49 answers

9 Years old....is That Old Enough to Leave Home Alone?

Ok..before everyone goes nuts on me...I'm only talking about leaving child for apprx 6-7 mins.

Here's the story...
My 9 yr old son has been sick with the flu, but I have a 6 yr old daughter that I need to get to school. So instead of getting him all bundled up and loading him in the car...after vomitting all night and a high fever...just leave him in my bed watchin tv. Letting him know exactly what is happening.

So, seriously, what does everyone think? Am I crazy for asking? Is it against the law?

Thanks Moms!!!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

WOW!!! I'm soooooo thankful for all your helpful responses!!!! =)

-For those who say bus...the stop is too far...I would still have to drive to the stop.
-For those who say have neighbor drive....too much to ask...when they don't even have school age kids.
-And he was not vomitting at the time...I knew he was good enough to last 7 mins.
-Neighbor was aware and he had phone and remote in hand...and knew what to do...just in case.

Still a little confused. I've google it and some links say 14yrs old and some say just not leaving them overnight! I'm tempted to just call the police department.
Thanks for all the wonderful well wishes!

Featured Answers

Interestingly, when my oldest was 9 I'd've said no, don't leave a 9 yr old alone, but when my youngest was 9 I left her alone quite frequently to go pick up/drop off the other two.

:)

7 moms found this helpful

As long as he knows how to use the phone and who to call, I would have done exactly what you have done.

4 moms found this helpful

In California it is completely legal and to be honest I would do it because I have done it with my 7 year old for 3-4 mins. It depends on the child but IMO a 9 year old is old enough to know what to do in an emergency, not to answer the door etc.

4 moms found this helpful

More Answers

I've done it, even going to the grocery store to pick up some things for dinner,. I am not gone for more than an hour and they have been younger than that.
I also tested them by calling the phone, and have sent people to my house whom they didn't know.

7 moms found this helpful

I think if he's old enough in your eyes then it's fine. You know your son best and whether or not he will be comfortable with it. I think the comment someone made earlier about watching the Changeling first is like telling someone to watch Titanic before booking a cruise. Just silly.

7 moms found this helpful

Interestingly, when my oldest was 9 I'd've said no, don't leave a 9 yr old alone, but when my youngest was 9 I left her alone quite frequently to go pick up/drop off the other two.

:)

7 moms found this helpful

I've done this. My kids have been well trained in "here's the phone, you know my cell number", "if the doorbell rings, just ignore it as if nobody was home, NEVER even go to the door if I'm not home", "only answer the phone if you recognize the number as mine or daddy's cell", etc. I've been leaving my 13yr old home alone since he was 9 (starting with 5 minutes at a time, up to a couple of hours these days). If my child was sick like yours, I would prop him up in bed, hand him the phone and take my other one to school. And drive VERY carefully to and back...

5 moms found this helpful

wow 40 replies already! If I were in the same situation I would leave my sick child at home because I wouldn't want to make his tummy upset again by driving around. I would put a phone next to him and make sure dad, grandma or close family friend/neighbor knows that he is there alone just in case anything would prevent you from returning in 10minutes. Write those numbers down or have them call the house after you've been gone 15-20minutes. I think you're doing the right thing. Hope your son feels better soon!

5 moms found this helpful

for that short amount of time, yes, I would do it. I would tell him who to call if you aren't home by a certain time (say you get in a car accident) or have your husband plan to call at a set time to make sure you got back from the school run, but yes, that is ok in my book.

The law in IL is that it is not by a set age but rather by ability and circumstances - overnight is the ONLY thing by set age - short daytime amounts are not. I have researched this and know for a fact.

5 moms found this helpful

I do not think you are crazy at all. My mother used to not come home until 5 sometimes 6 when we got out of school at 3:30. (i think i was in 5th grade when it started, and i had two younger brothers that i had to watch too) The bus dropped us off near our home, we walked home, had to get started on homework and/or house chores. Maybe it was too much for us (there were 3 of us) at the time, but we were definitely more independant than others our age. AND there were no CELL Phones! We had to call her at work as soon as we got home.
If its just for 6-7 min or even a half hour i really don't see a problem with it. Make sure he know he can use the phone, write down your cell. Don't answer the door and all that good stuff. He's 9, so he'll be just fine. I don't think we give our kids enough credit these days. Just lay down the rules.

4 moms found this helpful

A nine year old should be perfectly fine left alone for a few minutes.
If he's sick, make sure he has a trash bin next to him if he needs to throw up (God forbid). There were times my son was sick and I had to run to the post office and just left him sleeping. He was still asleep when I got back. He never knew I was gone. I left a note right next to his bed that said, "Be right back" in case he woke up. It's something we had talked about on many occasions along with our other safety plan talks.
He knew I would never just take off and be gone shopping or anything like that. It worked for us. He knew how to use the phone and the number of the neighbor across the street if anything serious happened, which never did. And the neighbor knew I was going out as well. Bases covered.
You're not abandoning your child. It would take you more than 7 minutes getting him dressed and in the car.
I think it's fine. I've done it.
I don't know what the laws in your state are. I don't know what the laws in MY state are. I live in a very rural place so anywhere I would go is within walking distance, let alone driving there.

I hope your son feels better soon!

4 moms found this helpful

In California it is completely legal and to be honest I would do it because I have done it with my 7 year old for 3-4 mins. It depends on the child but IMO a 9 year old is old enough to know what to do in an emergency, not to answer the door etc.

4 moms found this helpful

As long as he knows how to use the phone and who to call, I would have done exactly what you have done.

4 moms found this helpful

No, he's not too young. I would do the same thing.

3 moms found this helpful

Just tell him to stay in bed and you will be right back. I would do it so long as I know my kid is a minder and not one that would get into mischief the minute I left.

3 moms found this helpful

absolutely, make sure he access to a phone and how to dial 911, and all that, but yes, let him stay in bed! If you ask me people are too cautious these days and their children cannot develop coping skills, i consider my parents great parents but when i got off the school bus i ran in and locked the door to wait for my mom, who was an hour from being home( i was 7). They both worked, this was how it had to be, and parents all over america did the same. This was 21 years ago.

*edited, incidentally ever since my husband and i got my daughter a cell phone we decided to see what she would do if left alone for a minute. We will go to the store and wait in the neighborhood for her bus, sure enough we get a call from her both times, and come home to her eating a snack and doing homework. My daughter just turned 8 and is mature for her age (always has been). I know 13 year olds i wouldnt trust to do this, it all depends on the kid.

3 moms found this helpful

I think if you are comfortable with his being mature enough for those few minutes it is fine. My oldest ds was home after school some days beginning in 1st grade. With plenty of neighbors, support, cell phones etc. But he is a VERY mature kid and always has been very responsible. Whereas he has a friend even now at 12 whom cant stay by himself yet, he just doesnt have the maturity for it. Each kid is different.

3 moms found this helpful

I think it is okay to leave him. The only thing I would do is leave a phone by him with your number and a neighbor's number in case, God forbid, something happens to you on your short journey. I know that in Arizona it is legal to leave a 7 yr old home alone. I personally think that is too young, but I think 9 yrs old is fine. I have a 9 yr old and I left her home for about 1 hr. It was her first time. She told me afterwards that she was scared, but nothing happened and I think she is ok with it now. She is my baby so I wont leave her longer than an 1hr, especially since she told me she was scared.

3 moms found this helpful

that's totally fine! I was babysitting when I was 9 years old

3 moms found this helpful

I don't think you are crazy for asking, you are trying to keep him comfortable. I would try to get someone to take your daughter and pick her up until he is well, from what others have said, it is not legal in IL to leave him, and even though nothing will probably happen, if it does, you would feel horrible, and then have to deal with being in trouble with the law aswell.

I can remember my mother leaving me at this age, but it was a different time for sure.

I hope he gets better soon.
M.

3 moms found this helpful

I don't think it is a big deal. It is only 6 or 7 minutes to get there and back. I tell my kids don't answer the door, don't answer the phone and to stay inside. If they follow those rules and it is just for 5-10 minutes I would. Definately nothing longer though.

3 moms found this helpful

Can you let a neighbor know that's what you're doing? Just to be extra safe?

2 moms found this helpful

Yes, you can leave him alone while you pick up your other child from school. I would put on a TV show for him and tell him to lay on the couch and watch TV. It is sooooo cold outside, I would not want to take a sick kid out in this weather. He'll be fine!

2 moms found this helpful

I don't think it's against the law. I would have taken some precautions though. I would have called a neighbor and told them I was running daughter to school and would the neighbor keep an eye out to make sure I got back okay and that if he needed anything could he call her. That way if there was an accident or any other thing that didn't allow you to return home at the expected time there would be a back up plan.

Since he was sick with vomiting I would have had a neighbor take the girl to school and stayed with the sick child. He could have aspirated on vomit and been dead when you returned. Not vomiting I don't think I would have worried as much leaving for just a few minutes.

However, if he weren't sick I would think you could let him have home alone time for a very few minutes if you live in a relatively safe neighborhood with lots of adults home during the time he was there. If he knew how to use the phone and what to do if someone was at the door or trying to get in. As long as he was mature enough to handle the responsibility then I would start with the home alone training. Again, not for more than 30 minutes at this age.

2 moms found this helpful

Back in the day I was left home alone (after school) for a few hours until my sister came home. I was 8 yrs old. But then again that was back in the day. Things have changed and I couldn't imagine leaving my daughter home alone at 8 yrs old.

6-7 minutes in nothing. I'm sure he'll be fine.

2 moms found this helpful

In the situation you describe, I would leave my 9 year old.

2 moms found this helpful

I don't see anything wrong with it.

2 moms found this helpful

LOL! No, I dont think its against the law. I think in that situation it would be fine. I just wouldnt do it for a long period.

2 moms found this helpful

I have a nine year old son as well, and even though I have never left him by himself yet, I don't see a problem with it if it's only for a few minutes. I hope he feels better very soon!

2 moms found this helpful

A.,

I was going through this myself, because I am sick of paying of day care. I live in Wisconsin, and there are no age set in my state, but recommend age is 11-12. I know a lot of people that have left their 9 year old home alone after school. My oldest is 101/2 years old, and I have started to leave me alone after school. I give him all the numbers that he needs like my cell and work number and he calls me to let me know he is home safe. He has certain rules to follow and he has done a great job. He has also told me that he was sick of day care and they have been putting him to work, which got me mad. I am paying them to watch my child not given them free hired help. He seemed to be ready and mature enough to take on this responsibility. Also, I have younger son that is almost 9 years old, which he was told me he is a little scared so that tells me he is not quite ready yet for after school. I have practiced with my children by leaving them home 1st for 15 minutes then thirty and finally an hour.

If you left your 9 year old for ten minutes when he was sick...I don't think it hurt at all. But, I think your child would let you know when he is ready, and make sure he knows what the rules are when you are gone (like no stove cooking, no answering the phone unless the caller id shows my number etc..).

2 moms found this helpful

I think it depends on your son. Is he mature enough to handle it? Can he call a trusted at-home neighbor if he gets scared? You run the risk of getting in a fender-bender or getting a flat or getting pulled over (or whatever) that could delay you significantly. I would def. leave him at home if he can handle it - and/or ask the sweet old lady down the street if she would come sit in your living room with her ears open until you come home.

2 moms found this helpful

It shouldn't be a problem. Most town laws say that a child can stay home alone when the parent feels the child is responsible enough to be left alone. Usually 9+. It is only for a few minutes and as long as he knoww not to open the door for anyone or answer the phone unless you call, he should be fine.

2 moms found this helpful

According to what I just read, the law state, "Any minor under the age of 14 years whose parent or other person responsible for the minor's welfare leaves the minor without supervision for an unreasonable period of time without regard for the mental or physical health, safety or welfare of that minor.
"
As always, the interpretation is up for grabs...what is an unreasonable period of time??? I pick my son up from preschool daily and get home a minute or two before my son gets home from the bus. On occasions where my preschooler is let out late of preschool or a train blocks my way, my son is home before I can get there for 5 minutes or so. He comes in, sits at the desk in the kitchen and I call him from my cell phone. He stays there and we talk for the entire 5 minutes it takes me to get home. If I don't call within 5 minutes, he goes to the neighbors. That's our emergency plan. I would say leave your child home, call and talk to him the whole time on your cell. If an emergency happens, let him know what to do (let the neighbor know she is your emergency plan too). The best plan would of course be to ask someone else to take your daughter, but if you have no one to do that (you are not alone), you do what you have to do.

2 moms found this helpful

yes he is fine for about 20 minutes no longer this is a good way to prepare him for when he is older i started mine at about 8

2 moms found this helpful

Im sure he will be fine. I left my 9 year old home alone for about 1/2 hour. He went through a "stay at home alone" class at the age of 9 too. It is legal where I live to leave a kid that age at home for up to an hour.
With your son, my only concern is that he would vomit when I am not home and might freak out. I know I always feel like I am choking when I vomit. I guess it depends on how he would handle it.

1 mom found this helpful

I would totally leave him alone, maybe even for longer. But then again, it depends on the kid. My oldest kid is "old" for his age, and I would consider leaving him home alone at a far younger age that I can forsee leaving my second home alone.

In that situation, though, I don't think it really matters what kind of kid he is.

1 mom found this helpful

It depends on the child...but I would watch the "changeling" before making any decisions. It is the one with Angelina Jolie---it is a TRUE STORY. That said, I know some 9 yros that are capable of staying at home for short periods of time, don't answer the phone, don't answer the door, knows 911...don't go outside for ANY reason. I do not think there are laws. If so they are VERY vague, because I looked it up a while back.

1 mom found this helpful

No brainer in my opinion - leave him home. I'm sure it happened when I was a kid and well younger than that I was off in the neighborhood exploring.

1 mom found this helpful

Depends on your state law as to if it is legal. I see no problem with it except for one small detail...what if, God forbid, you were in an accident on the way to or from the school? That 6-7 minutes could be much longer and your child would still be home sick...ALONE!

I would say to ask a neighbor to keep an eye out (make sure son has the neighbor's telephone number for an emergency) and if you were back quickly to check on your son. Then when you return, quickly call neighbor and say "I am back, thank you". Or could the younger child ride w/ a neighbor in this case?

1 mom found this helpful

I guess my biggest concern would be "what if"...what if you got into a wreck on the way home? What if your car broke down?
I would let him by himself BUT I would call someone else (your hubby, a friend or a neighbor) and tell him "hey Im leaving" and then call him again when you get back home to tell him everything is OK.
my parents let us go to and from school, ALONE or with school mates on our FIRSTday of 1st grade...and we were left home alone alot for a couple hours (during dinner and we had to make dinner for ourselves)
so I think its ok, but make sure yo uhave your bases all covered on the 'what ifs'.

1 mom found this helpful

It is illegal.

http://www.illinoislegalaid.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home...

I know that doesn't make it easier if you have no one to help.

1 mom found this helpful

The law in New Jersey is the age of 12. If anything happened in the home to the child while you were gone, you would be held liable. With that said, is there some trusted neighbor that could keep an eye on him for those few minutes or you could just take the chance. We all do what we feel like we must do. I do understand your dilema but so did many families separated from their children because something happened out of the ordinary and the authorities came looking.

1 mom found this helpful

my head says no my tired mommy self says yes, it's just those what ifs especially when sick.

1 mom found this helpful

I don't think it's a problem... I would just worry that IF something happened - delay, car accident etc. who would be there for him. Since it's a short ride, and since I'm paranoid... I'd make sure a neighbor knew I wasn't there and to make sure I got home soon... or I'd take him...

1 mom found this helpful

Yes, 9 is too young. When we were kids I was babysitting by 10 or 11. But thanks to the home alone parents (the ones who were from Chicago suburbs that left kids alone while going on vacation a number of years ago) I believe the law in Illinois is 12. But I am not certain. You may wish to look up the Illinois criminal code 720 ILCS 5/.... it may be under abandonment or neglect. In the meantime as miserable as it may be for all involved it means bundling up your sick child.

Ok I have a 7 year oLd that I have done the same thing. When he was sick I would leave him at home to either take my other kid to school or pick her up. But never gone for very long. As long as they r responsible to stay put then there shouldn't be a problem.

The legal age to leave a child alone in the state of IL is 12. The reason behind this is that children younger than 12 can panic and are incapable of making the "right" decision when they are put in a situation that requires quick thinking. If something were to happen when he was home alone, you would be charged with child endangerment. I think if you can trust your little guy that would be enough but the law says differently.

I think it is fine as long as the 9 year old is mature enough to understand the rules and to be trusted. It would really depend on the child. I do sometimes leave my 9 year old for brief periods of time, but she absolutely knows the rules. Stay inside, all doors locked, no answering the door, period, even for friends, she has to ignore anyone who comes to the door. We have caller ID. She can only answer the phone if it is someone she recognizes on the caller ID. My cell phone is on me and she knows to call me if she needs to. She also knows many of our immediate neighbors to call on in case of an emergency. That being said, I still try to minimize the times I leave her, and when I do, it is for as short of a time period I can make it.

http://www.latchkey-kids.com/latchkey-kids-age-limits.htm
this website has ages by state.

I wouldn't. My younger child would take the school bus.

Hi A.,

Actually there are two states who specify an age were a child can be left home alone. (Illinois is one of them, but I can't think of the age right now.) It actually says.... left unattended. I live in Illinois myself and I remember checking a few months ago. Well.... that would sure mean a lot of parents are breaking the law because I see what looks to be about 10 yr. olds and up playing at the park without their parents around. I think the law is 12 yrs or 14 yrs. old for Illinois. Maybe Google it.

Years ago, there was actually a case were a 10 yr. old girl from Naperville stayed home and was abducted and later found her body. This was some time ago and maybe that has something to do with the law.

But.... I see what you're saying... and to tell you the truth, I don't know what I'd do. I live directly across the street from my kids' school. So when one is sick and the other not, I walk the one across the street and leave the sick one in bed. But.... hey, I am leaving the sick one "unattended" while I assist my other child with crossing the street.

I hope he feels better soon.

Yes it is too young. Ask a neighbor to come over for a few minutes. Or, ask another mom in your neighborhood or a friend to take your daughter to school.

I have done this before.
School is only a few minutes up the road and I have taken my 6yr old to school while my oldest stays at home in bed.
Nope don't think you are crazy

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