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At what age did you let your child stay home alone for short periods of time and how did you know it was the right time?

My dd10 son (just turned 10) is relatively responsible, but definitely has issues with understanding some safety concerns. How can I prepare him for staying home alone for short periods of time?

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Asked by bluzgrl07 at 4:34 PM on Apr. 15, 2009 in Tweens (9-12)

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Answers (14)
  • To be honest dear, no matter how much you trust your son, you can't trust anyone else. you never know what might happen when you are not home. it's not a matter of trusting your kids anymore. as you hear on the news everyday someone's child has had something horrible happen to them. and i am not saying this to scare you but it is the truth. parents think that this would never happen to their children but it happens and can happen to everyone. i would just be careful. I'm sorry if this answer was too harsh but i am tired of hearing of perverts harming children. I don't know why these people exist but it just keeps getting worse.

    Answer by 2wndrfl_btrflys at 4:38 PM on Apr. 15, 2009

  • My dd is not old enough yet but I know 11 or 12 is old enough if you can trust them. 10 is probably old enough for some kids. I would test him. Leave him a short time and have someone call the house...did he say you are not home? Send someone he doesn't know and see if he answeres the door? At 11 and 12 I was babysitting. Start small with short times where you can get home fast and see how he does.

    Answer by ria7 at 4:47 PM on Apr. 15, 2009

  • while i am agreeing with first poster, if you have to, and i know at some point we will all have too at least once, i would tell mine to never open the door, or ever answer the phone unless it was me checking up on her. if someone knocks, do not even acknowledge it, don't go near the door or anything. (my dd's not old enough yet). go over emergency drills with him fire drills, what to do if someone breaks in, what neighbors he can run to that you truly trust, but sometimes still shouldnt, just in case. no cooking. no loud music-you need to be aware of your surroundings, (good time to get him microwaveable foods in case he gets hungry).. etc. any little thing helps.

    Answer by Anonymous at 4:49 PM on Apr. 15, 2009

  • I think around 10 is a good time to start with mini-trip.....Run to the corner market for 10 min, or go graba a coffee, small things like that. Then, you can gradually add more and more time. My son (#3) just turned 10 and has been staying home with his teen brothers for a long time, so the transition is an easy one for him.
    Make sure he has your cell phone number, and that you have it where you can hear it ring, so that he can get ahold of you if he needs to. No cooking, no computer, don't answer the door, and only answer the phone if you know who it is from the caller ID.
    I think it's good to give them some independence, but only in little doses that they can handle.

    Answer by christyg at 4:57 PM on Apr. 15, 2009

  • I was 12-13 and stayed home with my cousins/siblings who were only 1+ years old.

    Answer by swbohsix at 5:50 PM on Apr. 15, 2009

  • My children started staying home alone at about 10. They need to feel that they are ready and you need to feel that you live in a safe enough area.

    Answer by evelynsaenz at 6:56 PM on Apr. 15, 2009

  • I don't think people should talk about leaving kids alone online. There are men on cafemom.TMI

    Answer by writeon at 8:17 PM on Apr. 15, 2009

  • For short periods, my son was 10. Longer once he turned 12. I knew it was time to leave him alone becasue we talked about what he needed to do, what he should or shouldn't say and that he could stay calm and call for help in an emergency. It all depends on if your child can stay calm during an emergency, calmly call for help and tell the 911 operator important info: type of emergency, any injuries, address.

    Answer by tyfry7496 at 8:22 PM on Apr. 15, 2009

  • Our son is 11. We just started letting him stay home if we won't be gone more than 1/2 hour. We lock the door when we leave. He is instructed to never answer the door. He can answer the phone, but he is instructed to say that we are "busy". We have a cell phone with us so he can reach us if necessary. We have other rules too, like no cooking while we're gone. We do not leave any younger siblings for him to watch though. I don't believe in making my kids babysit!

    Answer by 4kidsandadog at 11:09 PM on Apr. 15, 2009

  • Here in CA it is ILLEGAL to leave your child at home if they are under the age of 13, so I would wait until they are 13 years old :)

    Answer by HelloKitty86 at 2:34 AM on Apr. 16, 2009

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