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Leaving kids on their own? Too early?

(31 Posts)
MrsLilymunster Wed 25-Oct-17 17:44:51

My friend was telling me that her parents often left her on her own from the age of 8+. her parents are really lovely but am I being unreasonable in thinking this is a bit reckless????
when is acceptable age to leave your children on their own??

funshine17 Wed 25-Oct-17 17:47:31

I have relatives that live next door so I’ve been leaving mine for short times (1 hr weekly shop) since around 8/9 and now I’ll leave them for up to 3 hours at 10/11
I appreciate that mine is quite an unusual situation though.

Phosphorus Wed 25-Oct-17 17:48:14

It depends on the child.

An 8 year old is often fine to be left while parents do pick ups/drop offs, especially these days with mobiles etc.

It's a peculiarly British thing to baby children in not allowing them to travel to/from school, and stay home alone for a while at that age.

BertieBotts Wed 25-Oct-17 17:51:29

The culture has changed. It wouldn't be considered okay to leave an 8 year old in the UK today but it was a generation ago.

We have left DS from about 7 as we live in Germany and it's considered normal here. He was happy to be left and could contact us if he needed to. I think he was 8 though by the time we started leaving him for longer than about half an hour.

You can't do that in the UK though and some MNers would probably lynch me for this - but he's been walking home from school on his own since 7 as well.

Lellochip Wed 25-Oct-17 17:57:58

My parents got rid of the childminder when I was 9 or so. Got ourselves up, off to school, into town for sports clubs, fed etc. Coped fine, though wouldn't recommend as an example of good parenting hmm

Think a sensible 8 year old would be fine to be left for short times though

MummaDeeDee Wed 25-Oct-17 18:00:21

Every child copes differently. As long as you’ve had “the chat” with them (what to do in an emergency etc) I think you know by the child.

toriatoriatoria Wed 25-Oct-17 18:49:03

I think it all depends on the child and also that was acceptable a generation ago isn't what's accepted now.

SandLand Wed 25-Oct-17 19:01:44

It also depends on the country. The Brits seem much more wary of giving kids freedom than many other countries.
For example (Brit, not in uk) my 6yr old (Year2) is expected to leave his classroom (3000 kids in the school) find his bus, and get home without an adult. I had kittens when I heard this was expected, but he is (so far!) fine.
I will give my 8 year old, having met him at a third location after school (he finishes later than his brother some days) a front door key and let him walk home (5 mins) and let himself in rather than watch his younger brothers class. I'm late to allow him to do this according some. Exceptionally early according to others. Culture and custom play a big part in this.

Gretia Wed 25-Oct-17 19:05:58

I think 8yo is fine to be left for an hour or so. I think it actually does more damage not to leave them on their own for a little bit by that age-you end up with children who can't think/do anything for themselves! Babying them doesn't do them any favours in the long run!

Mamabear4180 Wed 25-Oct-17 19:18:54

*I have relatives that live next door so I’ve been leaving mine for short times (1 hr weekly shop) since around 8/9 and now I’ll leave them for up to 3 hours at 10/11
I appreciate that mine is quite an unusual situation though.*

I'm not sure it is unusual really, it's what I did too. No relatives next door either!

formerbabe Wed 25-Oct-17 19:26:47

My eldest is way would I leave him alone in the house.

Ausparent Wed 25-Oct-17 19:50:04

I agree that we are more conservative than a lot of other countries in this area.

We are in Austria and we are encouraged to send our kids to school on their own from age 6. Very difficult for my British brain to adjust to but everyone does it here. He is 7 now and walks to and from school on his own every day.

Definitely depends on the child, where the house is, how far away you are etc. I leave my son for 10 minutes whilst I walk round the corner to get my DD from kindergarten but we have very clear rules which he knows and follows. I wouldn't leave him if I was gone for longer, but I have friends here who have more mature kids the same age who are left for longer.

Rowgtfc72 Wed 25-Oct-17 19:54:55

We left Dd for half an hour or so at eight and for an hour at nine. She's ten and a half now and is fine to be left for a couple of hours and can get herself home from school on the bus.
She has friends who are nowhere near this stage yet.

exexpat Wed 25-Oct-17 19:57:27

DS stopped coming along to his sister's swimming lessons by the time he was about nine, I think - he was bored rigid and was much happier at home by himself. We would have been out of the house for an hour or so at a time.

K1092902 Wed 25-Oct-17 20:01:07

High school here. Summer before DSD started high school we started leaving her for half hour increasing it to two hours over the holidays before she started school. Few ups and downs over the years (normal teenage stuff) but no major problems.

DSD was left on her own for up to 2 hours when she started high school.

WhispersOfWickedness Wed 25-Oct-17 20:07:59

Definitely depends on the child. I have a nearly 8 yo and a just turned 6yo. The 6yo is more mature than the 8yo and I would feel happier leaving her (although I wouldn’t yet). I do leave 8yo in the car for up to 15 mins at a time though.
Also agree about other countries, my best friend is in another European country and her 8yo dd walks to school and back on her own and is sometimes home for up to half an hour on her own. Totally normal there.

Longdistance Wed 25-Oct-17 20:16:21

This is quite interesting to read. I’m contemplating leaving my dd who’s 8, alone when I drop off dd2 to Rainbows which is in the School in the next road from us so, 3 minutes max. She is really sensible, and would be doing her homework anyway. She did ask me last week, and we had letters from the school saying year 3’s could walk home by themselves 🤷🏼‍♀️

Imaginosity Wed 25-Oct-17 20:23:33

I used to be left at home at age 8 for about an hour or longer and I remember being terrified that someone might break into the house. Also, i would not have been able to manage calmly if there was a fire or something. Probably unlikely something would happen but you never know.

EveryNameYouTake Wed 25-Oct-17 20:35:09

1960s - my dad used to walk home after school on his own from 6 years old. I can't even compute how that was ok, but it was normal then.


madeyemoodysmum Wed 25-Oct-17 20:38:35

I leave Ds 9 nearly 10 while I collect dd from school club etc. It's takes about 20mins.
I've left them both together 9&11 when we have been parents evening but that's only five mins away and we have our phones.

mistymumma Wed 25-Oct-17 20:43:32

It's fine, until the local paedophile notices, or is by opportunity passing by and takes it upon himself to break in... or knock... most kids of 8 would answer. You cant be too careful when it comes to children, especially your own, yet if something happened I bet nobody would dare utter the words "mums fault" even though it would be.

FenceSitter01 Wed 25-Oct-17 20:48:54

It really depends upon the child. Two of mine were perfectly sensible, one however was not!

littleducks Wed 25-Oct-17 20:56:37

Depends on the child and when they feel comfortable. You need to teach rules properly eg. No answering the door, no answering the phone uneeds it's you. Explain what to do in case of flood/fire/opportunistic paedophile burglars hmm.

engineersthumb Wed 25-Oct-17 21:07:06

Misty that is rather judgmental. It's an individual's decision based on the child. Wrapping them up in cotton wool won't prepare anyone for the dangers in the real world especially how to assess and balance risk.

Cornishclio Wed 25-Oct-17 21:16:51

We left our 2 girls at home on their own when they were 11. The recommendation then was actually no child should be left alone under the age of 12 or responsible for other younger siblings until 14. We figured once they were old enough to walk to school on their own they could cope with emergencies at home should they arise so secondary school age. I think 8 is too young but there is no law giving a statutory age. Nspcc still say 12.

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