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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

everlong Fri 19-Apr-13 21:48:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AnyFucker Fri 19-Apr-13 21:49:55

I started doing both those things you mention when my kids were about 10

Itsnotahoover Fri 19-Apr-13 21:50:16

Just realised why question made no sense! I meant at what age would you leave your child home alone?

ladycelestial Fri 19-Apr-13 21:50:43

I definitely wouldn't let a seven year old play out or stay home alone. The age at which I'd consider it ok depends really on the child, but they'd have to be in double figures for me to even consider either.

Taffeta Fri 19-Apr-13 21:52:15

DS is a sensible 9 and I'm not happy about it yet. I let him cycle to the end of the road and back, and I've left him in the house for 5 minutes.

Maybe next year.

AgentZigzag Fri 19-Apr-13 21:53:36

The easiest answer is it depends on each child grin

But going on experience of having a 12 YO DD, I would say do it gradually and use little testers to see how they fare.

The first time I left DD in the house while I nipped to the shop a couple of minutes up the road I hammered it home made it crystal clear she wasn't to answer the door to anyone unless she was sure it was me.

Got back and she sheepishly admitted opening the door to a woman asking for charity donations who'd asked if she was at home on her own, she said she was and the woman warned her not to tell anyone else that if they knocked shock


Like you I thought she was pretty sensible and wouldn't do anything without asking or me saying she could, but what it comes down to is that you will have to live with the consequences if anything happens to them, and if in your mind there's an inkling they might not be old enough to be responsible to tackle anything, you'd always feel guilty.

AgentZigzag Fri 19-Apr-13 21:54:33

But you have to balance that with giving them responsibility so they can learn how to do stuff.

It's a tightrope walk.

everlong Fri 19-Apr-13 21:54:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sittinginthesun Fri 19-Apr-13 21:56:04

End of year 6, particularly going out to play. We went out to play from around 6 years, and I wouldn't wish it on my boys.

We had " wars" with local children, friends shop lifted, there was an element of sexual abuse, we played "chicken" on our bikes. And we were "nice" children in a good area.

In the end, I spent more and more time at home.

TumbleWeeds Fri 19-Apr-13 21:56:25

Playing outside: they have done done that since they were about 7yo.

Alone at home a bit later, around 7~8yo, mainly because the need just wasn't there so it didn't happen. (Just one child on his own)

BUT I know my dcs are very good re roads (And having being in charge of other children I would say exceptionally good. I wouldn't have let these children, same age or older than mines crossing the road on their own!).
They are also together (so one can call me if something happen which has happened in the past).
At home, I am actually happy to leave them if there is just one of them (dc1 or dc2) but would think about it more if they were together.

Batman92 Fri 19-Apr-13 21:57:04

Possibly around 12 is the youngest i'd let my child be home alone

VerySmallSqueak Fri 19-Apr-13 21:57:48

I wouldn't let mine do either at 7.

I think so many factors come into when you would leave them or let them play out,that it'd have to be on each and every circumstance.

Not very helpful,I know,but it's true.

BigBoobiedBertha Fri 19-Apr-13 21:59:46

It depends on so many things. I might or I might not. Assuming a 7 yo is what we are talking about, playing out on a quiet street or on playing fields/parks where there are no roads to cross, yes. If they had to cross a road and there was no crossing, probably not.

Leaving them home, in the daytime for a up to say, 15 minutes, yes (if they were in agreement and happy to be left). Leaving them alone at night or for longer, no unless it was an absolute emergency.

To my mind, they carry equal dangers. I know some people are happy to allow them out but not leave them alone at home but if you lay down a few rules (not going in the kitchen should cover most potential danger points at home along with not opening the door) then I reckon leaving them home alone is not such a big deal.

I do remember my mother leaving me home at 9 (I had chickenpox and wasn't allowed out and she had to work) and not being allowed the telly in case it blew up as tvs seemed to do in those days. Do they still blow up? Perhaps I should add no tv to the list!

Itsnotahoover Fri 19-Apr-13 22:00:01

Where I live there's zero chance of anyone knocking as my door is behind a big security gate which you need a code to open so no risk of him opening the door to anyone! I've always had this magic age of 10 in my head for playing out, but most of the local kids play out from year 2 upwards so I was wondering if I was being overprotective! I just think, in my head, I would be happier leaving him locked in the house while I nipped to the shop than sending him there as I feel he's more likely to get run over than he is to burn the house down!

*Disclaimer: not planning on doing either yet smile

Cherriesarelovely Fri 19-Apr-13 22:01:33

I started when Dd was 10. She stays at home for up to 40 mins if I am walking the dog or nipping to the shop. She has all the phone numbers, knows a the rules. She is very sensible. I let her go to the park literally at the end of our little road with her friend and she walks most of the way to and from school. All of these things we did very gradually.

TumbleWeeds Fri 19-Apr-13 22:02:15

sitting you see, my dcs have been to the park to play football. A group of similar age/slightly older children came and started to be (vaguely) a pain. They just took their ball and came back home telling me these people were annoying so not worth carrying on. They went to play on the green opposite the house instead.

Because these are children who are going to the local primary school, the dcs know them, at least by sight, just as much as they do know them so you don't have this 'who are these strangers' phenomenon.

TumbleWeeds Fri 19-Apr-13 22:03:26

ItsNot yes Y2 is pretty standard here too.

TigOldBitties Fri 19-Apr-13 22:04:07

Well I'm going to go against the majority and say I currently leave my 6 (nearly 7) year old home alone. Generally with my 9 year old, but sometimes not. Normally for only 5-15 minutes but I would be comfortable with half an hour and tbh I probably have done this by accident like when chatting to a neighbour.

Playing out I think is a bit different and in my opinion this is to do with them being accessible to anyone and cars. Where we live now is a dead end and you don't really get any cars in our section so my 6 and 9 year old play out, and have been for maybe a year. My neighbours kids of similar ages are normally out there with them. However where we used to live (also in centralish east London) it was busier with both human and vehicular traffic and my older DC had to wait until 9 or 10 to play out there.

AgentZigzag Fri 19-Apr-13 22:04:28

When they start doing things like staying in and going out alone at 10 YO, you're really getting them ready for secondary.

DD1 seemed to go from cossetted to independent in about 6 months.

It was a bit scary at first (and still is tbh, especially when I've got to make a decision about her going out to meet Blah, when I've no idea who Blah is or where they live), but it's soo much easier to let her get on with it to some extent.

TigOldBitties Fri 19-Apr-13 22:07:16

I should add that my grandson is 4 and I never leave the DC for more than 5 minutes if he is there as I do feel that's too young. At their current ages I'd be happy to leave my DC for an absolute maximum of a couple of hours.

They would need to e a secondary school before I would consider leaving them over night.

teenagetantrums Fri 19-Apr-13 22:08:23

at the age of 7 i left my ds at home alone for 10mins while i went to local shop, he was very sensiable and to honest was still sitting in the same palce when i got back, my dd was not left alone at home until about 10. They both played outside at about 7/8 but i could see them we have a green outside and no roads involved they were both allowed to go to the local park at 10/11 cant remeber exact age but year 5/6 i , they both had a watch and were given a time to come home, biult up from 20mins formo the first time till a few hours as they got older and they had to stay together. As i said in other thread at the age of 14 and 12 i was working 2 nights and they were home alone from 6pm - 12am, they were fine.

WeAllHaveWings Fri 19-Apr-13 22:08:49

Ds(9) has played out alone since 7. At 7 he as only allowed out in the cul-de-sac we live in, or into a friends house if he asked first. He knew how far he was allowed to go and had never went further.

At 8 he was allowed around the corner to small playground with friends. He had a watch and knew what time he has to report back home (and I found excuses to go and check now and again). He also knew if his friends went home he was to come home too.

He's now 9 and allowed into next street with friends. Quiet estate with no through roads and off the main road.

He's been very responsible playing out, but I would still not leave him home alone and not sure yet what age I will do it.

Think the main difference is if something happened when playing out, he's with friends and he or they could come and get me and I'm right there. If I left him home alone, and something happened he's alone with no one.

Itsnotahoover Fri 19-Apr-13 22:09:35

Yes I've done it by accident when I've been cleaning the car or putting stuff in the bins and I've got talking to a neighbour, but then I'm generally stood either outside the door in the courtyard, or just outside the gates, so would be able to hear the smoke alarms etc.

AnyFucker Fri 19-Apr-13 22:09:45

Tig, an 11yo would be at secondary school

Would you leave an 11yo overnight ?

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