.org/services/hss...babyindex.html
post #16 of 63
Here is what I found on my state:

http://www.njla.org/statements/children_libraries.html

Basically, I'm within their guidelines, but I'm following my gut on what my kids can handle and what is safe for them.
post #17 of 63
I don't know. My oldest is only 6 and while I really do feel he would be fine for 5-10 minutes, the thought of someone breaking in or a fire starting or anything just freaks me out. I'm guessing 10 at the earliest and without being in charge of his brother.
post #18 of 63
I think a lot of kids would probably be fine for a couple of minutes. But would they be fine if you didn't come home? Even if the school is 2 minutes away, what if you had a stroke or got hit by a car? Would your little ones know what to do? I think that is a major issue when considering to leave your children home alone.
post #19 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by primjillie View Post
I think a lot of kids would probably be fine for a couple of minutes. But would they be fine if you didn't come home? Even if the school is 2 minutes away, what if you had a stroke or got hit by a car? Would your little ones know what to do? I think that is a major issue when considering to leave your children home alone.
That same stuff can happen while you are at home, or on a walk with your kids. I don't live my life based on the rarity and fear of "what if's".
post #20 of 63
I let my 8 and 10 yo stay home alone for 1-2 hours. I am in the general neighborhood.
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