what age can a child be left alone in house for a few hours alone...

(22 Posts)
wintertimeisfun Sat 08-Feb-14 12:54:52

just curious. dd is 11 and whilst i think she is still too young to be left alone when i go to work early, i was really curious to know what you lot thought. dh sometimes goes away on business. i also work and sometimes need to leave really early for work. in the past i have not gone to work when dh has been away (i am self employed so choose my own work detail) however i have no idea as to the 'accepted' age when it is ok to leave a child on their own ie dc would go to school leaving the house at 8:30am, i would have to leave her alone from ie 6am. ie would she have to be 15 or younger?? she already walks to school (and back) on her own but i think she is too young for me to go to work leaving her to her own devices. opinions lease :-)

There's no hard and fast rule, it depends on the individual child. DD (now 16) used to be left some mornings from 7am at 11; she had to get herself ready and off to school. To some people that would be too young, however it's set her up well for being left overnight now.

How responsible is she?
I left DD on her own for a couple of hours occasionally at 11, with strict instructions to ignore any knocks at the door and only answer the phone to me. I think she'd have struggled with having to get herself up and out on time every morning and remembering to lock up.

wintertimeisfun Sat 08-Feb-14 13:07:35

tbh i did leave her alone from 7am a few months ago (she was still 10) and felt really stressed/guilty about it however she loved it. she is old for her years/very sensible. i had laid out her breakfast and given her the rules ie don't answer the door, in emergencies go to blah blah next door or opposite, left her phone numbers, told her not to use any electrics ie heater or toaster. she set herself an alarm to get up etc and it was fine. i remember when i was growing up (a million years ago) my best friend used to be left on her own in the morning and let herself in from school when she was alot younger but i know things seem to have been a bit different then. i just don't like doing something that doesn't feel right even though it went well enough. interesting to know if i should or shouldn't do it again although fortunately the situation doesn't come up often but am aware that if i have to i just won't go to work, simple as that

TeenAndTween Sat 08-Feb-14 20:35:54

I think you could leave a sensible 11 year old alone for a couple of hours.
BUT
I think leaving them to wake up and get up and go to school alone is slightly different to that.
HOWEVER
If your 11 year old is happy, and maybe you have a system whereby you ring to check they are OK and up and about, then it would be OK.

So to me it is one of those grey areas. Some children will be happy with doing it and able to cope, some won't. If yours is then that's fine, I think. (And compared to most of MN I tend to be on the cautious side).

Hassled Sat 08-Feb-14 20:40:28

Agree it's a bit of a grey area. My 11 year old would be fine (and sometimes I do leave a bit before the younger DCs) - his older siblings absolutely would not have been fine at that age. I think my main worries would be the practicalities - switching things off, locking up properly etc before the house is left empty all day.

napoleonsnose Sat 08-Feb-14 20:45:43

Mine started to be left alone when they were 13 and 11 respectively. They used to get themselves off to school and lock up. Its only recently that we've started leaving them on their own in the evenings if we go out. They are now 16 and 14. I still worry a bit though although they love it and we have had no problems at all. I think it all depends on how mature your DC are.

When DS started year 6 it corresponded withDp and I both getting new jobs that meant I had to leave the house at 7am and DP had to leave at 8:20 three days a week. On those days DS is the last to leave the house at 8:30 ish and has been fine with this arrangement.

When DP has been travelling with work, and I have had to leave at 7am, DS has been fine at getting himself ready for school and locking up by himself, and he likes the independence.

DS is fine, and I was fine at that age too, but not all childrne will be so it is up to you. Sounds like your DS would be fine.

kernowal Sat 08-Feb-14 21:34:24

My just 12 year old has had to come home school by herself to an empty house since September. She has to call DH when she gets in & I let her know when I'm on my way home. I think she quite likes the responsibility & is usually having a snack & doing her homework when I get in. I would be warier of her locking up in the mornings though, as she has done things like leaving the front door wide open when I'm already in the car & ready to go.

BackforGood Sat 08-Feb-14 23:28:09

I have no problem leaving them on their own for an increasing amount of time, from when they are about 9 upwards, but I think there's a difference between leaving a child who is up and about and awake, and just has to entertain themselves for a couple of hours while you go to the shops, and giving a child the responsibility of getting themselves up, washed, dressed, breakfasted, and out the house on time, with the responsibility of locking up the house for the day.

I feel the same as Backforgood.
I leave my two eldest, 8 and 9, for a couple of hours together or on their own but I wouldn't leave them to get up and out of the house and I do t think I could for quite a few years yet.

Why did I put 8 and 9? They're 10 and 9

intheround Sat 08-Feb-14 23:35:33

See I would say the opposite Back . A child who has a clear idea of what they need to do to get out in time will be focussed on that. If they are late for school then they have to face up to the consequences. A child who has a few hours of spare time on their hands is more likely to do something silly.
For me 13 is the age I started to leave DS alone and it's never more than a couple of hours.

BackforGood Sat 08-Feb-14 23:38:26

Really ? I have 3 dc, and probably only the middle one would focus on getting up and out and to school on time without someone on their backs - I suppose they are all different, but I'd have thought that was slightly more typical.
Honestly ? You've never left your ds on his own for a couple of hours before 13 ? shock

intheround Sat 08-Feb-14 23:43:50

When he was 12 I'd leave him for half a hour now and again but he wasn't happy so there was no point in forcing it. He'll be ready in his own time.

TeenageAdvice15 Sun 09-Feb-14 10:39:11

I'm 15 and from the start of year 7 me and my twin sister were on our own from when we returned from school until about 6/7pm because both my parents worked. My parents are divorced now and we live with our Dad who regularly has to go away for the night and we stay on our own, making our own dinner etc and making sure we get to school on time in the morning. At the age of 11 she'll probably be fine alone after school.

ByTheSea Sun 09-Feb-14 10:53:10

My youngest DD is 11 and up to this. Could not have said the same about DSs at the same age though. Totally depends on the child.

pandora987 Mon 10-Feb-14 14:19:23

If I left 10 Year old DD in the morning she would still be in bed when I got back!! But I have left her for an hour in the day, with the usual don't answer the door, don't cook anything, heres my mobile or go next door stuff. I would be happier for her to let herself in after school than get ready in the morning!

ThatBloodyWoman Mon 10-Feb-14 14:23:53

I used to leave DSS at 12 for a few hours.

I asked the neighbour if it was ok if he could go to her if needed to for any reason,and let DSS know that,and provided him with phone numbers.

Tbh I think he would have been quite ok at 11 but there was no need to leave him then.

wintertimeisfun Mon 10-Feb-14 20:08:57

fwiw i get home from work really early (sometimes 9am, sometimes lunchtime depending on where i have been). the one time i did leave her i did call her, that is definately a good idea to call just to check she is ok & of course up getting ready for school. still not crazy about the idea even though she is. fortunately there is nothing on the horizon indicating this situation is coming up so i don't really have to think about it right now which is why i was wondering, in advance, as to what your take on it was. because i generally get back in the morning soon after she has gone to school. she did however leave the tv on grin

Lasvegas Thu 13-Feb-14 14:20:42

since DD was 10.5 years ie for last 6 months. In the school hols i have left her awake but still in bed for 30 minutes on her own.

This is a DD choice.The nanny used to come before I left. But it annoyed DD as nanny would be bustling around and DD wanted to chill with a box set in bed/ So now dd is on her own, with her mobile next to her, for 30 minutes.

Journeytolight Sat 15-Feb-14 08:35:51

DD1 (11), can be left alone for a few hours (she's quite mature for her age). DD2 (9 nearly 10) can never be left alone she makes a huge mess even when she's left alone for a mere 5 mins. So really depends on the individual. Is your DD mature enough?

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