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When would you leave a child home alone whilst collecting/taking other child somewhere?

(22 Posts)
Appuskidu Wed 05-Oct-11 12:55:44

I have a ten year old and once a week I need to go out at 5pm to collect my other child from an activity. It's a 3 minute walk and I'm probably gone 15 minutes tops once I've got her stuff and spoken to anyone I need to. DS hates going and would be more than happy playing/watching tv at home in the warm. At what age can I leave him? Are there laws regarding things like this?

I'm sure at this age, I walked myself home from school, let myself in with a key and then was in the house for an hour before my mum got home from work (though I did have older siblings).

When he starts secondary school next year-he'll be walking home alone and letting himself in-it'll be ten/twenty minutes before I'm home with the others, so I wonder if it's a good idea to practise now (with emergency contact numbers by the phone and instructions not to answer the door) rather than suddenly expecting him to cope with life the day he starts secondary school?

He's extremely sensible and can be trusted if that makes a difference!

CointreauVersial Wed 05-Oct-11 13:04:52

I leave my 12yo DS1 for up to a couple of hours (but he is at secondary school and makes his own way home on a bus; he is also pretty sensible).

I have just started to leave my 10yo DD1 if I am gone locally for 10-15 minutes, but no longer at the moment. But this will increase over the coming year, as she will also be secondary age soon.

8yo DD2 doesn't get left, although arguably she is the most sensible of the three!

I understand there is no specific law, but if anything happens which can be interpreted as neglect, then you could be prosecuted. We have had the chats about answering the door/telephone when I'm out, and what to do if there is a problem (plenty of neighbours).

Yes, I also was a latch-key child at 9yo!

titchy Wed 05-Oct-11 13:08:41

God yes fine at that age -year 6 I assume? And there are no laws about the minimum age, whatever people say.

My ds is the saem age and I left him home alone this morning for half an hour till his friend called so they coudl walk to school together. <Wonders if they did actually get to school and aren;t still at home x-boxing....>

Appuskidu Wed 05-Oct-11 13:09:44

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Parents/Yourchildshealthandsafety/Yourchildssafetyinthehome/DG_070594

This covers most things, but does seem to suggest 12 is the age of 'responsibility'! I'm sure a lot of 11 year olds are left for short periods of time though.

Bramshott Wed 05-Oct-11 13:12:18

I've been leaving DD1 under those circumstances (short, walking distance away) since she was 7! She knows my mobile number, and to call me if there are any problems. Now she is nearly 9 I will probably rev up to leaving her for longer periods involving a car trip.

ElaineReese Wed 05-Oct-11 13:14:29

I would leave my 10 year old when walking somewhere nearby, like nipping to the shop - but I haven't yet left her alone if I'm driving to collect dd1, although she hates coming. I just worry that there might be traffic and if she did need me to get back quickly, I wouldn't be able to - or indeed, be able to answer the phone.

What are people's thoughts on leaving them if you're driving rather than walking - for half an hour or so? My instinct is not yet, but I'm not sure.

startail Wed 05-Oct-11 13:18:24

School let Y6 walk home alone (so I guess they don't know if anyone's in).
I've just started leaving my this age DD for just under an hour. Stupid overlapping, opposite direction after school activities. I take DD1 north, dad gets home and takes her south.

SkiLift Wed 05-Oct-11 13:19:27

yes, i would think that is absolutely fine.

BobblyGussets Wed 05-Oct-11 13:26:21

My 8 year old DS is left for 15 minutes whilst I pick up LO from pre-school and also takes himself to and from school which has just started recently as he is in year 4. The school is about 3 minutes away with one little road to cross right in front of the school. We have had a contingency plan talk, what if etc and the neighbours know I left him for a few minutes, so whilst not taking responsibilty, they would be happy to have him if he wanted to go to them whilst I was out.

BleughCowWonders Wed 05-Oct-11 13:27:01

Started v brief periods when mine were 8. No fuss, they know how to use the phone to call me, to not answer the door and which neighbours to go to if need be.

Got to start somewhere (or will we all be delivering our children to university every morning grin

Love the aghast faces of mums who just have a toddler when I tell them the above... They find it hard to think their lo will ever grow into a bigger/ responsible child.

bibbitybobbityhat Wed 05-Oct-11 13:27:37

I have been leaving my dd for short periods since she was 8 or so.

meditrina Wed 05-Oct-11 13:34:53

I started when DCs reached 10 - building up from about 20 minutes to about an hour now.

It really depends on your DC, whether you can completely trust them to be sensible, and whether they're happy to be left.

There are no laws about this, but it is covered by the catch-all responsibility that you have, that if your child comes to harm whilst alone you could -depending on exact circumstances - be prosecuted for neglect.

cory Wed 05-Oct-11 22:23:02

I left my 10yo for a couple of hours last term without any worries: he is a sensible boy and has always reacted sensibly in unexpected situations. But I did build up to it first, leaving him for shorter periods when he was 8 or so.

AyesToTheRight Wed 05-Oct-11 22:33:51

This is something I am wondering about - DS is nearly 8 and would like to not have to come along when I take DD to Rainbows. Is about 10 minutes away (probably less on the way back as I would be going quicker). I instinctively feel it would be OK whereas H instinctively doesn't.

What do more experienced people feel are minimum things I would need to feel comfortable about ie able to use the phone to call me abd not answering the front door before doing this? I do want him to have more independence but feel unsure about it now it is nearer blush.

School lets them go home on their own from year 5 (although years 3 and 4 could tbh as they aren't released to a parent in the juniors). He could go to school on his own but seeing as I am taking DD any way we might as well leave together.

meditrina Thu 06-Oct-11 05:38:32

Ayes: at a minimum:

- not answer the door (specify if there are exceptions).
- what to say if they answer the phone ('mummy can't come to the phone - can she ring back in 15 mins' - then write an adequate message - not 'she's out' <click>)
- not to start cooking, using sharp knives, lighting candles etc
- what to do if something worries them (ring you, go to neighbours, etc)

ripstheirthroatoutliveupstairs Thu 06-Oct-11 09:00:12

I honestly can't see any problem. My DD goes to school on her own shock which involves a five minute walk, crossing a major road and getting a bus. She is delighted with the responsibility.
On Monday, she had to put the cats out, lock the front door and get to the bus on time. She loved the extra responsibility of the key.

FoxyRoxy Thu 06-Oct-11 09:10:13

Hello all, been a lurker for a while but this is my first post, hope you don't mind me jumping in!

Ds is 10 and has been left for increasing amounts of time since the age of 8. He walks to school on his own and will soon be using the bus as we are moving house. I keep a list of phone numbers by the phone and if he gets home from school or a friends house and no one is home he will call either DH or myself. He's very responsible though.

My friends DS is 8 and he is left alone for up to 3 hours as he gets home from school before she finishes work, I'd leave an 8yo for 10 mins if they feel comfortable I think that's the main point.

Northumberlandlass Thu 06-Oct-11 13:02:55

DS has just turned 8, we only have him so I don't need to leave him for 15 mins or so to pick up others. BUT, I am trying to give him a little bit of independence. For example if we are having coffee on a Saturday in our (small) town, I will let him go to the sweet shop alone / look around the toy shop etc. He has a watch and I'll say be back in 15 mins or whatever.

He likes to think that I trust him and he feels responsible. On a different note, he can now go swimming on his own too, we did that for the first time last week. I took him to the pool an hour before his lesson and I watched from the cafe.

Fo0ffyShmooffer Thu 06-Oct-11 13:09:50

My DS is 9 and has very recently been left for the 30 mins it takes me to get DD to nursery and back, if there is a day when she is in but he isn't. He has plenty of specific instruction with regards to answering the door, touching the cooker etc.. It's only been twice but has worked well.

Bramshott Thu 06-Oct-11 13:16:05

Elaine - re driving not walking. I haven't had the confidence to do that yet (DD1 is 9 after Christmas) but am hoping to rev up to it over the next 12 months. Certainly I think it's something that should have happened naturally before they leave Primary School.

dearheart Thu 06-Oct-11 16:55:46

I always err on the side of caution - but in this case I would leave DS at home.

ElaineReese Thu 06-Oct-11 17:37:05

Bramshott I think you are right, and I do leave her if I'm driving if her older sister is there too, so I guess it is the logical next step!

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