At what age do you start leaving your kids home alone? - Mothering Forums

View Poll Results: What age to stay home alone?
7 or younger 3 4.23%
8 6 8.45%
9 6 8.45%
10 14 19.72%
11 7 9.86%
12 23 32.39%
13 5 7.04%
14 3 4.23%
15 3 4.23%
16 1 1.41%
17 0 0%
Not till they're legal adults 0 0%
Voters: 71. You may not vote on this poll

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#1 of 14 Old 02-11-2014, 10:00 AM - Thread Starter
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I have one who just turned 12, and one who just turned 5. The 12-year-old sometimes stays home alone for short periods of time, but not with the 5-year-old. This started when she was 11.

What age is OK with you?
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#2 of 14 Old 02-11-2014, 12:24 PM
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I don't really think you can assign an age to this. It depends on the maturity and trust level of the child doesn't it? There are people of all ages I wouldn't want to leave alone in my house. Some kids are ready at 12, others not even when they are 16...heck even some 22 yr olds. Its all very subjective IMO.

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#3 of 14 Old 02-11-2014, 12:27 PM
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I think my mom started leaving me during the day when she was gone for 30 min- 1 hr at maybe 9? Depending on how my son is at that age, that seems a fair age for that length of time. I wasn't a left alone after dark till I was probably a freshman in hs. That also seems pretty reasonable. The house gets scary when you're alone at that age, not to mention the real dangers.
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#4 of 14 Old 02-11-2014, 12:32 PM
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I started babysitting when I was 11.  I actually babysat 3 kids up the street that were 3, 4 and 5!  I also babysat a number of other kids.  I would be there all night until the parents got home late.  I think it depends on the kid too and agree that there are adults I wouldn't want to leave alone in my house!  :)

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#5 of 14 Old 02-11-2014, 12:47 PM
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In all honesty I think it all depends on the child and for how long, if it is a quick run to the store for a jug of milk or no longer than an hour I think its ok to leave a child ( not to babysit) alone for max an hour but you need to leave guidlines like make sure the door is locked and don't answer for anyone and do not answer the phone unless its the parent or guardian and they also need to know what to do in an emergency as well
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#6 of 14 Old 02-11-2014, 12:49 PM
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Interesting question. I would also like to know at what age parents leave kids home with a younger sibling. Also what's the youngest age a babysitter could be. This may have the outcome of telling us how (if) the times have changed since we were kids and if it shows a change it would make me wonder, is it the conditions of the world that have changed or the minds of parents that has changed?


I also wonder at what age kids are allowed to go into business districts without adults (i.e. downtown). I don't live in the city I grew up in and so I often wonder if it is WHERE I live or WHEN I live that makes me not want to allow my kids out in the manor my parents did, even though I believe the experience I had as a child was healthy.

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#7 of 14 Old 02-11-2014, 01:18 PM
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#8 of 14 Old 02-11-2014, 02:01 PM
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I think it depends on more on where you live and less on your personal preference. Many many states and other jurisdictions have laws to specifically address this issue. For example, in my county, an 11 yr old can be left for up to 4 hours without anyone else(ie they cannot babysit) a 12 year old can babysit. And then it gets more lenient with age to include overnight and weekends.
I encourage anyone who wants to leave their child home alone to check their local laws. If a person ignores them someone can call CPS and then CPS. Is obligated to do something.
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#9 of 14 Old 02-11-2014, 08:01 PM
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My oldest son is a mature 8 year old.  In a way we have left him alone.  When my hubby was working a temporary night job, he would sleep in the evenings as soon as I got home from work until it was time to go in to work again.  If I had to run an errand or go grocery shopping, I would allow my son to stay in the locked house with his dad asleep in the bedroom.   These trial runs seem to go fine, but I think we will wait another year or so before actually allowing him by himself completely, just because 8 does seem young in my mind.  On another note, my hubby once left all 3 kids to go to his mother's (who lives next door) in an emergency, she had knee replacement surgery and had fallen and had uncontrolled bleeding. 

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#10 of 14 Old 02-12-2014, 12:09 PM
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I left them alone for 15 minute car drop offs when they were 3 and 5, increased to an hour by the time they were 5 and 7. Now they are 7 and 9 and can stay home alone for about 2 -3 hours. I think the age is EXTREMELY relative.  I happen to have two kids who rarely fight, and the oldest has always been conservative/cautious, so it was an easy decision to make. I think had they been in reverse birth order or fighters, it would have been different. I don't think there are rules here about this sort of thing, many 6 and 7 year olds walk or bike to school by themselves. I still pick up my 9 yo from school, although almost all of his classmates go home by themselves, but this is not because he can't - he can and has, but he prefers I pick him up; and I prefer it as the walk home is our time to unwind and talk about the day in a casual, non confrontational kind of way. Hard to explain, but I hope this makes sense. 

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#11 of 14 Old 02-13-2014, 05:08 AM
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I said 9 when I voted, but my boys just turned 9, and we haven't left them yet. I think they are old enough to be alone for 15-30 minutes during the day. I would not leave them in charge of a sibling, however.


They are old enough to be very good at my doctor's appointments, however.  Yeah, kids! I just had the annual/mamogram visits, and two different times I was able to leave the 3 of them in the waiting room. First time was almost an hour, second time was 90 minutes.  Directions were read quietly, don't move seats, don't bother others, stay together. Quiet voices. Both times, they were complemented on behavior by the receptionsit. At the longer appointment, I was told "I didn't even know they were here."  

Twin boys (2/05) and little sister (10/07)
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#12 of 14 Old 02-13-2014, 11:18 AM
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I don't know what to choose... My 8 year old DD would be completely fine on her own right now. She'd probably spend the time watching tv or reading books. I wouldn't leave her with my 5 year old. They get along really well together and would most likely be ok but the younger one would be more willing to open the door if someone knocked or convince her sister to do silly stuff. 

However I often "nap" while they are both in the house together. They can get up to some shananaigans but nothing terrible. I always have one ear open but they've been fine for years if one of us is sleeping in or napping while the other parent is out. 

I have offered to leave her a couple times while she was sick and napping for me to run and get her sister afterschool (15 mins) but she's refused. 


And one time I had to go to the ER in the middle of the night and was on some strong pain meds so I wasn't allowed to drive home. We live less than two blocks from the hospital and they wouldn't let me walk either. I couldn't get ahold of my friend so I called my husband at the nurses' urging to just let the kids sleep and for him to come get me. 

I will probably let DD1 stay home alone on a more regular basis when she's 10. That's when they can take the baby sitter course here. We've had an 11 year old babysitter and a 13 year old sitter and they were both great and had their babysitting course and came from a great family, however I relied a bit more on my 8 year old to help out. Probably by 10/11 and after the babysitter course my younger will be 8 years and depending on personality we'll let them stay alone together. 

I hope to start letting DD1 head to the park around the corner by herself this summer or ride her bike by herself around the block. There are lots of parents in this town who let kids younger do these things. It's still a "walk to school both ways in the snow in -40*C weather" kinda place. 


I've been letting them slowly build their independence in various controlled ways for many years. We go over the rules, I give them more freedom and then I try and let go of the ingrained fears in myself as a parent to try and build confidant and street smart and independent kids. Personality plays a big part in this though. I know I can send my 8 year old to grab bananas on the other side of the grocery store but my 5 year old would freak out if she wasn't 2 feet from me. 

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#13 of 14 Old 02-14-2014, 07:16 AM
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DD1 is 11 and is regularly home alone for a few hours by herself. We started when she was 9 doing short trips away. I don't worry at all about her. DD2 is 7 and she has been home by herself. It has been a matter of necessity. Being she is home with a cough or cold or stomach bug and I have to go pick up the other kids from school 5 minutes away.. She stays home sitting on the couch with our extra cell phone and I'll be back soon. We have several neighbors that work from home, including both of our next door neighbors so there is always someone "around". 

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#14 of 14 Old 02-14-2014, 07:39 AM
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I voted 8 because in the few months before our son turned 9, my partner left him home while he did a brief errand, a couple of times.  I expect he'll be 10 before we leave him alone more than an hour.  He's responsible but doesn't like being lonely.


We don't plan to leave him alone with his sibling until he's 11 or 12 and baby is 2 or 3.  Maybe I'd do it earlier if it would be a very short time and baby was asleep (but older kid wasn't).  Also, I can imagine letting him take baby for a walk up and down our street (would be out of sight some of the time) while I'm home. 


mmjones wrote:

This may have the outcome of telling us how (if) the times have changed since we were kids and if it shows a change it would make me wonder, is it the conditions of the world that have changed or the minds of parents that has changed?

In the United States, at least, it's mostly attitudes that have changed:

Every type of violent crime is significantly less common now than 20 years ago.

Children are very rarely abducted by strangers, although most parents I know worry about that a lot and restrict their kids because of that fear.  I have read that child abductions by strangers dropped by more than half between 1980 and 2000, but I can't find an online source for that information.


My parents started leaving me alone for short periods in daytime when I was 8, and leaving my brother with me when I was 10 and he was 7.  We gradually increased the amount of time.  I don't recall being home alone after dark until I was 12 or 13.  My parents left us overnight once when I was 15, but they didn't have any need to do that again until after I was 18.  I babysat overnight for the 8-year-old next-door neighbor when I was 16.

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