What age do you start to leave your child home alone?

Jody - posted on 03/10/2011 ( 36 moms have responded )

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Obviously you would start to build up how long the child stays home alone eg... perhaps only 10 minutes at a time for a while building up to longer over time.

I have a friend who's child is 9 years and she wants to leave her child alone but many people are telling her not to. I feel it is different for everyone and would depend on the childs maturity level.

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Bevely - posted on 06/08/2011

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I agree it depens on the kid's level of maturity. I live in Louisiana and we do not have a latchkey law here, but the states that do have latchkey laws the age is usually 8-12. I started leaving my kids home alone for short periods of time at ages 8 and 7. They had specific rules and knew how to use the phone to call my cell or their dad's cell if they needed something. We never had any problems.

Karla - posted on 03/17/2011

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Legally, it depends on where you live. Where we live you can leave your child alone at 10 years until 10 pm. You should check with your local child protective services. If your friend is thinking about leaving her child alone she should look into if there are home alone safety courses available in her area.

Michelle - posted on 03/14/2011

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It depends on how mature your child is, we have been leaving my son home alone since he was 8. No longer then an hour with specific rules as to not opening doors answering the phone if it isn't on a specific list of numbers that sort of thing we have never had any issues

Christina - posted on 05/03/2013

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it depends on maturity level. my parents let me go home after school starting at age 9 and sometimes my older sister would be there and sometimes she wouldn't. it was only for a couple of hours until my parents got home from work but it wasn't a big deal. i would go home, make a snack , do homework, watch tv and/or play outside. my parents had a good relationship with our neighbors and ask them to call them if they noticed anything wrong.

i let my daughter stay home after school also beginning at age 9. my work is only 5-6 blocks away from our house and it would only be for about 2 hours, so i felt okay with it. she knew cooking wasn't allowed using the stove/oven, only the microwave. she knew metal didn't go in the microwave. she had emergency numbers posted and knew the neighbors that would be home in case of an emergency. we also have a fire department at the end of our street so that made me feel better. i would call and check on her during the afternoon to make sure everything was okay in the beginning, but eventually realized she was fine and would call me if something was wrong.

as the parent, your friend knows if her 9 yr old can handle it. other people will put in their two cents, but they need to trust their intuition and go from there.

Trishabenz - posted on 08/11/2011

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When you decide to leave your children at home alone, make sure that the neighborhood is safe, they are comfortable and they are responsible enough to handle unexpected things to happen. You should not only consider their age. I started leaving my son when he reached 12 this year. He thinks and acts more mature than his age. But for me to ensure his safety, I registered him to SafeKidZone. It's a panic button installed on his cellphone that in case he will encounter an emergency he will just press it and it will simultaneously alert his trusted friends and family members. If needed, the incident will be routed to the nearest 911 with complete information. If you want to check out, this is their site http://Safekidzone.com/

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Linda - posted on 04/30/2013

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why would you stay out all night and leave a 13 year old boy with his sister. My babies doctor told us to never leave our daughter with an uncle brother etc. It is your responsibly to stay with your children or take them with you when you go out especially for an entire night. Dont be a penny wise and a pound foolish,
hire a sitter.

Linda - posted on 04/30/2013

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know the law before you start to leave your alone..also we are living in troublesome times..people invade homes, do not leave your child alone until they are old enough to defend themselves and also to make good judgement decisions.

Marsha - posted on 11/03/2012

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I've just started leaving my 8.5 yr old alone to run the 2 blocks downtown or to the garage. I've been gone less than 10 minutes and she's given strict orders of what she can and can't do. For after school, we've discussed after middle school but I'm not sure yet. Need to check the bus drop off time and distance from bus stop to our house first.

Ashley - posted on 11/02/2012

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It depends on your state, some states have laws restricting the age. In Alabama it is illegal to leave a child under the age of 12 home alone. The age used to be 9 but was increased in the last year or two... I know I was home alone a lot as a kid from the age of 7 or 8 or so with two younger sisters to look after, but my parents were only gone for about 30 min at the start and then increased as I got older and it was usually when we were going to bed anyway. You are right, it is different for everyone and it does depend on the childs maturity level. It also depends on how much independence this child has... Are they able to make a sandwich or microwave food for themselves if they get hungry, do they have beverages readily available and in their reach, do they have access to a phone in case of emergency, etc...

Heather - posted on 10/30/2012

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my mom started letting me stay home at age 10 also sitting my 3 siblings

I am now 14 and I still babysit them .

Trishabenz - posted on 06/27/2011

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I agree to Bevely. It depends on the kids level of maturity. When I decided to leave my kids at home for the first time, I knew it then that they were mature enough to handle things when I am not around. For their safety, I also registered them to SafeKidZone because it is very reliable in times of emergency. If they encounter any trouble, they will just press the panic button on their phone and it will simultaneously alert their trusted friends and family members that they are in danger. If needed, the incident will be escalated to the nearest 911 with complete information. If you want to check out, this is their site http://Safekidzone.com/

Iva - posted on 06/06/2011

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I was home babysitting my brother at 9. Of course, that was over 20 years ago. I think it depends on the child. My son is 13 and last December, my husband and I went to a Christmas party in which we stayed over night. He stayed home with his 9 year old sister. They were fine. My daughter is starting to ask to ride the bus home and stay home by herself for an hour or so until I get home from work. I figure if she's asking, she's ready. The question is - am I?

Amy - posted on 06/05/2011

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In New York State the law is vague. It states that it is up to the police if they will charge you or not. But if you think your son or daughter is mature enough then it is up to you.

Julie - posted on 03/24/2011

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By laws, its 12. But really play it by maturity and if the kid wants to be left and is well behaved alone in their room or down the block without you having to hover over them. I have a 15 yr old and a 10 yr, I started leaving my 15 yr old home at about 11. Best to drop in un-expected just to make sure they are doing the right thing especially when they are teens.

Stephanie - posted on 03/24/2011

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I started letting my oldest stay home alone when she was 11, almost 12. I started with short trips to the store, which is two blocks away, so I was gone like 1o minutes, and could be back in 3 min if she called me. Now that she is 13, I allow her to watch her 11 year old sister while I am at work three hours a day, thirty minutes away, however, I have a neighbor check on them. You are right, that it does depend on the maturity level of the child. I would not leave my 11 year old alone, even though she is the same age my 13 year old was when I let her stay alone, because she is just not as capable of taking care of herself. Another thing to keep in mind is the area the child lives in. If the parent and child are friendly with the neighbors who are often home, such as in my case, or if the neighborhood is really safe and secluded, that is a completely different situation than if the area is dangerous with no one the parent can trust, or if there are outside dangers, such as a non-custodial parent or other threatening person, that could be lurking. I must say, however, that I think 9 is a little young.

Teela - posted on 03/23/2011

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I agree with Jody, it depends on the child, some are more responsible then others...

Teela - posted on 03/23/2011

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I agree with Jody, it depends on the child, some are more responsible then others...

Jennifer - posted on 03/23/2011

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From what I've heard it's illegal to leave a child under 12 home alone and if found out parents can be charged and DSS called. (But maybe that's just my state, NC)

AManda - posted on 03/18/2011

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I saw somewhere and feel the same that the best age to leave a child home would be 12. In my opinion you want them to be mature enough to be able to call 911 when needed. A 9 yr old doesn't always take things seriously. They may think something is funny and it's serious. I won't leave my kids home by them selves until 12 yrs

Dana - posted on 03/18/2011

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You really should check your state laws on this matter. It is different in different states but there are laws surrounding this situation. It is better to be safe on the legal aspect.

Caprice - posted on 03/16/2011

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this is really a maturity factor. My son was 11 and I started in short periods 30 min here and 1 hr there so on and so forth he will be 13 in sept and while I'm in school he and his brother are home. and my youngest is 10

Kelly - posted on 03/15/2011

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The child's maturity level is a factor, but personally I didn't let my oldest stay home by himself until he was 12. There may also be either local or state laws dictating how old the child must be before he/she can be left unsupervised.

Jessica - posted on 03/15/2011

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I agree with Sylvia. Kids haven't changed, it's the parents who have changed!

Jennifer - posted on 03/14/2011

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Law on the age allowed to be left alone may be different in every state. In AL it is age 12. But from that age on it really would depend on the childs emotional maturity. If the child doesn't feel ready or you think there is a reason that your child may need someone with them may mean your child is not ready to be home alone.

Edie - posted on 03/14/2011

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Plus i forgot to mention their older brother and sister get home 40 minutes later. It really does depend on the child. I didn't trust my oldest daughter until she was like 15 for at least a long period of time. But she is really immature for her age.. We do have a few nieghbors tho that if there were any problems she could go to.. It doesn't mean you don't worry e very second that your gone tho. but i myself am a worrier always have been. Its what i hate most about myself.

Shari - posted on 03/14/2011

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Edie I remember doing that to with my mom calling to let her know I was home LOL

Edie - posted on 03/14/2011

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every now and then I leave my 10 year old home and we have a routine, he comes home and calls me as soon as he is in and locks the door after letting the dogs out. This has worked because if I don't hear from him by a certain time then I now to call him. He gets a treat and does his homework, or he plays the video games if he has no homework. I am lucky because I don't have to work so he is it is only him and his kindergarten age brother until i get back from my errands.

Shari - posted on 03/13/2011

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I think if the child is mature enough to understand that being home alone is a huge responsibility then she should be fine. I was home alone when I was that age, my mom and I had a signal as to when she'd call so that I knew it was her otherwise, I didn't answer the phone or the door. I'd check with the guidelines as well as to what the state/province you are in says the age to be home alone is.

Sylvia - posted on 03/12/2011

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I agree with the OP -- it all depends on the kid.

My DD, who will be 9 in August, will be spending some time at home alone next year. Instead of going to the childcare both before and after school, as she's done up to now (DH and I both work full-time), she'll go in the morning, but come home from school. Actually at the moment the plan is that we'll get her a watch with an alarm, set it for 4:00 (about 45 minutes after school finishes, and reasonably well before sundown even in winter), and she can stay and play on the school playground until the alarm goes off if she wants to. This is mostly because we live in a third-floor flat, and I'm not too keen on her trading an hour or so of outdoor play with the childcare kids for coming straight home and sitting indoors. I trust her to do her homework rather than watching TV, so that's not really the issue, but it's much better for her to be running around outside after school than sitting in the house. Anyway, she will likely be home on her own for between half an hour and an hour most days. I'm comfortable with that -- she's a responsible kid, not given to playing with dangerous kitchen appliances, knows how to answer the phone and not random tell people she's home on her own -- but not all kids are ready for this at 9, while some are ready earlier.

I was home alone from time to time at this age, and by 11 or 12 I was home alone with my younger brother and responsible for making dinner at least one night a week. I don't think kids have changed that much since the 1980s, but it seems like a lot of parents have :P

Prudence - posted on 03/11/2011

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We have an almost 13 year old foster daughter (but she is so ours), we have had her since she was 8yrs. We have only just started leaving her home alone. At the most we are gone for an hour, usually to do the shopping or something like that. I would probably say 11 or 12 would be the youngest i would start and yes for short periods to start with.

Raven - posted on 03/10/2011

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I remember staying at home alone when i was 8 or 9.. It just depends on the childs mentality and how responsible they are. I even remember walking to a store or a friends house alone. I wouldnt be caught dead letting my 9 year old out alone.. Things are so different these days.. 10 years ago kids could go play around the block and the parents not have to worry.. Its not like that today.

[deleted account]

I was home alone a lot at 9. My girls are 9 now and I wouldn't leave them home alone yet. I MIGHT consider it for 20 minutes or so if we had a home phone instead of just my cell, but that isn't the case. Some states have a law on what age kids can be left home alone (varies between 8-12), but on any state that doesn't have a law.... it's really a judgement call and weighing the risks.



I absolutely won't do it before my girls are 10 AND have a phone of their own. Other than that.... I can't say for sure yet.

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