How old should your child be before they can stay home alone?

Sharlene - posted on 01/08/2011 ( 28 moms have responded )

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Is 12 yrs old too young for a child to stay home alone for a few hours? Most the kids around our house do . . . . but some people think this is terrible..... Also, what if they are recovering from a cold and have to stay home a 2nd day to rest .... since they are laying around shouldn't they be OK to stay home and sleep and watch tv for a few hours? What do you think?

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Sally - posted on 04/21/2011

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Depends on the local laws and the maturity of the child. Here you can legally be left alone at 8. Some kids are mature enough then and some aren't. The parent is more likely to know than any bystander. It also depends on how far away the parent is for how long and whether the child has someone near that they can go to for help. If it were legal, I'd probably leave my six year old if I were only running to the corner store for one or two items. It would make both of us much happier than dragging her along does.

Susan - posted on 01/20/2011

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I agree with everyone that it depends on the child. I know in most states that you can't legally leave your child alone under age 12. My kids were also different. My son was alot more mature at age 12-13 but my daughter was not. Also since my kids were 4 years apart I would try to leave them together (him babysitting) but that didn't work. lol They fought everytime they were together...oh wait, they still do at ages 27 and 22. lol

Wendy - posted on 01/09/2011

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Depends on the child.... in canada they are able to babbysit at 12 years old....so alone should not be a issue by this age....my older daughter was a bit slower however my younger daughter showed the maturity and indapendance to handle it much younger.....you make the call mom...........

Brenda - posted on 01/08/2011

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It depends on the child and how mature they are. I left my 2 boys home alone (ages 7 and 10) while I ran to the store for milk (3 blocks away) and Nicor came by to read the meter. The tech called the police. So when I arrived home the police were there. Everything turned out fine. The officer told me there is no magic age. My opinion is As long as they know what to do in an emergency and have a neighbor they can count on. Now with cell phones the kids can always call mom.

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Jane - posted on 04/21/2011

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In our state it is illegal to leave kids under age twelve home alone. At twelve they can stay home alone a couple of hours but not all day.

With that said, it also depends on the child. At 12 my daughter could stay home alone with no problem. But my son can stay home alone only now at 16. At 12 it would have been a nightmare.

OTOH, I have a number of neighbors who (illegally) leave their 6 to 9 year olds home alone. They are latchkey kids and spend about 4 hours home alone every school day. Unfortunately, these kids, now high school age, have become trouble on the hoof and I have had to forbid my son from playing with them.

Hannah_Smith20 - posted on 03/12/2011

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I agree to most of the views. It really depends on you and your child. You have to judge his maturity, but you will never know what he is capable of unless you let him try. I have a 12 years old kid and sometimes I leave him home for a couple of hours on his own if I need to. He knows how to contact me if he needs to. Recently, I registered his cell phone to SafeKidZone. It's a safety protection service which provides immediate assistance during emergency. By just pressing the panic button your child can get help from family, friends and trusted people and to the nearest 911 during dangerous situations. To learn more about the service, check this out http://safekidzone.com/

Vera - posted on 01/22/2011

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The way your sister responded to you leaving your child home alone simply means she is seeing her child's immaturity in your child. Certainly, you would not have left your child alone if you had any doubts, and you had to prioritize your need to be somewhere else and used a very sensible approach in doing so. (I hope your sister was there for support during your father's surgery!) I feel it is a mother's instinct to know when to start giving our children more freedom, and more responsibility and at the pre-teen ages, small doses of freedom are safer more effective ways of teaching kids how to act and react. My daughter just turned 11. We do short stints away while she stays home. She knows the rules and follows them. So I say, if your child can follow your rules and respect why you've set those rules, then they are ready for a little independence. Just let that time alone grow with them, don't jump in and leave them all day without supervision until you are sure they are ready. You're responsible for your child's raising, and your sister's anger at your mothering is a blatant sign of immaturity. She should respect you and let you mother your child your way.

Jeri - posted on 01/20/2011

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My babies are now 30-28 & 26 and as a mom you know when the time is right. By age 12, mine were mature enough to be home alone for several hours at a time and I was super over-protective. I didn't work outside the home but there were times I wasn't always home when they got there (normally because at least on of them had an activity every day). As long as you go over the rules you set up eg. having friends over, using a stove (thank God for microwaves), they know what to do in an emergency and someone is available that can be there quickly if something is wrong, they should be fine.

Michelle - posted on 01/20/2011

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I think it is fine to let your 12 year old to stay home. I used to babysit my two younger sisters at NIGHT when I was 11 years old and I hired a 12 and half year old girl to watch my son when he was 2 and half years old at night and never had any problems. I would leave my son who is almost 11 years old alone for a short time but he is too afraid.

Danita - posted on 01/20/2011

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I think it's a sibling thing. Mine are now 27, 24 and 22 and when they are together it's a constant argument. Of course when I say anything about it they all claim to be "Joking". I am so happy I have such comedic children. Oh yeah, and my siblings and I do the same when we get together too, mine are 6, 5, 4, and 2 1/2 years older than me and were always the babysitters, I was the immature one.

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Depends on your child, where you live, access to a safe neighbor if need be etc etc. Personally, I think 12 is too young to be home alone for a few hours. I allow my 11 1/2 yr old to stay home alone for maybe 15min to 1/2 hour when i run very quick errands. The TV and computer are basically off limits except for their 'covered' channels and I usually give him a few chores to keep him busy.

Mindy - posted on 01/19/2011

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I used to leave my 12 year old son with his 16 year old sister and it was actually the 12 year old who was the responsible one. Technically SHE was the sitter but in reality it was HIM watching HER. Some children are just more responsible. My son is now an Eagle Scout. It really has to be your call and it should also depend on whether your child is comfortable being alone for the length of time planned.

Danita - posted on 01/19/2011

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My daughter not only stayed home alone while we worked she baby sat her younger brothers, she was 13. Now after the fact, I have found out some of the things she did while "babysitting" her brothers, given the opportunity to do it over I would not do that again. While she may have been responsible enough to stay by herself, I think the added responsibility of her brothers was too much. However it was a different time, almost 20 years ago. And we lived in a fairly remote area, with some good friends living next door and across the street from us, if the boys needed something and their sister didn't help them I knew the friends would. Still I wish I knew then what I know now.

Joan - posted on 01/14/2011

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12 year olds are old enough to babysit other children, so why shouldn't they be old enough to stay at home by themselves. If you feel more comfortable, why not enroll your child in a babysitting course. They are very affordable and gives them confidence to be alone as it teaches them how to handle different situations that you may not have thought of. As a single Mom, all three of my daughters took the course and are quite comfortable being home alone. But that said, you are the only one that knows how mature your child is to be alone for any period of time.

Melinda - posted on 01/13/2011

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I think that if your 12 year old in in the mature side it is fine to leave for a few short hours.. I prefer parents keep their kids home if they are ill.. Would prefer my kids nit get sick...

Cynthia - posted on 01/13/2011

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I think if child is mature enough they can be left alone for couple of hours they can train to babysit here in AL. at 12

Joanne - posted on 01/13/2011

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you know your child (ren), I started babysitting when I was 11! I think at 12, they should be able to handle a couple hours!

Joyce - posted on 01/13/2011

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Most definitely, a stay at home alone event thoroughly depends on the level of maturity of each child. My oldest is now 28, but when she was about 12, I experimented by going for a 20 minute walk with the dog, around the block. She was bright, in gifted classes, so I assumed we could give this a try. I told her where I was going and about how long I would be gone. BIG MISTAKE with this child. When I got home, I was greeted by a neighbor who was waiting for me outside, with my crying daughter. She told me my daughter came running to her house and had said that she couldn't find me and didn't know where I was! Imagine my extreme stunning at this! I was horrified that she didn't get the information I had given her; yet relieved that she went to our trusted neighbor! Anyway, this foray taught me to wait and I did for about a year and tried again, with much greater success. In the interim, we practiced delivering and regurgitating information. I would tell her I am going into the shower and I will be done in 10 minutes, now repeat this to me. and we did this type of drill, with more complicated information as time went on. After a year, I went on the walk with the dog and all was fine. Then I tried a quick trip to the grocery store...success! Measure your child's ability, not so much by ability to retrieve information and repeat, it, however. Take into consideration a level of security/neediness, which is what I believe our daughter had in the mix.

Linda - posted on 01/12/2011

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It depends on the child. Our daughters (who are grown now) stayed home alone about 12 after our oldest daughter took the YMCA supersitter course and started babysitting. We figured if she was old enough to babysit, she was certainly old enough to stay home alone for short periods of time and to watch her younger sister. Re:staying home from school alone when sick, I think that as long as you are able to be in contact with them through the day and they are not seriously ill, there should not be a problem.

Jacinta - posted on 01/12/2011

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I saw a tv program where they put the kids to the test. The parents - whom many of them thought their child was ok went out. The tv reporter went to the door with a hidden camera. 9 times out of 10 the children let him in!! Very scary. So questions to ask yourself: Will your child really not answer the door? Would they know what to do if there was a fire? Would they cope of they fell over and hurt themselves? Would they know what to do in a medical emergency?

DEBBIE - posted on 01/12/2011

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heres something funny my 19 year old watches my 9 year old and tells me to find a babysitter cause he is a brat lol

June - posted on 01/12/2011

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My child is 10 and is almost ready to stay by herself. We have 2 good neighbors in case she needs anything. I think 12 is okay to stay home by themselves but you gauge it on your child, not some "magic age". If you think your child can be at home while you run to the store or run errands for a couple of hours and not burn the house down then it should be fine. I bet the people who think it's terrible fit into one of the following: never had kids, their kids are too small still, or their kids are grown and they forgot what it's like

DEBBIE - posted on 01/11/2011

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it really depends on chold too my oldest stayed bt hisself when he was 13 but now my 9 year old will never stay by his self lol

Sharlene - posted on 01/10/2011

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Thank to all of you who've responded. I really appreciate it. My son was ill last Tuesday, I took him to Dr., he had a breathing treatment and a dose of some steroid to help him breathe better. We came home and had to do a couple more treatments with nebulizer machine. He got much better, although he still had to stay home on Wed. - which was day my 81 yr old Father was having back surgery....so I decided since he just was laying on the couch, sleeping and watching tv I'd let him stay alone. He had both my husbands and my cell nos. and I checked in with him 3-4 times. My sister, however, thought I was the worst mother in the world . . . . although, she's never had to work outside the home while her kids were in school [she does daycare at her house]. She's still not speaking to me.... Thanks again for your support. It is appreciated.

Bonnie - posted on 01/10/2011

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I think 12 is old enough to be left alone for an hour or so. I wouldn't leave them for a full day untill they were at least 14. I agree with the others though, it depends on the child. Also, I try not to leave a working computer around an unsupervised child (at any age).

Louise - posted on 01/09/2011

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If your child is mature enough then I think 12 is fine. I left my sons at age 12 to take themselves off to school so I could go to work. I think once your child is out of primary school then they are old enough to know right from wrong. Accidents can happen at any age whether you are there or not. I had a friend two houses down that was my sons emergency contact should they need help for any reason. I also worked in a school so my boys were alone for an hour after school. How I would feel about leaving them all day every day I do not know. I suppose I always felt safe as there was two of them to look after each other. In England it is illegal to leave a child under 14 alone without a baby sitter but nobody takes any notice.

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