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Staying home alone - what age?

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Old 03-07-2005, 07:02 AM   #1
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Staying home alone - what age?

I’m curious at what age did everyone begin leaving their kids at home alone and how long? I know it depends a lot on the individual child’s maturity level but I still think there must be a common age where the “discussion” takes place between parents. Teenaged, earlier?

My DD is 11.5 and I feel like she’s probably okay to stay home alone for a short while – like while I run to the grocery store or into town quickly. I know that when I was in 5th grade, I had responsibilities like getting to game practice on time, feeding myself before a game if it was earlier than my parents got home, getting to and from school on time (I rode my bike, small town lol!), etc.

So what’s the general opinion on this?

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Old 03-07-2005, 07:29 AM   #2
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Re: Staying home alone - what age?

IMO, it totallly depends on the kid. I was staying by myself for brief periods when I was 9 or 10, and babysitting by 12. Then again, I had always been beyond my years.

My brother, on the other hand, is 19, and my mom still worries about going out of town on long trips without him. LOL. I don't think she let him stay home alone until he was 15. She never really had to since I was around until then.

I think if you have a mature, independent kid, 11.5 is plenty old enough IMO. My brother was a bit of an "experimenter" and my mom was afraid he'd burn the house down or something. Now she just worries he won't take care of things like he should.

I think the "recommended ages" for stuff like that can be much too high sometimes. Kids are all so different, and I don't think you can apply across the board numbers to all of them. You know your child better than anyone else. Your instincts tell you she'd be fine on her own.. Does she have the maturity to take appropriate steps during an emergency? Is there a neigbor nearby that she can run to?

I'm a firm believer in maternal instinct!! Good luck.
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Last edited by siren1024; 03-07-2005 at 07:31 AM.

Old 03-07-2005, 07:40 AM   #3
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Re: Staying home alone - what age?

I think some states say age 12. I was staying home alone during the day for short periods of time when I was 10. Of course this was YEARS ago and parent's didn't have all the nasty things to worry about like they do today. I was pretty responsible though even at 10. I started babysitting at 12.

Old 03-07-2005, 09:41 AM   #4
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Re: Staying home alone - what age?

Our state does not have a proposed age, rather the guidelines say it is dependent on the child. I do believe she could handle an emergency situation however, we have no neighbors for her to count on just in case. We live in the middle of a field with no one nearby immediately.

But what's strange is that I trust her alone or with my niece but to babysit - that is totally out of the question! I would never let her alone with my son (3) ever.... she is too mean to him most of the time and she is so preoccupied with her own thing that he can be destroying the room or getting into something he shouldn't and she'll be sitting 3 feet from him. I can barely let her watch him while I'm in the next room LOL!

It's amazing how different kids can be at the same age.... anyway, I think she's okay for a few hours alone. I make sure when I make quick trips that my cell is on and she has the numbers of many other relatives that live close so I think she'll be okay.

Thanks for the responses!

Old 03-07-2005, 12:38 PM   #5
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Re: Staying home alone - what age?

Mine stayed for short errands at age 8 (20-30 minutes). He is almost ten and I do not leave him for more than 2 hours. I always have cellphone contact with him if something comes up. However he is very responsible, even does laundry.


Old 03-07-2005, 12:52 PM   #6
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Re: Staying home alone - what age?

I stayed home alone at age 7, and worked at our family store alone at age 8. I started babysitting 8am to 6 pm on summer vacation for my 3 cousins when I was 11, but they all needed a babysitter untill they were at least 13. It really depends on the child. I would say 11.5 is an ok age, if you feel you can trust her. I know I would never leave my DD home alone at age 7, but that where my mother and I differ :P.

Old 03-08-2005, 10:52 PM   #7
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Re: Staying home alone - what age?

I definitely think that it depends on the kid. I probably wouldn't ever leave my kid home alone, even for a short time under 10. 10-12 is probably the most common ages for kids to start being home alone. When I was 12 I often babysat my younger siblings when my mom had to run to the store, etc. However, my brother who still lives at home who just turned 17, isn't all that responsible, and watches my siblings occassionally, but only for short periods of time, because my mother doesn't feel good leaving him alone with them because he isn't very responsible, and doesn't watch them very well.
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Old 03-21-2005, 01:20 PM   #8
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Re: Staying home alone - what age?

My parents began leaving me home alone with my brother when I was 10 and he was 8. This was on Saturday nights when they went out to eat or to the movies. However, we lived in an apartment building and my parents were friends with the neighbors directly above us and below us, and we knew we could go to them with any problems. I wouldn't leave kids that age alone out in the middle of the countryside.

I began babysitting the 6-year-old upstairs when I was about 12, but again, my parents were right below if any problem arose. I began babysitting outside of my own building when I was 13. By the time I was 15 or so, my parents would go for weekends out of town, leaving me in charge of my 13-year old brother. But we were very responsible kids, and never had any problems. We had to take care of the dog while they were gone, and I don't remember ever arguing with my brother about whose turn it was to walk him. We always had the house back into nice shape by the time they got back, though it sometimes got kind of messy in their absence.

Contrary to popular opinion, I don't believe the world is a more dangerous place now than it was 24 years ago when my parents began leaving us at home alone. There's just so much media coverage that we hear more about everything. Crime is actually down since two decades ago, but hysteria is generally up. I think it's healthy for kids to do things on their own. It promotes independence. For instance, at the age of eight, I began taking Chicago public transportation buses to school and back each day with two other children who lived nearby and whose parents were friends with mine. Never had a problem, and now when I get to a new city I never feel intimidated trying to get around. I can't think of a safer way to travel, even now, and I will encourage my own kids to take public transportation as well when they get old enough. The bus stop is around the corner from our house, and if my kid is 15 and wants to go to the movie, it will be bus or bike for him. I'm not going to be a chauffeur.

Last edited by danimal15; 03-21-2005 at 01:30 PM.

Old 03-23-2005, 09:35 AM   #9
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Re: Staying home alone - what age?

Hmm.. I cant remember the exact age my mom started leaving me alone. I know I was atleast eleven. Because my mom had work.. and I'd walk home and I'd have my house key. I know I was always scared when it thunderstormed and I was home alone though. But yes.. it defiently depends on the kid. I'm sure at age eleven they wont throw wild parties and get drunk.. but hey I dont know maybe times have changed since I was eleven. (I'm now fifteen) If your child can take on chores, and gets good grades.. I think theyll be okay by themselves.

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Old 03-23-2005, 01:49 PM   #10
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Re: Staying home alone - what age?

well i totally agree with everyone as far as the child! i have 4 raning from 9 to 14 and when my 12 yr old was 10 we left her alone because she was so responsible whereas my 9 yr old i dont see leaving at home for years, not that she isnt responsible but she would panic in an emergency. i leave my almost 11 yr old and the 9 yr old home alone now if the other 2 are out and while some could think that was too young youd have to know them.

Old 03-24-2005, 06:49 AM   #11
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Re: Staying home alone - what age?

In my state 13 is the age at which a parent will not be charged with neglect for leaving a child home alone.

That being said, and living in another state when my kids were younger, I asked my girls if they would be comfortable if I ran to the store and would be gone for 30 minutes and I respected their wishes.

Last edited by Art_930; 03-24-2005 at 06:50 AM.

Old 03-30-2005, 08:27 AM   #12
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Re: Staying home alone - what age?

Originally Posted by picksie
I’m curious at what age did everyone begin leaving their kids at home alone and how long? I know it depends a lot on the individual child’s maturity level but I still think there must be a common age where the “discussion” takes place between parents. Teenaged, earlier?
I'm 23 (not a parent) but for me it was around 12/13 yrs old ...
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