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

carlywurly Fri 19-Apr-13 22:45:34

Tig, at 8 you had responsibility for3 younger dc's? Bloody hell hmm

VerySmallSqueak Fri 19-Apr-13 22:48:18

I had left home and was living independently by 17.
My parents made a point of developing independence,but I still don't think I was left home overnight before the age of 15.

I'm not at that stage yet and quite frankly I have no idea when the right time will be - I just think I'll 'know'.

AF, any number of places. To friends, well most likely family, for an evening then ended staying over. We do that maybe once or twice a month. If said DC hasn't come with us and they are of an one age to be on their own then I wouldn't hesitate to stay over.

Ds3 is currently 14, so I wouldn't be concerned to leave him. DS2 is just 18 and DS1 is 21. Invariably at least 2 of them are home when we are away, but just before Easter DH, the 2 youngest DC and I went to Southwold for a weekend. 1 of the nights DS3. Was on his own as the other 2 stayed out.

Its not really something that has much planning, more usually on a spontaneous sort of basis.

Wy so curious?

AgentZigzag Fri 19-Apr-13 22:52:17

'by 12 or 13 expect them to spend a night without parents.'

It's that bit which doesn't sound right, as though it didn't really matter whether they were ready for it or not, they were expected to be OK with it.

BrittaPie Fri 19-Apr-13 22:53:19

When I was 16, my mum and dad would leave me alone while they went on holiday for weeks with my younger sisters. Of course I had parties grin but I could have been married or in the army so I had to be given a bit of trust, surely?

The house was still in one piece each time they got back, and loads of my friends had parents who did the same, so we were like a wandering pack, living at whichever house had no parents in it at the time, every holiday and a lot of weekends.

We did stupid things, but we also started working out how much food costs and how you do need to eat real food or you start feeling ill, that drinking before a shift at work is a bad idea, that all night coursework marathons do work, etc. Did us the world of good - it was kind of like short bursts of uni.

Yes carly now it all seems a bit confused but at the time it was perfectly normal. I imagine because we were part of a large community and then had a large family within that, I always had other people around me and I was used to caring for younger children. My youngest sibling is a bit shit at all that and I imagine DD will be too because they just don't get the experience.

AnyFucker Fri 19-Apr-13 22:56:28

Tig, I am just trying to understand why you would find it necessary to leave a child home alone overnight

I was thinking emergency situations. Clearly not.

AnyFucker Fri 19-Apr-13 23:01:25

Is it the new definition of "cool" to admit to letting younger and younger children play in the road dodging cars/fend for themselves before they know how to/look after siblings before they can look after themselves/stay overnight alone so their parents can socialise ?

Sorta like competitive shit parenting ?

I am happy to come last. Give me the booby prize, it's mine.

BrittaPie Fri 19-Apr-13 23:01:29

So, would the over protective types who don't let preteens out of the house let a young teenager go shopping in the nearest city? Or do they really like hanging around Claires accessories and giggling at skater boys near statues with their children?

Or is the child sat at home, in front of the TV, while their friends get on with growing up and learning?

BrittaPie Fri 19-Apr-13 23:02:54

AnyFucker - do you live in a land where children playing out is a new invention?

AnyFucker Fri 19-Apr-13 23:06:33

Don't be silly, Britta. But I do live in a world where 3yo's shouldn't be playing chicken with motor vehicles.

Oh come on, a 13 or 14 year old is hardly a child. What is it that they would need you for other than emergency situations? And the whole thing is that once they're 13or 14 the likelihood of such emergencies should be as low as when you're there because by that age they can safely cook, know about answering the door or phone, know how to lock up.

Obviously it's different by that age, possibly some children are mature or responsible enough.

AnyFucker Fri 19-Apr-13 23:07:04

They don't tend to come off best in a confrontation.

AnyFucker Fri 19-Apr-13 23:07:59

Tig, really.

First, 11

then 12 or 13.

Now 13 or 14

keep talking, it might get acceptable.

Startail Fri 19-Apr-13 23:16:27

10-11 for being home alone (Y5/Y6) and about the same for occasionally going off on their bikes. DD2 and our only neighbours DD would sometimes walk the 3/4 mile to the shop (horrid pavement-less lane, this makes me twitch, even when my DD1(15) does it.

I'd love to say they are very sensible, but there was the toffee incident.

I can't remember why, but DD1(who was 13/14) got left for a chunk of the middle of the day.

I came home to find she'd been making toffee. Only the hottest most dangerous type of cooking she could possibly have come up with confused. She'd forgotten it was hot. This child can get 99% in a science exam, she is not dim. Not is she devoid of common sense, when things don't go to plan she is the calm sensible one.

She is also dyslexic and just occasionally the wonky brain wiring wins hmm

Why are you being so stroppy? I'm not looking for your approval, I'm answering questions you've asked, if your just asking so you and your booby prize can get some feeling of superiority I think you might need to stop evaluating my parenting and reevaluate your own life.

I have never at any point said I've left an 11 or 12 year old overnight, and I'm certain that I have never done that in real life. I did say they would need to be at least 11 or 12 for me to consider it in an emergency. I've said my DC would have been around 13 when it would have become an option to leave them for a night and that this would have been their own desire. I've said I've left my 14 year old.

Your suggesting I've made contradictory statements to gain the acceptance of who? You? The mn populous? That's not the case at all, I was trying to be helpful to OP in originally offering a different approach to those that had posted then I started answering your questions. You obviously care about the mn judgment as you spend so much time on this site but I do not.

VerySmallSqueak Fri 19-Apr-13 23:19:32

I think independence to be at home alone or allowed to play out alone should be in line with the independence they need in order to be safe and able to make sensible decisions when they go to secondary school and are required to be more independent.
To stay at home overnight should be in line with giving them the ability to be away from home at night and learn how to manage in an adult world.

They don't need to be preparing for secondary school at 5,or preparing to leave home at 12.
For good reason.

Startail Fri 19-Apr-13 23:20:49

I will add that although the toffee was a bit over done, there were no burns on DD1 and very little mess in the kitchen.

It was just the total failure to register that it might be wise to have some one to dial 999 if you did pour boiling sugar down your leg.

AgentZigzag Fri 19-Apr-13 23:21:57

'You obviously care about the mn judgment as you spend so much time on this site but I do not.'

I have to ask how you know AF spends so much time on MN? Unless you're stalking her spending a similar amount of time here?

jacks365 Fri 19-Apr-13 23:24:21

Out of interest i googled what age would be classed acceptable for leaving a child over night and its 16 so if i were you tig i would rethink things.

Playing out is subjective because its dependent on so many factors for example is there any passing traffic, are they in sight of the house, shouting distance, in a group or alone. There's no set age and for example i'd be more relaxed at my parents than at home due to the area. As for leaving in the house to pop somewhere for 5 mins then at least double figures.

ParadiseChick Fri 19-Apr-13 23:38:12

First out in the street and grassy bits next to house last summer at 6.

Tig never said that s/he did leave 11-year-olds alone overnight. S/he said that 11 was the youngest age s/he would think of doing so. NOBODY has said they would let 3-year-olds play unsupervised in the street.
This really is one of those variable things that depends on individual DC and their level of competence and common sense, where you live, whether your neighbours are friendly, etc etc. But the whole point of parenthood is that you are raising DC to be independent, go out into the world and be able to look after themselves, isn't it?

Cookethenook Sat 20-Apr-13 08:35:13

I recently left my 7yo home alone for 20 mins while I went and did the school run. DS had flu, so I left him in front of a film with the doors locked (openable from the inside) and made sure he had everything he needed before I left. He was under strict instructions not to get the door and only to go and seek help from a neighbour if I wasn't back by quarter to 4 or there was another emergency. He was fine with it and handled it with the maturity that I knew he would show. There were no major roads for me to cross. It was fine. Having said that, it was an unusual situation and I probably won't do it again unless it was really necessary

He's been allowed to 'play out' since he was 6. We live on a very quiet rd, I can see right to both ends from my kitchen window. All cars are parked in drives and the residents are used to watching out for kids in the rd. DS has been very street-wise and road safety conscious since he was young (we walk everywhere) so I have every confidence in him.

Overnight? Not for a while, I'll have to see how sensible he is as a teen, but my dad would leave me overnight from about 14.5 and would go on holiday without me from about 16.

BastardDog Sat 20-Apr-13 08:54:13

6+ to play out in view of the house as we lived in a cul de sac.

9+ to play out further afield, but not off our housing estate. To walk to and from school with friends as school is at the entrance to our housing estate.

11+ to go to the local park, the local shop, a friends house. To be left home alone for up to an hour.

13+ to go into town with friends and be left home alone for a few hours.

Leave overnight - don't know as not at that stage yet.

sarahtigh Sat 20-Apr-13 09:19:11

my DD is only 3 so situation not arisen, I would leave her watching TV while I was in kitchen or popped a big in outside bin got washing off line in garden she can play in fenced back garden on her own,

we live on a main A road so playing out is not something that will happen nearest we live rurally in countryside with no pavements so she will have to be able to cycle reliably to go to swingpark on her own probably about 10, she will use school bus on her own from age 5 as they pick up at bottom of our drive

we have some land around house and woods so she could be out of site 3-500 metres away and technically still be in garden, she will be slowly allowed to go further from house outside immediate garden fence probably from age 5-6

I do not think I would leave her home alone for some time as nearest neighbours 500+ metres away as if I went out there is nowhere to go for 5-10 minutes I could drive to local village shop/ post office and back in 15 minutes would consider doing this during day from about age 8-9 depending on how she matures

i do not think some magic age is ok but independance should be gradual
if we actually lived in village so could walk on pavements probably out alone from age 7-8

overnight at least age 16 and only if very sure there would be no parties etc

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