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How old before it's okay to leave them home alone?

Posted by on Jul. 25, 2012 at 5:14 PM
  • 46 Replies

So I have a question for other moms...How old do you think a child needs to be before they can be left home alone while your at work? Or even maybe 2 hours?

The reason I ask it because DSS just came to us from his BMs house and first thing he said was Grandma got a job so I stay home alone now!!! O.o He just turned 11. DH is VERY mad! DSS is NOT mature enough to be home alone!!! NO WAY! Last time I left him home alone for 20mins he set a plastic plate on was an accident...but that's all it takes is ONE accident! So DH is going to talk to the lawyer about us having him while she is working and no one is at their house to watch him. 

What do you guys think??

by on Jul. 25, 2012 at 5:14 PM
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by on Jul. 25, 2012 at 5:23 PM
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Every time I see this question, I think the same thing.  I don't believe there is some magical age that automatically a child is old enough to be left alone.  It completely depends on their maturity.  Honestly, my parents should have never left my sister at home alone, not even when she was 17 or 18 yrs old, she had a love for running up phone bills and meeting boys online and taking off for weeks at a time.  However, I leave my 9 yr old alone one day a week (for roughly 10 mins, two times) and she has never given me a reason to think I shouldn't.  She does amazing.  She'll do her homework or just veg on the couch and watch tv.  My 9 yr old though is VERY mature for her age.  I have even left her brother home with her before (she has a cell phone and I'm literally 12 blocks away).  

I say, do trial runs.  Leave him alone and run to the store (not for full out groceries, but just a couple of items).  Do that a few times, if he does good, lengthen the time you're gone.  If he doesn't, either give up for a little while and revisit later or keep at it for little amounts of time.  

by on Jul. 25, 2012 at 5:25 PM

 My daughter was 11/12 yr old. But it has only been 2 hr or less. SHe is now 14. She has watched my 8 yr old and 4 yr old son as well, long enough for grocery store trip, gas in car or pharmacy. *But before I ever did that I made sure she knew exactly how to cut stove on/off, microwave, to keep doors locked and of course windows always locked.

~~Be careful before going to lawyer or filing papers:

    "A general rule of thumb is that kids under age seven aren't capable of thinking logically and putting cause and effect together,"  "They are reliant on caregivers to structure their day." Children between ages 7 and 10 years aren't generally ready to self-supervise for an extended period, but in a routine and predictable environment, such as just after school, they can manage. Children 12 and 13 years old should be judged on a case- by-case basis but should not be left alone overnight.

The following is a state by state listing of specific age restrictions on home alone children. This list was obtained from information on the web as well as contacts within certain state agencies. Where no information can be found, the age restriction is listed as unknown. Some states are listed where there were no legal restrictions on home alone children ages and these are marked as None. Some states publish recommended guideline limits and those are annotated with an asterisk (*).
Whenever any child is unsupervised/unattended the following should apply...

    • There must be no emotional, medical, or behavioral problems which affect judgment or decision-making skills.
    • Child must be comfortable being alone.
    • Youth must have a safety plan worked out with the parent/caretaker, which includes:
      1. How to access parent or other responsible adult at all times (including knowing the parent/caretaker's whereabouts and having a telephone number where parent can be reached).
      2. What to do in case of emergency.
      3. Guidelines for acceptable behavior.
      4. Knowledge of emergency telephone numbers.
      Youth must demonstrate the ability to follow the safety plan and to make decisions that reflect concern for personal safety.

Age Guidelines

7 & under Should not be left alone for any period of time. This may include leaving children unattended in cars, playgrounds, and backyards. The determining consideration would be the dangers in the environment and the ability of the caretaker to intervene.
8 to 10 yrs. Should not be left alone for more than 1½ hours and only during daylight and early evening hours.
11 to 12 yrs. May be left alone for up to 3 hours but not late at night or in circumstances requiring inappropriate responsibility.
13 to 15 yrs. May be left unsupervised, but not overnight.
16 to 17 yrs. May be left unsupervised (in some cases, for up to two consecutive overnight periods).


by on Jul. 25, 2012 at 5:29 PM
1 mom liked this
No set age. It depends on the mentality of each child.

Hell my 6 year old could stay home by himself now he's so smart.

I've pulled a muscle in my back this week and spent all day half asleep on the couch. He kept his 3 year old sister busy, even made them lunch by microwaving them left over spaghetti.
He knows to microwave things on 1 minute. Never over, at a time until its warm.

He's my little helper.

Sorry to brag.....
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by Jennifer on Jul. 25, 2012 at 5:38 PM
1 mom liked this

Some kids if they are mature enough you could leave alone long enough to go to store or something like that but to be all day while at work would be a Big No for me.

by on Jul. 25, 2012 at 6:03 PM

Well for me I'm not okay with it, neither is his dad...but I'm only the SM so I don't count.Lol He will be talking to the lawyer about it. He is NOT mature enough to left at home!

by on Jul. 26, 2012 at 10:01 AM
If you guys think that best then go for it!
by Platinum Member on Jul. 26, 2012 at 11:16 AM

My 1st. memory of staying home alone was about 11.  I was in the 5th. grade.  I was recovering from chicken pox and my parents had to make a run to the stores, etc.  When I reached middle school age about 13 and up, I stayed at home alone sometimes.

For myself, I think about 13 and up would be ok.

floating in pool

by on Jul. 27, 2012 at 9:07 AM

I thought it was against the law to leave your kids home alone if they're under 16? idk.

by Member on Jul. 27, 2012 at 9:09 AM

It depends on the maturity of the child. I stayed home with my brother who was 3+ years younger then me from the time I was 10.

by Member on Jul. 27, 2012 at 9:10 AM
1 mom liked this

16? No. Kids get their license at 16, you think they throw that and the first time ever being alone too?

It's about 12 or 13 in most places as far as babysitting goes. Not sure on the age to leave them alone.

Quoting hiddenidentity6:

I thought it was against the law to leave your kids home alone if they're under 16? idk.

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