Kids playing out alone / being left home alone...

(116 Posts)
Itsnotahoover Fri 19-Apr-13 21:46:16

There's been a lot of threads recently about what age to leave kids home alone etc and I'm just wondering what the general consensus is.

It seems that the majority think that a child of say 6 or 7 shouldn't be left in the house alone in case of fire/parent having an accident/some other unspeakable disaster, yet it seems to be more acceptable to allow kids of the same age to play out unsupervised, and I'm a bit confused as to what is acceptable?

My ds is 7. He's very sensible in the house, never touches anything he shouldn't and won't even get himself a drink without asking. I know I could safely leave him alone while I nipped to the shop up the road and he would still be parked in front of the TV when I got back. I never have done but I know I could.

However, loads of his friends play out on the local park. We live in a little village and it's pretty quiet, but there's a fairly busy through road to cross to get to the park, and I just wouldn't trust him on his own as he has a tendency to dilly dally on roads and isn't aware enough of cars coming out of driveways etc.

I guess my questions are these:

At what age would you let your 7 year old stay home alone for say 30 minutes?

At what age would you let them play out unsupervised?

If the answers to the above two questions are different, why? Do you perceive more dangers within your own home or on the street?

Would you be more likely to judge someone who left their kids home alone, or who let them play out alone and why?

Just curious why opinions differ that's all smile

Itsnotahoover Fri 19-Apr-13 22:12:32

I think overnight is a whole other ball game as I get twitchy at night let alone a child!

oh yes and we live in a small block of flats with an intercom, so both kids were taught not to answer that if i was not here, and the oap couple next door were always in so kids had a place to go if they needed to.

Fairylea Fri 19-Apr-13 22:14:05

I don't plan to let dd either out alone or home alone until 11. And only then if I feel she is savvy enough.

She is nearly 10 now and all her friends play out etc but I don't let her. Mean maybe. But I'd rather be mean than chance it. She invites friends round or goes to theirs.

I think in our area (south Norfolk) dc play out far too young. I've seen dc of about 4/5 out alone running about which is way way too young in my opinion.

surreygoldfish Fri 19-Apr-13 22:14:13

Ok, mine are now 12, 11 and 6. Due to practicalities, have been leaving one or other of the older children at home for short periods for a number of years - probably from the age of about 8 for short periods to start with. Now leave the older ones for a few hours. The youngest gets left with the others for the odd 10 mins or so when we doing various drop offs.
The need to play out doesn't really arise - but the eldest go back and to school on their own.
We didn't suddenly 'just' do this, it has gradually evolved over the years....

nokidshere Fri 19-Apr-13 22:14:16

Mine were about 8 when I started letting them play out of my sight, or go to the post box, walk to school etc. I leave them home alone but only individually, at 12 and 14 there are more risks when they are together than alone!

And my then 8 year old was very sensible about roads, but still got knocked over by a car on his way to school. And went to school on his scooter again a few days later. Things happen but they need to learn to deal with them appropriately.

TumbleWeeds Fri 19-Apr-13 22:14:44

Actually my nearly 10yo has asked me to go to his tennis lessons on his own. It's just that bit much further than one of the primary school in our area. If he was going there, I would have been happy to let him go to school on his own.

So the plan is for me to do the route with him a few times and then let him go.

TBH, at 12yo I did a full round the world trip on my own so surely cycling 5~10min should be OK at 10yo?

5madthings Fri 19-Apr-13 22:14:58

Have left mine alone for five mins from 7/8 depending on the child.

The 5 and 8 yr old play out in our cup due sac. The 10 yr old can go to the local park with a friend. The 10 and 8 yr old can go to the local shop.

My 13 yr old goes to town, can be left alone and got the train to London this easter holiday to meet relatives.

All depends on the child and your location etc.

My 10 and 8 yr olds can walk home from school etc.

TumbleWeeds Fri 19-Apr-13 22:15:46

Overnight? Not until they are 18yo and ready to go to Uni!!

inchoccyheaven Fri 19-Apr-13 22:15:58

We live at end of cul de sac so kids have played out since about 5 yrs old with others in street or in and out of ours and their houses.

When dc were 10 and 8 they walked to school by themselves approx 10 mins away and having to cross busy road, and when ds1 left to go to secondary school ds2 carried on going to school by himself even though I offered to go with him.

Ds2 is nearly 11 and is left for up to 2 hours at a time on his own as he doesn't want to come to watch ds1 doing his sports and it is too far for me to come home before going back to collect ds1.

I would not leave him if he wasn't happy to be left and he has a list of everyone's numbers just in case.

BenjaminButton172 Fri 19-Apr-13 22:16:03

My 8 yr old has been playing out since she was about 5. I wouldnt leave her in the house to go to the shop or something.

When shes out playing shes with friends & if something happens they will be there to help which they have done when DDs fallen off her bike. If shes at home she will b home alone and have no one there if something happens.

marriedinwhiteagain Fri 19-Apr-13 22:16:11

Well I left mine alone from about 8. For no more than 20 minutes and with the phone set to ring mine on the press of a button. They wanted to be left rather than shlepped on a pick up and were quite mature.

They are 15 and 18 now and there is no way I would leave them home alone if DH and I were away overnight. The eldest would probably organise a rave.

They never played out but are quite independent and knew their way round the London tube network by about 13/14. DD went to Westfield with a friend in the hols, and into the West End. Not a problem. DS was put on a plane to visit at friend at 14.5 and managed to survive.

VerySmallSqueak Fri 19-Apr-13 22:17:09

I think things can be a little harder with Summer born babies.

At times,friends in my DD1's year group are doing things she is perhaps not ready for.And after all there is nearly a year in difference between some of them.

It does put a little bit more pressure on,but I still try to react according to her individual capabilities.

overnight is only ok when they are 15/16 and then you really dont want to be doing that, trust me at 16 they will have a party and you will be grovelling to your nieghbours for months...

5madthings Fri 19-Apr-13 22:19:18

I can leave ds1 to babysit for 40 mins once the little four are inn bed and I go for s run, he can calk me or get a neigh our (who is a close friend) if he needs help.

Would leave him alone in the evening, but not overnight yet, tho I think he would be fine, but not with the little ones.

AF, in an emergency I would. Whereas in an emergency with anyone younger I absolutely wouldn't see it as an option.

With my youngest 2, I tend to think of them as a unit, so if my 6 year old was 11, my 9 year old would be 14 and I think that would be a suitable pairing. I have 3 older DC and then 2 other DC that have lived with us on and off through the years so its been very rare I've had to deal with just one child, and think there being more than one of them makes a difference.

If it was just one child I'd say probably 12 or 13 to be left alone over night. I'm probably being over cautious, I know I certainly am with them playing out.

EggsEggSplat Fri 19-Apr-13 22:24:38

I started leaving mine home alone for short periods from about age 8, with strict instructions about not answering the door etc. They are now 14 and 10 and there has never been a problem.

But it does depend a lot on how sensible the child is, and also where you live - we live in the middle of a city but on a quiet-ish street of semi-detached houses, and know lots of the neighbours, so DCs would have people on hand in an emergency. I might think differently if we were in the middle of nowhere or somewhere with unpleasant or dangerous neighbours.

AnyFucker Fri 19-Apr-13 22:25:13

Tig, I don't think it is "overcautious" to leave a 12 or 13yo alone overnight

but you seem to have shifted from 11yo...so perhaps you could shift it upwards a bit more, just to put my mind at rest ? hmm

marriedinwhiteagain Fri 19-Apr-13 22:27:46

The other thing to consider is the neighbours. We have a fantastic local community and the dc could have easily and have been welcome to knock on the door of the three houses to the left and the right in a dire emergency and I was entirely confident in them doing that.

I've been leaving DS alone in the house for short intervals for about a year - he is 8.6 now. It started with five-minute dashes to the corner shop for a pint of milk or to top up the gas meter when he was engrossed in a computer game or the telly, and it's generally been OK. However last week (school holidays) I had a couple of errands to run and he really didn't want to come with me so I said, all right, stay at home, and it took me longer than I thought and I came back to a miserable little boy sobbing on the floor: nothing traumatic had happened, it had just been a bit too long. However, a couple of days later he didn't want to come to the corner shop, so stayed at home and was absolutely fine.

Also, I let him play out now; we live on a quiet road near a tram stop and he likes to go to the stop and watch the trams. He can get there without crossing any roads, and he knows that he is not allowed to cross any roads or the tracks.

TBH I still worry about it a bit but at the same time, it's stages of growing up; kids have to start getting self reliant at some point.

Smudging Fri 19-Apr-13 22:34:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AF, I haven't 'shifted', I originally said they would need to be at least at secondary school before I would consider leaving them overnight. That's quite different to me saying I would leave an 11 year old overnight.

It does seem in part over cautious to me. When I think back to my own childhood and my friends back then. I grew up just down the road, where it was rougher than here but I used to play out from 3 or 4 with all my siblings and the neighbours. From when my youngest sibling was 4 my mother went to work full time so us kids were alone during all the school holidays and totally responsible for ourselves. I was the same for the majority of the children on my estate. The older ones would go off so at 8 I would have been in charge of 3 children younger than me.

We never came to any harm and so I don't think it's unreasonable to be able to leave children of a similar for age for short periods of time and then by 12 or 13 expect them to spend a night without parents. I can't remember exactly but my older DC would have been left overnight around this age.

Oh and for those saying about teen parties we've had them happen at ours while away and then at ours when we were around (although usually spend the early part of the night out as there's only so much Flo Rida someone of my age can take) ad have never had any real issues.

The best thing is to invite the neighbours or their kids!

AnyFucker Fri 19-Apr-13 22:38:03

Where did you go when you left a 12yo alone overnight, Tig ?

morethanpotatoprints Fri 19-Apr-13 22:40:56

I wouldn't leave a child alone overnight. They would have to be in double figures for out alone, home alone.

BrittaPie Fri 19-Apr-13 22:44:47

Depends on the area for playing out - in our last street there were about ten little 5yo girls who played out most nights, the houses were evenly distributed on a cul de sac road with huge pedestrianised bits. It would be mean to prevent a child playing out in that situation, so sensible 5yo DD1 played out, but daft 3yo DD2 could only play out with me there.

New house, today I let the now 6 and 3.5 yo DDs play out in our ginnel, but I was hanging washing out and generally doing jobs either in the back yard or by the kitchen door. They had strict rules about where they could go in the ginnel (only a few metres either side of the back gate, and cars can't get in because the angle is too steep at the end, so it is basically like a big yard) and I could hear them chattering all the time. I'm gradually building DD1 up to being able to play out by herself, but tbh there doesn't seem to be that many kids playing out round here anyway, which is sad. Hopefully the good weather will bring them out more, and she will make friends to bring round for tea at her new school too.

I try to have the kids outside as much as I can, though - when DD1 was a baby she used to have her naps in her pram in the back yard (DD2 wouldn't entertain the idea of naps in a different room to me)

I remember being left at home for brief, nipping to the corner shop, periods when my baby sister was about one, so I would have been 9 and my other sister 7, but it was the middle sister who would have been the vital one as my mum was still asking her to look after me too. Longer periods when I was 11, and I was babysitting for other families at 14 so presumably I'd been left while my parents went to the pub before that.

I think DD1 is maybe about a year from being left in the house while I go to the shop, DD2 about a million years grin

The reason for being allowed out alone is that they aren't actually alone, iyswim? They are usually with other kids, and passing adults will usually have a little chat to the kids too.

Think - child in house alone has some kind of fit, nobody knows.
child in park has a fit - other kids run for help and to fetch childs parents, passers by can ring for an ambulance, etc

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