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Age to leave a child at home alone?

(34 Posts)
Kidsncats Wed 02-Apr-14 15:13:27

At what age would you leave a child at home to pop to the shops or to pick up a sibling from school?
I'm looking at 15 mins max out of the house not a full weekly shop at the supermarket!

meditrina Wed 02-Apr-14 15:15:41

It all depends on how sensible your DC is, and wheee you mean a literal 15 minutes or a more general 'it doesn't take very long'.

I didn't leave my eldest until age 10 or so. By the youngest, it was a fair bit before that.

guineapig2014 Wed 02-Apr-14 15:20:00

Dd (my eldest Dc) was nearly 11 when we started to leave her for just short amounts of time. Hope this helps!

PirateJones Wed 02-Apr-14 15:20:16

Depends on the child, I starting leaving my daughter at 9 or 10.

mumtobealloveragain Wed 02-Apr-14 15:20:21

I wouldn't leave a child at home for any amount of time unless they were at least 10/11, happy to be left and very sensible. Any younger or likely to do something silly and they wouldn't be left. Any more than a quick nip to the shop by the house for an emergency pint of milk and they'd not be left unless they were 12/13

MirandaWest Wed 02-Apr-14 15:24:20

Started leaving DS for short amounts of time when he was 8. He's 10 now and I occasionally leave him for up to an hour or so.

Happypiglet Wed 02-Apr-14 15:25:51


Thewhingingdefective Wed 02-Apr-14 15:31:20

I've been starting to wonder this too. My twins are just turned eight and nowhere near sensible to be left yet, but I'm not sure I will know when they are.

Floggingmolly Wed 02-Apr-14 15:33:32

10. Usually. It depends, though. Ds1 is 9 at the moment; in his case, probably around 15...

Kidsncats Wed 02-Apr-14 17:37:38

Thank you for the replies. DD is at a good age to be left, but she doesn't want to be yet!

LongPieceofString Wed 02-Apr-14 17:39:00

When they are happy and will follow instructions.

DS - approx 9
DD - approx 7

Chewbecca Wed 02-Apr-14 17:43:07

I found the advice here on the nspcc website useful when considering this.
I leave DS alone for up to half an hour, he's 10. However, I try to time it towards then end of a day or a time when someone else would be home within an hour or two, just in case something happens to me!

GreatUncleEddie Wed 02-Apr-14 17:44:08

Surely if she's a good age to be left then she is a good age to choose to come along? Why is it a problem?

chocolatespiders Wed 02-Apr-14 17:45:25

I leave dd 10 for 5-10mins when I drop older dd to school occasionally when she wants a lift

Kidsncats Wed 02-Apr-14 19:53:45

I didn't say it was a problem. I just asked when people would leave their children at home for 15 mins. DD is sensible enough to stay at home for that time, she just wouldn't want to yet. No problem at all.

GreatUncleEddie Wed 02-Apr-14 21:59:36

Well just take her then!

mumtobealloveragain Thu 03-Apr-14 00:26:21

Longoieceofstring- Do you leave your 7 yr old at home alone? I'm not being judgemental (well maybe a bit) but given this is a discussion thread I feel justified in asking. Just how mature can a 7 yr old be?

Looseleaf Thu 03-Apr-14 00:45:23

I don't leave our (very sensible) 7 year old. DH and I agreed it wouldn't feel right and our nearest shop is literally next door. She is mature for 7 but if ever anything odd happened like an alarm going off or fire or anything very unlikely i just wouldn't have peace of mind yet that she'd manage or be safe. Mind you she herself would be perfectly happy to be left if I popped out I'm sure, but would be surprised- and I'd just always bring her

cory Thu 03-Apr-14 09:05:27

I'd leave them for short stretches- nipping to the shop type- once they were 8 or 9, as long as they were happy with it. By 11 I was leaving ds for maybe a couple of hours. Now that he is 13 I have been known to leave him for the day- and I'm quite happy for him to cook while I'm away.

I know from observations made at other times that he will cope calmly and sensibly with any emergency. When he accidentally tried to boil milk in the kettle aged 9 (foreign family, not enough kettle experience blush), he smelled the milk burning and very sensibly switched the electricity off and unplugged the electrics before going to tell an adult. He knows where the stopcock and the fusebox are. As an adult I have no specialist knowledge about these things that he doesn't have, and I know from experience that he is no more likely to panic than I am.

But if at all possible I've given him a choice.

Neither of mine has ever seemed particularly silly beyond the toddler years, nor do I remember getting into much trouble myself as a youngster.

I used to be allowed to take a boat out alone from age 11 or so and never misused the privilege: I knew as much about the signs of changing weather as the adults in the family did and was just as careful about mooring. I was allowed to bake and cook at home from an early age- and again I don't remember panicking if things went wrong: I expected to sort myself out and I did.

With hindsight (and experience from own childrearing) this clearly wasn't a one-off decision from my parents that now she is going to be responsible: it was the result of years of training, of years of being involved in the practical everyday life of the family and being expected to make sensible decisions.

But the decision thing works both ways: I would have allowed my children to come with me if they wanted to, and I am pretty sure my parents would have too. I think these things work best when you are following the natural flow of your child's development- at least up until a certain age: if they are nearing secondary school age and still unable to walk to the lamp post without you, you might want to put in some special training.

Nocomet Thu 03-Apr-14 09:15:08

9 for literally 15 minutes
10 for longer.

DD2 would happily be left for an hour in Y6 and longer if it meant avoiding classical music.

She also regularly avoids church (old music and sermons are not her thing).

DD1 sings otherwise I'd avoid classical music and church too!

Chocolatemolehill Thu 03-Apr-14 20:39:35

I wonder how early were you ladies left at home alone by your parents when you kids? Just wondering whether things have changed during the last 25 years or my parents were too liberal? (It could also be a cultural thing - I grew up outside the UK)

I walked to school alone at the age of 8 (15-minute walk including crossing roads). I also stayed at home alone after school at the same age, for about three-four hours. I'd heat up food for myself and also feed the dog. I was perfectly happy with all that and nothing bad ever happened. I was a mature and responsible child and both my parents worked full time so there wasn't much choice anyway. I learned to be independent from early on and always thought it was very beneficial.

I don't know what I would do with my own child (I'm only pregnant at this stage!), just wondering what other peoples childhood experiences were.

mummytime Thu 03-Apr-14 20:57:47

When I was about 10 I was not only left alone at my Aunts house for 1 hour or so, but was also looking after my two younger cousins. I would never have done that with my children.
I walked home from school at about 7 (my Mum did it from 5 during World War II), we both had to cross one very big road junction - it did have a Lollypop man and later for me Traffic Lights.
It wouldn't be safe now, as less children of this age do it, and there are far fewer people just walking around.

But also lots of bad things did happen when I was a child, just no one spoke of them (not to me, I was relatively lucky).

Nocomet Fri 04-Apr-14 01:21:55

I was hardly ever left at home, my DM was always in.

However, from 10 I was off on my bike for hours and as a young teen I cycled and walked miles and miles, mostly completely on my own. My BFs both lived out of town one a nice 3 mile cycle. The other 9 miles.

JellyTipisthebest Fri 04-Apr-14 05:15:51

I have left both of mine on their on in the UK for ten mins. I have left my eldest alone here until I found out by chance it is illegal until they are 14 unless you take steps to ensure their care (what ever that means). Mine are 8 and 12. I would not of left them together. We have quakes here so would not leave my 8 year old.

I would still leave my 12 year old but after making sure she knew what to do in and just after a quake. fairly sure she know better than I do

Canihaveaslice Fri 04-Apr-14 23:20:48

I haven't left either dc 10 &7. Dd10 is very responsible and makes her own sandwiches and can make a cup of tea, she knows how to dial 999 and knows where family telephone numbers etc are kept.
However the bit that worries me is how worried they would be if something happened to me. Imagine I get into a car crash and can't call home, who would know the kids are there on their own? I can just imagine that being really worried and that upsets me, so for now they have to come with me.

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