View Full Version : what age to leave child alone?

09-04-2008, 02:07 PM
I was wondering at what age parents let their kids be home alone for 1 hour?

09-04-2008, 02:14 PM
I was BABYSITTING at the age of nine; daytime with adults available by phone.

By age 12 I was night-time babysitting.

09-04-2008, 02:41 PM
It depends on the area you're in and the child's maturity level among other things. I would never leave a child alone in some areas, but never think twice in others. A mature child can be left alone sooner than others too. It also depends on what they have access to. If there's obnoxious neighbor kids who will "taint" their experience, I'd be more cautious. If there's a friend near that can keep an eye on the house, I'd feel better too. I was left home alone at about 10 I think, but I had an older brother and sister and we had a ton of great neighbors so it was no big deal. I can't imagine leaving a 10-year-old home alone today!


09-04-2008, 02:41 PM
It really depends on the child's maturity level -- not knowing the child in question, I can't really give you an answer. I've had nanny families leave their 8 & 9 year olds alone while they ran a quick errand.

ETA: I agree with Kelly -- maturity level & area where they would be left. If a friend or neighbor was nearby "just-in-case".

You also want someone they can contact if for some reason you aren't home by the time you said & they aren't able to reach you -- ie you get in an accident.

Jan in CA
09-04-2008, 02:52 PM
I said 12, but it the maturity level is most important. That being said I still wouldn't allow a mature 10 yr old to stay alone though.

09-04-2008, 03:12 PM
personally i dont think kids shoult be left alone at all. there could be a fire and at that young an age they dont know how to react usually

09-04-2008, 04:40 PM
I think the USA actually has a legal standard on this. I also think it has alot to do with their maturity and your complete trust of them. Mine were both very calm but kids are different, ya know?

09-04-2008, 05:10 PM
I think the USA actually has a legal standard on this. I also think it has alot to do with their maturity and your complete trust of them. Mine were both very calm but kids are different, ya know?

Do you know what that standard is? I have always wondered if there was one or not. I would think it would vary state by state, and have tried looking it up but have never found the answer - even from police officers. As a single working mom I always wondered; however, my kids are 18 and 16 now so I the question is now moot :roflhard:

In any case, I said 12 because that was around the time I started trusting my kids to be alone for short periods of time. When my daughter was in 8th grade and my son in 7th I gave them both cell phones and it made me feel a lot better about running errands or such without them because I knew I had a secondary phone to try to reach them on in the annoying event that they didn't answer the land line (a problem I still have with my DS - I call the land line - no answer, call his cell and the conversation usually goes as follows: Me: "Where are you?"; DS: "Home"; Me: "Why didn't you answer the phone?"; DS: "I didn't hear it." :wall: ) I agree that maturity level is the real factor though. And I also agree with Jan that I still wouldn't leave a mature 10 year old home alone.

09-04-2008, 05:22 PM
It may vary from state to state but here in SC, I think it's 13. I know that a child of divorcing parents is allowed to decide which household he wants to live in at age 11 in SC. And still, that's actually up the judge in the long run. If there's a Dept. of Social Services in your state, they could tell you. Also, it's not going to cost you anything to contact via telephone an attorney that handles family cases. I voted 13 but with a 25 and a 30 year old, I honestly don't remember what age mine were.

09-05-2008, 03:44 AM
I think I was allowed to start walking home from school at about grade 6. I would pick up my little sis from her school and then we just had to phone in with mom to let her know we got home ok.

I agree though with most....it is all about how the child handles themselves!

09-05-2008, 07:37 AM
It really depends on the kid. I'm in my 40s and Mom still doesn't like to leave me alone as she knows I'll get into trouble. :mrgreen:

09-05-2008, 11:29 AM
I think I was about 9 when my parents started leaving me home alone for short periods (with increasing rights as I got older) but I was a responsible, trustworthy kid living in a safe neighborhood (there's maybe 2 houses within a 3 block radius that I probably wouldn't go for help... but in a pinch even they would be OK) with many relatives within 5 minutes if needed. I would say 12 is a good age for most kids. My rules at 9: no opening the door for anyone except a relative; no answering the phone unless it's a relative (we had an answering machine, so I was to let it pick up first); no friends over whatsoever; no using of stove, oven, or power tools. By 14 I could do pretty much whatever, except have boys or friends my parents didn't know over... by 16 I was just expected to let my parents know that I had someone over. At 12-13 I was babysitting for friends of the family - I wouldn't tryst kids with a lot of 12/13 year olds, though.

09-05-2008, 01:04 PM
When Julianne was 11 I left my cell phone home with her and she talked to me after she got off of the bus until she was locked in the house. She stayed locked in the house until I got home. She did let the dog out, though.

09-05-2008, 01:09 PM
I'll tell you the story of why I am asking everyone this question. I have a 9 year old and a 6 year old. My 6 year old has a doctors appt. that took us forever to get and I don't want to cancel it. I will have to take him out of school early for this. Normally I would just take my 9 year old out as well, but he has his first test during that time and seeing as school has just started I would feel really bad taking him out. He would be home alone for about an hour, he is a very good kid and all he would do would play his wii. There is also the chance my husband might be able to come home early and if this is the case he said he would knock on the door to see what my son does. Even though my son has never answered the door a day in his life, even when I am yelling at him to open it. I just don't know what to do. I can't find anyone to just come to our house for a little bit till I can get home.

09-05-2008, 01:21 PM
If he's a good kid and won't play with the stove or answer the door then I think he's fine. YOu gotta do what you gotta do.

09-05-2008, 01:51 PM
If he's a good kid and won't play with the stove or answer the door then I think he's fine. You gotta do what you gotta do.

He'll probably be fine.
Does he know how to call 911 (or your local emergency #) if there's a problem?
Could he spend the time at a neighbor's house (assuming there's one with a kid about his age)?
Can he call your cell number?
All just suggestions for making the safety net a little stronger.

09-05-2008, 04:56 PM
He does know how to call 911 and I will have give him my cell #.

09-05-2008, 09:09 PM
I know this is specifically supposed to be a POLL...but I'd like to state that my 5 children were born beginning in 1966 through 1979. Those times were safer than today. However, other than the safety-of-the-times factor...I'd say don't leave your kid(s) alone at home or in the car til they are 16. If you leave them alone at home and it burns down (or any other tragic occurence)...whether they are hurt or not...you are in deep doo-doo with authorities as negligent. At least it's that way in my city.

And then the older they get...they may become more responsible and not likely to create a fire, or be more able to put out a fire, or to flee a house fire...they may be more likely to do something else you don't feel is safe.


I'm glad mine are married and raising their own families.
I've served my time!

Yes, I was a worry-wart mother. But I'll say this: not one hair on the heads of any of my children was EVER hurt. Not on my watch.

09-05-2008, 09:33 PM
Well I cannot answer your poll. I have left my 8 y/o alone. She is very responsible. My older child I didn't leave alone till he was 9 or 10. But there was less opportunity to be leaving him home alone because we had the little baby/toddler to keep track of.

09-06-2008, 05:20 AM
Thought you might be interested in this Home Alone - Tips for Leaving Kids Safely (http://www.stopthehurt.ca/LinkClick.aspx?link=kotb%2Fhome+alone.pdf&tabid=102&mid=487).


Hygiene Mama
09-06-2008, 10:23 AM
I'm also wondering. My oldest will be 10 at the end of November and then our 2nd oldest daughter will be 9 in March. My oldest is very responsible. I just don't feel comfortable yet. I'm thinking 12 or 13. I think I'd be more worried of the fighting between my kids. My son is 5 and an instigator! We live out in the country with great neighbors. I would like to go and work out when my hubby is working, but I just don't feel comfortable leaving Alison in charge yet. I was 12 when I babysat. I just don't know.

09-06-2008, 10:47 AM
If you have any hesitation at all, then don't!

09-06-2008, 01:03 PM
What Mary said, if you'd worry, then don't leave them alone.

When we left our 9 y.o. son alone for an hour twenty years ago, life on this planet was a lot different than it is now. Plus, that particular boy knew how to handle situations that could have come up. The worst thing that ever happened to him when he was alone (he was 13) was that a brown bear came up on our porch. He was in the house with the doors locked, but still grabbed the riot gun, as he had been instructed to do, and had been taught how to use safely. Different kids mature differently, and there is not one answer for all.

09-07-2008, 10:06 PM
In New Zealand it is illegal to leave a child under the age of 14 alone with out making 'reasonable arrangements for their care and supervision'. Reasonable is not defined but would depend on the length of absence (5 minutes to the local shop for milk as compared to a night out at a restaurant or the whole day away). A child under the age of 14 is not allowed to babysit at all, even with phone numbers etc.

09-08-2008, 04:01 PM
My son was 12 but had taken the baby sitting safety course before I left him home alone.
If he's certified to care for other children, he could take care of himself.
He is now 14 and there hasn't been any issue at all. (knock on wood).

09-08-2008, 04:35 PM
You have to trust your own gut. If you're not comfortable then don't do it. My dad was an idiot with us. He & my mom worked different shifts. On his watch he would run all over the place and leave us. ALL the time! I'm the oldest of four and I was ten when they split up so you can see the stupidity of it all. My sister was born about three months before I turned nine. She rolled over for the first time while he was out. He had left her sleeping in the middle of his bed. When he got home she was on the floor and I was outside playing. I got a spanking!