6 Year Old Staying Home Alone? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 21 Old 07-18-2014, 06:47 AM - Thread Starter
 
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6 Year Old Staying Home Alone?

We recently moved to a new house and neighborhood. We love the neighborhood and the fact that it's full of kids.

One of our neighbors have a daughter who is 2 years older than our daughter. The little girl is 6. It appears that she and her older sister (age 8) stay home alone together for short periods of time (30-60 minutes) while the parents exercise etc. They also get dropped off by the bus on school days and stay home alone together until their parents get home.

Does anyone else find this weird? I would never think of leaving my child home alone until they are at least 12 and even then, they'd need to prove they're responsible/trust worthy enough. I don't think we were left home alone until that age as kids either.

Just curious to hear other people's thoughts.
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#2 of 21 Old 07-18-2014, 07:11 AM
 
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I wouldn't and haven't done that but I most likely wouldn't do anything about it either. If the kids seem fine with it then they are most likely safe. Maybe let them know that you are available if the kids need anything? When you are home.
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#3 of 21 Old 07-18-2014, 07:47 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I wouldn't and haven't done that but I most likely wouldn't do anything about it either. If the kids seem fine with it then they are most likely safe. Maybe let them know that you are available if the kids need anything? When you are home.
I wouldn't do anything about it either. Just curious if anyone else was as surprised at that as I was. The little girl was over playing one day and her mom told her she needed to come home so the mom could go run an errand. In that situation I offered to let the little girl just stay at our house supervised. Didn't mean this as a judgmental/I want to get them in trouble type thing...just genuinely curious!
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#4 of 21 Old 07-18-2014, 09:27 AM
 
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Oh I didn't think you were being judgmental! Would I do that? Not a chance. I have noticed that through my years of parenting, I have seen myself look at others and think To each their own. As long as a child isn't put in danger (real danger and not society viewed danger) then I don't think much of it. I seem to have changed over the years.
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#5 of 21 Old 07-18-2014, 10:45 AM
 
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I think it should be no big deal but never did it with my kid bc of fear of CPS.

When I was 8yo I roamed the outerboroughs on NYC alone on roller skates and no one blinked an eye. When I was 10yo I was left alone with 2 little sisters, one just an infant... sometimes for days without seeing an adult. Today people are nosy and make trouble for others. My 12yo has only been left alone 2x for about 30mins each time.

Bring back the old MDC
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#6 of 21 Old 07-18-2014, 11:01 AM
 
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Too young, to my opinion, 12 was the youngest I would allow being home alone, and only for 2 hours at that age.
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#7 of 21 Old 07-18-2014, 12:55 PM
 
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I left my kids at home for short periods of time when they were around 8 and 10. It was fine.

6 seems really young to me, but came home from K by myself, unlocked the door (which was the tricky and stressful part) and played until my older sister got home from school. It wasn't ideal, but nothing ever happened.

A lot of it depends on the child, and with multiple kids, it depends on the dynamic between the kids. The parents I know who waited the longest did so because of how the children treated each other, not because the kids by themselves couldn't handle it. I felt like my kids were fine a little younger than some because they had each other. In some families, its the opposite.

In similar situations, I let the parents and kids know that I was generally home "just in case."

Even though my youngest is 16, we still talk about which houses on the street are "safe houses" in case the sh*t ever hits the fan. It's good to be aware of which houses generally have a person home who is nice and helpful.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#8 of 21 Old 07-18-2014, 01:07 PM
 
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No, I don't consider a 6 and 8 year too young to be left alone so, no, I don't think this is odd at all.

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#9 of 21 Old 07-18-2014, 01:17 PM
 
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Depending on the kids of course, as others have said. For my last 2, those ages would have been fine. And that was before cell-phone ubiquity. Today, we are all in such close contact all the time, that I would think nothing of it. CPS may have other opinions of course.

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#10 of 21 Old 07-19-2014, 04:26 AM
 
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I think it depends on the kids, the length of time, NYC vs rural USA, is there a plan in place with a neighbor keeping an eye out. I also think it is a lot of pressure on an 8 yr old. That said, I bet my son could it.

There is another matter which is legality.
Last year I was accused of child endangerment by some lady for leaving my children in the car (fall...about 45°-50°f) while i went into PO for 1.5 minutes (and they were in visual range and no further than 30ft at any time) in our small rural town. Afterwards I called the state police (dispatch lady does the same as I) and child services and did a profound google search.
In Vermont, it is illegal to have key in ignition with kids alone in car...unclear if car needs to be running (law was mostly applied to people leaving kids in car to go into a bar!). And many states make it illegal for a child under 12 to walk home after school or cross the street. There may be such laws in your state...assuming you're in the USA.
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#11 of 21 Old 07-19-2014, 06:26 AM
 
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Yes, it may well be that the children, or the 6 year old, is considered an unaccompanied minor. In my state the law is that children over 8 may be alone, according to the parent's discretion. Children under 8 must be with a responsible care-giver over the age of 13. That said, in our state many, many people adapt that guideline to suite their needs and the abilities of their children. I think state guidelines are somewhat limited because they can't be especially specific in terms of allowing for gradual transition, which I think is essential for children's safety.

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#12 of 21 Old 09-04-2014, 07:21 PM
 
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I think it should be no big deal but never did it with my kid bc of fear of CPS.

When I was 8yo I roamed the outerboroughs on NYC alone on roller skates and no one blinked an eye. When I was 10yo I was left alone with 2 little sisters, one just an infant... sometimes for days without seeing an adult. Today people are nosy and make trouble for others. My 12yo has only been left alone 2x for about 30mins each time.
This. Especially for such short amounts of time. I do believe that it's illegal but that doesn't mean I think the law is right.

It sounds like the neighborhood is probably a pretty safe one- full of kids, seems like everyone knows each other fairly well, etc. It wouldn't surprise me if the parents do have safeties set up (the kids know who to go to for problems, the parents have friends in the neighborhood who keep an eye out for signs of trouble, etc). There are circumstances where it wouldn't be so safe, and it most certainly depends on the kids and circumstances.

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#13 of 21 Old 09-04-2014, 10:03 PM
 
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Yes, I find it odd, not because kids are not able to handle it, but because the CPS is hovering over parents and they might get in trouble.

My parents' generation would find it amusing that this could be considered odd. My generation would remember being in situations like this, but would never let their kids stay home alone at that age. Mostly (and I'm generalizing) out of fear of CPS.

Personally, I left ds home alone for 30min -1h at a time when he was 7. I had to look for opportunities, as I didn't actually HAVE to leave him home alone.

I think it's good for him and he likes the responsibility.

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#14 of 21 Old 09-05-2014, 04:34 AM
 
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Fear of CPS may range, depending on your area and the burden on the system, and perhaps, the individual's personal situation that may cause fear of discrimination. I am a middle class white woman living in a nice part of a city that struggles with poverty and other disadvantaging conditions for many children. Although I am alternative in some ways, CPS is not on my radar at all.

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#15 of 21 Old 09-05-2014, 05:35 AM
 
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My son is 6. As a rule, I think girls are generally ready to be home alone - or responsible for younger kids - at earlier ages than boys are. But I still wouldn't leave a 6-year-old girl home alone, even with an 8-year-old sister.

If, by "exercise", you mean the parents jog down the street in front of their home, I do that. My son can be trusted to walk out the front door and call me, if he needs me. We also live in the middle of a quiet cul-de-sac that's only 1/4-mile long, so at any point in the street, I could hear him if he yelled to me from the front step. A different neighborhood might have different safety concerns.

But letting your kids get off the bus and stay home alone until you finish work is a different story. In fact, here, that couldn't even happen. The elementary school bus drivers won't let kids off the bus if a parent's car isn't in the driveway and/or there's no adult waiting for them. The kid rides around 'til the end of the route while the transportation office tries to contact the parent or the kid's emergency contacts, to pick them up. I think that's overkill for, say, 5th graders. But if my car breaks down and I can't get home to meet my 1st-grader's bus - and I can't get anyone else to met him in my place - I'd rather he not be dropped off by himself.

FWIW, I started babysitting (an infant) at age 10, but it was 5 houses down from my parents, who were at home if I needed them. By age 12, however, I was babysitting in earnest.

I have 2 19-year-old and a 15-year-old son, but my husband and I do not let any of them babysit their 6-y-o brother. The 19-y-o's have special needs and I don't even let them stay home alone very much. The 15-y-o, unfortunately, can't consistently be trusted to be nice to the 6-y-o, or to refrain from inappropriate talk or TV shows/video games around him, without supervision.

In short, staying home alone - or babysitting - is very individualized. While I question that any 8-year-old is ready to babysit, generally the parents know their kids best. I hope you wouldn't contact authorities and cause trouble for them, unless you knew for a fact that something dangerous happened and the parents failed to address it. It would be nice to make sure the parents have your contact info, so the girls can come to you if they need something.

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#16 of 21 Old 09-06-2014, 09:22 PM
 
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My son is 6. As a rule, I think girls are generally ready to be home alone - or responsible for younger kids - at earlier ages than boys are. But I still wouldn't leave a 6-year-old girl home alone, even with an 8-year-old sister.

If, by "exercise", you mean the parents jog down the street in front of their home, I do that. My son can be trusted to walk out the front door and call me, if he needs me. We also live in the middle of a quiet cul-de-sac that's only 1/4-mile long, so at any point in the street, I could hear him if he yelled to me from the front step. A different neighborhood might have different safety concerns.

But letting your kids get off the bus and stay home alone until you finish work is a different story. In fact, here, that couldn't even happen. The elementary school bus drivers won't let kids off the bus if a parent's car isn't in the driveway and/or there's no adult waiting for them. The kid rides around 'til the end of the route while the transportation office tries to contact the parent or the kid's emergency contacts, to pick them up. I think that's overkill for, say, 5th graders. But if my car breaks down and I can't get home to meet my 1st-grader's bus - and I can't get anyone else to met him in my place - I'd rather he not be dropped off by himself.

FWIW, I started babysitting (an infant) at age 10, but it was 5 houses down from my parents, who were at home if I needed them. By age 12, however, I was babysitting in earnest.

I have 2 19-year-old and a 15-year-old son, but my husband and I do not let any of them babysit their 6-y-o brother. The 19-y-o's have special needs and I don't even let them stay home alone very much. The 15-y-o, unfortunately, can't consistently be trusted to be nice to the 6-y-o, or to refrain from inappropriate talk or TV shows/video games around him, without supervision.

In short, staying home alone - or babysitting - is very individualized. While I question that any 8-year-old is ready to babysit, generally the parents know their kids best. I hope you wouldn't contact authorities and cause trouble for them, unless you knew for a fact that something dangerous happened and the parents failed to address it. It would be nice to make sure the parents have your contact info, so the girls can come to you if they need something.
I think it's weird but only in the current CPS-crazy climate.

I could easily trust my 8yo to care for my 2.5yo while home alone. I don't, but I could. He's responsible, capable, and caring. I would not, however, leave my 6yo & 4yo with him because they wouldn't respect his 'authority'. In a lot of ways, my 8yo is more competent at watching his brothers than my 17yo!

I would assume your neighbor has an arrangement with another neighbor. I used to have such an arrangement when my older kids (they're 24 & 22 now) were kids. My across the street neighbor and I would keep an eye out for eachother's kids while we took turns running errands.
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#17 of 21 Old 09-07-2014, 02:04 AM
 
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But letting your kids get off the bus and stay home alone until you finish work is a different story. In fact, here, that couldn't even happen. The elementary school bus drivers won't let kids off the bus if a parent's car isn't in the driveway and/or there's no adult waiting for them. The kid rides around 'til the end of the route while the transportation office tries to contact the parent or the kid's emergency contacts, to pick them up. I think that's overkill for, say, 5th graders. But if my car breaks down and I can't get home to meet my 1st-grader's bus - and I can't get anyone else to met him in my place - I'd rather he not be dropped off by himself.
Maybe I'm reading this wrong, but do the bus drivers really consider a car in the driveway as a reliable indication that there's a parent home? That seems really weird to me.

And on the broader topic of 6 year olds being on their own for short periods, I'm on the "it depends" side of the argument.
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#18 of 21 Old 09-07-2014, 04:54 AM
 
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I think it seems fine.



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I do believe that it's illegal but that doesn't mean I think the law is right.
I didn't see she said what state she is in. My state doesn't have any laws regarding what age is appropriate to leave kids home alone.

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the CPS is hovering over parents and they might get in trouble.
CPS is hovering over this particular family? Or do you think they are looking to increase their case loads bc they don't have enough going on now?? CPS is a mess in my state, they certainly aren't "hovering" to get more work!! They can't even keep the kids in their care alive.

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#19 of 21 Old 09-15-2014, 08:18 AM
 
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I think it seems fine.

CPS is hovering over this particular family? Or do you think they are looking to increase their case loads bc they don't have enough going on now?? CPS is a mess in my state, they certainly aren't "hovering" to get more work!! They can't even keep the kids in their care alive.
No, I meant there is a general fear of CPS; people are sometimes afraid of parenting their kids how they wish out of fear of CPS.
This includes letting kids stay home alone, letting them go outside alone, leaving them in their car. I admit I`m afraid when I leave my 9 y/o in the car (on a cool day, for 10 minutes, at his own request).

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#20 of 21 Old 09-16-2014, 02:07 PM
 
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My state doesn't have any laws about this, but I do know one parent who got a CPS visit for letting three of her children -- the youngest was two or three at the time -- play outside in their not-fenced-in yard. She was in the house with the baby at that time. Even if you're not breaking any laws, people can still call CPS and you can still end up being hassled. In her case, even her littlest one knew his boundaries and she didn't have a problem with him trying to leave the yard and run in the street or anything.

Parents really are the best judges as to how much freedom their children can be allowed at what ages. My older dd understood her boundaries by age two, and sometimes I did let her play on our front porch while I was in the house with the front door open. My younger dd was still trying to run into the street at around age 3 1/2, so she needed much closer supervision for a much longer time.

Has anyone heard about this case about the mother in South Carolina who was arrested for letting her 9 year old play at the park -- a park that was just a short walk from their home -- while she worked? After doing a bit more reading today, I've discovered that there's been a ton of support for this poor single mom, so what looked to be a really awful circumstance may have brought some positive results. Not that this makes up for any child having to spend time in foster care -- I'm just very happy about all the love and support that this family is receiving, and I hope everything goes well for her in her trial.

http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/21/living...-park-parents/

http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/cr...eft-child-park
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#21 of 21 Old 09-16-2014, 02:19 PM
 
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Oh my gosh! Here's another insane case! OP, it's no wonder your neighbor wants her children to come home and stay INSIDE if she has to run an errand. People these days get alarmed at just seeing children playing outdoors. They find out where they live and bring them home. And call the police and CPS.


Apparently, it's "good" for children to start feeling scared that the police will show up at the door if they're awake past their bedtime. We should feel so grateful for all the concerned citizens who think little children belong in cages or something.


http://reason.com/blog/2014/09/15/ch...did-nothing-wr

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