36 answers

10 Year Old Staying Home Alone?

We just moved literally across the street from my son's school and I was wondering if any one had thoughts on him walking home next year and being home alone for no more that 2- 2 1/2 hours. He is 10 and will be in 4th grade. Thanks for any input!

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Perfect age - my 10 year old daughter came home from school on her bike and we live a mile from the school. I got her a cell phone and every day she calls me when she leaves and when she arrives home. She was nervous at first, but it quickly became commonplace and she loves feeling independent.
Good luck.

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I allowed my 9yr old son to walk home (half a block) and he was alone for 2 hours until I got home. He did this for the entire year of 3rd grade and it worked out fine. I had him call me each day when he got to the house or he would call if he was invited by a friends parents to stay with them until I got home.
I did feel apprehensive at first but I ultimately felt comfortable that we live in a "safe" neighborhood and that there were people close by that I could call on if an emergency came up.
My son hated going to the after school program and has really enjoyed his "alone" time. He finishes his homework and can watch his TV shows and is ready to interact/go outside when I get home. I think it has made him a more responsible and independent person...hard to let them do it but will be good in the long run.

1 mom found this helpful

I wouldn't do it. I'm a little over-protective so my son thinks but I won't let him stay home alone unless I'm just running a quick errand and will be back in 30 minutes or less and he's almost 12. It's just not a safe world anymore. This summer he is going to work with me everyday - sure he hates it but I'd rather be safe than sorry.

Don't do it. I wouldn't. He may be mature for his age, but there is too much that could go wrong in those 2 1/2 hours. I have a 17 year old that burned up my microwave while home alone!!

There is also a chance that someone may find out and report you. (I believe the legal age is 13 or something? I wouldn't want that to happen. Don't take the chance sweetie.

You may want to check to see what your local laws states. It depends on how long he will be home alone and the age.

Hi L G. If you feel your child is responsible enough to abide by any rules that are set during the time he is alone and is not afraid to be left alone, I think he will be fine. I would try leaving him alone for a few minutes at a time and build up to the 2 1/2 hours to see how he will do when the time comes for him to have to stay alone daily. There is no law in Texas regarding the age a child can be left alone. As long as they are not physically or mentally handicapped and have a safe place to stay (home and neightborhood). But when it's all said and done, you have to be comfortable with him being alone. You will get those of us who think it's ok, and those who don't. It has to be your decision and one you can deal with.

Good Luck!

i am very against any child under 15 at home by them selves. but of course i was raised old fashion and my parents would not even let me have my friends over unless they were there

I had to do this with my daughter when she was 10,except she was only home by herself for 30 minutes and no more then an hour. We have very strict rules!! We installed a peep hole in the front door so she could look out with out being seen. SDhe was NEVER to answer the door or the phone!! Let the answering machine pick up, if it's mom or dad we will leave a message for you to pick up. Also NO cooking any thing. Work on you home work as soon as you get home that way when we arrive we could help her and check it and then you have the rest of the night. I think responsible 10 year old is very capable of taking care of them self for a short period of time. Also no friends allowed over til we got home

My daughter turned 10 last Saturday, 6/7. She has been walking to and from school for a year now and she enjoys it. I bought her a dual alarm clock. One alarm wakes her up 45 mins before and the 2nd tells her when to leave. She is never late to school and arrives on time to eat breakfast. In the afternoon she walks home with another child that lives the next street over. I also have neighbors who watch for her. If you talk to some of the parents on your street they may be willing to help.

I think she is doing a great job and I know yours will too. Make sure he calls you every afternon to make sure he is home safe. Good luck.

I was reading JA's responce and i dont know where she got her information from.

I used to work as a Receptionist at a Law Firm here in Fort Worth and a client called in and asked this very same question and the child was about the same age. I asked our Family Law Atty and he said that there is no set law in Texas that states what is the legal age that you can leave your child at home alone at.

His responce is the parent should use their best judgement. Leaving a 2 year old alone is a lot different than leaving a 10 year old alone. Also the child is not alone all day...this would prob be pushing it. Since it is only a few hours it should be fine.

Just set some rules: dont answer the door to strangers. Dont answer the phone and tell people that they are home alone say " my mom is busy right now and cant answer the phone may I take a msg and she will call you right back". No cooking on the stove or oven, things like that. I am sure they know 911 by now.

I used to walk home from school in the 2nd grade and was home alone with my sister who is 3 1/2 years older. I was sometimes alone until she got home from school.

Dont worry you wont be breaking the law. Just use your best judgement...you know how mature your child is. If possible let him hang out at a friends house after school or there are afterschool programs avail in the area you can use.

It is a

I believe the law says its to young... I also feel and there is research that shows (can't remember the study) that most kids get into trouble between 3-6pm. (while they are home alone) you are just opening a door to let trouble into his life. Even if you can set it up with another mom that is home he can stay with them until you get home and maybe you can offer her something in return that she needs help with. but he should not be home alone, in my oppinion.

I think it depends on your child. Mature or not? Leader or follower? Stays out of trouble or not? Do you live in a safe area? Any questionable neighbors? Even if your child is mature, responsible, and you live in a great area, I wouldn't suggest leaving a child this age alone for more than an hour. You never know what may happen and you would never forgive youself. Better to be safe than sorry. Besides you are questioning whether or not you should do it, so I think there is enough doubt in your mind to warrent a babysitter or your child staying with a friend or neighbor until you get home.

You more than anyone know your son and know if he could handle the responsibiliy for his own safety. Personally, I prefer there was an adult waiting for him at home til he is fourteen or so.

I was a latchkey kid at this age and I had to walk home and stay until mama got home from work which was about 2 hours. I know a lot of people are thinking that times are worse now but actually, we lived across the street from a crackhouse and burglaries were no stranger to us. However, it was what we had to do. We had good neighbors that watched MY EVERY MOVE (even the crack dealer's family LOL!) and they weren't afraid to tell on me either. I also had to call my mama as soon as I got into the house. All homework had to be done and ready to be checked when mama got in. NO FRIENDS WERE ALLOWED and I was well versed in not letting people in the house (I don't know of many 10 year olds who open the door for strangers though). It worked well for us for 3 years until my mama stopped working and stayed home. You know your child and whether or not he's able to do this. I agree to practice this summer and see how it goes. Remember--I held the house down just fine for 3 years. However, my husband and his brother burned down the kitchen while home alone and they were a lot older than 10 (they were frying bologna)! It just depends on the child.

It is illegal in the state of TX to stay home alone until you are 14 yrs old. No matter how responsible your son is, other kids aren't and we all know how many crazy adults are in the world now. Is there any way you could pay a high school or older jr high kid to walk home with him for those couple of hours? Or can he just stay at school for after school activities?

Wow..... it's interesting to read both sides of the spectrum. I have a couple of friends who are comfortable leaving their kids alone, one of whom is one of my best friends. I personally do not feel comfortable. It's not because mine are not mature because they are more than capable of behaving and knowing how to call 911, and the phone numbers of friends and family. What bothers me is the thought of emergency situations. It's human nature to panic, but a 10 year old does not have the experience to react in the best problem-solving way. I have a niece and nephew who were home alone and a fire started in the back yard. It started next door and spread to their house. One was 10 and the other 14. They called 911 and the 10 year old ran and hid under the bed. Who knows why? She is a very mature little girl and has a lot of responsibilities, but her reaction wasn't reasonable. It's reasonable to run out of the house, not hide under a bed. My kids would probably know to run, but what if, for some freak reason, they panicked or tried to put it out themselves. The chances of a fire starting are slim to none, but it is definitely possible. It happened to them. Another scenario is walking in on an intruder. How likely is that? Again, slim to none, but it CAN happen and DOES happen. If a child is followed home, does he/she have a security system? Is there a "help" code that they can enter if followed into the home? Would they be strong enough to break an intruders grip? When something happens to kids (adults, too) it always helps to know that their is a 2nd person who can get away and call for help if the 1st cannot. Our neighborhood is very quiet and I feel very safe. But, I can't help to think about that 1 out of a million chance that something could happen and my child would be alone to make critical choices. I hate that so many are paranoid, but it can hardly be helped in today's world. As for the one in a million: I've had two friends who have lost a child due to VERY RARE instances. One died from Kawaski disease which some may have heard on the news if you live in the DFW area. Another died from meningitis practically overnight. A family in Mansfield recently lost a son who was riding his bike like he normally does, but they found his body in a drainage ditch which normally is nearly dry, but they had a heavy rain that weekend. My niece and nephew experienced a fire in their back yard. What are the chances? More than likely nothing would ever happen. I was left alone with my brother when I was growing up, I have friends that have been doing this for years and nothing ever happened. It's a tough call. I guess it's the "maybe" in my head that prevents me from doing it. If you decide to do it, my strongest suggestion is to have a cell phone for him. Have him call you as soon as he gets in the door and locks it. You want to make sure that he made it home safely and didn't run across a bully or any other unlikely scenarios. It's so sad to feel afraid, but todays world is not what it was when we were kids. I see it both ways, but I would just take as many precautions as possible: neighbors who are aware and can step in if needed, cell phone, security system, basic no cooking rules or answering the door, etc.

If you son is VERY responsible (you have no doubt he will come straight home, without inviting others home, won't advertise to ANYONE that he is home alone, won't burn your house down or try your medications...) and if you have a good neighbor you trust that will be available should he need something I think 10 is old enough (4th or 5th grade).

I would explain WHY you have those safety rules and make all rules clear to him. Let him know what will happen if it turns out he can't be responsible enough. Make sure he feels safe enough to try it- and try it this summer (run errands w/o him). If you have any doubts then don't do it yet... if something happened and you doubted yourself you will never forgive yourself.

I wouldn't allow my 4th grader . . . he has a long way to go before he will be ready for that. You may want to check the statutes in Texas as well. There is an age where if you leave a child home alone before reaching that age, CPS can step in.

Legally, it depends on what state you're in. I'm in Illinois and there is NO exact age, and no exact time limits. There is a checklist of skills/dispositions a child needs to be able to pass. I am a single Mom of a 9 year old (he is with me most of the time), an Elementary school teacher, and I have a couple Master's degrees in education. My son passes all the criteria to stay home. I leave him home alone for short periods of time. This began with walking the dog while he was home alone, and increased to me running to the store while he was alone reading and didn't want to stop. I have even left him for a few hours while I was at a meeting at a school across the street. We have very strict rules about what he can and cannot do, he has a cell phone, and we have neighbors on both sides of our townhome who are always home and he knows them well. He is not allowed to go up or down stairs, eat, answer the phone or the door (except the cell phone when it's me), he cannot draw the curtains, and he cannot do anything dangerous, which we talk about. He has to check in with me frequently. (I call him, too) He usually spends the time sitting on the couch reading with the dog, or playing legos or the DSi if he has his reading/homework done. I always make sure he's had a good meal/snack before I leave, and I spend good time with him when I get home. He loves being responsible, and never gets scared, and is a major rule-follower, so it works for our family. But then again, he has had a lot of responsibilities from a very young age, unlike many kids. We are also located in a very good neighborhood....a few people have acted like I was a child abuser when I mentioned this, but they also have very different parenting styles and very different (and very needy, constantly needing to be entertained) kids. Also, I know who some of these Moms hire as babysitters and some of them are less responsible than the kids! (I'd rather have my kid home alone than with someone who is checking out my liquor cabinet.) In fact, I probably trust my 9 year old more NOW than I will in a few years! Check with your state laws and do what you know in your gut is best for your family! :)

I don't know if you watched the news, but they did a report on this last week. They adviced not to leave your child at home alone until they were in middle school around 12 years old. If something were to happen I don't think a 10 year (4th grader) is mature enough to handle a crisis. Check with the school I bet they have an afterschool program they usually are only for 2-3 hours after school lets out. That would work out perfect for you and the cost way cheaper than daycare.

Perfect age - my 10 year old daughter came home from school on her bike and we live a mile from the school. I got her a cell phone and every day she calls me when she leaves and when she arrives home. She was nervous at first, but it quickly became commonplace and she loves feeling independent.
Good luck.

IMHO, I would not leave a 10 year old alone in the house for 30 minutes, much less 2 hours. 10 is not mature enough in my mind...that is a lot of responsibilty for a child that age. A lot can happen in two hours...Good luck!

I think it depends on his maturity level as well has how you trust him with serious decisions.

I have a daughter (13) and she does not stay home alone for very long at a time but we do believe it giving her the opportunity. GEES....I am not raising a kid in a bubble. I will add that she is a black belt in karate, completed CPR and babysitting training. If she can't babysit herself, how can she babysit others? I am ALWAYS within phone range.

She would stay home at 10 yrs old when I would run a quick errand, etc and she knew I was coming back within a certain amount of time.

I know the times are not like long ago but I do believe in giving my child the power to be on her own. She follows basic rules of the house. Do not answer door, etc. We do have dogs and that is a help as far as doorbells and odd things around the house.

I guess it just depends on how well you feel your son would do home a alone a couple of hours. I know my daughter enjoys a couple of hours alone in the house. She knows the rules and she knows that things will change drastically if she does anything that leads us to mistrust her.

Best bet is to go with your gut and how you feel your child is. A lot of 10 yr olds are capable of 2-2 1/2 hrs. I do not believe in raising my kid in a bubble.


We also lived right across the street from my 11 year old step son's elementary school and we let him stay home alone after school. He was never home alone for more than about 2 hours and has done well so far. He knows his friends can't come over until we are home and he is to come straight home, do his homework and his reading, which pretty much takes up his "free" time anyway. He's not the maturist 11 year old I have met but he's done OK.

until the child is old enough to drive by himself i would not leave him home alone at all. now-a-days it's not even safe to be at home by yourself with all the predators and perverts running around unsupervised. "A child left to himself brings shame to his mother" somewhere in Proverbs.

Where are you located? I know in Texas 10yrs old is not considered old enough to stay alone, leagally. I realize some parents do it but if you can avoid it I would. I have 3 boys, each is his own person however I would not let either of them stay at home afterschool alone until middle school. I would check with your neighbors, there may be an older child that could come stay at your home or your son could go to theirs. Good Luck!

i have been told many times that this is an ok practice, i never did this with mine, it is my belief that children should not be left alone that long even at that close to the school there are predators watching for a child alone and the school is where they do most of their watching, not to mention the things a child can think of to do in a couple of hours. i dont know your situation, are there guns in the house if so there is another concern ,would other kids decide to start comin over too, then you would have unsupervised kids in your home, do you not have a friend , mom , sister, anyone who could keep an eye on him for a couple of hours and i know some day cares offer after school pick up and care, i know a lot of people do this these days with all the meaness and stuff in the world i never could get passed what if... your child may be quite well behaved my girls got into plenty of trouble and i was a work at home mom
good luck pray about it god bless

It's a tough call. My ten year old would stay alone if I was running to the grocery store, a quick trip but that is it. He was not comfortable. Now that he is eleven he is much more comfortable staying on his own for several hours if I have to be out on an appointment. However, even now I don't let him walk anywhere in the neighborhood alone.

The tricky thing about walking home from anywhere is that there are unsavory characters, not just predators, but drug dealers, looking for a kid alone. My father (who was with the National Security Agency ) always warned me when I was a young woman, to never drive the same way home each day. He said you never know who is watching and when you never deviate from a pattern it is very easy for someone with bad intentions to be able to "get to you".

Is there a next door neighbor you can rely on to walk him home? Or at least watch out from their front yard? Once he is home, if he is a reliable kid, I think he is a lot safer.

Have you been through all the possible scenarios with him?
What if someone knocks on the door and says " Let me in , your mom has been in an accident?"
What happens if there is a fire?
What happens if he gets sick?
What happens if someone approaches him on the way home?
What happens if YOU are in an accident on the way home?
Does he have a reliable adult to call in case of emergencies?

Then there is the lovely internet. Even my very honest son, has looked up stuff on Wikipedia and come across some things I'd never dreamed he would see. Fortunately he came to me with the information. I was home with him, standing a foot away when that happened. Imagine what a kid can get up to on a computer in two hours, even innocently?
It's Pandoras box.

So, it is really a tough call. You have to know your kid, prepare them for any event and have reliable adults that can get to him in case of an emergency, immediately.
Kids are kids for such a short time. Independence is great as long as they are ready for it and they are safe.

Don't do it. If something happens you will never forgive yourself.
You can't take chances with your childrens lives.

It all depends on his maturity level. When my oldest son was 10 we lived in Irving, TX and because he had a higher maturity level I allowed him to walk home from school which was quite a few blocks from our house and he was home until approx 6pm when my husband and I got home. Now I can't say that I would have allowed that with my youngest son so again it just depends on how you feel his maturity level is.

I did this since I was nine and in the 3rd grade. My mom had rules that I was to stay in the house and friends were never allowed to come in (that seems to be when trouble would occur). I would have been a little scared, but we had an indoor cat that brought me tons of comfort.

If he is a responsible ten year old, then he should be fine. My son could have stayed alone at that age, but my daughter would have been a different story. You know your kiddo best, what was your first instinct?

According to the Texas Attorney General website - see link below

How long can a child be left unattended?

The law provides few guidelines as to how long a child may be left unattended. The law does specify that a caregiver cannot leave a child under age five unattended in a car for more than five minutes, unless a person aged 14 or older is watching over the child. However, there is no set length of time a "latchkey" child of school age may be left unattended. The child's maturity, the proximity of helpful adults, and a number of other circumstances must be taken into account. As always, the ultimate guideline for determining whether a child is being left unattended too long is whether the child suffers actual harm, or is at substantial risk of being harmed, due to lack of supervision.
However, it will be obvious to anyone watching that your child is unattended... so that would be something to take into consideration as far as safety is concerned. Most schools offer after school care either at the school or a nearby church for a reasonable rate - which is tax deductible - and could provide a safe place as well as other children to play with.

I have two sixth graders - one 11 and one 12 - I would not leave them alone ever, mainly because I know where the known predators live near our house. You can check that out online at http://www.familywatchdog.us/

Hi L G,
While it sounds like that would be the most convenient thing to do, it's really not the safest. 10 yrs old is still very young although I'm sure he's very smart, however he still may not be able to make the best and right choices for himself no matter what you teach him.
For example: When I was younger, my Mother was very strict and made it very clear to NEVER answer the door to strangers, however for some reason when a stranger would knock on our door, we would almost always open it and thank God it was never a dangerous stranger.
There's alot of weirdos out there and my number 1 fear for leaving my child alone would be someone breaking in or following my child and knowing they're home alone and I just don't want to take those kind of chances.
What my Mom started doing was hiring a mature high school student to stay with us until she got home. Would that be a possibility for you?
I wish you the best of luck and hope you can come up with a safe convenient plan!

I would NOT do it. I think the law in Texas is 12 before you can stay alone, but you could check with a local law enforcement agency to verify.

I worked for a local police department in the Dallas area. They had a news media person knock on the doors of 3 of our Lieutenant's homes to see if their child would open the door. Each officer had warned against it and was confident their child would NEVER open the door. One was posed delivering balloons, one was posed delivering a package and one just rang the door bell. Each child OPENED the door. The officers were horrified. These were kids whose parents I knew and I know they "laid down the law" of what to do while they were out. Young kids do not have the capability to see the dangers of what could happen, especially at this age.

I agree with the other posters who recommended someone stay with him. If that's not an option, maybe his school has an afterschool program available. I know a lot of elementary schools do. Also you might think about if there's a karate program (or something similar if you don't think karate is a good idea) where they will pick your child up at school and take him to the activity.


Texas does NOT have a legal age at which a child can stay home alone (I use to work for CPS). It depends on the child's maturity. There are some 10 year olds that can stay home for a short period of time while there are some 14 year olds that I would not want to leave home alone. Talk to your son about how he feels about being home after school, maybe take a trial run a few times this summer (a few hours on the weekend or during the week). Make sure he knows all the safety rules such as don't answer the door at all and how to answer the phone properly. If you think he is ready give it a try.

Depends. I have a 10 yr old granddaughter I am raising and she is totally mature. but I left my two kids alone when they were young and they started smoking very young. They were not home when I got there and my pleases to get them to leave me a note where they were never happen. I had to come home and look for them for an hour franic many times. My son got into drugs as a teen and still is not off. My step son told me that when his mom was out he would go to their barn and light and throw matches. I was so afraid he would catch the barn on fire. He grew up to be a wonderful young man. Good Luck. No kids in the house while I was away was a must rule but later on he had a friend in the house and they were hiding in the attic and put his foot through the ceiling in our brand new home. We were taking our parents on a tour of New Orleans and thought the kids would be ok for a few hours. They had a friend in and he left before we got home. Also these kids were about 13. They also called 911 and the police came out and chooed them out. So it is up to you but I would have second thoughts about no adult supervision. The older they get the more supervision they will need. G. W

well i will never leave my child alone even if she or he's school was across from the street

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