too young to be home alone? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 06-29-2003, 12:01 AM - Thread Starter
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what age is appropriate for a child to be home alone for brief periods? what's legal? does that differ from state to state?
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#2 of 10 Old 06-29-2003, 02:00 AM
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I'm not sure what's legal, but our 12 yr old stays home for short periods of time (eg. while I walk his younger brother to a friend's house down the street).

I think what is appropriate is dependant on so many factors- maturity of the child, safety of the neighbourhood where you live, ability to contact you (by cell phone), etc, etc.
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#3 of 10 Old 06-29-2003, 02:03 AM
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it does vary from state to state. My state doesn't have a specific age.

The things we took into consideration was: Maturity level, how long were we going to be gone, what time of day was it ( we started with daytime hours only), how available is an emergency contact ( I always have my cell with me ).

I was home alone from at least 12 and was babysitting my preschool age sister at the same time. I started my dd at about 10 for short periods of time (like running to the store for milk) and only during the day with constant access to an adult by phone, or a neighbor. She is very responsable though, so it does depend on the child.
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#4 of 10 Old 06-30-2003, 01:20 PM
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When I did Protective Services our state did not have a specific age.
Rule of thumb based on maturity was 12. However, we did not approve of walking in on a 12 year old taking care of younger sibs for extended period of time, say over an hour and having to fix meals.
If child is 12, home alone for an hour or so, knows emergency phones, has an immediate contact in case of problems, (close neighbor, friend etc) we usually felt it was ok.
If child was 12, immature, had no idea what to do when we asked about emergencies, fire, who to call etc. We were concerned and took steps.

Hope this helps.
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#5 of 10 Old 06-30-2003, 01:24 PM
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Wow, y babysitter is 12.

I think 8 to 10 is an OK age for short periods/day time and 10 -12 at night and for longer periods. of course that is assuming they are mature and I can be reached on a cell phone and am within 10 minutes of my house. we also live across the street from the emergancy room.

i was home from the time I was 5.

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#6 of 10 Old 06-30-2003, 01:25 PM
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We began leaving our boys home alone for short daytime periods at age 9. They are both very mature and more responsible than most kids (and some adults!). We now leave our 12 year old in charge of his brothers (9 and 6) for short periods...we are all very comfortable with this based on their personalities. I know some 16 year olds that I would never trust alone, you have to know your kids and make decisions based on who they are.
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#7 of 10 Old 07-01-2003, 04:55 PM
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I was at home alone beginning age 7, which I think is too young.

I started my dd at age 10, and gradually increased as she got older and felt more comfortable.

Now she is 14 and has lost ALL priveleges of staying home alone due to the fact that she broke the rules...big time. Guess I'm gonna be toting her around with me until she is 18. Oh My Gosh!!! That sounds really weird, but you gotta do what you gotta do.
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#8 of 10 Old 07-01-2003, 10:24 PM
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My DD will be taking the Red Cross Babysitters Certification next year at age 11, and she wants to be a Mother's Helper for a while to get practice taking care of *other* kids (because little brothers don't count LOL).
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#9 of 10 Old 07-09-2003, 05:52 PM
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Social Services here recommends age 12 here.
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#10 of 10 Old 07-22-2003, 01:08 AM
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Here the legal age is 10, but it really should depend on the child. I have left my dd since she was 5 if she wanted to do something in the house and I wanted to talk to the neighbour across the street. I wouldn't do that with my 5 year old ds, though. He is a different child, and he isn't ready to be alone. Now my dd is 8, and last week I left her at home alone to read while I took the boys to the park behind our house. She wasn't comfortable after a few minutes and came to join us at the park. It depends on how far you're going and how comfortable your child is with the situation.
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