At what age is it ok to leave your child home alone (for just long enough to go to the grocery store

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Theresa - posted on 11/12/2010

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I think it depends on the maturity of your child (as well as state laws). If legally your child is old enough then sit down and talk with him. Let him know the rules, don't answer the door, don't answer the phone, no cooking, stay in the house,etc. Whatever you decide you want to make for rules. Then talk about different things that could happen and what he would do in those situations. What if the smoke alarm goes off. What if the storm sirens go off, etc. Check with your local Community Education office a lot of communitites offer "Staying Home Alone" classes for the 'tween age kids. Also make sure your child kows who to contact incaes of an emergency (you on your cell phone or a neighbor). Our neighbors directly behind us have a son just a year younger than our oldest. When the boys were in the 10-12 year old stage we would call the other if one of our sons was going to be alone just so we could keep our eyes and ears open and so that the child knew we'd be home if something came up. Do you have a neighbor that your child could go to if he needed. Maybe call that neighbor before you go so they know and can keep an eye on things.

Linda - posted on 11/13/2010

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I agree that 12 is a good age but it also does depend on the maturity of the child. Go over all the emergency rules with them (when to cal 911, etc.). Start with leaving them for 10 minutes to go to the P.O. Then try 30 minutes. Then work up to an hour the next time. This will give both of you more confidence.

Victoria - posted on 11/13/2010

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I think it depends on the child & the length of time, where you are going. I'll sometimes pop next door for 10 minutes and leave my 8 & 6 year old, but I will take my 4 year old with me. The other 2 know to come next door to get me. I wouldn't go to the store & leave them though, not until my oldest is at least 12.

Rebecca - posted on 11/13/2010

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I was always home alone starting at 8 on up. It was not ideal, but my mom was single most of the time and my older sister was always off running around. You learn to be responsible when you are givin responsibilities.
Our grocery store, post office, etc. is just a few blocks away. I trust my 9 year old to stay alone for a short time. He knows and follows the rules.

Carla - posted on 11/13/2010

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It seems like the concensus is 12, honey :) There is so much more that can happen to children now that it kind of freaks me out! My little granddaughter used to come over and 'help' me babysit the younger grandbabies when she was going to be left alone (she was 11) Kids have this funny knack of getting into the worst mischief when left to their own devices.

One time Mom had left my brother and I while she went to pick my dad up. We were 12 and 9. She told us specifically to stay out of the vacant lot while she was gone, but as soon as the car was around the corner, we were off! We are from Wash state, and NO ONE wore shoes in those days. Well, I cut my foot real bad and had to just bandage it as best I could and wait for mom to come home and take me to the emergency room. Yes, she used to leave me with the 4 kids all the time, and nothing had ever happened before. It just took that one time----

But again, you have to be fully persuaded in your own mind that you can leave without being so panicked that you can't concentrate on your task at hand!

God bless, honey

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Jenny - posted on 11/28/2010

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If its just a quick trip to the grocery store (eg 15 min) to by milk & bread etc and your child is 7yrs or older and shows maturity and is trustworthy you could do it if you have no other option.

Alisha - posted on 11/24/2010

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As for going to the grocery store, I would see no reason why the child couldn't come with. I don't think it would be worth any amount of food to risk something happening to your child. I would also say 12 is a good age but it depends on the child. My child's father apparently feels it is ok to leave a 4 year old home alone, but that is definitely too young!

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I wouldn't do it under 10 (even though my brother and I were left at MUCH younger). Other than that I can't say what age yet since my girls are not quite 9 right now. :)

Erica - posted on 11/12/2010

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I guess it really depends on your child and how far the store is. I know in the state of Indiana a day care no longer has to accept children over the age of 12..... If you feel that your child is responsible enough to stay for a short while then do a test run and see how things go.

Heather - posted on 11/12/2010

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I agree that 12 is a good age, but you can check your state laws to make sure, some states (well, 2) have a law that says they can't be left home alone before 13.

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