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When Can You Leave Your Kids Home Alone?

Here’s a long-standing parenting question: at what age is it OK to leave your child at home alone?

It’s a complicated question. Obviously, there’s no perfect, universal age, as a number of factors — like your child’s maturity, comfort level, the availability of neighbors, etc. — should be taken into account.

There’s a great post at Babble about it. Today, a lot of parents today are leaving their kids home not out of necessity but as a way to help them learn from the experience. The article also discusses how in many cultures, kids are left alone at a young age, though it’s generally looked down upon at the U.S.

What age is appropriate for a child to be left home alone?

From Strollerderby. Photo by Daniel Y. Go.

23 Responses to “When Can You Leave Your Kids Home Alone?”

  1. Nicole carlson

    I don’t believe any child should ever be left alone having a 13 yr old sister I now believe even at that age it’s not ok for ling periods of time she once was cooking an left the burner on perfect example if someone wasn’t home such as myself to catch it god knows what couldve happend I don’t really think there’s a certain age depends on the childs maturity level an since every child is differnt deciding on what age is ok to be left alone varies on child.

  2. addrienne mertens

    gosh too many bad things in the world anymore…you have to know your child and the maturity level they are on.

  3. sara mather

    I think a good age is 15/16 i get to worried even then but i think they are old enough

  4. Suzy

    I'm not really sure how old a child should be to be home alone… But I also think it depends on that child. Some children are really hyper active, get into trouble a lot, you know. Those kinds of kids should probably never get left home alone. Kids that are quiet and and smart and know the rules, I think they should be able to stay home alone only for a short period of time. When I was little I was really quiet and shy and knew all about what to do about strangers. I was never left alone for very long, but it happened occasionally because stuff happens. It's better if there are two children together, at least they will keep eachother company. =p lol

  5. clc408

    I think it's best to err on the side of caution. It's probably worth the expense of a babysitter for kids under 13 or 14. After that, I think with proper training, kids can probably be trusted for short periods of time alone.

  6. Fritter

    I don't know if it ever is either. I wasn't. My parents always had someone there….I can't see leaving my kids. Oy. Three boys? No way.

  7. meaghan duffy

    Being a college age student, with lots of younger siblings. My mother used to leave us "home alone," just to run little errands, or to go out to eat with my dad, every so often. I was always the babysitter, while my older brother, then about 13, was there in case something happened. It was a very good experience. It told us as kids that my parents trusted us, and we always knew they were a phone call away if any thing happened. I think it forced us to grow, and to learn to work together. It also created responsibility for one another as kids, a sort of hierarchy of responsibility. I think it was a good thing, although things didn't always run perfectly smoothly.

  8. Jen

    the hubs and I go over this ? everytime we have to go shoot a wedding. We have 6 kids…4-15. the 13 and 15 yr olds are responsible, but not for that long of period, you know you tell them no phone and first thing when you leave they are on it, or they park themself in front of the tv or video games and ignore the little kids. So usually BIL comes and sits with them (and they actually have fun lol) but if its to run up the road for milk, or pick up someone from school, they do fine…its for periods other than a couple hours. Of course, having great neighbors, I always make sure they are going to be home and if an emergency does happen, they are over in a minute

  9. Chizzle McBizzle

    I suppose it depends on how much you care about your children and your house. Up until about 12-13 I'd be worried about the kid, after that I'd worry about all my stuff 🙂 Srsly tho, depends on the kid, there's no 'magic number.'

  10. Valeen N

    I think it depends on the maturity level of the children, and the safety of your home. But I think they need to be at least 12-13 years old, minimum!

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