Mumsnet Logo
My feed

to access all these features


children home alone?

28 replies

macdoodle · 20/04/2011 14:59

Very responsible girl child almost 10. Left home for periods of up to 2 hrs in an area where neighbours home and well known to her.
She has been fine on the odd occasion.
NSPCC guidelines say shouldn't be left alone under 13.
Disagreement as to the "rights" of this?
Mother of child left alone says this child, in this area, on the odd occasion.
Friend of mother says it is "not right" under any circimstances.
Who is BU?

OP posts:

vj32 · 20/04/2011 15:05

There is no legal age - it depends on maturity of the child. So long as she can care for herself, knows what to do in an emergency and has people she knows nearby, an hour or two shouldn't be a problem.

Lots of children are left alone from age 11 when they start secondary - I used to get a bus home across the city, walk home then let myself in the house for the hour or more till my Mum came home. 9 is a bit young, but there is no right or wrong unless you know the child and the situation.


cory · 20/04/2011 15:11

what vj32 said: you'd have to know the child, know the area, know how prepared she has been, known what backup she could count on in an emergency etc etc

but NSPCC guidelines are weird: "no child under 13" totally ignoring the fact that there is no childcare provision for most children of secondary school age- childminders don't want them, nurseries certainly don't, many schools either do not offer after school clubs or do only offer them for an hour or two, leaving the child to make their way home in the dark

fwiw I left ds alone for short periods at this age


reallytired · 20/04/2011 15:19

The NSPCC leaflet is someone's opinon, rather than concrete fact. I think the leaflet is over cautious.

I have left my nine year old son on his own at home for short periods to go to the shops.

At the age of seven my mother would have stayed at home and got me to pop out to the shops.


macdoodle · 20/04/2011 15:24

ok I am the mother of the child in question. I believe she is very responsible and capable, she knows what to do and where to go in an emergency, and has my phone number. She spends most/all the time playing with her friends, with the other parents home.
My friend and colleague was very disapproving and got quite cross, saying it was just not right at all, and social services would be very interested and take action against me.
I told her to call social services then.

OP posts:

cory · 20/04/2011 15:27

I have found it wise not to impart too much information about my domestic arrangements to friends- but I absolutely think you have the right to make this decision, and it's the same I would have made under similar circumstances.


kaj32 · 20/04/2011 15:29

Fwiw I'm a childminder and I'd take kids up to 13. I'm quite happy to feed them and have them do their homework after school and be a base in the hols.

But if a child is responsible then no problem leaving them for a short time


TheOriginalFAB · 20/04/2011 15:29

I used to get left alone a lot as an 8 year old.

I dread my kids being left alone or wanting to go out on their own.


Hatesponge · 20/04/2011 15:29

It totally depends on the child - some children prob shouldn't be left even at 13, others are ok at 9/10.

Ds1 is 12 (13 this year), I was happy (as was he) to be left at home alone, initially for short periods, from the age of 9/10. He also got the bus from age 10 on his own/with his younger brother. DS1 is v responsible, mature for his age and sensible.

DS2 was 10 this week. I would not feel confident in leaving him at home on his own yet, and prob won't for another year or so, and he wouldn't be happy to be on his own yet either.


Insomnia11 · 20/04/2011 15:30

I think I would also make the decision based on knowing my own child rather than NSPCC opinion. There is no law on the matter. I think my main worry is that she'd feel lonely or upset rather than any particular danger coming to her, but you know your own child and that's that.


macdoodle · 20/04/2011 15:31

I'm cross now though because niwI'm doubting my own judgement of my child. And am dithering.

OP posts:

cat64 · 20/04/2011 15:34

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn

Danthe4th · 20/04/2011 15:43

So does your child play at other peoples houses or outside when she is left? do the parents realise she has been left?
I'm happy to leave my children at home but at that age they would be expected to stay in and not have friends in or go to friends only because I wouldn't want neighbours feeling obliged to allow the child to play and stay home if they wanted to go out, and also if something did happen and my child wasn't to blame it would actually be your responsibility.


cory · 20/04/2011 15:54

Yes, Dan makes a good point: if I leave a young dc at home, I either ask other parents to look out for them or make it absolutely clear to dcs that they are not to go round to other people's houses: the last thing I want is an awkward situation where other people feel they ought to have been looking out for my child but noone had actually told them so- this breeds resentment


WhereYouLeftIt · 20/04/2011 16:40

OP, I started leaving my son 'home alone' from age 10 onwards - at first for 20mins in daytime while I 'popped to the shops' (didn't need to, but it was as good an excuse as any), then gradually working up to a couple of hours. He knew not to answer the door to anyone and that he could go round to neighbours if he felt he needed help. Now aged 12, he is perfectly confident to be at home when we go out (not often, but it's nice to have the option). Indeed, he often prompts us (unsuccessfully) to go out as he likes having the TV and fridge house to himself.

I don't think much of your friend.


pigsinmud · 20/04/2011 16:46

Same as Hatesponge. Ds1 nearly 13. He has been left alone for the odd hour or two since he was 10. Ds2 nearly 11, but I am not happy for him to be on his own. He has been on his own for half an hour here or there, but usually is with ds1.

ds2 not as level headed as ds1!


KaraStarbuckThrace · 20/04/2011 16:48

Hi Macdoodle Smile
Your dd is particularly bright and sensible for her age, IIRC. Your colleague sounds like a nasty piece of work, IMO. Calling the SS FFS, you would think they have better things to do with their time!

I was left in charge of my brothers (5 years younger than me) from about that age!!


squeakytoy · 20/04/2011 16:51

I was left on my own for couple of hours plenty of times at that age, and we didnt even have a landline phone!. I knew where the neighbours where, and I was quite happy to feel grown up, have the house to myself, and watch tv, make something to eat, read ... etc.

Only YOU as the mother know your own childs full capabilities, and if you think she is sensible enough not to have all her mates in, then go for it.


JustCallMeGrouchy · 20/04/2011 16:54

out of intrest i got reprted for leaving dd age 8 and dsage 5 with ds2 wh is 14 .They was only about 20 minutes till ds1age 16 came home

best bit is i was at meeting with ss and when i mentioned when the caf date that i had problem with childcare they said in their eyes was all legal


MadamDeathstare · 20/04/2011 16:55

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MadamDeathstare · 20/04/2011 16:58

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

5Foot5 · 20/04/2011 17:00

I left DD for short periods at this age and certainly by 11 when she was at senior school. I felt OK to do this because she was pretty sensible and mature for her age and could contact me and I could be home quickly if required. Also they have to learn to be independent one day and you can't do that in one big jump, it needs to be taken in small steps like this as they are ready for it.

I suggest your colleague is a badly informed, interfering busybody and if she is so strongly of the opinion that children of this age cannot be left then either her own children must be particularly immature or irresponsible or they have been so sheltered by their over-protective mother that they have not been allowed to develop any common sense and judgement of their own


Ormirian · 20/04/2011 17:01

I left DS1 (14) and DD (12) at home all day yesterday. DH was helping his sister with his new house and I was at work. DD's friends turned up (yes their parents did know the situation).

They were fine.

They soaked the bloody lawn with the hose, paddled in it and turned it into Glastonbury after a rainy festival Angry but they were fine.


MooMooFarm · 20/04/2011 17:10

Our eldest had to be left alone sometimes from secondary school age. His school finishing time was earlier than his younger siblings, which meant he had to be at home on is own for around 30 mins whilst I was collecting them.

That moved on gradually to the point we're at now, where a couple of years on, if we're going out somewhere for a couple of hours and he doesn't want to come, he stays at home.

I understand that every child is different, but I often hear people say they wouldn't 'trust' their child at home alone - but they then allow that child to be out on their own, either walking to school, or meeting friends; whatever. I don't understand how an immature child is safer out in the world than they are in their own secure home! Or maybe those people value their homes more than their children!


fedupandfifty · 20/04/2011 18:44

I think it's fine - just use common sense. The NSPCC recommendation is not law, even though it's frequently quoted as such. I even had a lawyer quoting it at me!! The NSPCC is being alarmist, IMHO, and playing on parental paranoia.


olderandwider · 20/04/2011 18:50

Depends on the child, but 13 sounds unreasonably over-cautious and very impractical. At 11 most children are making their own way to school. Surely they can be left in their own homes for a couple of hours (so long as they feel confident, WW3 won't break out with siblings, and they aren't firebugs).

At 9 I had a key and would walk home a mile from school, let myself in and start making supper (well prepping veg etc) until DM came home about an hour later. I really don't think being left alone now is more or less dangerous than then.

Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Sign up to continue reading

Mumsnet's better when you're logged in. You can customise your experience and access way more features like messaging, watch and hide threads, voting and much more.

Already signed up?