When are kids old enough to stay home alone?

Leaving your child at home while we run a quick errand is often easier than finding child care or taking them with you. When is your child old enough to be left home alone and how can you tell they are ready?

40  Answers

1 15

Well I think it should be based on the maturity level of the child...you also need to make sure you check your state and county laws to make sure you are within compliance.

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0 0

I agree, New Mexico, for example has strict laws on the ages and length of time of children left alone--I don't remember the details but I do know that if the child is under that certain age, a trip to 7eleven can constitute child abandonment.

7 6

I am so disgusted by how many people are attacking others and putting them down for offering their opinions and what works for their individual family.
In the state I live, if they're capable of calling 911 in an emergency it's legal to leave them alone at any age. That doesn't work for my family but I know people that are forced to leave their kids home so they can work and it does work for their family. It's not my place or business to judge. If it works for you and your kids are safe, good for you! Kudos for raising responsible children, you feel comfortable enough to leave home while you work and take care of your life!

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0 1

Yes well there are parents who leave their responsible children at home I know because I was one of those children and my mom was a single mom who had no help but then there are parents who are irresponsible themselves and leave helpless children to fend for themselves who is there to stand up for those kids, that is why I think there should be an age limit, how dare you say you are disgusted, children are easily taken advantage of and can be hurt very easily. I have seen some bad stuff happen, children should not be left alone until they are ready

7 6

This is a forum to HELP one another, not attack or judge b/c what works for one parent doesn't work for the next. It's not my place or anyone's place to judge anyone else. This is an online forum where opinions are offered. There is no manual for raising children and each parent must make their own choices and decisions based on what's best for their family's needs. I am and will remain disgusted over the unprovoked attacking of other parents.

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2 3

9 for quick errands, 11 achieves latch-key kid status, 13 for date night, 18/out of highschool for overnight.

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1 7

I personally think that is way too young. What happens in the case of fire or a breakin?

2 3

I'm not sure which age you think it too young, but I'm assuming you are referring to the youngest. I can't imagine that at 9 years old, my son (who is 6 right now) would not be capable of being home alone for 30 minutes or so. Obviously, parameters have to be established, no cooking, no leaving the house, no answering the door...but you have to start trusting your kids at some point and testing their capabilities. Otherwise, they end up being helpless 16 year olds who pretend to not be able to do anything for themselves. All of these stages are exactly what I was raised with (born in 1980, so not times that were considered "safer") and I did fine. I'm sure that my parents also recognized how responsible I was, which would also be a factor in my choices. You can't live in fear of break-ins, fires and other catastrophes...all you can do is teach your children what to do and pray for the Lord's protection over them.

13,264 21

Well, Robin, no one said you have to follow Erin's guidelines, now did they? My kids have stayed by themselves since younger, actually... My ages were 7 for a quick errand to the convenience store, 9-10 could stay home from school while I worked (and is legal in my state), and 12 for babysitting younger sib so that dad and I could go out. Alone overnight at 16, for 2 nights in a row max. That's the beauty of having the power of personal decision. Nice, isn't it? No one said you have to agree with any other opinion, but please don't comment as if people are stupid when you don't agree with them.

0 0

My kids arent old enough to know yet what my decision will be on this matter, but for sure it my decision and not some random peoples who think they know my kids better than me. I remember being left alone for a few hours when I was around 6 or so. I didnt have t cook or anything so it was pretty much just watching tv and playing and I turned out just fine. So I dont see why my kids wouldnt too

0 6

I agree Erin! We obviously set boundries and know when ournchildren are capable. I think you have a good age guideline!

0 3

I frequently leave my 9 year old son home alone for a period of up to a couple hours. In this age of cell phones he is able to get a hold of me at any time. We also live in a safe neighborhood and he knows our neighbors and could easily get help in an emergency. Also, we have a St. Bernard which also makes my decision to leave him home easier. Lastly, he is quite comfortable with it, which I think is one of the most important factors to consider.

0 13

I agree with Erin to an extent, date night prop only 15 but my 10yr old is more mature than me some times, she knows who to call and what to do

5 13

I thought that legally it was 12 years old, however I do remember being left alone before school in 3rd and/or 4th grade.

2 0

I completely agree. People think that 9 is too young for 20 minutes alone. There reading even more ridiculous. What if a fire happens. What about a breakin. If you haven't raised your child to know not to touch the stove alone, than that has nothing to do with age. That a parental mess up. All on u. Not the age or the child

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1 11

I think it depends on the maturity of the child. Some kids are ok to be home alone at the age of 10 & some at 13 or 14. It also depends on how the child feels about being home alone. Mine is ok as long as it's daylight, she's afraid to be home alone in the dark.

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0 4

I totally agree!! It all depends on what works for you and your family!

3 21

i'm a single mom, and as such have had to make ammendments to how i would have done things were their father and i still together. things like getting the mail taking out the garbage or putting in the laundry (we live in an appartment) i leave both my children home alone for. may daughter is 5 and my son is nearly 3. neither of these things are far, and we've had no accidents to date and have been living here with this routine for a year. but i never leave them to go to the store even if they're asleep. but if my daughter were ten, i would, not for a long time but a half hour trip to the bank or some such thing for sure. she is a very 'little mommy' type girl and i know she would keep a good eye over the home and her brother. you have to start trusting them sometime, and the more little things you can do you help them learn how to be responcible the better and easier it will be for them in the long run.

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70 74

It is nice to know nothing bad has happened YET with your 3 year old and 5 year old. It is a shame that you have to wait for something bad to happen to open your eyes and know this might be a bad decision. There are a lot of single mom's even me. We all had to make it work. But I be darned if I am going to leave my young children the ages yours are just to go to the trash can. It is irresponsible.

13,264 21

Without knowing another's specific situation, Christina, your comment is slightly out of line. Meg does what she needs to do. I'm sure that you did what you needed to do (or are doing what you need to do). You may NOT leave your children to run to the garbage can, but I know PLENTY of moms who have done, and had no problems. The key is in how you are raising your children. Most parents, by the time their kids are 5, have no problem running 5 minutes to do garbage, laundry run, check mail, and usually (or at least I did) wait until the kids are napping to do so. Judgement is not necessary. I'm fairly certain, if observed, you could be found doing something that someone else considers irresponsible, but you consider to be quite normal and acceptable. ALL people have the same failing. NO ONE is perfect. No one can be! It would be so nice if people could comment on these things, and leave the little "that's so irresponsible", or "you have to be crazy" comments out. They aren't helpful, they're sniping.

3 21

where our garbage is is just off a long stretch of our parking lot where people like to rip through. our managers like to put the guts from appartments they're fixing in there too so for me it's much safer to have my children in my safe child proof appartment verses having to dispence of garbage and recylcing while making them stand still and not touch anything. this is my opinion because i know my children very well and do not at all intend for them to be bubble children who are afraid to be alone at all because they'd never been given the chance. i'm never gone for more than 5 minutes, and i guess i'm doing my job as a mother well because they know better than to cause trouble when i have to run to the garbage or laundry. don't judge what you don't know.

1 9

I think those ages are too young to leave alone for even such short tasks as trash and laundry. It's best to drag them with you, although it's a pain. But it's what you bargained for when having children. I definitely would not leave my children alone at 3 and 5.

7 6

Shame on you for judging! They're not YOUR children nor your place to judge and tell her she's wrong. Raising kids is hard enough without judgments being passed on. I highly doubt anyone here is a perfect parent! Meg, thank you for sharing your opinion and please don't let anyone put you down. You know what's best for YOUR family.

3 21

thank you Misty! i was begining to feel out numbered here! it's nice to get a couple friendly comments!

2 8

I to am a single mom and have allowed my daughter to stay in our apartment while I run to get the laundry or take out trash which is all done in the same hall of our building as our apartment. I cant see the door when I am down doing those things(hall turns around a corner to get to these things) but I know she can handle staying in the apartment and following basic rules to stay safe. She is only 6 and we have been doing this for about a year now. I think its based on your kid and what you know they can handle. I wont leave her here with out me if I was leaving the building. What we are doing now, if there is an emergency she can get to me in about a half a minute so I dont need to worry to much. I think Meg is doing what is best for her and I commend her on thinking it through.

3 21

thank you for standing with me, Donealia.

0 0

No kidding, Christina, cool off, let's not bash one another...I'm not a single Mom but I do the work in my home and I take out our garbage, and check the mail on occasion when my 3 and 5 yr olds are home for the less than 5 minutes it takes me to do the chores. Have a little faith in other mothers, huh? I will also say that it took me a long time to get to the point where I would step away at all while I was new at the job of motherhood. I have found that nap time is an excellent time to do these tasks. And Meg and Shawnn are right-it's a matter of personal judgement. No good Mom is going to leave her kid alone if the child is afraid, these are just quick errands involving no real distance, and we're all good Moms here, right? Lighten up a little, friend.

34 2

Uh seriously to was it Christina? Would you wake your 3 and 5 year old to run an errand that likely takes less than two minutes, to drag them with you? I am a single Mom and I often wait until my kids are asleep at night to take the trash out but not always, sometimes I run it out when they are awake. They r 4 and 7 but not too long ago they were 3 and 6. When they r awake they know I am in the garage gathering the trash and taking it down to the curb. It takes a few minutes and if your kids can't be trusted to be alone for that long it is sad. do you follow them around the house because god forbid they might be playing in another room. I live in a tiny house, so when I am taking the trash out I am closer to my kids than when they stay at my Mom's and are upstairs or in another room from my parents. Oooh my parents must be irresponsible too then for leaving their grandkids unattended. My goodness when I was a kid, we had responsibility. We were expected to behave well when trusted with these sort of tasks. Today kids are not expected to do anything, no wonder they grow up expecting everyone to jump at their beck and call. Trust your kids a little. Of course use common sense in childproofing, but then let go of that leash a bit there, your going to strangle your kids with it. okay I am being nasty, it just irks me when Moms or Dads bash others. So I apologize. We all want the best for our kids, we would all die for our kids, and do whatever it takes to give them great lives. We are all not the same in our road to that so lets be a little more supportive of each other. Diversity is good.

0 7

Meg: Your kids are blessed to have a mom like you. Being a single mom is a labor of love, glad you are working so hard at it.

3 21

thank you so much Wendi, i work my butt off gladly, and do what i can when i can to the best of my abilities. especially when it comes to my kids. i truly apreciate everyones support and info sharing!

6 18

Meg, leaving your children in the apartment alone while you run the trash out, check the mail or switch a load of laundry isn't irresponsible. I live in a house and always had to leave my daughter when taking out the trash or checking the mail or even taking the dog out in the front or back yard and I don't consider that leaving my child at home alone. To me, this isn't really what this topic is about, but more about taking a quick trip to the store for bread and milk and when are they old enough for that. I am sure you are doing a wonderful job with your children. :)

0 5

Meg I do not think you have to offer an explanation to Christina or justify your actions. As a single mom myself we have to make do. It's ok to make comments but not to judge. So all the negative nellys get off your soapbox and go raise your own kids

3 21

many thanks to you and all who have helped me feel less alone in something i didn't think i was alone in to begin with. i think we have too many real worries in life to add the judgement of our peers/collegues in parenthood to the list.

0 13

Wow Christina, you may need to take the diapers off yourself! You can't even leave your kids to check the mail at that age? Your kids are going to have SERIOUS PROBLEMS! You are surprised there haven't been problems yet? Like what? 2 minutes at that age? You are only giving your kids future problems. My kids are 8&7, I have gone to the gas station down the street a few times and they actually lived! Not sure how! Wake up!

0 16

Meg, the bottom line is what you as mother feel comfortable doing. Only you know how you're raising you're children and what they are capable of. When I had my first child my father warned me that many will try to give advice and tell me what to do but only I can make the decision and I am to do the best I can as I can. The same goes for you.

0 9

I think that leaving your kids for 5 minutes when your still within the parameters of the apartment whether it be the parking lot or laundry area is perfectly ok. (I am a child welfare worker). It's not like your leaving them home alone while you go out and about. I let my son stay home if I have to run to the post office or store. He understands and follows the rules. He also knows what to do in an emergency i.e. call 911. No answering the phone unless its me (thanks to caller id), no playing outside when I'm not home etc...My job as a parent is to raise my child to be an independent successful adult and allowing them the opportunity to obey the rules when your not standing over them is a part of that...

0 16

Personally I wouldnt leave a 5yr old or a 3yr old alone fot 5mins as my experience shows it takes seconds to fall/cut/burn/scold themselves, I wouldnt even go to the grocery van which stops on my doorstep I had to get my neighbour to go for me but legally you left for a couple of mins if anything would of happened in them minutes requiring medical attention you would/will be prosecuted for neglect etc I am not having a go just stating experience and facts hoping said thing does not happen to you.

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12 6

Obviously times are much different than they were when I was a kid! I was left alone at 8 to babysit my cousins as my aunt/uncle went out. I've been contemplating this issue myself and I'm good with 12 or 13, definitely depending on maturity. My daughter is 13 now and while she hasn't been left alone long, we slowly ease her into the responsibility. We make sure we list out what she can and can't have, what she should and should not do!

10
70 74

I agree, times are changing or not changing just more things are noticed and reported. Not sure how old you are but in my day(40's) I started babysitting at the age of 10 and stayed at the parents house till early morning hours. Not sure now if I would have a 10 year old stay and babysit at my house till 3am.?? My daughter babysitts and took the babysitting course. She now stays until 10pm but after that I take over until the parents come home.

1 18

I follow the rules that we had when we lived in a military neighborhood.
10 years old - stay home alone for no more than three hours at a time.
11 years old - stay home baby sitting younger siblings for no more than three hours at a time after taking a baby-sitting course
12 years old - able to baby-sit siblings and other family's children after taking a baby sitting course. Not overnight.

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6 11

I have always wondered where my mom got those ages from when I was growing up. She just told me it was the law everywhere so I never thought about it past that. Well until my friend told me in the state of Texas it doesn't matter then age for staying home alone it all has to do with Maturity. And now I have my answer. LOL

0 20

We are military also and we follow their guidelines. My 10 year old is alot more mature than some other 10 yr old (relatives and friends). Our child is allowed to stay home alone but never for more than 2 hours. We have a 7 yr old who is very immature and is NEVER allowed to stay home alone with older sibling. We also Have a 3 yr old who the 10 yr old is allowed to watch for NO MORE THAN 15 mins if I have to make a quick errand run.

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0 10

I am a single mom and work 2 jobs. My oldest son is 11 and the little one is almost 6. I start work at 2 in the morning and leave them at home to sleep. I live in a granny flat with an alarm system so I know my kids are safe. It is impossible to take them with me to work and ther is no babysitter willing to wake up at 2 to come babysit my kids till 5 when I get home. I then get them ready, take them to school and go to my day job. Sometimes we are not left with much choice in life when we have to pay rent and feed the kids. I trust the Lord looks after them and protects them till my safe return.

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16 0

I fully agree it depends on the maturity level of the child. Also, the neighborhood you live in.

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5 13

I've left my almost 11 & 9 yr old home after school for very short spurts. They stay in the house and don't open the door. Believe it or not though I trust them both I think the 9 yr old is the most mature. I take the 5 & 1yr old with me though.

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3 16

my children are 11,9,4 and 13 months I also believe its how mature your child is.My daughter is 11 and she is very mature she knows the dangers of things and I feel comfortable leaving her for short periods. we also live in a very rural community and we live a mile off the main road and I have a very large dog so I don't worry about strangers.Also now a day the kids have so much to keep themselves busy with computers and video games I really think it depends on your child.

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0 141

I'd love to give an appropriate age for this, but I don't think there is one. I know some adults that I wouldn't leave at home alone (lol)!
My daughter was right at 10 when she first started staying at home alone for short periods of time. She is now 12 and her brother is 4. She is fully capable of keeping them both at home for long periods of time (meaning hours, not days). They have both always been very self-sufficient which is a big factor in our decision to leave them at home. Base your decision, on the child's capabilities, not your fears. 9 times out of 10, the kid is going to surprise you! :)

If you're nervous about injuries, fires, break-ins, etc. Take steps to overcome some of that anxiety. Enroll the child in first aid training at your local Red Cross. Take them to the fire station and get someone to talk with them about fire safety (and at-home fire drills). ALSO (huge recommendation) install a monitored security system for their protection. This could be a wash on the cost because most home-owners insurance policies will give you a discount for having one.
A lot of the time, the child will appreciate you taking the time to teach them, and welcome the opportunity to succeed. GOOD LUCK!!!

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0 7

We're here to offer support to each other and advice. Check criticism at the door. (even if you don't agree)
With that being said, I do leave my 12 year old and 10 year old alone at times. My 12 year old has been certified by the red cross as a babysitter so I feel a little more comfortable doing so. Still it's not for long periods of time....

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6 11

First you need to check with your local laws and see what they say. Once that is done and if it isn't considered illegal the next thing to look at is the maturity of the child/children. If you are not sure how to tell some things first would be. 1. Do you HONESTLY feel not think that the child would know what to do in case of a fire in the home with out any adults around to tell them? Same as with a brake-in? 2. Does the child know the emergency number/s by heart? and Mom and Dad numbers? I know there is another but can't think of it. If you still aren't sure then start asking loved ones in your family what they think of said child/children maturity levels. You are the parent you know the child better than anyone out there. Take the legal laws as your base grounds.

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6 11

These are just the ways that my friends and I figured out if our kids were ready to stay home alone or need a supervisor. I have a 10 year old that can not stay by himself cause he will go out side as soon as he gets bord. Scared the LIVING CRAP out of me let me tell you. Never want to feel that again. But... Yes a but.. If I leave his sister home with him. Which she is only 18mos older. He stays in the house. She has to remind him not to answer the door if the door bell rings. It is very strange. He is mature enough with his sister around but by himself he is NOT ready. He says he is but twice was to much for mom I guess. LOL When they are left home alone they are both left responsible for their own actions even if he answers the door or goes outside. She is just simple there to remind him it is NOT ALLOWED.

10 9

My children are 7 and 9, I will go for a walk in the evening and leave them at home for 10 to 15 minutes. I always have my phone on and they know my number if they need anything. They also know not to answer the house phone or door. It all depends on their maturity and what you as a parent have taught them. I would never go in my car somewhere at least not until I know that they can get things they want and I feel comfortable that they won't fight over who's going to pick out a movie or something silly like that.

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0 4

I am really disappointed at the number of people who are passing judgement on others. I choose to believe it is out of concern for the children. I have 2 children one 17, one 11. Of course when the 17yo is available I/we can leave them alone to go out to dinner or whatever. If the 17yo is otherwise occupied, at work for example, and I need to be gone for more than 2 hours, I usually enlist the help of one of my many wonderful neighbors with kids around my 11yo's age and "let" her go hang with them for awhile. I do the same for them, it really helps to live in a supportive neighborhood. My 11 yo is not comfortable alone at night or even when the sun is going down. This is just fine w/me as I do not think my child is ready to be alone at night/dusk yet and apparently neither does she..

People who have said it depends on the child are so right based on my experience. First, you really need to know the laws in your state and then know the maturity level of your child. My 11yo is a well behaved child, at the same time she gets curious about things and goes off to find the answer. She has never met a stranger so although she says she won't open the door to anyone, I just don't totally trust that yet.

We need to support each other, parenting is a glorious, wonderful gift and one of the hardest and most important jobs we will ever do. Also with the economy people are having to do the best they can with often limited resources. Let's lift each other up, the last thing we need is MORE parental guilt!

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13,264 21

My ages were 7 for a quick errand to the convenience store, 9-10 could stay home from school while I worked (and is legal in my state), and 12 for babysitting younger sib so that dad and I could go out. Alone overnight at 16, for 2 nights in a row max.

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14 27

I am in Ontario, Canada and contrary to most peoples’ perception, there is not specific age at which a child can be left unattended. The Child and Family Services Act states that parents of children under the age of 16 years, must make “reasonable provisions” for their care. This requires parents to ensure that if they leave their children at home alone, that they have made appropriate efforts to ensure their children’s safety. This must go hand in hand with a common sense approach, for instance, ensuring children have emergency phone numbers, are mature and responsible and are not left for long periods of time without adult supervision.

The Children's Aid Society strongly suggests parents not to leave a child under the age of ten (10) alone. If the child is under the age of ten (10) and CAS intervenes, the onus is on the parent to provide reasons and rationale to CAS that their child has not been left in a potentially harmful situation.

In addition, the Criminal Code of Canada includes the offence of abandoning a child. Everyone who unlawfully abandons or exposes a child who is under the age of 10 years, so that his/her life is or is likely to be endangered, or his/her health is or is likely to be permanently injured, is guilty of an offence that carries a penalty of imprisonment of not more than two (2) years.

Parents are responsible for the safety and well-being of their children and parents will be held accountable by CAS and Police if there has been an injury or risk to their child if the child has been left alone or in the care of another person under the age of 16 years.

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0 20

In the US there are only 2 states that have minimum age restrictions of 12 and thats Oregon, and I think Wyoming.

13,264 21

Wyoming's is only the recommended. They are fine with kids 10+, as long as the kid is mature. I live in Laramie, and have lived here for 32 years now.

0 14

Illinois law is 14. Just checked into it because I wanted to see about leaving my 11 year old home a day or two each week over summer break. Going into 6th grade, she is more than capable in my opinion as her mother. The state says otherwise so now she'll be in high school before I can leave her home alone. Silly, I think, but I understand why the law is there.

1 16

SC requires a child to be 13 yrs old before being left home alone and 15 yrs before leaving them with younger siblings.

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2 14

I think that 13 is a good age - You can tell whether a child will be responsible or not and again this is not to say for long periods of time. But to run a quick errand, sure!

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5 38

When I was 11, I babysat for others all the time. Looking back, I wonder why the parents thought it was ok but my parents said I was very mature. I could feed everyone and put them down for naps, and I had had a CPR class. I'm sure I could have gotten the kids outside if there was a fire, but it still blows my mind that I watched 4 sometimes 6 kids at a time as an 11 year old! I insist my own babysitters now be at least 12 or 13 but prefer 15 and up.

0 0

I believe this decision should be up to the discretion of the parent, the maturity level of the child, and State Laws. I personally have 9, 11, 12 year-olds and have left them alone to run errands or go to the gym. They know not to open the door, answer the phone (unless mom or dad) cook, and stay inside the house when I am gone. Never has there been an incident where I have regretted leaving my children alone because I have taught them to use good judgment. Also, I would like to say that when I was 13 (38 now), I was hired to babysit 4 kids at a time while the parents when out for some alone time. So I believe that what works for some, might not work for others!

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2 17

This was (and still is) a difficult question. My son is 10 and has gone through the "When I'm in charge" class at the Rec Center to prepare him for situations that may arise while he is home alone. Currently we allow him to be home after school while we are at work. He is not to answer the door and only answer the phone when it's a number he recognizes.
The summer has presented a whole host of new issues as he doesn't understand why we aren't okay leaving him home all day. We have him in morning summer camps and then home in the afternoon.
I agree that it should be based on the individual child's maturity level and of course taking into account the laws in your area.

1
0 2

Where I live, the legal age is 12 years old, to be left alone. I must agree it really is and should be based on the maturity level of your own child.

My son is 8.. is capable of a lot of things, including calling 911.. but he is too young (in gr.2) to be left alone..

In my head I was thinking gr. 6 - which is right around 12 years of age. The end of :"the middle years" and the start of the teen years.

You, yourself will know whats right for your own family. Although checking your state law is a good first step.

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0 7

My oldest are 10. We will leave the two at home only for quick errands. We do have an alarm with armed response for any emergency and she knows how to use it. She knows our number and can phone us for anything else. Even when our best friends came to visit she told them to wait outside as she may not open the door for any one.

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0 8

I think it depends on the maturity level of the child at age 13. However, I wouldn't leave them alone for longer than 2 hours until they are old enough to drive.

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1 20

I've been a single mom since day one and I have to agree with the maturity level. My daughter is 10 and this year she is finally starting to show some maturity but still has the baby in her (which is frustrating!!). I do have a co-worker who has a latchkey kid at the same age. However, she has rules. They come home, lock the doors, call mom, and watch tv/games, etc. They are not allowed to have friends over or answer the door. She calls them when she leaves work so the communication remains open between the two. I don't think it's age. I don't think I'd be ok with leaving my daughter home alone yet (although she would love that). I also think EVERY situation is different.

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2 0

I have an 11 & 8 year old. I have left them alone to go to the convenience store 1 block away. No more than 10 minutes. I think that is about as long as I feel comfortable with for now. I trust my daughter, she is the 11 year old, to watch out for her brother but it just does not make me comfortable. I think this is a question only the parent can decide. The maturity of the child and the parent feeling ready is the biggest factors. With this being said, I am not bashing those who choose to leave young ones alone. This is just a personal choice for my family. I am a single mom so I do understand how difficult it is.

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0 2

when my youngest was nine and home with a cold, i would run to the drug store and grocery both of which i could almost see from our house. i would only leave her if i was going to be gone less than fifteen minutes and she of course still loves calling me fifteen times in those fifteen minutes on my i phone!

now they are ten and fourteen. i leave them to run errands that are close to the house. if i have to go to stores that are five miles away or to several on payday and will be gone for several hours i take them with. but that is mostly because they will fight like cats and cats (haha) while i am gone.

definitely based on maturity. if it was just the oldest sick at home, i would leave her for several hours. we are military and my parents were both cops. she knows the safety rules. and we are fully alarmed which makes me feel better.

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My son just turned 10 years old. i also have a 2 year old daughter. i will leave my ten year old home alone to make a run to the convienence store 2 minutes down the road or to drop my daughter off to school. he was raised knowing what i expect of him and he knows my expectaions are not crazy. i know my son and i know what he is capable of. there are set rules in place when i leave and if he didnt follow them or feel comfortable then i wouldnt do it. my daughter on te other hand is with me ALL the time. going to the mail, laundry, we live in apartments. that is only because i know he doesnt have the ability to keep an eye on her. so i agree with most people. it is the parents decision (they know their child best) and a maturity thing.

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For me, it's a matter of trust. I don't leave my kids at home alone, they are 10 and 12. But I know that I could trust my 10 year old home alone, if I chose to. He's proven himself on more than one occasion. My 12 year old, however, I can't trust. One time I left the house and forgot to lock the door, I was a few minutes late getting back when she was due home after school. She invited her friends over, made phonecalls, etc., instead of going to the sitter's who lived in the same complex, as she had been instructed to do should this type of situation ever arise.

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I'm sure that by the time my son is old enough to be left alone for me to go to fill up the gas tank or a different 15-30min errand I will have also checked the legal age in Georgia. That will be taken into account with his maturity level when it gets to that point. Our 6yr old is fine with me doing laundry in the garage while he is busy drawing or playing elsewhere in the house. He is very independent and can go by himself to the mailbox or to get the paper from our short driveway. We know several of our neighbors, but he knows we need to go with him if he wants to leave the property.

I was 11 when I started babysitting my younger brother (2yrs my junior) and latchkey from 2:30pm until 5pm, 12 yrs old mowing neighbor's lawns and 13 when babysitting for neighbor kids.
When he approaches 11 my husband & I will have to discuss it before we do more than lawnwork with him in the house.
~SusanBG

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My daughter has just recently begun staying home alone for no more than 20 - 30 minutes at a time and she is 11. I have also sometimes allowed my 5 year old stay with her if I know I am going to be no more than maybe 10 -15 min. tops. I also live in a neighborhood where I know my neighbors and they always keep an additional eye my house whether there is someone home or not. My oldest is very responsible, and is aspiring to become a babysitter (which I have already told her she needs to be at least 13 and has taken babysitting and cpr courses first). I also agree with most of the comments below stating that it really needs to be a determination based on the family, the children, the maturity levels involved, and the community/area you live in. We were all raised differently as children and most want to raise our children differently than how we were raised. We should never condem someone else for the way they want to raise their children especially if it differs from our own.

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I believe "legally" children can be left at home alone at 12, but some children are not mature enough at 12 to stay home alone and some could be mature enough at 10. My son didn't want to stay home alone until just recently and he is almost 14. My opinion would be to use 12 as a baseline and decide individually based on the child.

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This is probably a question that has been asked for years. There are so many variables and of course everyone has their own thoughts and opinions and most are not based on the security of their children but based on their own need and their work schedules. It is sad that parents think just because their kids are now 9, 10, 11 and 12 that their rights to no parent supervision supersede safety. These are the ages they need us the most. There are many times 3,4,5 years are outside playing by themselves with no parent supervision and playing in the street as a playground. Yet as soon as those ages starting at 8 or 9 parents think their job is done the kids can do what they want. It has nothing to do with your own child's maturity. Of course there many kids that can stay home by themselves the question should be is it safe for them to stay by themselves and the answer is no. People recognize and take notice when chlldren are consistently being left alone, even children can force your kids to do something or let them in the house. STOP MAKING YOUR KIDS MAKE ADULT DECISIONS. STOP BEING THEIR FRIEND AND BE THEIR PARENT. THEY NEED GUIDANCE AND BOUNDARIES. STOP LETTING EVERYONE ELSE RAISE YOUR KIDS AND DO IT YOURSELF. WATCH YOUR KIDS!!!!!!

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Christina, I fail to see how determining that your child is mature enough to make small decisions on their own is being irresponsible and abandoning our children in their hour of need. I, and most other parents that I have encountered don't consider telling the kid "don't answer the phone or the door until I get back" and running to check the mail, or 2 doors down to get some sugar to be "MAKING YOUR KIDS MAKE ADULT DECISIONS". Also, most other parents that I have encountered have given their children the tools needed to handle such situations (you know, things like 911, a neighbor's number, our own cell numbers) So, please, give us the courtesy of acknowledging that perhaps, just perhaps, some of the rest of us are not clueless, and DO KNOW HOW TO RAISE CHILDREN. Raising kids to be responsible in any and all circumstances is what's important. Overprotecting them, hovering over them, and never letting them do anything for themselves, EVER, will only bring about a seriously dependent adult who does not know how to make an adult decision.

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Obviously you are clueless about what I was referring too. You misunderstood what I was saying or didn't understand it. Just because a parent doesn't allow their child to stay at home or play outside in the street at the age of 3 doesn't mean they are overprotective. If you read it again and maybe just maybe stop being defensive about what you think you are reading maybe just maybe you would grasp what I was saying. Thanks

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No, I read it again, and I still don't understand how running to the mailbox and leaving your 5 yo for a few minutes is "making your kids make adult decisions." I also don't see how any of the examples stated are lacking "guidance and boundaries", or "letting everyone else raise your kids", or not watching your kids! I'm not being defensive, mind you, however the nice lecturey tone of your post does invite defensiveness... I'm trying to understand how your "answer" helps! The question is "when are kids old enough to stay home alone". Several answers with different ages have been posted...and then you came along and start lecturing the rest of the responders, and anyone else who just wants to peruse the thread about our practices. " It is sad that parents think just because their kids are now 9, 10, 11 and 12 that their rights to no parent supervision supersede safety. These are the ages they need us the most. There are many times 3,4,5 years are outside playing by themselves with no parent supervision and playing in the street as a playground. Yet as soon as those ages starting at 8 or 9 parents think their job is done the kids can do what they want. It has nothing to do with your own child's maturity. Of course there many kids that can stay home by themselves the question should be is it safe for them to stay by themselves and the answer is no." NOWHERE did we say that our kids have the RIGHT to say alone. We did, however provide ages that WE FELT COMFORTABLE ENOUGH IN OUR PARENTING, OR OUR LOCATION, OR BOTH to allow that to happen for whatever reason. Perhaps you should take your own suggestion, and rather than reading with an eye to criticism, read with an eye to receiving input and providing a constructive response. I'm taking it t hat you will never feel that your child is mature enough to handle you leaving them alone for more than it takes to run to the restroom. Hey, that's your kid, and your right. Please quit lecturing the rest of us who have different comfort levels and customs.

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i think you should be posting in an attatched parenting thread. i heartily agree with Shawnn Lively, this is not about harshing those of us who gave an honest reply to the question. it's about providing varied information so that we all can have more knowledge with which to make informed desicions.

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@Christina Walsh = ALL CAPITALS connotates YELLING!!! Not many people like to be yelled at. Just saying.

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I have a 17 year old, 12 year old, and a 9 year old. I had to consider many factored before letting my kids stay home alone. It's nice to give honest feedback, because when your raising young children it's hard to make those decision. I would ask myself the following questions: Does my child know how to handle basic emergencies?,cut, a fall Are they mature enough to handle it? I would consider the neighborhood I lived in. Can I entrust in another neighbor if they were needed to be called? How long, and how far will I be? And finally to give feedback to the mom of 3 and 5 year old, as long as the apartment is extremely childproof. While walking out to get my mail when my middle child was 3. She triped on her blanket landed head first on floor. 5 stitches later. Things happen in a blink of an eye. Eileen

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Shawn and Meg, maybe you should take your own advice, again you didn't understand what I was saying and instead of knocking me for posting a response because that is what this site is about, our own opinions whether you agree with them or not, it is every persons right to respond. If the person who posted doesn't want to hear all sides then they wouldn't have posted. Considering your being more rude to me. And Susan grow up!!! Eileen, I 100% agree as we as parents know our children and what they are capable off. Unfortunately this day and age neighbors don't know each other like it was when I was younger. Parenting is the hardest job we will every do. All of us at one point or another may think " why maybe I should have done it differently".

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Christina, exactly WHAT am I not understanding? You keep saying that "you aren't understanding. You aren't reading correctly." I've read your response 5 times (that's FIVE) and cannot find what I'm not understanding. I understand that you feel it your moral obligation to lecture others, when your first sentence would have served just fine as a response. If you'd care to tell my just HOW i'm not understanding you, I'll be happy to try again. But, if all you can continue to respond is "you still aren't understanding", without clarification, then...well, I guess I'm not. And, I'm sorry that you feel picked on by my responses. That is not my intent, and I fail to see how properly worded and phrased responses are being "rude". All I'm asking for is clarification. If that's rude, then I'guess the rules have changed yet again...

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I'm not passing judgement in any one. Parenting is hard, so you do what you have to do and pray that you have instilled in them the right tools to know right from wrong. My kids are 14 and 10 and they are home alone everyday while their dad and I work or when school is in they are home alone afterwards. I work 10 minutes away and go home everyday at lunch. I think it is how responsible you think your kids are. No ones kids are the same so it is different for everyone.

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I would say that maturity plays a big role in when it would be a good idea to leave your child at home alone. I personally would not do it before my daughter was in middle school however, as she enters the 6th grade in the fall, I still have no intention of leaving her home alone. Why? Because people are crazy. I live in a very nice area but pedophiles and murders do not discriminate on where they are going to commit a crime. When I was a kid I was able to baby sit a one month old and a 4 year old for the first time ever...alone...I was 11. I just don't see that happening now. that was 21 years ago and times have changed. I'm just overly cautious. My daughter has a lot of responsibility inside the home and is very aware of the rules. She has a key to the house to let herself in when she gets off the bus in case we went to the store and are running a few minutes late but that's it. I've thought about leaving her in the house alone to run to the store but I change my mind every time. Maybe when she is a little older i will be able to do it..but right now I prefer to know that she is safe because she is with me.

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I started leaving my son alone for short periods if time when he was 9/10. I was a single mom and I believe being raised as he was helped mold him into a responsible child. He knew the rules and safety numbers in case of emergency. It didn't mean he was treated as an adult but rather a child who was trusted to be responsible. He is now 12 and stays home alone for several hours at time with no trouble. I believe that if you take the time to teach and guide your child they can be trusted rather then tested to be be left home alone.

11 62

I agree that if you take time to teach and guide your child they can be trusted. I trust my daughter and give her opportunities to show me I can trust her however,..I still don't trust others and that is why I don't leave her home alone. I acknowledge I am overly cautious but that is because of my personal history and story. Having a daughter I don't want to give history the opportunity to repeat itself. I am glad for you that you are able to leave your son home alone now...as a former single mother (for 7.5 years) I know it's hard.

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I think it should be based on the child, the area you live in etc. My oldest was 11/12 when I started leaving her for quick errands. My second was 12/13 for the same and letting herself in the house and sometimes getting her younger sister off the bus a half suburban block away. The youngest is 9 and totally not ready to be left alone. I have been leaving the two younger when they were14/8 for a dinner or movie early in the evening. Check out this website: http://www.latchkey-kids.com/latchkey-kids-age-limits.htm

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Sorry I did not realize that was an advertisement for a service just wanted to post the guidelines.

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I was a single child os a single parent...I thought my self ready to stay alone by the time I was 8yrs. My Mom did not but I wanted to take care of myself and show how mature I thought I was. I did not stay at home for even one hour by myself until I was 11 yrs.

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i was 10 when i start and my mom and dad where 1 minute away

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I know this is an old post, but my daughter is 10 years old. She isn't likely to burn the house down because, well, she already knows how to cook dinner. She knows how to set and un-set the security house alarm and she knows how to 1) walk next door to our neighbor's house if she needs help; and 2) can use her cell phone or the house phone to call me, her dad, her nana, her auntie, her uncle or 911 if she needs to. I feel completely safe leaving her at home for short periods of time. By the time I was 10 year's old I was already walking home from school with the other neighborhood kids, letting myself into the house, fixing myself something to eat, starting my homework and/or watching t.v. until my parents came home from work. I loved it!!!! In this day in age, we are so preoccupied with "safety" that we are stunting and disturbing our kids' natural growth process. Everything is supervised, playdates, kids don't walk to school by themselves any longer, nor do they play outside from sun up to sun down. This is dangerous, and i'm not interested in raising a dependent, afraid, fearful adult who has no self-confidence.

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at LEAST 13+. but it depends on their maturity and responsibility level

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