14 answers

Kids Home Alone

Hello to All,
I always have the images of 'Home alone" and what risks I should or should not take as far as leaving my kids at home without an adult supervision. I never did that I know that it should happen one day. They are responsible enough, but have never been alone, so I can't say how it would be because they have never been in that specific situation.
At what age are kids officially permitted by the law to be at home alone without an adult supervision? I live in Texas.
Thank you for your comments.
Cheers,

VAVA, SATH Mom of 4

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Featured Answers

There are no "laws" as to the age when children can be left alone, but here are the TX guidelines.
https://www.dfps.state.tx.us/Child_Protection/About_Child...

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

There are no "laws" as to the age when children can be left alone, but here are the TX guidelines.
https://www.dfps.state.tx.us/Child_Protection/About_Child...

1 mom found this helpful

Texas has no legal age restrictions for leaving children alone according to the Texas Family and Protective Services guidelines found on www.latchkey-kids.com.

I think its depends more on the maturity level of your child(ren) rather than an age. I started leaving my child home alone at 8 when I had errands, after school, appointments, etc.

1 mom found this helpful

Texas has no set age for being left unsupervised, but apparently the Department of Family and Protective Services apparently recommends the age of 12. My friend went through this a few years ago with her 10 yo. She would allow him to stay home while she ran quick errands. Once her proved he could handle it, she started taking longer trips. She was "prepping" him because the following school year he wanted to come home instead of daycare. She made a lot of ground rules and even asked me to stop by and "test" him, to see if he would open the door for me...he was told not to open the door ever, but he has known me since he was 3, so she thought he might cave. He passed that one with flying colors.

My son is 8 and my daughter is 6 and I have left each of them home alone to walk the other one to school on days when one is home sick (about 5 minutes). I have also left my 8 year old home to drop my daughter off at girl scouts or pick her up (again about 5-10 minutes max). Other than that, I haven't done the "home alone" thing yet. I'm guessing that I will just gradually work up to longer and longer periods of time as they get older. I can't imagine that one day I'm just going to say "ok, you're 12 years old, I'm going shopping for a few hours." I think it's going to have to build slowly to the point where I'm comfortable.

Good luck,
K.

Since the Red Cross Babysitters Class is offered to kids when they turn 12 I thing that by 12 they need to be able to take care of things at home by themselves. It is all about how you give them the responsibility and how they handle it. If you are comfortable then start small like others have suggested.

I was totally, absolutely, positively sure that my 8 year old daughter was too immature to be allowed to stay at home while I ran even the simplest errand. My best friend, who was in the Clinical Psychologist grad. program, kept telling me that I was overprotective and that M would never be able to handle responsibility if I didn't let her have some. Good advice, but it was M we were talking about. Finally I let her talk me into going to the grocery store to get a few things and leave M at home. We were gone less than 30 minutes and when we got close to the married student housing area I could see fire trucks and police cars everywhere around my house. My worst fears were being confirmed. When they finally let us in we found that M had taken a pot from the kitchen, put dried grass under it outside and started a grass fire. Her excuse was she wanted to show me how big she was and cook dinner. I had a Child Welfare Referral and that started a long drawn out mess with me having to go to court and all kinds of things.

So, the moral of the story is: You have to follow you instincts. If you think it is just mom stuff and the kids could do more than set things up differently than I did the first time.

Have a plan in place to keep and eye on them without them knowing and see how it goes. Maybe a neighbor in the back yard looking like they are reading a book but actually listening to your house.

It's hard to know for sure when they're ready. If you have a gut feeling they will be ok, then start out with small amounts of time. It takes me 9 minutes to get to town, so a quick run to the store could be all of 15 minutes my son is home alone. I have gradually increased it. My son knows all the numbers he'd have to call, to lock the door, and NO cooking on the stove. We have a fire exit plan and have gone over scenerios - "So, someone comes to the door you don't know.....do you open it to them?" We also have a security system which my son knows how to use. I also don't know how old your kids are, but my son is 11 and a VERY responsible 11. If you decide to try it, like I said, start with small amounts of time. Ask your kids what they would do in a situation like someone coming to the door or a unfamiliar smell in the house. Absolute rules about cooking and certain activities have to be clear.
I don't know about the age it's legally ok in TX-not sure I know what it is in OH - I'm sure that info is somewhere on the Internet.
Good luck.

The laws are different depending on your state. In Ohio, where I live, they can be latch-key kids at the age of 7, which I personally think is a bit young. My oldest would have been fine for a few minutes at 7, but my second oldest is 8 and there is NO WAY I'd leave him alone!
For me, it is more about personality and responsibility than age.

The laws really vary by state. In PA there is NO LAW at all about how old a child needs to be. Children mature at very different rates and parents do too! LOL! At our house I would not leave them alone for any time until they were both older than 7. Then it was when we were on the property but not in the house. (We have ten acres you can be pretty far away and still be on our property when people say I was just out in the yard or I went to the end of the driveway that can mean different things. For me getting the paper is a 15 minute walk.) Now, I leave them together 10 and 8 for 15 - 20 minutes at a time to run an errand, but that is it. And we have family next door! It depends on your child's maturity level and what they are possibly going to get into. How much of a risk taker is your child? How likely are they to follow rules? If mine are watching a movie I can leave for 20 minutes and find them exactly where I left them.

If you are not comfortable leaving them, ask yourself why. Is it them or is it you? Is it mom anxiety or legitimate concern? Check your state law, but I don't think Texas has one either.... Good luck!

As much as possible, I don't want to leave my daughter at home alone, but if I did that I'll make it sure she can reach me easily. I would like to share this blog it talks about a mother concerning her kids personal security these might help a lot of mothers like me. Check out her blog http://tidbitsfromamom.blogspot.com/2011/08/safekidzone-r...

I was 11 or 12, and my parents' began by leaving me home during the day and progressed to the night. My parents had a couple of rules for safety - when home alone, we were never to answer the door. Ever. I think that rule changed when we were older teenagers (I don't really remember), but Mom always said that anyone who needed to get into the house would have our number to call first. This makes a lot of sense to me! Doors were locked, and friends could not be over with us without prior permission. We could not go out without prior permission. All of the logical rules. We were actually never left home overnight or for weekends (although we both moved out when we were 18, too), although I think we could have been - our parents just didn't take vacations with out us. I don't know the laws in Texas, but since most kids can babysit by 12, I imagine that is permitted. Good luck.

I noticed you are a mom of 4, so I thought I would chime in one leaving more than one child.

My kids are two girls ages 9 and the other 12 in a month, my son is 5 years old. Last year I started testing the waters with leaving home, I was left alone all summer while my dad worked in 5th grade, so I figured my oldest was close to being ready.

I have done as others have mentioned about rules while I am gone. I have decided though not to leave all 3 home alone. If the oldest two girls are alone they do fine, so sometimes I will take my little one with me to the store. If the oldest and my son are alone they do great, but the two younger ones bicker too much and I worry that they would get into trouble of some kind while I am gone.

So I just wanted to throw that thought out there. You know your kids and how they behave. I love being able to run to the store without all of them or go to bible study where they only offer childcare for ages 5 and under, but I know my limits.

I have two ten year olds. I started by leaving them alone when my husband and I would go across the street and play poker with friends. We were not far so if they needed us they could come over and we would check on them (this started at around 8 years old). I then moved the time to when I had to run to the store (around 9 years old). The store is only 5 blocks away and they know my cell number. They know they are not allowed to use the phone unless its to call me or dad. They cant have friends over. They cant answer the door. No cooking anything (stove or microwave). I do leave snacks for them to eat that they dont have to cook. They know the rules and are pretty good with them. I can now leave them for a few hours at a time. when they hit 12 I might actually start leaving my littlest one (by that time he will be 3) with my daughter to babysit.

Laws vary from state to state. Beyond that, it's going to vary from child to child. Some kids are trustworthy at an early age and stay that way. Other kids you'd have to worry if they would burn the house down no matter how old they were. Multiple kids? Depends on how well they get along. Can an older child handle an emergency and the other kids at the same time? Is it fair to put one child in charge of the others? Will the others respect the one in charge? Falls, choking, accidents can happen any time even with an adult around. I'd error on the side of caution.

It states that you can leave them at 10. I don't believe I would leave 10 yr. olds alone but it depends on the situation and how long they will be alone.

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