28 answers

What Age Kids Stay Home Alone

My questions is simple. At what age do you think a child can stay at home alone? My husband and I disagree. I would love your options.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

kind of a "loaded" question. depends on the child's abilities, not just age. depends on what "alone" means- is there an adult neighbor within easy contact if needed? Just alone by themselves or also in charge of younger children? emergency situations need to be "practiced" ahead of time regardless of any of the other factors

I THINK the law says they can stay home alone at age 12, but I started leaving my oldest alone at 10- when I knew he could follow orders and use a phone and showed some responsibility.

I think it really is up to the parents, the time you are going to be gone, and the child. My youngest is going to be 9 this summer, and I would not leave him alone like I would have his brothers.

My answer is twelve, and they have to have a phone and guidelines as to their behavior, what to do if someone calls, etc. I try not to be overprotective, but it isn't worth the risk to me.

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J.:

here in Virginia they put that in the parents hands. They give GUIDELINES. Texas doesn't have a "law" set either...they have guidelines...

these are questions I would ask:

How old, emotional mature, and capable is your child? If your child is mentally aware and capable of handling himself/herself - go for it. most places recommend no more than 1.5 hours if under 10.

What are the hazards and risks in the neighborhood - do you live in a "safe" neighborhood?

What is your child's ability to respond to illness, fire, weather, or other types of emergencies? Does your child know how to use the phone and in what type of emergency to call 911?

Does your child have a mental, physical, or medical disability?

How many children are being left unsupervised?

Do they know where you are? do they know how to contact you?

My daughter was 9 when I left her alone to go grocery shopping. This was before cell phones. She could talk to our neighbors if she had a problem.

My boys? They are 10 and 12, they have been left alone since 8. I leave them alone to go grocery shopping, oil change, etc. The longest they have been left alone? 4 hours - maybe more. They knew how to contact me at all times and abide by our rules...no one in the home. do not answer the door. do not leave the house unless an emergency.

At some point you need to start giving your children room to grow and trust them. Start small and work your way up.

Good luck!!

3 moms found this helpful

It depends on the kid, and it depends on your state.
My son is 11 and is fine while I run across the street for a few minutes, but wouldn't like being in the house by himself for more than a few minutes, like a run to the store or something.

In my state, there is no specific age limit, but they've set the following guidelines.
Age Guidelines ...

7 years and under:
Should not be left alone for any period of time. This may include leaving children unattended in cars, playgrounds, and backyards. The determining consideration would be the dangers in the environment and the ability of the caretaker to intervene.

8 to 10 years:
Should not be left alone for more than 1½ hours and only during daylight and early evening hours.

11 to 12 years:
May be left alone for up to 3 hours but not late at night or in circumstances requiring inappropriate responsibility.

13 to 15 years:
May be left unsupervised, but not overnight.

16 to 17 years:
May be left unsupervised (in some cases, for up to two consecutive overnight periods).


The National SAFEKIDS Campaign recommends that no child under the age of 12 be left at home alone.

3 moms found this helpful

Your question is simple, but the answer isn't. It depends on several factors.

1. Where do you live? City? Suburbs? Rural area? How far away will you be, how long does it take for EMS to arrive?

2. How is your neighborhood? Do your kids know your neighbors and do you trust them?

3. How long are you thinking of leaving them? You have to start somewhere...

4. How mature are they? Do you have more than one child? Ages?

We live in a very safe, small city in a very safe suburban neighborhood. The kids both ride the bus to and from school. I started leaving them home for about 1 hour to go to the grocery store at about age 8 and 9, with strict instructions and a call at the 30 minute mark. I built on that hour over time. The next school year, they started coming home from school and staying alone until I got home from work (about 1 hour and 45 minutes). They were required to call me upon arrival at home. I continued to build on that until my husband and I could go out for a date and I could trust that they would watch a movie, get ready for bed, and be in bed either sleeping or reading when we arrive home.

Today they are 10 and 11 (almost 12). They can stay the whole day on their own if school's out because we worked on it and they know the rules.

The rules:

1. No cooking. If you're hungry, make a sandwich or eat something that doesn't require cooking.
2. Don't leave the house unless there is an emergency. In an emergency, go to Mr. Chad's house next door and call me.
3. Don't let anyone in.

These were the rules when we started, but now they've changed because they have matured. So now the rules are:

1. No cooking on the stove. Don't leave the microwave unattended. Use potholders. The fire extinguisher is by the fridge.
2. You may play outside as long as you call me and tell me where you'll be, and check in occasionally.
3. Don't let anyone in.

Hope that helps!


C. Lee

ETA: A land-line phone is required. Kids need to be able to call 9-1-1 and have your home address pop up immediately for the dispacher, in case they call and cannot speak, or call and are forced to hang up. Cell phones do not do this because it takes time for GPS location to get to dispach (and not all systems have this capability).

3 moms found this helpful

We started leaving our son home alone for short stretches (less than 20 minutes) this year at age nine. He's not ready to be home alone for a long time and definitely couldn't watch his sister, too, but we feel fine with the short time. It's a good maturing experience for him.

I was babysitting in junior high, so definitely by then they're ready. I also knew plenty of latchkey kids growing up and they all did just fine. I'm trying really hard not to be a way overcautious helicopter parent because I think kids learn to be more confident and independent when given some freedom.

2 moms found this helpful

It entirely depends on the specific child. Mine will be nine and we have just started leaving her alone for short periods of time (no more than an hour). However, she is responsible, knows the rules and knows what to do in an emergency.

2 moms found this helpful

the age you both agree on, or the later of the two choices so there is no blaimnig if something goes wrong=)

This is asked a lot here I think the common age is drastically diferent depending on the kids personality, area you live and length of time. I've seen a lot of people say 8 if the kid is responsible and its under 2 hours and you can call and check in.

2 moms found this helpful

Hubby and I are heading in to San Francisco tonight to see "Wicked" and leaving our 13 year old in charge of 10&6 year old. We started leaving him in charge when he was 12. We would go out for a couple hours just to test it out and then go for longer. He is quite responsible and will read to them and say prayers with them before bedtime. He calls only if the house is on fire or someone is bleeding. Hasn't happened....................yet.

We never leave overnight. We pay him a little bit..but it is all contingent on younger sibling reviews. Was big bro nice and helpful?? Is the house picked up and somewhat orderly?? If yes, then he gets some $.

I leave our 10 year old home with our 6 year old if I am running somewhere quickly and will be back within an hour and it is daylight.

All three of our kids know how to call 911, our cell numbers, address and home numbers. They know our neighbors and feel comfortable running there if there is a problem.

Good luck and best wishes resolving this disagreement with your husband.

2 moms found this helpful

My oldest is 10, and very responsible. I have left her alone for an hour or so while I go grocery shopping. She knows not to answer the door, and has my cell phone number handy just in case.

My younger daughter is 7, and I feel like she is a long way from being left at home alone. Maybe she will mature in the next few years, but honestly, this is a kid that I'm not sure will be ready before high school! :-P

1 mom found this helpful

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