What is the suggested age to leave at home alone?

nita1950May 20, 2003

My son is almost 11 years old. He wants to stay at home alone for short periods of time..I am talking about less than an hour. He is a very responsible child and I feel that he can be trusted. I take him everywhere with me...even for a 15 minute trip to run a quick errand. He would be able to reach me by cell phone and I could always check back with him to be sure that all if okay. Once last year I had to return to his school...about 3 minutes away to retrieve a book that he had left. He was doing other homework and begged me to leave him and that he would be okay. I called him the minute that I got in the car and talked to him until I pulled back in the driveway... about 7-8 minutes. So much for continuing on homework! He was still thrilled to be home alone for that short time.

I am an over protective mom and I am not ready to leave him alone yet. Please share what you have done and your experiences at the various ages of 10, 11 and 12. In our area they are allowed to babysit at age 13, I guess that I will be ready by then.

Please give me some advice.


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I started allowing my son to stay home after school at age 12. He had to call me as soon as he got home and was not allowed to have anyone in the house. He was also able to fix himself a snack in the microwave. Now at 14 he is able to start dinner for me. Simple things like chili and spaghetti. I was nervous about it at first, but I knew I had to let him show me that he could handle it. I have never had a problem, if he has any questions, I am only a cell phone call away.

My 10 year old has started asking me to stay home after school, it would be about 1 1/2 hours. I have said NO and I am standing my ground. My 10 year old is not as mature at this age that my older son was and I just think 10 is way too young. I know the law (at least in Michigan) allows kids to stay alone at 10, but I just think it is too young.

I think as long as you trust him, it is time to let him show you what he is capable of. This would be agreat confidence builder. Good Luck

    Bookmark   May 20, 2003 at 1:19PM
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I used this logic with my son, who is 12.

If he wants to stay home alone, or go somewhere unsupervised, he has to show me that he is responsible and trustworthy.
The way he shows me this is how he behaves when I am around.

Does he brush his teeth without being reminded?
Does he remember to turn off the lights when he leaves the room?
Does he consistently make his bed and clean his room without nagging?
Does he do his homework and studying without being reminded?
How is he about doing other chores and tasks around the house?

I sat my son down and explained to him that knowing that I could trust him when I was not around was a result of his general attitude about responsibility. That I would be "bird-dogging" until I felt comfortable leaving him alone.

In our state, a child can't legally be left home alone until they are 12.

The Red Cross also offers a class called "When I'm Alone" that teaches children what to be aware of when they are home alone.

Hope this helps,


    Bookmark   May 21, 2003 at 11:44AM
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I live in Connecticut, where I believe the legal age to leave a child home alone is 13.

The "When I'm Alone" class sounds like a good one. If there isn't one in your area, check the library for similar books. Even if your son is a good kid with good common sense (and it sounds like he is), it can't hurt to run down the list of "what if's".


    Bookmark   May 21, 2003 at 12:59PM
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As has been suggested, the answer depends on many factors, where you live, your son's maturity etc....
I live iun a small town in the mid-west. My daughter was babysitting for the baby next door at 11, but we sure wouldn't have let her ride home on the school bus and stay alone if we lived miles away in the country.
With rules and guidelines....about keeping the door locked, telling phone callers that you are taking a shower, not letting anyone into the house....no matter WHAT!...I would feel very comfortable leaving him alone for a couple of hours.
Linda C

    Bookmark   May 21, 2003 at 1:51PM
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Kelli...I am afraid that he doesn't meet most of those standards of responsibility. I guess he has a long way to go. Thanks for all of the things to consider. I will check out the Red Cross course.


    Bookmark   May 21, 2003 at 1:55PM
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My kids aren't old enough yet, but I read in our local paper that the legal age to leave a kid alone in Ohio is 9. I was shocked - I have an 8 y.o. and can't imagine leaving him alone next month.

A general rule I'll use - when I think they are mature enough to mow the lawn, they will be mature enough to say alone for 1/2 an hour. I started mowing at 9, but I was a country girl and we weren't babied like kids are now - we had lots of chores and had to do them right. I think it will be about 10 with my kis (mowing, that is) but I'll just have to wait and see. The leaving them alone, I can't imagine ever doing it right now, but in 2 years or so I might see it differently.

Every kid is different. My oldest rode a bike w/o training wheels at 4, my second just took his off this weekend at age 6 1/2. I'm sure it will the same with staying alone, each when they are ready.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2003 at 9:19PM
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Our state law is 13 as well (unless they've changed it in the past 5 years).

    Bookmark   March 23, 2004 at 7:36PM
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My kids are 12 and 10 and I let them stay home alone so long as they are BOTH there. They have to stay in the house or backyard. My daughter is the 12 year old and she will likely start babysitting this summer.

I've had several 12 year old babysitters in the past and they all worked out wonderfully - they are young enough to want to babysit but not old enough that you have to worry about them talking on the phone all night!

    Bookmark   March 24, 2004 at 3:38PM
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NEVER....ya can't trust them. :o)

    Bookmark   August 17, 2004 at 8:46PM
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each child is different! my oldest son (15 now) i'd have felt comfortable leaving alone when he was 5 (not that i did, but he was just that kind of kid) i started allowing him to stay home alone sometime between the age of 10 and 11 for short periods of time.....my other son, wasn't ready to stay home alone until he was about 12 years old, and even then it was iffy. you need to base your comfort level on your own particular child, and what you feel comfortable with as a parent. it also depends up other factors, such as how reachable you are in the event of an emergency, what kind of neighborhood you reside in (safe/unsafe), are there neighbors around who are available in case of an emergency. also, the rules that you set up when you are not home. such as, no friends in the house, and your son must stay in the house, as well random phone calls to check up on him. i remember when i was a kid, my mom had a rule that we were to stay in the house after school until she got home. we were to call her as soon as we got home from school, and again at 5pm. well, this worked out well for my brother and i. we came home, called mom...snuck out and made sure we were home again by 5 when it was time to call again!
if you feel your child is responsible and ready, do what you are doing, and keep your trips short, gradually extending them over time. you'll know when it feels right to you, but i will admit, you never quite get over that feeling that something is going to happen when you aren't around. i worry still, and check up constantly. my husband tells me i'm neurotic, but hey, they are my kids and they mean the world to me.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2004 at 3:44PM
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Well my son has had many opportunities to stay home alone this summer and he has done very well. He is 12 years old now (this post was started in May 2003). He has been very responsible and follows the rules. I don't leave him sleeping when I leave for work. I get him up and make sure that he is fully awake before I leave home. I have not left him home at night alone yet. I did have to come home early one day because he was frightened and worried about a severe thunderstorm. I have a flexible job and was able to get home quickly...found him in a bathroom with a flashlight and the telephone and a book.

Thanks for all of the responses. I did not find the book mentioned above, but we did find a book called "Surviving at Home Alone" and it was very helpful.


    Bookmark   August 25, 2004 at 11:13PM
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The last night before they move out, or 40! Whichever comes first!
by rustyj

    Bookmark   January 2, 2005 at 4:52PM
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Amazing.... Mine dd is only 4, but I suppose it'll depend on how she is when she gets to that age, but yikes! I babysat 4 kids when I was 12!

    Bookmark   January 25, 2005 at 10:00AM
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man, I must have grown up on another planet- I couldn't have been 7 yet. then again, I was also doing most of the chores that didn't involve breakables.

I could also sink into a storybook, and never NOTICE my parents going out to do the shopping, and have to be shaken to get my attention when it was time to bring in the groceries.

my kid brother, on the other hand, couldn't ever be trusted in the house- he went directly from the age of trying to ride his skateboard off the roof into the pool to three friends and a six pack...

I went to college, and discovered a real talent for mother-henning the rest of the wing (we had a Resident Assistant who couldn't say 'condom' so I took over a lot of her duties)

he went to college- and spent his first semester's book allowance on a keg cooler.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2005 at 1:49PM
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We started letting our sons stay home alone when they entered middle school (12). I agree with Keli that they have to show signs of maturity and be responsible. Our oldest is now 15 and it is so nice to have "built-in" babysitters!!

    Bookmark   February 17, 2005 at 2:11AM
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I have three kids, two 15 year olds, and 1 9 year old. my youngest girl we would never leave alone. But we started leaving my oldest boy alone around 13. Same with my daughter.
I think once they are a RESPONSIBLE TEENAGER they are ready.
9 year olds should not stay home alone.No 9 year old should.
My advice, I`d say no to an 11 year old. Although a babysitter is fine of course.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 11:44AM
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Uhmmm....a little late with the advice, that 11 year old is now about 19....that post was from 2003.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 1:26PM
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Oh, peace, mkroopy....the last response was only 6 1/2 years ago....practically current, apparently, for some of these folks.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 9:34PM
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