should my 11 yr old son be allowed unsupervised time out?

Kimberly - posted on 12/06/2010 ( 15 moms have responded )




Ok ladies my oldest son just turned 11 in august but he seems to think he is 11 going on 16 ... he approached me yesterday with an attitude saying I am too strict! I will be the first to admit that I keep a short leash on them , and I know he is getting older and wants to do more things with"his friends" but I am afraid of the things he may get into out there unsupervised! so I am just curious what do you ladies think is age appropriatefor a 11 yr old boy to be out doing ?how much unsupervised time? or is he still to young for time alone anyway ? I am open for any suggestions and am very torn on what kind of limits to set for him I don't want to be to strict and him rebel (as i did) but I don't want to give in too much either thanks kim


Jolene - posted on 12/06/2010




I left my child alone while I ran an errand when he was 10. For short periods of time. I set rules he had to follow and maybe chores that needed to be done. He earned more privileges by proving to me he is trust worthy and responsible. I think the call is more about if he is responsible. Give him a little freedom, to ride bikes witha friend, go to a movie, hang out at thier friends house for a while, with a time that he needs to be home. Explain that being responsible and trustworthy earns more freedom. My 5 children are all teenagers or older and this has worked well for us. They know that when the rules or expectations are not followed then the 'leash' gets shorter. I think children always needs rules/guidelines but should be allowed to show they are responsible about them. 11 is too young in my opinion to be out late at night or at a friends where no parents are home, or to hang out with older kids. But they can start to expereince a little freedom. Does he have a phone where you can reach him if he is not home on time? That helped to give me the peace of mind that they could call me if needed and I could get ahold of them. My children also knew that if they were not home I WOULD COME GET THEM, and that was an embarrassment they wanted to avoid. They also were not allowed in anyones home I did not give permission for, or to be in a home when parents were not.

Hope that helped, but it is ultimately a decision you have to make. I always tell my kids the decision has to be mine because I will have to live with any actions resulting from allowing you to go. So go with your gut. Remember that this can be a teaching moment. Life will give him time tables. When homework is due, when you need to be at work, when your mortgage has to be paid, etc, These are life lessons.

Firebird - posted on 12/06/2010




It's amazing how much times have changed. I remember running around the neighbourhood with my friends "unsupervised" when I was 5 years old. Of course there were rules, I was to stay on my block, be back by dinnertime and not go in someone's house without asking my mom. And even at 5, I followed those rules. At 11, I still followed the rules, though I was allowed anywhere but downtown at that age. I do live in a small town where everyone knows everyone and their dog though, so if I ever did get into trouble chances are someone would have been around to tell on me! Give him a bit of slack, he might surprise you. If he breaks the rules, ground him and try again after he learns that the rules are to be followed or the freedom will be taken away.

Laura - posted on 12/06/2010




I am all for letting kids earn the privelege of doing things unsupervised! This is how they learn to behave independently and show responsibility. The key words here are "earn the privelege"-- meaning that doing things unsupervised is not automatic; it requires trustworthy behavior and good decision-making skills. Rules and expectations for behavior MUST be firmly in place beforehand so that your son knows exactly what is expected of him. The rules and expectations should also include consequences (punishments) when these rules are not followed or expectations aren't met. This is the foundation for unsupervised activities.

Once you have established the guidelines, you can discuss the limits and boundaries of where he can go and what he will be allowed to do (and with whom!). Be prepared to involve him in this part of the proccess and be willing to negotiate. If your son is involved in this proccess he will be more likely to feel "ownership" of the terms. This personal investment makes it more likely that he will abide by the rules and expectations.

Finally, the boundaries you develop with him are entirely up to you to work out. So is the amount of time you choose to leave him unsupervised. Work this out together and you both will feel good about the results.

For me, I started leaving my daughter by herself for very brief times (no more than 15 minutes) when she was 9 years old. She was also allowed to ride her bike or walk anywhere within a 2 block radius of our house (which included our local library at the time). I will qualify this by saying that we live in a small town that can be walked from one end to the other in about 15 minutes. My daughter is now 12 and babysits for other people's children! We often leave her at home for a few hours. She is allowed to ride her bike to the local Boys & Girls Club (5 blocks) and go to the library (8 blocks). We do not have cell phones and do not fear for her safety. Statistically abductions/kidnappings are no higher than when I was a kid and I went everywhere on my own at her age. The number of child predators is no greater either! The only differences are the media coverage and awareness of these people. With that knowledge we have discussed safety measures to use with "stranger danger", the only real difference from when I was a kid. Otherwise she is allowed those same freedoms and priveleges I had, with the same expectations and rules I had as a kid. She is developing into a very responsible, independent young lady and as long as she continues to show good decision-making, her boundaries will continue to grow as she grows. I hope this helps a bit and best of luck to you!

Terra - posted on 12/07/2010




I think he is old enough if you think you can trust him. My dad gave me a lot of space when I was that age but made it clear what his expectations were. In my dads eyes the worst thing I could do was break his trust. He explained to me that he would start out trusting me and letting me do things like stay home alone or go out with friends (providing he knew where I was going to be and who was there. Also who was taking me and picking me up). He explained that if I broke his trust then he would revoke the privledges and it would be very HARD to earn them back. needless to say I was horrified of breaking his trust so I didn't. Now I did do things I shouldn't but all kids do. I feel like it helped me grow and learn to make my own decisions. Also any time I got into trouble I knew I could count on him to have my back. Not just punish me. He was very open with me and explained that he didn't condone certain behavior but never judged me and I always knew I could go to him for help. I wouldn't leave him alone for a whole weekend but if you're uncertain start out small and let him prove himself to you. I bet he'll blossom under the responsibility. Maybe staying home alone if he's sick and can't go to school. That way you can call and check on him during the day. Have a set neighbor for him to go to if he has any issues. Or even just leaving him there while you run to the store. Maybe dropping him at the movie theater to catch a movie with a few friends while you run some errands. What you decide he is old enough for depends on his personality. You know him better than anyone. What can you trust him with? Give him a chance though. It sounds like you're a wonderful mom!

Julie - posted on 12/06/2010




free range kids grow into healthy well adjusted responsible adults with good decision making ability

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Kathy - posted on 12/21/2011




what i think is that u know your child well u know how you raised him u can give him a little bit of freedom... i had A LOT of freedom since i was 11 and i never got into any trouble , i am christian so are my friends and my parents have always trusted me and i've never betrade their trust

Sheila - posted on 12/08/2010




My girls are grown with children and they still call me if their going to be out of pocket. They were given a longer leash by the age of ten, their dad drove a truck so I was it most of the time. I let them know what their rules were, a time they had to be home or on the phone to me. If they weren't they lost all previlges until I deemed they had learned their lesson I knew their friends and their friends family. They were never allowed at a friends until I met at least one parent and had a phone number to reach them. We timed bicycle rides so I knew how long they should take to the store, factering in time there. I have never needed to shorten the leash but a couple of times. The girls knew their limits but they never had a time in their lives when they could not reach me. Trust works both ways.

Sylvia - posted on 12/07/2010




I think it depends on the kid, but I know when I was 11 I was getting myself across town to choir rehearsal by bus (with a friend) twice a week, babysitting my younger brother, letting myself into the house after school with my own key, washing dishes and doing laundry, making dinner two nights a week, walking to and home from friends' houses, and running errands for my mom. I never got into any really terrible trouble, and nothing awful ever happened to me, although there was that one time I couldn't find my house key and had to let myself in through a back window, oops. So I'd be inclined to loosen the apron strings a bit, myself ;^)

JuLeah - posted on 12/06/2010




He is 11 and not on any level able to handle what life will throw at him if unsupervised.
He doesn't make the rules.
So, new experiances, yes. Adventures, yes, challenges, yas, time with friends, yes .... if all deemed safe by you.
Bed time, homework time, healthy food, shower requirements, chores, volunteer activities, hobbies and after school activities are all very important now; don't slack off on any of this. His job is to test and push, your job is to remain firm and a wall he can bounce off - you are his safety net and he has to trust you to catch him.
I don't think he ought to be left home alone for more then 20 minutes or so.

Theresa - posted on 12/06/2010




What do you mean by "out there unsupervised"? If he's over at a friends playing I don't think it's a problem. I think you have every right however to go over and introduce yourself to the parents so that they know you care and you know what kind of parents they are. I also think you have the right to call the parents to see if they will be home while your child is there. My oldest 2 are 14 and 11. They both go over to friends' houses and/or ride bike to the school to play at the park. However I wouldn't be comfortable with them going and hanging out at the mall or something. I've seen too many rotten behaving kids hanging out that I know I have no intention of letting my child be like that. I have also let my oldest go to the movies with friends. An adult drops them off, then picks them up after so they're not wandering around town. You're right that if you hold them too close they rebel. I think you need to start giving kids a few freedoms as long as they show they can handle it and behave. I also strongly believe in taking those freedoms away when they're misused too. I would suggest you and his father sit down with him and discuss what will and won't be allowed and what you expect of him to earn theese new freedoms. If you include him in the dicision making he will feel it's more fair and will feel that he is being treated more like a member of the family, not just a little kid. You can also get his opinions on what consequences will be if the rules or cerfews get broken. Kids actually usually have a very good sense of what is fair consequences for their actions.

Angie - posted on 12/06/2010




I think it's appropriate for your child to be unsupervised as long as he has a specific goal and he does only that. Going and out doing things with his friends unsupervised is a recipe for trouble. Start to lengthen the leash some but make it clear that if he abuses that, the leash will be shortened again.

Jodi - posted on 12/06/2010




My son is now 13, but from about age 10, I allowed him to ride his bike to and from school, but he had a strict "straight there and straight home" deadline.

Once I learned to trust him with that, I would allow him to go with a friend to the local shop to buy an ice-cream, or for an hour to the local basketball courts or football oval. I sent him with my mobile phone so he could call if he needed to. He was about 11.

When he was 12, I gave him a longer leash (he could go for longer, he was allowed at the larger shopping mall with his friends, etc) and I bought him a phone of his own.

He is yet to break my trust. Now at 13, I am teaching him to use the buses so he can have a little more flexibility over the summer. He will still have curfews and boundaries, obviously, and I don't allow him out after 5pm yet, but I am letting him develop his independence gradually.

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