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At what age can a kid stay home by themselves

 
 
Reply Sun 6 Sep, 2009 05:29 pm
while the parent runs a short errand?

This came up here the other day when I had to run a 10 minute errand and Mo was mad because I made him quit what he was doing, put on his shoes, and ride along.

At 8 he insisted that he was old enough to be at home by himself for a few minutes.

I was the youngest of four kids so I don't remember ever being left alone until I was well into my teen years. I'm wondering if my own experience is clouding what is appropriate.

What are the rules?

Thanks!
 
djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Sun 6 Sep, 2009 05:31 pm
there's probably a legal age as designated by your state

and here it is

http://www.latchkey-kids.com/latchkey-kids-age-limits.htm

on washington state the guide line is 10

dyslexia
 
  2  
Reply Sun 6 Sep, 2009 05:34 pm
@djjd62,
just going by my experience in child protection services, the age of 8 is considered ok for limited (less than an hour) unsupervised time. Of course the child's maturity and the circumstances would alter that.
Setanta
 
  3  
Reply Sun 6 Sep, 2009 05:50 pm
I think it depends both on the sense of responsibility of the child, and how the child could be expected to respond to an unforeseen negative circumstance, as in does he know what to do if he finds the house on fire, does he know how to respond if a stranger suddenly shows up--that kind of thing.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sun 6 Sep, 2009 05:51 pm
By the way, at the age of seven or eight, i was left home alone for hours, and left responsible for toddlers.
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Sun 6 Sep, 2009 05:58 pm
@Setanta,
At nine, I was left at home with two sleeping brothers and instructions to turn off the TV at nine and go to bed while my parents would go out to dinner. Personally, I will leave my nine year old at home for brief periods (hour or two).
0 Replies
 
djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Sun 6 Sep, 2009 05:58 pm
a few sites seem to agree that 8 is okay if your not going far (down the street to a neighbours for a few minutes), 10 is good for a short trip to the store and 12 for a night out
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sun 6 Sep, 2009 06:12 pm
Wow!

Er.... okay.....

Maybe I am being a little overly concerned.

I'm not really worried about him getting hurt or into trouble but about him getting scared.

I guess next time a 10 minute errand comes up I should give it a try.

I do go out and work in the garden or visit with neighbors outside while he's in the house and there has never been an issue. I guess it's me who is scared!
0 Replies
 
sullyfish6
 
  1  
Reply Sun 6 Sep, 2009 07:24 pm
Yup - try short times and slowly increase.

Also, do "what if" exercises, like: what do you do if the phone rings? What if someone comes to the door? What about using the microwave, or anything electrical, etc. ?

Try to cover all scenarios. Some kids start cooking or getting into things when the parents leave. Never failed when we left our nephew alone (he'd start getting into every drawer, etc.)
0 Replies
 
martybarker
 
  1  
Reply Sun 6 Sep, 2009 07:38 pm
This is a really good topic of discussion. I found myself in your same situation years ago. Mine are 15 and 17 now, but I think I waited until they were 10-12 if I were to be gone more than 30 minutes. My fear was always about the small chance of a house fire or some medical emergency.
But then again I'm here without family nearby. And we have cell phones now too. I would always have felt better if the kids could contact someone else if I were somehow unavailable or too far from the house.
0 Replies
 
martybarker
 
  1  
Reply Sun 6 Sep, 2009 08:49 pm
And to add to the question at hand, how old should your kids be before staying overnight home alone?
JPB
 
  2  
Reply Sun 6 Sep, 2009 09:24 pm
@martybarker,
Ha! I faced that one head on last year when we left our then 16 and 18 year olds home alone for a weekend. ummmm... we don't do that any more. Now the 19 year old gets to stay in her dorm/apt and the 17 year old gets to stay with a friend/neighbor.

To Boomer's question.... I used to let my 8 year olds stay home for a couple minutes if I was running across the street or within shouting distance. Otherwise, it was more like 10 or 11.

In IL the legal age for babysitting others is 12, so certainly by then.
martybarker
 
  1  
Reply Sun 6 Sep, 2009 09:28 pm
@JPB,
Well, I can say that when my parents left me home alone at 17 I had a house party that got out of hand. But that was me, raised in a super strict household and wanting to rebel a bit.
I want to take my sister who is visiting from out of town on an overnight trip that will take us about 3 1/2 hours away. I asked my ex to take them for an overnight and he suggested leaving them home alone. It's not a trust issue with me actually, it's more of an issue of having someone nearby in case of an emergency.
He only stays in town when he is scheduled to have the kids, his wife lives in another state.
ehBeth
 
  2  
Reply Sun 6 Sep, 2009 09:35 pm
@martybarker,
The hamburgers went to Spain for 2 or 3 weeks when I was 15. I stayed home alone. I was super-ultra nerd so I wasn't likely to get into trouble - and didn't. I don't think I'd recommend it for too many kids. Mebbe 25 or 3o y.o. is safer for most.
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 6 Sep, 2009 11:21 pm
@ehBeth,
Lol!!!!

My dad was an alcoholic.....so I spent large parts of many nights alone once my mother died when I was 14.

I liked it, generally....until some man started wandering round the house banging on things at about 2.00 am one morning.

I felt kind of shy about calling the police, so I stood trembling by the door with the biggest knife I could find until morning.

The funny thing was that, when sober, my father refused to let me stay home alone (but with a friend....both of us very well-behaved girls) when he went away on business for a few days now and then.

He refused to believe that his drinking left me alone many nights anyway.

I guess he was amnaesic?


0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 6 Sep, 2009 11:23 pm
@dyslexia,
dyslexia wrote:

just going by my experience in child protection services, the age of 8 is considered ok for limited (less than an hour) unsupervised time. Of course the child's maturity and the circumstances would alter that.


I am with that.

That was certainly the go when I was a kid.

It would depend on neighbourhood, for me, and how good the kid was at not opening doors to strangers and all that.
0 Replies
 
CalamityJane
 
  1  
Reply Sun 6 Sep, 2009 11:33 pm
My daughter was 11 or 12 when I started leaving her alone for short periods
of time. She herself didn't want to be left alone and rather tagged along.
0 Replies
 
kuvasz
 
  1  
Reply Mon 7 Sep, 2009 09:22 am
it depends on the child.
0 Replies
 
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Mon 7 Sep, 2009 09:35 am
@djjd62,
I used this kind of info as an excuse so that I didn't have to sound like I was making an arbitrary decision. If the law is 10 then I'd say something like, "I don't want anything bad to happen to you and if something did happen, I wouldn't want to go to jail because of it."

It's kind of a cop out but not entirely.
0 Replies
 
BorisKitten
 
  1  
Reply Mon 7 Sep, 2009 04:23 pm
I have no children myself, but I work in a public library.

Maybe due to the area (rural), parents drop off children as young as 5 for several hours at a time (at the library).

Usually we take the stray kids, at this age, to the Police Station.

Library rules are: Any child under 8 must be accompanied by a child at least 12. This results in some Real problems! Wish the older child would be, say, 20+.
0 Replies
 
 

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