What age is old enough?

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-02-2007
What age is old enough?
6
Fri, 03-22-2013 - 3:08am

Kids grow so fast....my son turned 10 last February, and I've been wondering what age is it ok to leave them home alone?

Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Fri, 03-22-2013 - 11:19am

I think it depends on the situation and the child.  If he's resourceful and comfortable being alone, he's different from a child who is anxious and needs a lot of direction.

We might have left our 10yo alone while we ran a 20-minute errand but not for an hour.  He is 12 now and tends to make poor choices when left to his own devices, especially related to the internet, so we don't leave him alone with no direction for more than an hour.  When he is left alone, he gets clear direction first on what he is supposed to be doing.  He still can get into mischief, but it's limited in scope.

Our older kids, now 20 & 18, were much more responsible.  They were also girls and not interested in the internet.  They could be counted on to be alone for hours by the time they were 12.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Fri, 03-22-2013 - 1:23pm

I think 10 is kind of young unless you are just running to the store & going to be gone a few minutes.  I also think it depends on what kind of neighborhood you live in.  I wasn't ever really worried about what my kids would do if they were home alone but more about what would happen in case of some emergency?  We live in a safe neighborhood & they could run to a neighbor's house.  Also do your kids know your cell phone number?

Community Leader
Registered: 07-26-1999
Fri, 03-22-2013 - 2:24pm

I agree with the other's that it depends on the kid and the circumstances.  My ODD at 10 was left alone quite often for short periods of time before and after school until DH or I made it home from work.  We had set rules in place, she knew them and was very responsible.  We also had neighbors that watched out and she knew she could go to if she needed something.  My stepson, on the other hand, we would have never left home on his own at 10.  By 12 he was fine to leave alone for periods of time.  Like the other poster, he would make poor choices when it came to the internet, etc. and was just not ready maturity wise for it yet.  I don't think its necessarily a boy versus girl thing, but girls do tend to mature a bit faster when it comes to things like this IMO in general.  I would look at it, talk to your son on his thoughts, what your expectations are for him, etc.

Photobucket
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-02-2007
Tue, 04-02-2013 - 7:40pm

Not by heart, but I showed it to him on the frig.  I've left him for short periods when I've had to run to the store or when his dad was on his way home.

Does anyone know if there is actually a legal age?  I wouldn't want to get in trouble for child neglect or endangerment.

Community Leader
Registered: 07-26-1999
Wed, 04-03-2013 - 11:46am

Each state's legal age is different, so you would have to check your state guidelines.  Here is a breakdown of state by state guidelines:

http://www.imom.com/parenting/tikes/parenting/safety/home-alone-rules-by-state/

I would also add, for anyone reading this in the future, they also have different regulations on military bases, so if someone is living on a military base, they will want to check with base authority because the rules on base do differ from regular state law in some places.

Photobucket
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-06-2007
Sun, 04-14-2013 - 8:15pm
I started leaving my daughter for short periods (like 15-20 minutes) just after she turned 11. We worked up from there to an hour at a time, then a couple of hours, then eventually to whole days. She's 14 now and pretty much the only thing I don't do is leave her home alone at night - I have a few times, if I needed to pick up milk or something, but I don't go out for the whole evening. That's my personal thing, though; she would be fine if I did.