When is it ok....

Sabrina - posted on 03/26/2010 ( 27 moms have responded )

44

27

4

My son is 8 years old and wants to stay home by himself for short periods of time. One of my son's friends is 8 and gets to stay home after school, and according to the friends mother by law it is OK at 8. What are you thoughts?

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Rebecca - posted on 03/27/2010

556

41

55

i think 8 is a bit young. but i think you need to make sure he has certain skills before you even consider it e.g.--
* can he use the phone
* does he know how to talk to emergency services
* what if someone comes to the door?

if i were you, i would play a whole lot of "what if ..." scenarios with him first .... see what he says in response to your "what if..." ... if he doesn't give a satisfactory response, then you can tell him how to handle it, but he probably isn't ready.

i live in south africa, and altho i think this is too young, there are MANY children here who are latch key kids at that age, and also many AIDS orphans who are the main care giver to younger siblings at that age ... so it is feasible that they are responsible enough, but you need to focus on safety first, hence my suggestion of playing what if.

also you can try and see what happens by leaving him for 10 minutes (walk around the block or something) and then gradually increase the time.

Judy - posted on 04/02/2010

1

0

0

I have a 13, 16 and 20 year old. I think it was around age 10 when we started with short periods of time...just in the past year have we started letting our 13-year old start staying by herself when we go grocery shopping, etc. We live in a very small community with very little crime...and really no violence. Everybody knows everybody...but children are just that - children. Even in a community like ours where I believe my children and other kids around here are fairly safe, I think 8 is too young. If you teeter on whether it is or isn't ok, err on the side of NO.

Jen - posted on 03/31/2010

35

4

2

It depends on your child. I was a latch key kid at 8 (3rd grade) and I allowed my son to stay home alone for a few minutes at 8. He didn't come home alone after school but I felt perfectly comfortable leaving him for 15 minutes while I ran to the store for milk. Now that he's 10 I can leave him for more like 30-45 minutes, but hes the kind of kid when I get back he is exactly where he was when I left,watching TV or reading a book or whatever he's doing. We have never had a problem. He is not allowed to answer the door or play in the front of the house. He has a cell phone and we are very close with all of our neighbors. I actually did call our local police dept. to find out if there is a law determining what age a child can stay home alone, and I was told there is not. So I would say if you are comfortable go ahead and try 10- 15 minutes at a time. If you are not, then you should listen to your instincts. Mothers know best!

Jane - posted on 03/30/2010

10

13

1

i think eight is too young for any child to stay home by itself my girls are 11 and 10 and would never dream of leaving them on their own in the house my mum didn't start leaving me in the house on my own until i was fifteen

27 Comments

View replies by

Annette - posted on 04/02/2010

11

18

0

well i have 3 kids my youngest is 10 the oldest is 14 and then i have my 12 yr old. My husband and I rarely leave them on there own and when they are here they know they can go to the neighbor if they need anything at all. and we are a phone call away.

Pamela - posted on 04/01/2010

5

17

0

I think 8 is way too young my kids are 12 1/2, 11, 7 1/2, 4 and the older ones stay home now but at 8 no. They are just not mature yet at 8. Ask what are the reasons you want to stay home. If he says cause my friend can then thats not a good enough reason to stay home. In two mor years if he is mature enough then you could consider but make rules clear.

Michelle - posted on 03/31/2010

2,191

23

1087

Depending on where you live and the maturity of your child, 8 is not such a bad age. We live in a very quite small town so we started letting my son stay home on his own for about 15-20 mins after school if I was running an errand the rule is if he is home on his own he locks the door and doesn't open it for anyone....now that he is 9 he is home for about an hour after school until his dad gets home so that he doesn't have to go to a sitter

Jaclyn - posted on 03/31/2010

24

30

2

I don't believe there are any laws that state the age a child has to be to stay home. I know in KS there is not. Check with SRS first. Second, it needs to be dependent on every person's child. My son is 10 and we don't yet let him stay home by himself, even to go to the store, because we know how he is. He does not have the best judgement and likes to see what he can get away with. Basically we can't trust him enough to stay inside with the doors locked and not answer the phone or call his friends while we were gone.
I personally feel like 8 is too young to make judgement calls and know what to do in an emergency.

Sarah - posted on 03/31/2010

2

24

0

Sex offenders ARE a thing to be worried about regardless of what anyone says. I had one living next door to me (before there were any laws requiring the authorities to notify a community when one was living nearby). No one knew that he was an offender. My parents let me hang out at his home and allowed him and his wife to take me camping and fishing. For the most part he behaved like anyone else. I was VERY lucky that nothing major ever happened to me. I think that was because he knew our family were friends with several police officers. We were all shocked to find out after Jeanna North disappeared that he was a sex offender.
That being said, If someone is a sex offender even of a low level, they are a danger to society. If they are stupid enough to pee in public or expose themselves when others may see them, then they ought to stay locked up. Our children's virginity is something we ought to protect with all that is in us... because once it is gone, it can never be regained and the child is scarred for life.

I allow my 9 yr old daughter to stay home for short 10-15 minute periods at a time, but I also live in an apt building now and there are always friends living within earshot of her. We have gone through many scenarios, and I tape a note on the door with what she should say if someone knocks on the door while I am gone. I also leave instructions on a dry erase markerboard for her in the kitchen about where I went and what she can / can't eat while I am gone. We have an emergency list of what to do with phone numbers on it and they have already discussed fire safety in school and made a fire escape plan as part of the assignment in school. She is very well preapared for what she should do. So again as many others have said, " it depends on their maturity level and how well they can follow instructions... and as long as it is for short periods of time"

Jamie - posted on 03/30/2010

27

13

4

I think, if Im not mistaken, the legal age for kids to be home alone is 13. 8 yrs is a bit young.

[deleted account]

all i have to say is my son is ten, and i just started to leave him home by himself but only for 10-15 mins. i have a hard time leaving them home, i live along a main road, and if and if anything would happen, i would feel quilty about it.

Tiffany - posted on 03/30/2010

3

11

0

Sylvia, I understand that you believe that the registry is bad. That is totally your opinion. I will agree with that some are on there and shouldn't. BUT, maybe you should watch to see how many kids are taken and when the case is settled, who took them. As parents, you make the best choice and be cautious of your surroundings. Educate your children to be smart and alert. I wonder why they do the identity for kids if it isn't really important..... As for our state, it tells right on the registry what crime was committed so that you know if it was Statutory Rape, peeing in public.......

Sylvia - posted on 03/30/2010

1,315

8

34

I'd say it depends entirely on the 8-year-old. There are probably laws about this in your jurisdiction, though, that you should double-check before making the decision -- even if you decide he's got what it takes, you may then decide you don't want to risk the trauma to the family that will ensue if someone else decides you're a bad parent and they should call Children's Aid on you. (That's what would worry me in your situation; there's only so much trouble a kid can get into when left alone in the house for, say, an hour, but unfortunately a world of trouble can come from making the wrong impression on your neighbours.)

I'm kind of amazed that so many people on this thread are saying it's wrong to leave any kid under 12 or 13 home alone. I likely wouldn't leave a kid under 12 in charge of younger siblings, unless s/he was exceptionally responsible, but staying alone is totally different from being in charge of younger kids. My daughter is 7.5, and I've never left her alone in the apartment longer than about 10 minutes (to run to the corner store, downstairs to get the mail, etc. -- she's also allowed to go downstairs for the mail herself, and to play outside in the corridor as long as she doesn't go up or down the stairs without telling me first), but since I expect she'll want to start babysitting when she's about 12, I certainly hope she'll be OK on her own for a couple of hours by the time she's 9 or 10 -- IMO it would be a bit irresponsible to leave a kid in charge of younger ones who hasn't been trusted at home on her own before.

IIRC, I first ran errands alone when I was about DD's age, first stayed home on my own when I was maybe 9, and was first left in charge of one or more younger kids (usually my little brother, who is 4 years younger) when I was 11. That was all pretty standard when I was growing up (I'm 36). I find it hard to believe that kids are universally less competent, responsible, and trustworthy than kids the same age were 20 or 30 years ago -- and if they are, it's not their fault, it's our fault for not helping them develop the skills and competencies we had at the same age.

But as I said, it depends a LOT on the individual kid.

@Tiffany -- have you looked at those 43 registered sex offenders to see how many might actually be a danger to your kids and how many are on the registry for things like peeing in public or having sex at 17 with a 15-year-old girlfriend? Sex-offender registries are extremely problematic, one of the main reasons being that they encourage people to be terrified to leave their homes lest some scary person grab them or harm them, when in fact that kind of crime is EXTREMELY RARE. The world isn't any crazier than it was when we were kids; in fact, crime rates have been falling since the 1970s so it's probably safer out there now than it was then.

Sherri - posted on 03/30/2010

41

0

0

Hmmm...... the last I heard it wasn't legal to leave your 8 year old at home alone. I don't even know why you are asking about it. You can actually be arrested for child neglect..

Tiffany - posted on 03/29/2010

3

11

0

I believe that the child, male or female, under the age of 12 is tooooo young to be alone. I have a 9 year old little girl that I couldn't nor wouldn't leave alone. In our small community there are 43 registered sex offenders. I think that they (the children) believe that they can handle any situation, but when this world is as crazy as it is, it only takes a minute for someone to grab them.... Good luck, it surely isn't easy to make these decisions for our children.

Terri - posted on 03/29/2010

287

0

13

I have an 8 year old son and I would never leave him alone at that age. Too many things can happen. I would be hesitant to leave my kids alone until at least 12 or 13 and even then only for short periods of time.

Kelly - posted on 03/29/2010

24

20

2

it depends on the child and how you think and feel about it. dont be pushed into doing it. you know your son better than anyone else, follow your instincts, as a mum theyr your best and biggest asset...

Jacqueline - posted on 03/28/2010

14

58

2

Depending on what state you live in, 12 is he proper age in FL. My sons does stay home for 15-20 mins BUT! My house is in the back yard of my Grandmothers and she is always home when his is left home. I wouldn't leave him if she was not at home.

Sabrina - posted on 03/28/2010

44

27

4

Thanks everyone! I don't think he is ready to stay home yet. He is the oldest of three children and is mature, but not mature enough. I was just not sure if I was trying to hold on to my baby or if I was being perfectly reasonable. I think once he is a bit older we will revisit the subject. Rebecca- I very much agree that he is pushing the subject because of his friend. I feel like if I explain all the "what if's" it may make him think again.
Thanks again everyone!!!

Kathryn - posted on 03/28/2010

13

0

2

I would double check the law in your state before making any decision. Eight sounds very young to me and I have a hard time imagining any state having laws that allow for this. I may be wrong, your friend may be wrong; which is why you should double check. It could be an easy way to tell your child no without being the absolute bad guy.

Kimberley - posted on 03/28/2010

11

7

0

I think 8 is a little young. Anything could go wrong or people could see them going home on their own... the wrong kind of people and you would feel horrible for the rest of your life!! Babysitters dont cost that much that i would leave my 8 yr old alone until i got home. he may not like you now for it but he will understand later!!

Rebecca - posted on 03/27/2010

556

41

55

p.s. i was sometimes left alone at home at 8 but i consider my parents to have been abusive and negligent. you son is probably pushing for it because of the one friend, but i would not just rely on the one friend -- i would find out from a whole range of parents of your son's friends first. probably the mother who is letting her son stay home has her reasons (could be financial) and doesn't want to think there is anything wrong with it, hence her promoting it to you.

Patricia - posted on 03/27/2010

85

4

3

NO WAY! I think 8 is too young I just started letting mine stay home for short periods of time and he is almost 10. I would not leave him alone after school or for any long periods of time even at 10. Maybe at 11 or 12. But I really believe you have to go by the individual kid not just the what the law says is ok and go with your gut. My kids are too precious i can not gamble with their safety.There are Safety classes you can and should enroll your child in BEFORE leaving him or her home alone. Would your child know what to do in an emergency situation? Seriously give this a lot of thought. Thanks and Take Care.

Renee - posted on 03/27/2010

12

38

0

My oldest son didn't start staying home alone until he was 16 yrs old... the question should be is the child mature enough to stay home?

Gianinna - posted on 03/26/2010

89

7

14

I think at 8 years old it is wayyyy to young to stay home alone. That would really make me nervous and god forbid something happens and you/ an adult is no where to be found!

Ricki - posted on 03/26/2010

101

17

12

Eight would make me nervous, but depending on your sons maturity level and how well he can follow instructions it's a possibility. I think I was about that age when I started going home by myself (I know I was in elem. school, but don't remember the exact age considering I'm 30 now with a bad memory). How long is short periods of time? Would there be someone available to get to him within minutes if something were to happen? Would he be able to call 911 if needed? Will you be able to get in contact with him to check up on him? Something I've always considered doing when my kids get that age (parent paranoia kicking in here, btw) is putting up those "nanny cams" so I could keep track of what's going on. My eldest went to a daycare when she was 18 months old that I could view them live from a secured site while at work. That may be something you could look into if it would help you feel better.

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms