21 answers

How Old Should a Child Be Before They Should Stay Home Alone?

Does anyone know at what age a child can legally stay home w/out an adult? I have an 11 year old daughter who is extremely smart and responsible for her age and she is wanting me to start letting her stay home rather than go to a babysitters (you guessed it, "babysitters are for babies and I'm not a baby anymore mom!!"). I have let her stay home alone while I go on short errands (usually no more than a couple of blocks/min. away) and I completely trust her (she has always been a very good child) and she is very mature for her age (she grew up around my little sis & bro, who are 8 yrs older than her). She would only be alone for about two hours and her grandma and uncle both live just a couple of blocks away. I just don't want to get in trouble for leaving her home alone. Any help with this would be greatly appreciated. (And yes, her grandma and uncle have both said they would occasionally check in on her.)

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I have an 11 yr old son who did the same thing. I was worried about leaving him so I called our local job and family services and asked them about leaving him. They told my that there isn't a set age though the prossicuting attorney recomends 12 yrs old but if someone would happen to file a complaint aggainst you that the childrens services does an investigation to determin what they think. They said they ask the child and the parent question to see if they think they are responsible enough. I now can leave my son for a few hours without worry because I know and he knows that he is responsible enough for this. But we do have set rules and if or when he breaks these this prevledge will be taken away.
I hope this helps
J. P.

1 mom found this helpful

I baby sat at that age too. She sounds like she is plenty old enough to stay home alone, especially if she has a way to reach you at all times (if you carry a cell phone), plus Grandma's and Uncle's phone numbers. I would tell her the rules (like she has to stay inside keeping doors locked and not inviting anyone inside or answering the door to strangers). Then tell her if she fails to abide by the rules she will lose the priviledge to stay home alone. She will appreciate your trusting her and you could award her for being responsible if you come home and the place is not a mess, and she followed the rules, etc.

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Only you know for sure.. The maturity level of one 11 year old compared to another could be as different as night and day. If you believe your daughter is responsible enough and would know what to do in any emergency case then do a test run.. let her stay when you go to the grocery.. or when you go to the gym. That way if she gets scared or uncomfortable she can call you and you can be there in a second. I believe also that the YWCA has babysitting classes. I am sure that would help you both be more comfortable with staying alone. If she took a class like that you could both feel comfortable that she would know what to do if something went wrong.

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There is no specific age according to the law. As long as you feel she is old enough and responsible enough. I leave my 11yr old twins home together from time to time. I did call the police station a few years back because my 8 and 9 yr old step sons were being left home alone for several hours each day. I just asked the officer what the legal age was to leave a child home alone. It was then that I was told that there is no legal age. The child just has to be mature and responsible.

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I dont know the age where she is allowed to stay at home alone call the local police dept and ask. Perhaps you could look into a 15 or 16 y/o girl in the neighborhood and ask her to stay with her. Not as a sitter but as a person to hang out with a do girl things. I think if you go too much older she will view it as a sitter. Whereas if you get someone just a little older she could do things with her. You could even let the sitter show her how to put on make up (for play and as long as the sitter doesnt cake it on). Just things that teenage girls do.
Good luck
S.

1 mom found this helpful

I have checked that out with Children's services and the police in my area for those reasons. You can do the same to releive your fears. This is what I was told. As long as there is food, water, basic utilities, and a phone, then there is NO AGE that say is okay or not okay. It is up to the PARENT to know their child and make sure they are a responsible child. Mine was 9 when he began to stay home two hours, basically until I was home from work. He was and still is taking classes in school 2+ years older than he is. He was always very responsible with anything he was asked to do and even things he wasn't, he just did. I started him out though saying I was going to the gym and I would leave and loop back and knock on the door and he would not answer or even move a curtain to see who it was. I did not want anyone to ever know he was home alone..you know the "bad guys". He was tested many times and never knew it. When I got home he would tell me someone knocked but he knew not to even look and that I had my phone if for some reason I needed him to open the door for me. I would set basic rules and then test her. My rules were, no talking on the phone so that I knew he would look at the caller ID to make sure it was me calling, no moving the curtains to look out, no going outside, no friends over...plus we had two watch dogs too. I may be missing more rules. Do what makes you feel comfortable. Call Children's Services and your local Police Department and they will tell you what you need to know and give you a piece of mind.

1 mom found this helpful

I think it all depends on the child. I actually was a babysitter at that age. I was also raised around older kids/people, so I too was very responsible and mature for my age. I recall staying home by myself starting at age 9 or 10. Of course, it wasn't for hours on end, but long enough for my dad to get home from work, or my mom from the store. I think your daughter should be fine for a few hours, esp. since relatives live so close.

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I was also one of those girls that not only was staying home alone at that age, but also babysitting. I watched my brother who is two years younger than me and also sat for a family of 5. My mother always gave me and my brother chores to do while she was gone and I think it helped teach me responsibility. At that age we were not normally left for any more than a few hours at a time as my mom worked part time and would be able to leave her job early if something came up like a snow or sick day. I think that only you can tell when your daughter is ready to stay at home by herself. If you feel confident in her ability to take care of herself then perhaps she is ready. What ever your decision, I'm sure it will be the right one.

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As far as I know, there are no laws on the books pertaining to this. I believe it is all up to the parents, and the maturity/responsibility level of the child. Just make sure your daughter has plenty of contacts to call, should something go wrong. Leave a list of phone numbers of close relatives and/or friends, who can be there in a split second if she needs help. My parents started leaving me home alone when I was 11, and on short trips, they'd leave me with my little brother, when I was about 12. (We're 6 years apart.)

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I would check the with the sheriff dept and the childrens protection office. I had inquired and they said as long as she passed the babysitters test.. then she could stay home alone.. she did and was given a cell phone for emergencies. We also let trusted neighbors know that she was home and to check on her once in awhile. She also locks all doors,sets the alarm and is not to open them to anyone other than certain family members or friends, who actually call her to see if she needs any help.

Legal age is 12. Good Luck. R

My stepdaughter turns 12 this weekend and she is still too young. My parents kept me in day care till I was 14... Probably should have been longer, and I was a pretty mature kid (I think). When rules are different at Mommy's and Daddy's due to divorce it gets even harder. I would say though, since she has relatives so close... Let her try one day every other week for a couple of months, then one day a week, then a little more until she is fine. It helps if you have an alarm she can set too.

By law she has to be 11 years old!

Wow have things changed. I stayed home for 45 minutes in the morning and then walk to the bus stop on my own almost a mile away. Then I was home alone for an hour or so after school after I walked home from the bus stop. And I am not that old!

Anyway, my son is 8 and he has been begging for months to stay home alone. I asked the principal at his school and she said there is no "law" but it is up to the parents to use good judgement. So we let him stay home for 20-30 minutes at the most if I run an errand close to home. He wants more, but I am not ready for it yet. He is showing a lot of responsibility and does what we ask. So with the information I have and MY child, this is what I have started to don once in awhile. Some of my other friends have done the same, but I suppose there are tons of variables. If I wouldn't have been home alone as a kid in 1st grade I probably would not be comfortable at all with this either.

M.

Letting our kids stay home alone, especially for the first time, can fill us with anxiety and worry. However, we can help prepare them to become independent and build confidence to themselves. My son was 11 years old when I first left him at home alone. He was so reliable and responsible at his young age. Now that his 12, I feel I could leave him at home alone for a day. But as a parent, I always strive to be the best parent I can be. I was scanning through a few blogs and found this article on how I could better protect my son. It seemed interesting so I checked it out on Facebook and actually got 15 days free. Here's the article: http://anationofmoms.com/2011/08/protect-your-family-give...

Hi A.. There are easy test you can do to determine if she is old enough. A) Can she prepare a meal for herself; like in the microwave? Even though she would only be home for a few hours after school, things happen beyond our control and meal preperation is a standard. B) Can she call for help to you (a relative) or notify Police or 911? I think that is the most important one. C) Will there be other children with her? Children shouldn't babysit prior to the age of 13 according to my Dr. Best of Luck and I agree that all children mature diff and no one knows better than you if she is ready or not!

I don't know how old is legal, but I know you can have your daughter take classes through the American Red Cross. They have a Home Alone class as well as a Babysitting class. My 11 year old took the baby sitting class and she had to be 11. If your daughter is in Girl Scouts the Junior Badge book has some badges with safety at home and on the internet for girls your daughters age.

We did the same thing with our daughter running to the store for a few mins. Until she felt comfortable staying longer. We have lots of neighbors and relatives just a few blocks away. Mostly ask your daughter how she feels. We don't leave ours after dark she just insn't comfortable with that. She does not like to stay home with both her brother and sister. Anyone of them alone is okay but when the younger 2 are together they fight and as a sister they don't listen to her. I don't want to put her in a position that she doesn't feel comfortable.

Hi A.,
Boy, this brings back memories for me! I was about that age when I started staying home alone. My parents just got divorced and we didn't have alot of money for babysitters or daycare all the time. I did stay at a daycare in the mornings before school but then after school I would be by myself for just about a couple of hours or so. I always had to call my mom at work to check in with her when I got home. She just told me to not answer the phone or the door when I was by myself. If she called me she had a signal. She would ring once, hang up, and then ring again. That is how I knew it was her. I was an only child so I think that helped me be a little more responsible and mature for my age. In the summers it was different. I did stay at a daycare since I would be by myself all day but she only did that for a couple of years. That was pretty ruff financially!!
So, I would give it a try. Especially since it won't be for that long. A good thing is you have relatives that don't live too far away.

A.,

If you trust your daughter to stay home for short times, and she is responsible, I say give her a shot! To make her more capeable and ease your fear, there are Home alone courses she can take, check your local parks and rec. The babysitting course teaches alot of "emergancy" what to do things also. Give it a trail nite. Just go out with a friend & be on call, just in case, see how she does. Good luck!

I'm not sure on this at all, but if you find out, can you please let me know as well. I am curious as my neighbor had the school call children services on her, when her son told the teacher he was being left alone for 2 hours by hisself (which was untrue, but that is another story) Anyways, I would like to know the legal age that this is allowed, I would never want the law called on me for this.

Hats off to you, for raising a smart daughter :)

Your Mamasource friend,
T.

If a relative lives so close, why doesn't she just stay with them for such a short amount of time rather than staying alone or with a babysitter?

I'm not certain on legal age, but 11 is just too young still to be home alone.

Suppose someone is watching for times when she's alone? Can she adequately fight off an adult attacker? (Just as an example) The number of things that can go wrong aren't just accidents around the house, things can happen outside the house, on the way home, or even crimes against her or the house.

You child's safety should be worth more than her pride.

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