How old should a child be before you leave them on their own?

United States
February 25, 2008 7:26pm CST
Well I'm home from the first day of my employment workshop and man am I beat. Not from the class itself, it actually was alot of fun. No it was staying up too late mylotting. I only got about 2-1/2 hours sleep. I won't have a repeat performance tonight, I can tell you that. Anyway, I had to leave for my class before my son left for school, which meant he had to lock up after himself and I got home after he did, which meant he had to let himself in. I consider my son to be pretty mature for his age and for the most part self sufficient, but it still bothered me that he would be home by himself for that long a period of time. He was left with the necessary emergency numbers and my boyfriend called from work to make sure he got in ok and that all was well. Everything was fine, of course, but it raised the question for me as to how old you think a child should be before you leave them on their own?
7 people like this
21 responses
@Debs_place (10525)
• United States
26 Feb 08
I was a single Mom and my son started coming home to an empty house at 7, he was still in first grade. We had a routine and a doberman. He felt happy and safe. He actually was rather proud. For the most part, there were no problems. Other then one time, he got home and the power was off. The quiet of the house scared him.
2 people like this
• United States
26 Feb 08
Unfortunately, when he lived with his Dad, my son was left to his own devices quite a bit, because his Dad worked nights and slept during the day. So he's kind of used to it.
2 people like this
@Debs_place (10525)
• United States
26 Feb 08
How old is your son?
• United States
26 Feb 08
My son is 11.
1 person likes this
@m105508 (59)
• India
26 Feb 08
hiyaaa My name is Rajiv m 1yrs old now... well i was left on my own by my parents at the age of 13 till then my Granny used to take care of me. Staying away from parents taught me alot of thing which even they didnt knew,ovearll i would say children become more mature if they are left on their own.They start taking their own descisions n that too correct one.So i would say its a good thing that children are left on their own.The smaller the age the better... I started living alone in my house at the age of 8. Cuz my MOM-DAD used to go to work n i couldnt even stay with my granny coz my school was far away from her place. I was given emergency numbers and told to have the food kept on the kitchen platform.I enjoyed it though,cuz i got lots of freedom,didnt even felt like i was left alone.
• India
26 Feb 08
m extremely thats 18yrs m 18yrs old now sorry for the abve mistake
• United States
26 Feb 08
It sounds like your parents must have had alot of faith in you to leave you alone at the age of 8.
@asgtswife04 (2482)
• United States
26 Feb 08
well for me, depending on if my boys are mature enough at this time, i think around 13 or 14 is a good age. i wouldn't leave them any earlier than that, but my boys are very immature for their age. I couldn't trust them and would worry the whole time i was gone. thanks for posting and God bless
1 person likes this
• United States
26 Feb 08
My son is 11, but he actually is used to being left on his own. When he lived with his father, his father worked nights and slept during the day, so often he was left to his own devices. I didn't like it, but at the time I didn't have much control over the situation.
• United States
27 Feb 08
i totally understand. sometimes you can't control things that happen. i've been there before. thanks and God bless
@p1kef1sh (45640)
26 Feb 08
We first left my daughter alone when she was about 13. At first it was just whilst we went shopping - so maybe 2 hours max. But as she got older the time that she could be alone lengthened to the point where we no longer took time off work during school holidays etc. By the time that she was 15 both she and we were happy for her to spend up to a day alone. She was never left overnight though. But when she was older she would have a girlfriend over to stay if we went out for the evening. She started her own babysitting business at 14, so was out in other people's homes in the evening quite frequently. Her "contract" stipulated that she was walked or given a lift back home afterwards, so we never worried too much about her being outside on her own at night.
1 person likes this
• United States
26 Feb 08
I think I started babysitting just about the same age too and I actually did stay overnight for some of the people I babysat for, but we lived in a military community and people were very trusting.
• Canada
26 Feb 08
My mother started leaving my sister and I alone for a couple of hours when we were 13 years old, and that's also the year that my sister started babysitting me (I'm four years younger than she is). We were left alone in the house overnight or for a few days at the age of 18.
1 person likes this
• United States
26 Feb 08
My son is 11 and so is a little bit younger than you were, but it is only for a few hours. At night I won't leave him alone. He admits himself, that he is scared to be on his own after dark.
@Adoniah (7515)
• United States
26 Feb 08
Did you know that states actually have laws about this? In my state, you are not supposed to leave a kid home alone until they are old enough to babysit which is 13. Some states set the age higher and some lower. If you have a nosey neighbor, that decides to turn you in, you can get into trouble for letting too young a child stay home alone. Check into the laws of your state and make sure that you cannot get into trouble, before you take this step. At least make sure there is an adult nearby who can say they were in charge of the child or something. I was always lucky. Since I worked for myself, I took the kids with me after school. Free labor too, when they got big enough. Shalom~Adoniah
• United States
27 Feb 08
I didn't realize that it was a law. Thanks for that information and I'll look into it.
• United States
26 Feb 08
I'm gonna have problems w this when it gets that time. i know how bad i was when my mom left me at home. But the age that i think i will start this with my daughter will be 13.
• United States
27 Feb 08
I can imagine that having a young child visions of them being on their own in the future is difficult for you.
@maddysmommy (16233)
• United States
26 Feb 08
I think by the age of 13/14 would be ok as long as they are not left there for long hours on their own. We were left at home at an early age only because I had older brothers to take care of me and my twin.. they were 13 and 12 at the time. Everyone is different though but I think I would be ok with letting my son stay home when he hits that age. Will also depend on how mature and trusthing he was too.
• United States
27 Feb 08
I agree with you that it depends on the maturity level of the child. I also think that children today are maturing alot faster than my generation did. They are more exposed to the world than we were.
@Ravenladyj (22937)
• United States
26 Feb 08
I think it really depends on the child first and foremost AND also the neighbourhood one lives in...which to me is a big thing to consider...Assuming however that one lives in a nice and safe area and if the child is 10 or older and mature as well as responsible then I think that would be just fine....My kids stay home alone all the time and have since about 6 mths after we moved here nearly 5 yrs ago..they would have been 10 and 8 1/2 at the time...Granted back then we didnt leave them alone for hours on end but we do now since they are almost 14 1/2 and almost 13...ALSO they have instructions on what to do should something happen while we arent here
• United States
26 Feb 08
You have a very good point Raven about the neighborhood that a person lives in. That could very well play into the decision to leave them alone or not. Thanks.
@cydzzj (356)
• Australia
26 Feb 08
I think I will not leave my son stay with himself untill he is 16. If I must choose one thing between work or stay at home with my son. I may choose quit the job. Actually I just did it. I want spend more time with he. So I quit my job. My boss told me I can go on work, and let my son stay with my parents for a bit more time. But I can't do that. I want take care of him by myself.
• United States
26 Feb 08
Especially with one child that is very understandable. Obviously your values lie with your child.
@cherriemae (3374)
• Philippines
26 Feb 08
it depends because here in our country, were still living in our parents house, eventhough, we have our own jobs, and we are also that culture that we are practicing extended family..it's common to us because of our culture..for me, i will do the same thing with my child..eventhough she has already her job, still i will let her stay in my house..but if she can really have the confident to live her own, i would allow her but of course, as a parent i will still give her support and still give her advices...
• United States
26 Feb 08
I understand things may be different in a different culture. Thanks for sharing that aspect of your country.
2 Sep 08
I recently was asked by my bfs mom whom I also live with just outside in the annex if I could watch her younger son who is 12. He is very capable looking after himself and so I thought while he was in th emain house I would go do soem work in the annex which is literally 3 feet away. Anyway she gets home and very dissapointedly and in a quite angry voice tells me I should of been in the main house when she leaves him there by himself all the time. So now after trying to do something nice for her as well as give up my night, I have to spend my day worrying about what I am going to say to her tonight when I get home. I honestly think she should let him stand on his own two feet, he is 12 now and the baby of 4 children. Was I wrong in being 3 feet away from him in a different house?
@mummymo (23707)
28 Feb 08
I think it really depends on the child themselves and how mature and smart they are! I have occassionally let my son come home or stay at home by himself since he was 12 but it really is an individual thing! he is 14 now and i wouldn't leave him alone all day but I know I can trust him to stay alone for a good few hours. Apart from our mobiles and emergency numbers he also has some very good neighbours and friends all around so there is always someone he could turn to if he needed to. xxx
@Deea48 (1168)
• United States
27 Feb 08
I think mine my oldest was around ten, when they were getting themselves on the bus. It is the way of the world now, alot of kids have more responsability, both mom and dads have to work now.Besides I found them to take to it very well,I was usually home when they returned home though. They were lucky that way I guess. I was a nursing assistant back then so I started my day very early.
@moneyandgc (3430)
• United States
27 Feb 08
I think there may be a legal age in every state but I don't know what it is. My oldest is only 10 and he doesn't stay home alone yet. I think my mom started leaving me home alone around 12 or 13. She said there was no way she would leave my brother at the same age though. All kids are different.
@Gesusdid (1681)
• United States
27 Feb 08
11 years old thats not bad thats a good age , if you leave him at home just check up on him every hour or so , i was 9 when i was left at home for hours , kids these days sometimes dont even know that your gone cause they sit infront of the TV or playing PS3 all day long ..
@KKKBsmom (1093)
• United States
26 Feb 08
This is really a hard question! LOL It all depends on the kid, I think! My oldest when she was 6 could be left alone for half hour or so whil i came home from town... of course we lived in the middle of no where and had one neighbor that watched the place. my son who is 16... welll sometimes I still wonder about him! LOL then there are my twins... well if I was to leave one... I usually had to leave two... and then you were askin for trouble! LOL But they still don't like being left alone and they are 14... oh they are old enough... they just don't like it! LOL so It all just depends on the kid!! :0) oh and the state law!
@rosey3223 (1569)
• United States
26 Feb 08
To be honest, my answer probably isn't the best in the world, but it's because my sister and I were left alone when she was 8 and I was 6...the reason being that both our parents worked and couldn't afford babysitting. After a while though we gave them no option but it only lasted a couple of years. By the time I was nine we were back to being on our own. So for me, if my oldest (who is only 8) is being an absolute pain in the neck, I have absolutely no problem leaving him by his self (even though we haven't) while we go to the store, to teach him a lesson in being a terd. Otherwise I think that by the time they are 10 and are responsible enough, then it's ok. And I do mean responsible enough. It sounds like yours is even though I don't know their age. I think it all depends on the child's maturity and the amount of trust the parent has towards the child. If they are only going to be by themselves for a couple of hours and you do check up on them, then I don't see why not.
@lucy567 (43)
• China
26 Feb 08
in my opions that you should left a child in home with his pride to tell him what he should do and do'ts nomatter what you child have to be independent in the futrue.you just could tell him the method to survie in even a emergency.it'wisdomn. maybe you can give more encourage to teach him to be a brave boy a great garder.
@Ohara_1983 (4120)
• Kuwait
26 Feb 08
i think it will be good if they are already in the aged of 18 above,so you can really sure that they are alright, but hte thing that we need to work for them, it will be oke if they are only 12 atleast they know already what they will do & understand that your workingbecause of them.