At what age do you leave your child home alone? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 39 Old 06-08-2007, 12:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We have some youngish kids (IMO) left home alone in our neighborhood and every time I'm made aware of it (usually the kids tell my kids and my kids mention it to me, usually jealously lol), I try to connect with their moms and let them know I'm home, I'd be glad to keep an eye out or come if there's an emergency, etc.

One 8yo boy was left home for 4+ hours. He seemed comfortable with it so I know it wasn't the first time.

The next door 12yo boy is routinely home alone from 1-7ish on Thursdays or 3-7ish on other days during the week. He's been left home alone since probably about 10yo, maybe younger?

My boys are 6 and 10 next month, and I've never left either of them alone, not even for 10 minutes to run to the corner store.

Am I out of track here, being over protective?? Does it depend on the kid, or the situation, or a combination of factors?

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#2 of 39 Old 06-08-2007, 12:30 AM
 
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It really depends on the child, IMO. My daughter was 10 before I left her home (just running around town errands), but my DS was 8 or 9. He's always been more level-headed than she was though.

I've had my cell on me, they had the doors locked and didn't answer the door or phone for anyone.
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#3 of 39 Old 06-08-2007, 12:32 AM
 
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Well... my oldest is almost 12 and I've started allowing him to remain home alone, but not for very long. He doesn't have a whole lot of common sense, yk?
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#4 of 39 Old 06-08-2007, 12:33 AM
 
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I really don't know. I'm not in that position yet as my kids are obviously too young.

BUT, as a teacher, I've had my principal tell me I'm obligated to report (or inform parents) that children are not allowed to be home alone under the age of 12.
Just fyi
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#5 of 39 Old 06-08-2007, 12:34 AM
 
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my boys have stayed home together, they are not to go outside answer the phone or the door. (about an 1 hour)
They usually spend their time eating something they shouldn't and playing on the computer.
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#6 of 39 Old 06-08-2007, 12:36 AM
 
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Maybe it depends on the state...in Ohio there is no law that states a child must be X age.
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#7 of 39 Old 06-08-2007, 12:40 AM
 
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My crew are 12, 10, 9, and 6. I have never left them home alone.

I think it depends on so many factors that you really can't base it off anything but your own children and family.

My neighbors leave their 13 year old at home with his siblings who are 11, 9, 4, and 3 year old twins.

I would personally be out of mind with worry, but it works for them.

Rebecca wife of Megan...moms to six crazy kiddos! Seth (15), Madison (13), Zachary (12), Trevor (12), Alex (10), and Nicholas (9)
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#8 of 39 Old 06-08-2007, 01:23 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyToBe View Post
I really don't know. I'm not in that position yet as my kids are obviously too young.

BUT, as a teacher, I've had my principal tell me I'm obligated to report (or inform parents) that children are not allowed to be home alone under the age of 12.
Just fyi
Where do you live? I've never seen that as the law listed for any state.

I'd be livid if a schoolteacher told me such a thing, and if it did turn out to be true I'd be writing to legislators. That's some serious infantilization, IMO.
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#9 of 39 Old 06-08-2007, 01:35 AM
 
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My state has no law stating an age, so as long as I believe they are ready, I will.

My oldest, I began leaving her alone for short periods (meaning less than 30 minutes) watching my second, at age 9.

My oldest is now 17, and I leave her alone watching all of the youngers when ever necessary. She has consistently shown over the last 8 years her ability.

My second I began leaving her alone at age 9 watching one or two youngers for short periods, and now, at age 12, I will leave her to babysit up to 2 hours, unless they are asleep and then for longer.

My third I will leave for short periods with my 4th and 5th (when I have to) for up to an hour.

I would trust my fourth (now 9.5) alone for up to 2 hours, but she is not ready to care for anyone.

My fifth (almost 7) I would not leave alone longer than 10 minutes (if I had to run daddy to the bus or something I might consider it).

However, with so many, I rarely have anyone left alone. I have had instances when I had an appointment and so I left my son (#3) watching the next two (#4 & #5), but only when absolutely necessary.

It is legal, and my children are mature enough for it, so I do. I have taught them from a very early age responsibility and how to watch out for their siblings.

I don't leave my children longer than 4 hours (and that is the upper limit). Usually it is about 2, for grocery shopping or errands that have to be done. But many times I just take everyone with me. I love having my children around.

I think the age they begin staying alone is different with each child.

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they are placed there for the amusement of those who like to point them out.
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#10 of 39 Old 06-08-2007, 01:55 AM
 
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My kids are almost 7 and almost 4 so way too young (in my mind) to stay home alone, but I might consider having one of them stay home when he's 11 or 12. Watching another child? At least 12 or 13...

Jen, former attorney and now SAHM to 11 yo ds and 8 yo ds

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#11 of 39 Old 06-08-2007, 04:31 AM
 
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My older brother and I started staying home alone when I was in 3rd grade. Maybe a little younger, but that's when I can really *remember* being left home alone. We were 8 and 9, maybe 9 and 10. To be fair, it was only from 4 pm to about 5:30 or 6 pm, and we had 4 separate neighbors available to us at all times.

As for my own daughter - I don't know...it will depend on her maturity, and the individual circumstances.
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#12 of 39 Old 06-08-2007, 08:32 AM
 
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In Maryland the law says...

Age 8 can be left alone for short periods of time ( translated less than an hour)
Age 12 can be left alone for longer periods but not over night ( translated you dont need daycare for after school, days off school or summers)
Age 13 can be left in charge of children under 8 yrs old.

Jeana Christian momma to 4 sons Logan 18, Connor 15, Nathan 6, and bonus baby Jack 1
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#13 of 39 Old 06-08-2007, 10:31 AM
 
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My state doesn't specify an age for staying home alone.

Here is how it is stated under our law.

<insert state> statutes do not specify an age at which neglect begins when a child is left alone at home. See, however, the following <insert state> statutes: RC 2919.22 Child Endangering and Revised Code Chapter 2151, especially RC 2151.03, which defines child neglect.

You may want to look at the case annotations under these statutes for examples of when courts found it inappropriate for a child to be left alone. Remember that the court decisions are specific to the facts of that case, and courts may rule differently in different situtations.


So, it is basically based on maturity and parental approval.

Rebecca wife of Megan...moms to six crazy kiddos! Seth (15), Madison (13), Zachary (12), Trevor (12), Alex (10), and Nicholas (9)
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#14 of 39 Old 06-08-2007, 10:45 AM
 
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Our dd just turned 9. We started leaving her at home for about 90 max during the day for grocery or errand shopping. But she has the phone, doesn't open doors and knows the neighbors. But its always at her asking rather than us just assuming.

Example: Tis Saturday afternoon, I need to grocery shop, she doesn't want to go. Okay, doors locked,phone by side. Or if one of us has to run out to pick up the other at the train station (total time about 20 mins).

I have been in a quandary about this also. I remember being a latch key kid but really am nervous about leaving dd so young.
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#15 of 39 Old 06-08-2007, 07:23 PM
 
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Child and situation.

I routinely stayed home alone when I was 8. I was also mature, and understood the rules, knew not to answer the phone unless it was the "signal" (a coded number of rings/hangup/ring again), could be counted on not to use the stove but still find food, etc. The first time I was left home overnight (parents at a wedding) was when I was 15 or 16, but my best friend (same age) stayed over with me, so I wasn't technically "alone"

Now, I'm not saying all eight year olds can be left alone. There are some 12 year olds I wouldn't trust to leave alone to walk to the mailbox, and some 9/10 year olds, I'd feel comfortably leaving alone for a few hours.

Heck, when I was 12, I was babysitting in the evenings.
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#16 of 39 Old 06-08-2007, 07:40 PM
 
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I think it depends on a lot of factors.

How responsible is your child. What is your neighborhood like? Who in the neighborhood is home while you are gone......

I would actually feel better leaving a 10 yr old home til 7:00 p.m than a teenager. But, that is just me.

My brother and his family lived just a few houses away, so I would call my SIL , tell her I am running to the store, the school or wherever, and that I was leaving Jordyn home. That was when she was 10. But, we were very close with our other two neighbors too, so my dd had lots of people to help if she needed it.

I actually left her home alone to go to the school to pick up all of the kids when she was six. The school was within sight of my house, and she was too sick to walk to the school, and I hadn't made any back up plans. So, I decided to leave her.

I was left alone for entire days by age six. All summer too.

My neighbors leave her kids home the whole day when she goes to work. They are five and six years old. I would NEVER have done that. Especially with those two kids.
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#17 of 39 Old 06-08-2007, 10:19 PM
 
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My children are 11,9,7,3, and nearly 2. I do not leave them home alone and dont see myself do so anytime soon. I have just now (today) let my 11 year old and my 9 year old walk home the 3 blocks from school with out me. It was their "reward" for the end of the school year.
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#18 of 39 Old 06-09-2007, 12:50 AM
 
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I think it depends on the how comfortable the kids are, not so much the age. Dd is 12 and doesn't like to be home alone after dark or for more than an hour/hour and a half. Ds is 10, and he's fine with about 45min to an hour, as long as he knows I'm not too far off. Neither of them are ready to be home alone for any length of time, and I don't let them stay along together for more than a brief time because they really have trouble compromising, and ds can't stand being bossed around by his sister!

I hated being left home alone, even as a teen. Heck, I'm not real keen on it now! So I figure I'll just let them tell me when they are ready.
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#19 of 39 Old 06-09-2007, 01:15 AM
 
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I've left my girls, ages 10 and 8, home alone together several times. Always during the day and only for an hour or two at a time. They like it and I can trust them to be mature. I take a cell phone and leave them one. They don't like coming with me when I run my errands so this works for us.

Now, if it's at night or I need to leave the 4 yo, I hire a sitter.

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#20 of 39 Old 06-09-2007, 01:25 AM
 
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I will leave my 10yo if necessary for short amounts of time (2-3 hours max). She's responsible and trustworthy though. I think it depends on the kid more than anything.

: Mom to a wonderful teen girl, a happy little boy and a cute baby girl
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#21 of 39 Old 06-09-2007, 09:59 AM
 
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I really think this is part of the over-safetying of society that we are so paranoid about it. (Not letting kids run around in the neighborhood, etc). Obviously much depends on the child and the situation, but I was left for short periods of time at 6 or 7 and for 3-4 hrs at 8 or 9. I was fine. I loved it. I was uber careful and cautious and responsible, though. I started babysitting at 12. I really don't think there is automatically anything terrible about leaving youngish kids for short periods of time. But I'm a big believer in letting kids have space, as it were, to develop their own inner private worlds. And to feel confident in their abilties to care for themselves.
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#22 of 39 Old 06-09-2007, 08:58 PM
 
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As an aside, I nannied for a family with three kids 10, just turned 6, and just turned 5.

On a day I wasn't working, mom had to run about 7 minutes up the base to get DD 10 from chorus. DD 5 was napping, so....she left DS 6 at home and said if she woke up, just tell her mom would be home in a few minutes.

Very safe neighborhood, though (military), and had anything happened, they were friendly with all of the neighbors around.

When I was 8, I'd stay home with my 6 year old sister if she was sick (Mom was working her first out of home job since we'd been born).
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#23 of 39 Old 06-09-2007, 09:37 PM
 
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depends on the child

I was left IN CHARGE of other kids by 10 years old. I took 4 kids ages 4-7 on long walks crossing busy streets to the park, museum and the YMCA.

I walked to school with my little brother starting at 10 years old. We had to cross quite a few streets.

By 14 i had a full time job that i walked to and from everyday during the summer.

It really depends on the kid

Here we let 14 year olds get jobs and drive cars. I would hope a 12 year old cold stay home alone.
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#24 of 39 Old 06-09-2007, 09:53 PM
 
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i was left alone after school for 3 hours at age 9, summers by age 10. I routinely babysat at age 10.

My 9 year old I leave at times. for very short periods of time. Granted, I live in a very small town, where everyone just looks out for everyone.
at this time i wouldnt leave my 9 year old with any of my other kids alone. But thats just me. Just because they "plot" when they are together
Though i have sent the 9 year old DS with 2 year old DS in stroller to the store for a couple things. Its just 3 blocks though.

Totally depends on the child, and parental comfort though. in my opinion.

I remember one girl I went to high school with who at 17 had never been alone at home before. Her mom had anxiety disorder.

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#25 of 39 Old 06-10-2007, 04:40 AM
 
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I live in base housing and here it's 9 to leave your child alone for a few hours, can't remember exactly how many. My nine year old is not mature enough to be left alone for a few hours but I know some who are.
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#26 of 39 Old 06-10-2007, 04:45 AM
 
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Just fyi, we had an article in today's paper about 2 kids left alone. One accidentally shot the other in the neck. And, sadly, the article referenced the other instances thus far this year involving children accidentally firing guns at siblings.
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#27 of 39 Old 06-10-2007, 08:30 AM
 
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I think my dd (7) would be fine if I left her alone at home, but I don't plan on it any time soon. She always wants to join me whenever I have to go somewhere. I was left to watch my older brother (special needs) and three of my sister's kids when I was 11 and we were fine. But I think it depends on the child.
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#28 of 39 Old 06-10-2007, 02:14 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terabith View Post
I really think this is part of the over-safetying of society that we are so paranoid about it. (Not letting kids run around in the neighborhood, etc). Obviously much depends on the child and the situation, but I was left for short periods of time at 6 or 7 and for 3-4 hrs at 8 or 9. I was fine. I loved it. I was uber careful and cautious and responsible, though. I started babysitting at 12. I really don't think there is automatically anything terrible about leaving youngish kids for short periods of time. But I'm a big believer in letting kids have space, as it were, to develop their own inner private worlds. And to feel confident in their abilties to care for themselves.

While some children may be able to be left alone earlier, the law where I am is that they may not be left alone until they are 11. If something were to happen and it were to be found out a child was left alone at a younger age parents can loose custody, even if it was only for a few minutes.

Personally, I probably won't leave mine alone until they are much older. My eldest has Asperger's Syndrome, and my youngest probably does as well. They don't handle emergencies well and are a bit immature. I'm not sure what the age will be that I'm comfortable leaving them, but it will probably be long after number one is 11. That's not to say that other kids that age shouldn't be alone, just mine. I'm in an ultra safe neighbohood, but even here things can happen. Even things that aren't necessarily a big deal would rattle my kids, like if a tree limb were to fall on the house during a sudden storm.

Kiley
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#29 of 39 Old 06-11-2007, 12:14 PM
 
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My kids are obviously way too young right now, but I'm thinking 13-14 sounds good, depending on their maturity level. I definitely wouldn't leave an 8-year-old home alone, no matter how mature he/she was.
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#30 of 39 Old 06-11-2007, 03:53 PM
 
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My 7 year old has asked me if she could stay home by herself b/c she feels she is responsible. Then one day she tells me if I leave her home by herself she would probably have a party. I told her if I left her home alone, no one would be able to come over, she then says "What if we have a 'study group'?"
I'd say I have a 7 year old just a little too smart for her britches.
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