At What Age....

Joined
Dec 16, 2004
would it be acceptable to leave children alone for a quick trip, less than 45 minutes, to run an errand?
 

Klayfish

DIS Veteran
Joined
May 19, 2016
Depends on the kid and the situation. For us, we had to wait until they were all old enough. We would have been OK doing it for our oldest when he was 8 or so, but then the twins would have only been 5. I honestly don't remember exactly when we started. I want to say it was when our twins were 7 or 8 and our oldest was 10 or 11.
 

mjkacmom

DIS Veteran
Joined
Feb 20, 2006
I’d say 10, that’s when we’d leave a kid home who didn’t want to go to a sibling’s game (there were tons of them). My town is only 3 miles, so I started leaving kids for short errands (like dropping off or picking up a sibling) around 7 (provided they were ok with it, a couple of them would chose to come with me).
 
  • Meriweather

    Being a Nana is my superpower
    Joined
    Mar 31, 2002
    We left DS alone at 8 for a little bit. He rode the bus and then just went in the house. I had to take DD to something.
    It worked fine. No friends over. Just him.
     

    lovesmurfs

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 24, 2006
    Depends on whether siblings are involved. When DS was alone, an hour trip would've been fine at 8-9. With his sister home, not until 12.

    American Red Cross used to offer a babysitting course over several weekends, and I sent both kids through it at age 12--I don't know whether they still do. They knew more about sitting than I ever did, and it included a first aid kit for them to take with them (because in the throes of an event, it's really hard to find a bandaid, etc.).
     

    tvguy

    Question anything the facts don't support.
    Joined
    Dec 15, 2003
    I agree, it DEPENDS on the child.
    12 for sure.
    My dad passed away when I was 9 and my mom worked graveyard shift, and she let a series of women live for free with room and board if they were there at night with me. 4 different women over 2 years and we both agreed when I was 12 that I was ready to be alone at night. My mom did have a burglar alarm put on the house, but this was back in 1970. Times may be different now.
     
  • smiths02

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 13, 2009
    I would look up your state guidelines. Some states have actual laws, but most just have guidelines. Personally, I would feel uncomfortable going against the guidelines, even if I felt my child was more mature.
    I did not leave mine alone until sometime in 5th grade for short bursts (about 10 years old). Like @Klayfish , we have one older and then twins. Older DS was 6 when the twins were born, so he hadn't been old enough to be left alone and then we had to take the twins everywhere anyhow (and a 6-8 year old was actually helpful to have at an errand when you have twins under 2 years old). That was a long explanation for saying that we still have to actively try to leave our older son home alone sometimes (he's 12 now) to get him prepared especially for this summer when DH and I both have to work, and he will be too old for daycares/summer camps (most only allow up to age 12 and he will be 13).
    We will probably wait until older DS is 14 and in high school before we consider letting the twins stay home alone with him for short errands.
     

    ronandannette

    I gave myself this tag and I "Like" myself too!
    Joined
    May 4, 2006
    DS was an only and I went back to work when he was 10. DH worked from home but there were occasions when he was on his own for an hour or two after school. I don’t think we started leaving him home alone in the evenings until he was 12 or 13 though.
     

    tvguy

    Question anything the facts don't support.
    Joined
    Dec 15, 2003
    I would look up your state guidelines. Some states have actual laws, but most just have guidelines. Personally, I would feel uncomfortable going against the guidelines, even if I felt my child was more mature.
    I did not leave mine alone until sometime in 5th grade for short bursts (about 10 years old). Like @Klayfish , we have one older and then twins. Older DS was 6 when the twins were born, so he hadn't been old enough to be left alone and then we had to take the twins everywhere anyhow (and a 6-8 year old was actually helpful to have at an errand when you have twins under 2 years old). That was a long explanation for saying that we still have to actively try to leave our older son home alone sometimes (he's 12 now) to get him prepared especially for this summer when DH and I both have to work, and he will be too old for daycares/summer camps (most only allow up to age 12 and he will be 13).
    We will probably wait until older DS is 14 and in high school before we consider letting the twins stay home alone with him for short errands.
    This is what Google says:
    "Some states, such as California, offer little guidance, with no minimum age set for when children can be left home alone. The majority of states with laws cite 12 years old as the cutoff, while some states lean younger, including Maryland and Georgia at 8 years and Kansas at 6."
     
  • jerseygal

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 1, 2008
    Every child is different, 12 years old, perhaps 11 no younger, certainly there are 11 and 12 year olds that aren't capable and mature enough even. Really depends on the childs maturity. We all know that an emergency can happen in a split second,. Yes, often times, certainly understand that it is much more convenient for Mom or Dad to "run to the store" for 20 minutes without the kids, but that 20 minutes of convenience was never worth leaving our kids until we felt they were mature enough to handle a situation.
     

    Lilacs4Me

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 31, 2015
    8-9 for my kids, for short errands and the younger two were 10/8 when they started getting off the bus at the corner and walked home until I got there an hour later. Older DS was 14 at the time and would be there about 50% of the time, unless he had something going on after school. We never made him "babysit"...we waited until DD and DS were old enough to handle themselves. We lived in a safe area and they were mature enough to handle it. By the time they were 11 (5th grade/middle school), they were very comfortable staying home whenever they didn't want to go with me on errands.

    The state guidelines in my state are almost always misinterpreted. Basically, the *real* guideline is: don't be stupid and use common sense when deciding when, where, how long, and how safe your kids will be if you leave them for a short while.
     
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    smiths02

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 13, 2009
    This is what Google says:
    "Some states, such as California, offer little guidance, with no minimum age set for when children can be left home alone. The majority of states with laws cite 12 years old as the cutoff, while some states lean younger, including Maryland and Georgia at 8 years and Kansas at 6."
    Most states, even without a law, will have a Family Services/Child Protective Services site with guidelines.
    I live in GA, there is no law. Here are the guidelines
    "The State guidelines are as follows:  Children eight years or younger should not be left alone  Children between the ages of nine years and twelve years, based on level of maturity, may be left alone for brief (less than two hours) periods of time; and,  Children thirteen years and older, who are at an adequate level of maturity, may be left alone and may perform the role of babysitter, as authorized by the parent, for up to twelve hours."

    I actually think it is a little silly that the guidance is to leave my 12 year 11 month 29 day year old home for only 2 hours and then the next day when he turns 13 he is okay to babysit for 12 hours? However, I like to play things safe and go by the guidelines.
     
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    smiths02

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 13, 2009
    8-9 for my kids. We lived in a safe area and they were mature enough to handle it.

    The state guidelines in my state are almost always misinterpreted. Basically, the *real* guideline is: don't be stupid and use common sense when deciding when, where, how long, and how safe your kids will be if you leave them for a short while.
    I agree guidelines are misinterpreted and I feel it is a shame the world has come to this, but I always felt that if I wasn't following the guidelines (even if there is no law) and Mrs. Kravitz decides to call the police because Tabitha is home alone, then I would invite less trouble if I was following guidelines.
     

    NHdisneylover

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 26, 2007
    It depends on the kid.

    Our oldest took a Red Cross on staying home alone (which actually also covered having younger siblings around) just after truning 8 and then we would leave the then 8 and 6 year olds (or just the 8 year old while the 6 year old had dane class) for increasingly longer times as everyone got used to the routine. By the time the younger was 7, I was ok leaving just him for the 10-20 minutes between when I needed to leave with my oldest to get to karate lessons and when DH made it home from work.
     

    tvguy

    Question anything the facts don't support.
    Joined
    Dec 15, 2003
    I actually think it is a little silly that the guidance is to leave my 12 year 11 month 29 day year old home for only 2 hours and then the next day when he turns 13 he is okay to babysit for 12 hours? However, I like to play things safe and go by the guidelines.
    I'm in California. We just raised the age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21. And now they are debating lowering the voting age from 18 to 17.
     

    Lilacs4Me

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 31, 2015
    I agree guidelines are misinterpreted and I feel it is a shame the world has come to this, but I always felt that if I wasn't following the guidelines (even if there is no law) and Mrs. Kravitz decides to call the police because Tabitha is home alone, then I would invite less trouble if I was following guidelines.
    Totally agree!

    But I'm a rebel and don't mind taking my chances :rotfl2:
     

    shoney

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 4, 2005
    I would say 10.
    That’s when after care stops around here (6th grade) and many kids go home to an empty house.
    But I think I did it in 5th grade to run some errands.
     



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