What age to leave a child home alone?

(60 Posts)
Raeray Sat 04-Jul-09 20:08:30

Just wondering if you can help me.
Im currently doing a child protection course (I'm a paediatric nurse) and need to find opinions from parents on the issue I have chosen to discuss. The title of my essay, and presentation to the group is;
HOME ALONE - IS IT NEGLECT?
Now I realise this will gather a wide range of opinions and could spark a few debates, but this is what I will find interesting, and will be very helpful to me! So.....

1) What age would you leave your child at home alone?

2) For how long? ie what age would you leave your child all day or overnight perhaps.

3) What age would you deem you elder child responsible or able to care for younger siblings?

4)Do you know what the legal age to leave children home alone is?

5) If you have recently left your child alone for the first time - would you do it again?

and lastly (thankyou for bearing with me this far..if you have!)

6) What age would you allow your child to walk home from school alone?

Thank you, thank you, thank you in advance. Any other opinions on this would also be greatly received. grin

cat64 Sat 04-Jul-09 20:27:19

Message withdrawn

cory Sat 04-Jul-09 21:58:40

1) What age would you leave your child at home alone?

Depends on how long, the personality and general competence of the child, the reason, the safety of the house, the proximity of neighbours etc who could help in an emergency.

For two minute trot down the road to post letters, not crossing any roads or getting in a car (so relatively little risk of being held up by accident), 5 or 6 with mine. Basically the age where you can be sure they won't run after you.

For half an hour/an hour trip to the nearest shop, I would want them to be of an age where you feel sure they would be able to be relied on not to play with the cooker etc, get out in an emergency, alert the neighbours, know the time well enough to tell if I am away for longer than I've said and ring somebody. In my case, with both my children, that has meant about 7 or 8.

2) For how long? ie what age would you leave your child all day or overnight perhaps.

All day- have only got this far with dd, about 11. But then only in emergency (e.g. she has not been well enough to go to school but not with something that could rapidly deteriorate and I have had to go to work). Wouldn't do it if the child was terrified or likely to deteriorate.

All night- mine will probably want to be almost grownup for this one, and I wouldn't do it before they felt they were ready. 16/17, perhaps; we're definitely not there yet. When I was 16 I stayed for 3 nights in a foreign hotel on my own; looking back, I think that was quite ok and my parents made a reasonable risk assessment.

3) What age would you deem you elder child responsible or able to care for younger siblings?

Depends on age and maturity/personality of both children. My 12yo can look after my 9yo for a few hours and (when well enough) takes him into town for a morning's shopping, but I would not let her do this if I thought there was any risk she would be less than responsible or that he would play up. Wouldn't leave her with a baby or toddler until pretty well grown up.

4)Do you know what the legal age to leave children home alone is?

There is no legal age as such, but if there is an accident you can be taken to court for negligence.

5) If you have recently left your child alone for the first time - would you do it again?

It's a while since I started- dd is now 12 and ds 9- but I feel very confident with the results so far. They tend to concentrate and actually seem more sensible when I'm not there.

6) What age would you allow your child to walk home from school alone?

Depends totally on traffic/distance and maturity/personality of the child. The road to our local junior school is about a 10 min walk, with three roads, one of which has traffic lights, the other two lollipop ladies (though one lollipop lady often absent). Ds has been negotiating this road since 7 1/2. But then there are lots of children and parents walking the same way, it is a neighbourhood where people know each other and look out for each other, and I have had my spies confirm that he is very sensible about traffic.

Around here, virtually everybody walks home alone from secondary school- or takes the local bus.

fruitshootsandheaves Sat 04-Jul-09 22:09:43

1) What age would you leave your child at home alone?

I would allow mine to be left on their own when they started middle school so that was aged 9 and the longest I left them was a couple of hours.
However recently my youngest has occasionally had to let himself in after school and be on his own for at most 45 minutes

2) For how long? ie what age would you leave your child all day or overnight perhaps.

not left them overnight yet. Have left DD (nearly 16) alone on her own all day several times.

3) What age would you deem you elder child responsible or able to care for younger siblings?

The first time I left DD to look after DS2 was when she was about 13 and he was about 5.

4)Do you know what the legal age to leave children home alone is?

as far as I know there is no legal age. It is up to you to judge when the child is mature enough, within reason and not for so long that it could be classed as neglect.

5) If you have recently left your child alone for the first time - would you do it again?
N/A

and lastly (thankyou for bearing with me this far..if you have!)

6) What age would you allow your child to walk home from school alone?

My older 2 walked home at 13 its about 2 miles. It is impossible for them to have done this at previous schools as they were too far away and the route to the primary school has just been classed as too dangerous to walk, cycle at that age.

fruitshootsandheaves Sat 04-Jul-09 22:10:23

1) forgot to add he was 7 when he first had to do this

MangoJuggler Sat 04-Jul-09 22:14:10

1 age 7 for 10 minutes

2 not got there yet

3 age 10? don't really know

4 there is no legal age as I understand it - if there is an accident or mishap then it might be viewed as a Child Protection issue

5 yes

6 age 7 (village, one road to cross, with assitance from Lollipop Lady, half a mile)

All of the following is dependent on the maturity of the child - DS1 very sensible, DS2 may still have to hold my hand to cross the road when he's 15!

1) What age would you leave your child at home alone?

From 9-10 for short periods if I was going somewhere local.

2) For how long? ie what age would you leave your child all day or overnight perhaps.

Haven't done this yet. DH works locally so I might do it all day at 12. Overnight would be much later, perhaps 16.

3) What age would you deem you elder child responsible or able to care for younger siblings?

It would depend on how much younger and what the siblings were like. I think I would feel comfortable with a 12-year-old looking after an 8 year-old for a very short time. I hope DS1 will be able to babysit if we go out locally from the age of 14.

4)Do you know what the legal age to leave children home alone is?

As far as I understand it there is no legal age.

5) If you have recently left your child alone for the first time - would you do it again?

NA

and lastly (thankyou for bearing with me this far..if you have!)

6) What age would you allow your child to walk home from school alone?

DS1 did it from the age of 9 - only one major road to cross, about 8-10 minutes walk.

abouteve Sat 04-Jul-09 22:20:26

The guidlines are blurred, there is no legal age. As a lay person, just an average parent, I will sum up my experiences.

You have to go with the maturity of the child and how you feel they can cope.

I left my DD from age 9 for half an hour. At age 11 for a day. At age 13 for an evening. Recently at age 15 for a whole night, which I was uncomfortable with but it was DD who insisted that she didn't want arrangement made and wanted to be trusted to stay alone.

Last time I went away for a whole weekend, which is a rare occurrance, I made arrangements and she rebelled in my absence. Kicked up a fuss because she wanted to be home alone. Now I have vowed not to go away again until she is 16 which the advice is that it's OK then.

It's OK to leave them if you feel they are ready but you will be charged with neglect if anything happens. I personally would have preferred strict age limits.

Hope this helps with your recearch.

cory Sat 04-Jul-09 22:22:25

I am very happy that there are no strict age limits as children differ so much- and circumstances differ so much. Also, mine have Swedish cousins, so they know how much more independent children are over there.

Just to add, I would prefer there not to be any legal age limits because there are so many variables - maturity of child, safety of environment, assistance of neighbours or not, desperation of your need. As soon as you legislate a particular age you find those for whom the age is too high will be done an injustice and those for whom it is too low will be put in danger.

Parental discretion is the only sensible way to go, and I would be very resistant to any law which claimed to know my child and my situation better than I do.

numal Sat 04-Jul-09 22:26:50

Far older than when I was left alone. Same for every milestone.
How has it come to be that in one or two generations so much has changed?
Can it be that I love my DC more that my parents loved their DC?.
It is incomprehensible to me to give my DC the sort of freedom/benign neglect that I experienced.
Having said all that, I don't believe in the 'good old days'.
There was a so much child abuse/neglect in the past that was unreported.
I simply trust no-one when it comes to my DC. They are never left with carers/nannies etc.

MaryMotherOfCheeses Sat 04-Jul-09 22:30:45

1) What age would you leave your child at home alone?
"Home alone" very emotive phrase. I left 7 year old DS in the house for 10 minutes whilst I talked to a neighbour across the road, does that count? I did recently leave him at age 8 for 20 minutes whilst I went to the shop in the car.

2) For how long? ie what age would you leave your child all day or overnight perhaps.
All day? Probably at 13 or 14, like I was. Overnight, 16 perhaps. Dunno. Impossible to say what I'll do in the future. Will depend on what type of child DS turns out to be.

3) What age would you deem you elder child responsible or able to care for younger siblings?
N/A

4)Do you know what the legal age to leave children home alone is?
No legal age AFAIK

5) If you have recently left your child alone for the first time - would you do it again?
Rarely a need to. I'd leave him for 20 minutes if I knew DH was about to get home.

and lastly (thankyou for bearing with me this far..if you have!)

6) What age would you allow your child to walk home from school alone?
Well that depends on how far school is and what sort of roads etc. For me, not for the foreseeable future. We have a busy main road with a particular junction which is dangerous. I've seen too many cars go through the red light and DS is too much of a day dreamer.

shinyshoes Sat 04-Jul-09 22:30:53

1) What age would you leave your child at home alone?

I have started to leave my 12 year old at home by himself if he is off school sick. I phone him, DP phones and my sister phones. I have popped in at lunchtime to see to his needs and DP is home by 3.30pm, this dosen't extend to a Diarreah and vomiting child. I would take the day off work for that.

On occasion I have left him for around an hour whilst I popped to the shop.

2) For how long? ie what age would you leave your child all day or overnight perhaps.

I wouldn't leave my children overnight without an adult being present. Not at this age I wouldn't (eldest is 12)

3) What age would you deem you elder child responsible or able to care for younger siblings?

Around 14 as I have an 18 month old and at the moment he is too young (maturity) to see to her needs

4)Do you know what the legal age to leave children home alone is?

is it 12?

5) If you have recently left your child alone for the first time - would you do it again?

Yes I have explained on 2 occasions when he has had flu like symptoms I have left him. I certainly wouldn't the other 2 (8 and 18 mo) and popping to the shops for an hour max (take the other 2 with me)

and lastly (thankyou for bearing with me this far..if you have!)

6) What age would you allow your child to walk home

My 8 yo has done it but it's been on very desperate occasions (another child home that is too porly to be left etc.) we live literally 5 minutes from school and he has only done this on very rare occasion twice I think. His elder brother wasn't allowed to do it until he was in year 6

abouteve Sat 04-Jul-09 22:31:16

Yes in some ways I agree, luckily my DD is very mature and totally trustworthy, but it's always in the back of your mind that perhaps you are being neglectful without strict guidelines. IYSWIM.

Then you get the phonecalls which are nothing less than 'how dare you enjoy yourself without me' double guilt! lol

Or you are at work and they want to know what's for tea and why isn't it on the table.

cory Sat 04-Jul-09 22:32:53

I am sure I don't love my dcs any less than my parents do. But living in a university town (and being a lecturer myself), I do see the dangers of not letting children develop independence before they move from home. I also note that countries where children have more independence had much better figures for child happiness and a far lower rate of risky behaviour than this country. And I know that child mortality is no higher in countries where children have more freedom.

I trust my dd with dd. I have to- in 6 years time she is likely to leave home. And I know what dangers lie in wait for young students. If she can't be trusted to look after herself then, there will be nobody else to do it for her.

abouteve Sat 04-Jul-09 22:40:14

Cory, I've only got the one child so couldn't comment on older ones looking after younger ones.

Recently when I went away for 2 nights I stuck to guidelines and made arrangements for DD (15) to stay with a neighbour. She kicked off and I now realise that I should have let her stay on her own. The law does state 'never leave a child under 16 on there own for a weekend' so I stuck to that. That is the only 'law' I have ever seen written down in black and white. Realised after that I should have let her have the independance that she was clearly able to cope with.

cory Sat 04-Jul-09 22:44:31

sorry, abouteve, these threads move too fast for me; wasn't responding to your post but to numal who was speculating about the difference in attitude between now and then.

piscesmoon Sat 04-Jul-09 22:46:24

It all depends on the maturity and trustworthiness of the DC -I don't think you can generalise. I let mine walk home from school from an early age but I can see the school from my house so I don't think it counts! I think that you should aim to give DCs independence and so encourage them to do these things.

1) What age would you leave your child at home alone?

part of the day? 5 hours, say, once they reach secondary school.

2) For how long? ie what age would you leave your child all day or overnight perhaps.
over night? have not contemplated

3) What age would you deem you elder child responsible or able to care for younger siblings? perhaps 14, but in my dc's case, not really, no longer than half an hour.. personal preference, although i was babysitting at 14, in the case of siblings, it is a whole different ball game.

4)Do you know what the legal age to leave children home alone is?
i think there is no legal age.
5) If you have recently left your child alone for the first time - would you do it again? since 2 of my dc's started secondary school i have left them at home alone.

and lastly (thankyou for bearing with me this far..if you have!)

6) What age would you allow your child to walk home from school alone? my ds did cycle home but never allowed dd the freedom to do so.
not until secondary school, but that is not really alone

abouteve Sat 04-Jul-09 22:56:57

Cory, that's OK, been interesting to read this. Think I got it about right but know I should have been more child led and relaxed.

Anyway she is nearly 16 so reckon my role is ? Thank god I don't want to be made redundant from this role, ever.

what law AboutEve?
where did you read that?

abouteve Sun 05-Jul-09 00:06:50

On the social services website. We as parents of mature DC's have asked in the past but it's always been the same advice, as in, if you consider them mature enough fine, but if anything happens you will be charged with neglect. Then we read 'never leave a child under 16 over night'

Confused? You will be. Again it depends on which child.

BoysAreLikeDawgs Sun 05-Jul-09 00:14:38

eve can you link for us please ? smile

trefusis Sun 05-Jul-09 00:20:12

Message withdrawn

Fennel Sun 05-Jul-09 01:30:32

1) What age would you leave your child at home alone?

9yo I do, 7yo just occasionally.

2) For how long? ie what age would you leave your child all day or overnight perhaps.

9yo up to an hour, 7yo, 10 minutes.

3) What age would you deem you elder child responsible or able to care for younger siblings?

Not yet. depends for how long, and how young the younger child. for 5 minutes, maybe, at 8 or 9, wiht 5yo sibling, but only cos 5yo is pretty easy.

4)Do you know what the legal age to leave children home alone is?

no legal minimum

5) If you have recently left your child alone for the first time - would you do it again?

well, I do.

and lastly (thankyou for bearing with me this far..if you have!)

6) What age would you allow your child to walk home from school alone?

my 7yo has since 6 (nearly 7) but she's very responsible for her age, 9yo since 8, but she's a bit vaguer in general. it's only a 5 minute walk, not many roads, and lots of friendly/nosey neighbours who tend to look out for children though, it is easier here than in other places we've lived.

abouteve Sun 05-Jul-09 10:07:35
abouteve Sun 05-Jul-09 10:10:23

Ignore that I think it's American blush. But there is some info on the net from our DSS stating never to leave a child under 16.

abouteve Sun 05-Jul-09 10:18:37

Too early in the morning for me but it states it here in FAQ www.nspcc.org.uk/HelpAndAdvice/WhatChildAbuse/Neglect/neglect_wda36377.html#bookmark3

lone during the day. Is this neglect?"
There is no UK law stating the age at which a child can be left at home alone. However, parents can be prosecuted for wilful neglect if they leave a child alone or unsupervised "in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health" (Children and Young Persons Act 1933). Your neighbour may be having difficulties finding childcare. Perhaps the family is isolated and lacks the support of relatives and friends? As a neighbour, could you offer help with contacting local support services or with childcare? See People to talk to for organisations that offer childcare advice.

Babies should never be left alone, even for a short time. If you notice that a baby or a child under the age of nine has been left on their own, contact the police on 999. They will go to the house to make sure that the child is safe from harm.

Before leaving an older child alone, parents must take into account the child's age and maturity, their ability to cope in an emergency and how they feel about being left alone. Most children under the age of 13 are not mature enough to cope in an emergency and should not be left alone for more than a short time.

We recommend that children under the age of 16 should not be left alone overnight.

so it seems to be 9 but 16 for over night. from your link abouteve

abouteve Sun 05-Jul-09 14:07:31

I've always followed these recommendations. Not going away overnight again until DD has turned 16 so I don't have the arguments.

cat64 Sun 05-Jul-09 19:15:05

Message withdrawn

cat64,
it was cut and paste from abouteve's link

cat64 Sun 05-Jul-09 22:43:21

Message withdrawn

s'ok.
picked myself up off the floor now grin
wink

actually me too, under 13's.. leaving them that is

cat64 Sun 05-Jul-09 22:48:53

Message withdrawn

abouteve Mon 06-Jul-09 10:53:39

Once ours got to secondary school so turning 11/12 they were reluctant to go the the child minder whilst I needed to work. (Ours being mine and a neigbours DD). We rang social services for advice and was told, you can leave them at home, but if anything happens you are responsible. Should be OK if you trust them and make sure they have someone near that they can go to if they feel the need. We did have, the childminder.

We stopped making arrangements around this time but I never felt 100% comfortable and the phone calls were flying back and forth most of the day. Nothing untoward happened as DD tended to stay home rather that roaming over dales and hills when I was at work.

So looking back I didn't stick to the advice i.e 13 years old. I think this is too ridged, depends on the child.

Katnkittens Mon 06-Jul-09 13:52:41

1) What age would you leave your child at home alone?

I only started leaving DS on his own when he was about 10 and that was when I was doing a quick sibling pick up or drop off so no longer than about 10 minutes. DD2 is 11 and I've just started leaving her on her own for half an hour at the most

2) For how long? ie what age would you leave your child all day or overnight perhaps.

DS age 13 I'd be happy enough now to leave him for an afternoon or so if I were to go shopping (he hates shopping), he's never been left all day yet, probably 4 hours max. Overnight I really don't know, I wouldn't do it yet so can't really say.

3) What age would you deem you elder child responsible or able to care for younger siblings?

DS aged 13 has stayed with DD2 who is 5 for 5-10 minutes while I popped out but I make sure DD is settled and doing something calm like playing on the computer or watching telly. Still not 100% comfortable doing it but DD1 does so many activities it sometimes seems mean dragging her out in the car when she's settled.

4)Do you know what the legal age to leave children home alone is?

No idea

5) If you have recently left your child alone for the first time - would you do it again?

Yes, I definitely think the first time is the hardest. As a parent you trust your instincts and are usually right but it doesn't make it easy to do. It's a natural step as they grow older and once you realise they are absolutely fine without you there and the house isn't in flames you feel more confident in your decision.

and lastly (thankyou for bearing with me this far..if you have!)

6) What age would you allow your child to walk home from school alone?

Katnkittens Mon 06-Jul-09 13:59:05

OOps missed the last one

6) What age would you allow your child to walk home from school alone?

I used to walk home from school when I was 6 (round the corner hehe) It depends how far, I wouldn't be happy with my DS aged 13 walking home from his school alone as it's about a 30-40 min walk through a bit of a dodgy area. My DD1 walks home from school sometimes, she's 11 and it's about a 5-10 minute walk but loads of people around doing school runs, pretty safe route.

If it's not far and no main roads, I probably would have let the children walk home from about 8/9, maybe a bit earlier if they had a friend to walk with.

Everhopeful Fri 10-Jul-09 00:45:33

Coo, I thought legal minimum was 11 and 14 for babysitting someone else's. So far, have only left 7 yo dd for a little while if I nip next door. I thikn sh'ed be fine, but I thought I'd be breaking the law...

Anyway, am slightly paranoid that she'll leave home before I get the hang of this parenting shit so don't like doing it wink

cory Fri 10-Jul-09 08:23:03

It's funny how the NSPC think a child under 13 should not be left alone, while in Scandinavia (which we are always told is so child-orientated), children start staying at home far younger than this. I'd have thought the dangers of the home were pretty much the same in any Western country.

Tumple Tue 02-Mar-10 10:26:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

biryani Sun 21-Nov-10 12:23:16

Think the conclusion here is that common sense should be applied. I have left my dd at 5 to go to the chemist(emergency) for 10 mins and now she's 8 she's doing shopping with a list and walking to and from school happily (about half a mile, but a busy urban area.). i am astonished by the lack of independence children around here have. parents seem to equate supervision with good parenting and independence with neglect. Many parents, particularly full-time working mothers, seem to overprotect their children, IMHO; i have always been around for DD and seem to have more confidence in her. Don't think it does children good to be oversupervised nor is it fun for them. Sorry to ramble. Good luck with your project.

onimolap Sun 21-Nov-10 12:44:30

So much depends on the child/ren!

I left mine for the odd 10 minutes (whilst picking up the other from a neighbour) at 8 ish. I left the eldest for the first time (age 10) recently for about 40 mins. He'd had briefings ad nauseam on emergency drills beforehand.

Other than a trip to pick up the papers, (<5mins), O wouldn't leave him in charge of his little sister - I don't think it's fair on him, so probably wouldn't leave them together until the younger was 9+ (ie the age when I'd consider leaving her alone).

I've been preparing the 10 yr old to do the school journey alone, as he'll have to do this when he moves to secondary school and I'd like him to have some experience on the familiar route before he tackles the new journey himself. I've not quite dared yet - though I'm sure he is capable. It'll probably happen next summer, or if his little sister is ill and I want to stay with her.

dikkertjedap Sun 21-Nov-10 20:16:42

1) What age would you leave your child at home alone?

When they have started secondary school, but still not for a whole day, but for example if I have to quickly pop to the shops and she would not want to come, that would be fine. Also, depends if it is only child on her own or has a friend staying. I would not like my dd to be on her own, even at that age for more than 30 mins or so.

2) For how long? ie what age would you leave your child all day or overnight perhaps.

Not if she is on her own. If she is with a friend, may be an afternoon if they are both responsible and go to secondary school. Not overnight and not for a whole day.

3) What age would you deem you elder child responsible or able to care for younger siblings?

4)Do you know what the legal age to leave children home alone is?

no idea, 18????

5) If you have recently left your child alone for the first time - would you do it again?

Not applicable

and lastly (thankyou for bearing with me this far..if you have!)

6) What age would you allow your child to walk home from school alone?

Depends on the traffic situation, I take her to school by car. However, if she was able to walk to school, then probably again secondary school age, I think that primary school children still do not fully understand traffic dangers - I trained as a traffic awareness trainer for schools and we were told that they cannot reliable judge car speeds and other dangers until they are about 12/13 years ... Not long ago a girl died in a road traffic accident near us, she had quickly tried to cross the road and was hit by a van. I guess she was 13/14 years old ...

Rebeccash Mon 22-Nov-10 21:31:22

Hi
I leave my 9 year old ds for up to 45 mins and have done for 6 months or so. I wouldn't leave him for any longer. Wouldn't leave him all day until he is 12 ish and overnight 15/16/17 depending how mature he turns out to be. No younger siblings, no legal age and have left him alone more than once. We live too far from school for him to walk but if we were local I would let him walk now at 9 but probably not any younger.

NeverendingStoryteller Mon 22-Nov-10 22:40:19

Good luck with your project - hope this helps

1) What age would you leave your child at home alone?

Mine are almost 7 and almost 5 and they seem to take new opportunities for responsibility seriously and try very hard to be 'good'. Also, we live in a very safe area - tiny village where absolutely everyone knows each other and strangers would be challenged immediately, etc etc. They aren't ready yet, I think the oldest might be ready in a few years, but it will depend on how well he matures.

2) For how long? ie what age would you leave your child all day or overnight perhaps.

I don't know yet - this is a very long way off, so I will wait to see how they mature. I expect they will be OK all day by 14, and OK all night by 16, but we'll see!

3) What age would you deem you elder child responsible or able to care for younger siblings?

My oldest currently takes responsibility for his younger brother. They are allowed to visit our park by themselves (with walkie talkies attached). In terms of caring, I see this as including preparing a simple meal and knowing how to contact people in an emergency, so I can't imagine this would be ok, even for a short period of time, at least for the next 3-4 years, and then only for a very short period of time - maybe if I went up the road to see a friend briefly, or if I popped into the shop in the next village.

4)Do you know what the legal age to leave children home alone is?

I didn't think there was a legal age - I thought it was about being sensible and taking into consideration the child's abilities and the overall context of the decision.

5) If you have recently left your child alone for the first time - would you do it again?

I have never left my children home alone.

and lastly (thankyou for bearing with me this far..if you have!)

6) What age would you allow your child to walk home from school alone?

I am thinking of allowing my oldest child to walk home from school by himself next academic year when he is almost 8. The walk is only a couple of minutes. I walked a half mile every day, to and from school from 6 years of age - I find our current obsession with dropping off children pretty strange, tbh!

Elibean Tue 23-Nov-10 16:04:01

Just curious, I always thought the legal age to leave a child alone was 14 - or is that in charge of another child??

Where on earth did I get that from, otherwise? hmm

(my own two are only 3 and 6, so answer is not yet!)

sarahtigh Thu 25-Nov-10 13:47:51

1) What age would you leave your child at home alone?

for a few minutes like popped out for milk about 5-6

2) For how long? ie what age would you leave your child all day or overnight perhaps.

16

3) What age would you deem you elder child responsible or able to care for younger siblings?

only have 1 child but i was eldeast of five and was left baby sitting for 60-90 minutes when i was 13 i was happy with it then still happy though i think babysitting age maybe 14

4)Do you know what the legal age to leave children home alone is?

there is not one but if something goes wrong it could be investigated

5) If you have recently left your child alone for the first time - would you do it again?

n/a still too young
and lastly (thankyou for bearing with me this far..if you have!)

6) What age would you allow your child to walk home from school alone?

where we live now probably 9-10 as 15-20 minutes iwalked home from school alone after 1st term.... was deemed very babyish for your mom to be at aschool gate when 7 was responsble for walking home with 5 yr old sister

Thank you, thank you, thank you in advance. Any other opinions on this would also be greatly received.

I honestly don't think the world is more dangerous biggest risk walking is traffic

JulieAbbott Fri 17-Jun-11 10:23:52

I have 2 Daughters aged 13 and 15. In School Holidays I have this year started to leave them home alone during the day while I am at work. This arrangement has worked out fine so far,although I only work 5 hours per day for 4 days a week. When my Husband & I go out in the evenings on average once a week we also leave the girls home alone. This arrangement works very well for us but all children are different and what works in one household may not work in another.

1) What age would you leave your child at home alone?
For a short while, up to 30 mins, about 8-9 depending on how mature and whether I could trust them to behave and be sensible. I have three and have polled all my friends with older children.,
For older and longer alone, I'm not there yet. My friends leave their children about 2 hours at secondary school age, ie. from end of school, until they get home from work. My left me alone for 2 weeks to go on holiday with dad, when I was 15, that seems a little young!! I remember the light bulb going out in bathroom and not being able to fix it!! My sis and I used to play outside all day, off down nature researve or wherever we wanted and return at 5pm, from when I was about 7 (sis 9). But then there were less cars back then.

2) For how long? ie what age would you leave your child all day or overnight perhaps.
Definitely 15-16 or above. I would have neighbours check on them or ring them if it was about 6 hours or above, once they are 14-15.

3) What age would you deem you elder child responsible or able to care for younger siblings?
15

4)Do you know what the legal age to leave children home alone is?

There is no legal age limit in legislation, but if something goes wrong, they injure themselves or put selves at risk you are responsible, if the court decides they were too young. It's a too grey area. I imagine for longer periods (4 hours) one would be thinking of sensible teenagers, but for younger 7-10 then short periods, for specific trip out (nursery or school run, emergency shop run) then short periods less than hour seems to be Ok in my poll of friends. I also think lots of secondary school children have 2 hours alone after school, before mum gets home from work. That seems normal.

Overnight, is more tricky and really I think it would be hard to leave younger than 15 year olds alone. I dont think I would do what my mother did, I had far too many parties aged 15 when i was left for a week + when my mother went on holiday. I also couldnt cook and got myself very scared with noises in house. My sis was away at uni at the time, so in retrospect, even though it was normal in those days, it wasnt brilliant for me as a child.

5) If you have recently left your child alone for the first time - would you do it again?

50 mins, at home. Yes, and Yes. He is 10 and was great. I rang him twice and he was very good at answering and telling me what he was doing. He'd even tidied the room by time I got back (I took younger girls to local shops and he had a dodgy tummy, not wanting to be far from toilet--- bless..!!)

6) What age would you allow your child to walk home from school alone?
Depends on how far and how many roads to cross, what the route is. My 9 and 8 year old, do this together about 30% of the week, with no major roads, except a traffic light crossing and it is a popular route. I think below 7 is too young, but it depends on gender of child, what the route is like, how safe and how mature they are. I see lots of children walking themselves, even in town on busy roads, at 7 or younger, and also going out on their own in evening. I let my 10 year old boy go to shops (10 mins walk away, safe route) and back and to park with his friends, as long as he has his mobile and is back at time I set (usually 40-60 mins away). I hop around in the house until he's back. But think that if you dont give them some freedom, they will never learn to be safe on their own, and then you'll have niave young teenagers who've never been allowed to grow up or deal with situations themselves.

Oh, the other thing i do, is use technology. I facetime (ipod touch (8 yo) me iphone) my children if i have to do nursery run (20 mins) sometimes instead of ringing, if it is over 30 mins, which is essentially a video phonecall, if I am walking. My kids love it. They feel big and I feel proud of them. They know if they messed up, they would not be allowed to again.

NCIS Mon 16-Jul-12 17:19:04

1) What age would you leave your child at home alone?

I left mine at about 9-10 just to nip out for fifteen minutes, 12-13 for the day and early evening.

2) For how long? ie what age would you leave your child all day or overnight perhaps.
12-13 for all day. 16 for overnight.
3) What age would you deem you elder child responsible or able to care for younger siblings?
My daughter looked after the younger two when she was 14 during the day whilst I was at work.
4)Do you know what the legal age to leave children home alone is?
There isn't one but you can be prosecuted if you are deemed to have left your child at risk

5) If you have recently left your child alone for the first time - would you do it again?
The first time was a few years ago and have been doing it ever since.

6) What age would you allow your child to walk home from school alone?
They got themselves to and from school from eleven on public transport although I would pick up from the station/bus stop as we were too long a walk from there. The eldest was 13 when we moved to somewhere they could walk to and from easily.

cory Mon 16-Jul-12 22:08:58

Interesting to come back to this thread three years later- and with a little more experience to tell if my confidence in dc was justified.

As far as I can tell it was. The only emergency we have had was the 12yo coming home from school to find that the 15yo had had a bad fall; he did everything an adult could have done in reassuring her and ringing for an ambulance.

Pantone363 Mon 16-Jul-12 22:23:42

On my phone so can't cut and paste questions.

I leave 7, 4 and 2 yr old alone to run to the shop (about ten mins in all). I shut the door to the stairs and leave them watching a film. I've only done it 3 times and they've been sat in the same place I left them all 3 times.

Ex will leave 7 yr old on her own for 45 mins whilst he runs. She loves it, knows how to use the phone and not to answer the door. He also tells me first so I call after an hr to make sure he's back.

I would let 7 and 4 walk to school. BUT another mum was doing it with her children the same age and someone reported her to SS. They didn't do anything but it was enough to put me off the idea.

I don't think there is a legal age?

Overnight, depends on the child, probably 14/15? All day 10/11, not looking after other kids though.

cece Mon 16-Jul-12 22:36:31

Not read the other replies.

1) What age would you leave your child at home alone?

I started to leave my eldest when she was 9, nearly 10. But initially for just 10-20 mins at most whilst I ran DH to station or did cub run for instance. I have not left her 8 year old brother home alone yet as he is more reckless.

2) For how long? ie what age would you leave your child all day or overnight perhaps.

Not got to this stage yet as DD only 11 yrs old and not been left that long yet. I think probably about 13 ish for daytime but 17 or 18 for overnight.

3) What age would you deem you elder child responsible or able to care for younger siblings?

Mid teens I suppose, depending on how her younger brothers behaviour improves in the meantime.... Her younger brother is 8 years younger than her, so there is quite a gap.

4)Do you know what the legal age to leave children home alone is?

I didn't think there was one.

5) If you have recently left your child alone for the first time - would you do it again?

Been leaving my eldest now for up to an hour at a time for about 12-18 months. This has gradually increased in time to about an hour maximum. Over the summer I will be increasing this as she will not have cm for after school when she starts secondary. So she will be alone for about 2 hours before I get home from work.

6) What age would you allow your child to walk home from school alone?

She started walking from school in summer term of Yr 5. Initally she walked about 200 metres to parked car (we live about 1.5 miles away). This was gradually increased. At moment she walks to about half way to her friends house, where I pick her up. Due to the rain she has not walked all the way home yet; despite my plans for her to do so this term (Yr 6).

I guess she will have to do so over the holidays in order to practise getting herself back and forth to her new secondary school.

Lovemy3kids Tue 17-Jul-12 14:48:38

1) What age would you leave your child at home alone?

My DS1 was 11 when we left him at home alone.

2) For how long? ie what age would you leave your child all day or overnight perhaps.

He was left for approximately 1 1/2 hours per day (the period between him getting home fromm school and me returning from work).

3) What age would you deem you elder child responsible or able to care for younger siblings?

My DS1 is now 14, but I still do not feel that he is mature enough to be responsible for my other 2 DC (aged 10 and 7).

4)Do you know what the legal age to leave children home alone is?

i wasn't aware that there was a legal age limit

5) If you have recently left your child alone for the first time - would you do it again?

My son values this little bit of independence that he gets and it shows that I trust him

and lastly (thankyou for bearing with me this far..if you have!)

6) What age would you allow your child to walk home from school alone?

DS2 was 8 when he walked home from school - luckily there was only one road to cross, and this was not busy. However, my DS2 and DD walk to school on their own and they are 10 and 7. i do feel that i would be a bit more weary of allowing my DD to walk home from school on her own when she is 8 smile

Ragwort Tue 17-Jul-12 14:57:07

1) What age would you leave your child at home alone?

I have left my DS alone for a few minutes whilst I went to post a letter or chat to a neighbour (assuming he was asleep and in his cot grin) from a few weeks months old.

2) For how long? ie what age would you leave your child all day or overnight perhaps.

I started leaving my DS on his own (apart from the above) at around 8 - for an hour. He is now 11, I would leave him for a couple of hours, no longer. Would not leave him for a day until he was 13/14, at least 15/16 overnight - depending on how sensible he is.

3) What age would you deem you elder child responsible or able to care for younger siblings?

n/a - only child

4)Do you know what the legal age to leave children home alone is?

I don't think there is a 'legal' age, isn't it something to do with when a child can act responsibly?

5) If you have recently left your child alone for the first time - would you do it again?

Yes, I do leave my DS (11) alone for a couple of hours, think it is important for his independence.

and lastly (thankyou for bearing with me this far..if you have!)

6) What age would you allow your child to walk home from school alone? DS has started walking home in the last few months, age 11. Quite a safe area.

gobbledegook1 Tue 17-Jul-12 17:22:48

1) What age would you leave your child at home alone?

I think that is completely dependant upon the individual child, their level of maturity, common sense and capabilities etc. I was left home alone for several hours at a time from age 9 and for a week at a time by about 14.

2) For how long? ie what age would you leave your child all day or overnight perhaps.

Again that would depend on the individual, their maturity, capabilities and trustworthiness etc. I will leave my DS2 (age 3) for 2 minutes whilst I run to the end of the street to post a letter because I know he will just watch at the window or wait at the front door for me to come back. He's very danger aware / conscious even now so I would guess for him during the day for at least an hour or two by about age 8 but we will see what the future holds. DS1 probably never, he is ASD and at age 8 hasn't an ounce of common sense in him and struggles to retain information so even giving clear instructions would probably be quickly forgotten.

3) What age would you deem you elder child responsible or able to care for younger siblings?

I again think this boils down to the individuals concerned. How mature, sensible and trustworthy the caring child is, the age of the child(ren) you are leaving in their care thus dictating how much care they are required to give (will they be required to change nappies etc) and whether the younger child(ren) is well behaved enough to do as an older sibling tells them when you're not there to back them up.

4)Do you know what the legal age to leave children home alone is?

To my knowledge there is no definitive age.

5) If you have recently left your child alone for the first time - would you do it again?

I Kind of did at the weekend just gone and 'no' not for a long while when said child(ren) can actually prove themselves to be mature enough and trust worthy.

Basically my DP's daughter is almost 11 and I generally wouldn't trust her alone for more than 15 minutes let alone in charge of another child as she is very immature can be very silly, moreso when around other kids. At the weekend I needed to make an important phone call so I gave her a chance and entrusted her to watch her younger brother (7) my DS1 (8) and my DS2 (3) for 10 minutes whilst I popped literally across the road to my Mum's to make a phone call (no phone at mo) so I was nearby if needed, I came home to her having ruined my leather sofa by drawing / writing on it in biro and then she had the audacity to lie about it having been her that did it despite it being obvious that it was!

6) What age would you allow your child to walk home from school alone?

Again this depends as their are many factors to consider such as how far is the school, are there lots of busy roads, your child's road safety awareness and general maturity of child.

Obviously DS1 isn't in school yet but I imagine I'll probably start letting him walk alone from about age 5 or 6 (he'll be 4 when he starts next year) as it is literally a 5 minute walk, he's already very road safety aware and if he crosses to the other side of our very quiet street from the front of the house he just has to follow the road around until he reaches the lollipop man who will cross him onto the school premises, easy peasy! DS1 gets a school taxi (minibus from the front door as he goes special school). DP's children don't walk to their school as aside from the fact they are too immature and lacking in danger awareness, they dawdle and would take forever to get home / to school (its around 20mins at a half decent pace) and there are lots of very busy roads to cross.

gobbledegook1 Tue 17-Jul-12 17:38:16

My Nephew is terrorising the neighbourhood home alone all day every Saturday whilst his Mum works as he won't go to his Dad's, he's just turned 13 and has been doing it for about 12-18 mths though it caused a few issues in winter as he doesn't like the dark.

My youngest niece (14) has only just (in the last 12 months) started staying home alone for short periods as she has always been terrified of being by herself.

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