21 answers

Age to Stay Home Alone or Watch Another Sibling?

I know there is no actual law in California, they kind of just leave it up to the parents. I remember I started babysitting my neighbor when I was 10 and she was 8. I have friends who leave their 7 and 8 year olds to run quick errands and others that don't leave their 12 year old. So when would you say it was appropriate to let a kid stay home alone and for what length of time. I have one super responsible rule follower and one who is much more free spirited but does tend to "step up" when responsibility is placed on her.

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In MI., a child has to be 12 to be left home alone. That said, a 12 year old has also babysat his/her younger sibling according to parents in my neighborhood. Personally, since I have twins, they will both be allowed home alone at 12.

I actually thought the legal age to leave a child alone for a few hrs. was 14 . old here in Ca. (I may be wrong)

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I can only give the point of view of the military. Kids aren't allowed to stay home alone for more than three hours until they're 12. At 13 they can stay home with one sibling for three hours with baby sitting certification. At 15 they can stay home for three hours with at most two other siblings, three with Red Cross certifications. Anything more than three hours/overnight they must be 17 and have current certifications in babysitting, CPR, and lifeguard.

2 moms found this helpful

Wow ... very interesting! I live in South Africa and it's very common here for poor people to leave primary school age kids alone during the school holidays (because they can't afford camp or daycare). Also, with the very high incidence of HIV in this country it often happens that the parents die and a child as young as 14 gets "emancipated" to care for younger siblings. In the more affluent areas parents tend to hire babysitters until the kids are around 14 years old. My 2 are currently 19 and 16 years old respectively and I left them alone overnight for the first time last year. I'm a great believer in trusting your instincts (unless there is a law in place which you must follow). In South Africa we don't even have "babysitting classes"!

2 moms found this helpful

Of course it largely depends on maturity and the neighborhood. I'm comfortable with leaving an 8 year old for a quick errand or a trustworthy 10 year old for a few hours (2-3) with the door locked at all times. By 12 I don't mind if they go outside to take out the trash or something.

2 moms found this helpful

i say it depends on the child..and the parent too.. i was staying home by myself for an hour or two while my mom ran errands when i was 10/11 . my friends mom would leave us home with her 5 year old brother while she went out for a little while all the time no big deal, we were good kids, they trusted us ... my neighbors twins however are going on 13 with an 18 yr old sibling and the younger ones still go to camp in the summer because their parents dont want to leave them home alone

1 mom found this helpful

I began at the age of 9 leaving for short periods of time (20-30 min), more by the age of 10 (1 hr building up to 2) and a few hours by the age of 11. In our town by age 11 most kids are in middle school and there are not after school programs. The Red Cross babysitting course is offered to kids starting age 11.

1 mom found this helpful

There is no legal minimum age in California which is WAY scary. We are military and I can tell you that our rules like avncavwife said are outlined pretty clearly when you live on base. These standards also come with consequences if not abided by. I started to let my oldest stay in the house "by herself" a little at a time when she was 10 (1/2 hr to start then more as she got older). Teach them the rules and do little test as they get older and TRUST your judgement

1 mom found this helpful

We leave our 13, almost 14 year old son in charge of our almost 5 year old son for a couple hours at a time. It's been like that for almost a year now. The oldest child has 3 other younger siblings at his mothers house. so he knows how to deal with younger kids and is responsible. I don't agree with leaving 7 & 8 year olds alone. But like other posters have said, a lot depends on the child.

1 mom found this helpful

In CA if something happens while a child is alone or watching a sibling a parent can be charged with child endangerment, so just go with your gut. I truly depends on the child(ren) so there isn't a magic age. Also important to consider is how a child feels to be left alone...some love the responsibility, some are scared.

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