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What age can I leave my children in the car while I shop?

(163 Posts)
Tinseltower Sun 17-Jun-18 15:21:01

Today I left my 9 and 7 year old i. The car alone for about 15 mins. Windows down, in the shade and mild day. Is this really irresponsible? Car wasn’t hot at all on my return, yet some people think I’m stupid for doing this.

What age would you leave your children alone for a short amount of time?

Sirzy Sun 17-Jun-18 15:22:40

I think a lot depends on how sensible they are but for most that age I would be worried about them messing around in the car - especially near the handbrake!

ziggiestardust Sun 17-Jun-18 15:24:11

Mine is 7 and honestly I wouldn’t trust him. The limit for us is going to pay at the petrol station, but to be honest I usually stop on the way home and fill up.

Singlenotsingle Sun 17-Jun-18 15:24:40

I wouldn't! Windows down is ok because they get fresh air, but NOT OK in case either they open the door and wander off, or some pervert comes by and takes them! He.could persuade them to open the car door, or simply force the window open. shock

Nothisispatrick Sun 17-Jun-18 15:25:36

I just wouldn't. The car being hot is not the only risk.

hibbledibble Sun 17-Jun-18 15:26:39

Seven is far too young. I would say nine probably is too. It's never fair to expect children to be 'in charge' of other children too.

NeedHoliday101 Sun 17-Jun-18 15:26:44


CantankerousCamel Sun 17-Jun-18 15:27:07

It’s fine! I leave my younger children. Probably not for a full shop because they get bored but certainly for a basket shop.

Beamur Sun 17-Jun-18 15:29:19

I would leave my 11 yr old DD if I was popping in for a few minutes & the car park was right outside the shop. Not for a big shop though.
Friend of a friend did this with their son, kid took handbrake off, rolled into a parked car. Idiots that they must be, only went and did it again and this time, left the keys in the ignition...kid started car up and locked doors. He's 7 I think. Parents are idiots.

CantankerousCamel Sun 17-Jun-18 15:35:53


My kids are way more sensible and scared of me than that

CloudCaptain Sun 17-Jun-18 15:38:26

Nope never. Mine like to fiddle with buttons and things and would probably start honking the horn when they discover that.

bonbonours Sun 17-Jun-18 15:44:40

I leave mine the same age for a few minutes, not for a big supermarket shop. They are sensible, the 9 year old walks to school on her own sometimes. Even the 7 year old can be trusted to walk the last bit school on his own.

SuperSuperSuper Sun 17-Jun-18 15:48:57

If they're old enough to be trusted in a car with the handbrake/controls/doors etc, they're old enough to be left at home for an hour in the first place. So, not at 7. Probably 10.

Petrol is different because paying takes a short time and the car is usually visible from the shop.

Overrunwithlego Sun 17-Jun-18 15:49:39

Never? Is that an honest answer? You will never leave your children alone in a car even when they are 15, 30, 40? How very strange.

Butterflykissess Sun 17-Jun-18 15:52:48

never? so not a 14 year old?

PickAChew Sun 17-Jun-18 15:55:05

If their behaviour is too difficult to manage when they go into the shop with you then they are not mature enough to be left alone in a car.

Tinseltower Sun 17-Jun-18 15:55:08

They are quite sensible, I can’t imagine them honking the horn! I can’t imagine them doing that past 2/3! The only risk would be someone forcibly taking them out of the car, which is highly highly unlikely. Plus the commotion would lead to passers by stepping in. I imagine they would be more at risk walking through the car park. Just baffles me that some people think what I did is so terrible!

Echobelly Sun 17-Jun-18 15:55:49

I left son (6) alone in car for just over 5 mins. My main concern about any longer is what if a kid needs the loo or something! In the past left sleeping baby/toddler in car near a shop rather than disturb them or have to take them half asleep across a car park.

Overheating cases have generally involved babies/toddlers being forgotten in a car for hours in a hot US office carpark while someone goes to work, never because someone popped to the shops.

I also think the risk of a potential child-abductor walking past and breaking a window to drag kid/s out of a locked car (it's always locked) in a street or carpark full of people is absolutely minimal. Pretty sure it's statistically safer to leave them in there briefly than walk them across a car park, especially if you're having to wake them up to do so or are dealing with more than one child.

Missingstreetlife Sun 17-Jun-18 15:57:21

Why did you ask then

Audree Sun 17-Jun-18 15:58:09

I started when mine were about the same age as yours, OP. My biggest fear is temperature - when it’s extremely cold or hot I make even my 13 yo come in the store with me.

NeeChee Sun 17-Jun-18 15:58:38

I read a story about a 10 year old boy who was left in his mum's car while she went shopping. He was playing on his tablet, and randomly one of the adjacent cars set on fire. He was so absorbed in the tablet, he didn't actually notice until a worried passerby started banging on the car windows.
So no, I wouldn't leave the child alone in the car. You never know what might happen.

Tinseltower Sun 17-Jun-18 16:01:16

Missing street life- in case I had missed a risk as a lady confronted me and acted like this was the worst thing a parent could do!

TeacupDrama Sun 17-Jun-18 16:04:17

a 7 year old will not overheat in the uk even on the hottest day in 15 minutes with the windows down

at 7 it would depend on the maturity of the child and how well you know they would not fiddle with stuff they are told not to

by 10 I would expect that any NT child could be left at home or in a car for 30 minutes without being stupid

by DD is 8.5 she is sensible and could be left for a short time 15-20 minutes, I would leave her at home while I popped to village shop/ dropped parcel at post office

I would leave her in the car for the same things, I would not let her stay in car while I did big shop in the nearest city, in our own small market town would be happier leaving her

the risk of being abducted is so tiny apparently it has been calculated that the average time a child would need to sit on your garden wall to be abducted is over 10,000 years

adaline Sun 17-Jun-18 16:08:09

I was left in the car for about 15-20 minutes at a time from the age of about 7, I would say. This was in the early nineties. I just used to sit and read, or listen to the radio, or play "snake" on my mum's phone!

I don't understand all this abduction stuff really. Or starting the engine or pressing buttons. My mum always took the keys with her so the only thing I could do was press the horn or listen to the radio. Since when were supermarket car parks hotbeds for child abduction? There are always people around and/or CCTV.

Trills Sun 17-Jun-18 16:29:22

This was in the early nineties. I just used to sit and read, or listen to the radio, or play "snake" on my mum's phone!

Did you mean early 2000s?

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