How old were your kids when they started staying home alone?

All of that seems reasonable to me, with the exception of the 14-years-old thing. It’s just silly to apply an age to it (within reason, of course…my roommate left her 8 year old in charge of the 5 year old – I’d never have done that). I was watching other people’s children when I was 12, fercrissakes. On the other hand, my son is 30 and I still question his decision making skills at times. :wink:

We’ve always used 10 as the cutoff for staying alone, 12 for watching younger sibs. With developmental/behavioral issues I’d seek the advice of a doctor.

I’m not sure of when the IL laws were enacted, but a few years back (10? 15?) there was a pretty high profile case were a couple (named Schoo?) left 2 or 3 quite young kids (under 10?) home alone while they went on a trip abroad (Mexico?).

It is possible the IL law was enacted/modifed as a result of that.

Daughter, at age 5, would take the bus from daycare to kindergarten - she was ok and the bus driver watched for her every morning. She was way responsible for her age.

Son, at age 11, on his way home from swimming class (he had a bus ticket) lost the ticket, decided to walk home (~ 2 miles) took a shortcut over a cinder block wall, got his knee stuck, someone heard him calling “Help!” and phoned the police, who took his for an x-ray and then brought him home. His sister, aged 14, was at home watching the last episode of MASH and
didn’t respond to the scene (she thought the police call was an information thing, not a ‘get down here!’ thing). I got home just as the police car delivered the kid back.

At age 13, my son didn’t know his address, either - he knew where he lived but couldn’t tell you the names of the cross streets. At age 2.5, daughter was regaling complete strangers about her sun sign and what it meant. You gotta know your kid.

an seanchai

My youngest was less than 3 months shy of 12 when the next older went off to college and he came home alone. A year later he went off to HS (7th to 11th grade) that required taking a city bus and changing to another. The HS his brother and sister went to had in the meantime become all French and, while he was certainly fluent, he chose to go to a somewhat distant English language school.

Leaving them home alone at night was a different matter. I don’t think we were really comfortable with that till they were about 14.

My kids are 11 and 12. We don’t leave them home alone all day every day in the summer yet.

A day here or a day there. Yeah. I’ll do that. All day every day in the summer - not a chance. Maybe next year.

I agree, it depends on the child and the laws in your state. But I think age 10 is just too young to be home alone all day, every day, for 10 weeks of summer vacation. At 10, maybe I’d let him come home on the bus and let himself in, and be alone doing homework for an hour or two until I got home; but 8 hours every day…? That just seems to be begging for trouble, unless your friend can come home at lunchtime to “fix lunch” and check on him.

If I recall correctly, my older son (who has ADHD) was allowed to be home alone for short periods (maybe an hour or two, while I went to the grocery store) starting when he was about 11 or 12. With the ADHD, I was worried about things like, would he try to cook something on the stove and then get distracted and forget to turn it off, etc. Leaving a 10-year-old with attention deficit (which, in my son, included poor impulse control) for extended periods of time, for weeks on end, is just too much - that can lead to boredom, and for a young kid, no good ever comes of that :slight_smile:

It’s such a facile answer, but it really does depend on the kid. I was left alone plenty when I was 7 or 8; then again, I was an independent only child. I babysat a family where the kids were, say, 14 and 10, either of which would have been fine alone but together there was the potential for trouble.

I think I started spending periods of time (sick days, after-school gaps, etc.) home alone around 12, but wouldn’t be doing it regularly until middle school.

I think a kid that age would end up bored to death staying home alone every day during the summer. Even the most independent adults would feel pretty antsy confined to the house with minimal human interaction, no real purpose, and no ability to go out for a walk around the block or to the store when it got too boring. There is only so much daytime TV you can watch. The poor kid would end up just counting the hours until mom got home, and after work she’d probably be too tired to pay a day’s worth of pent-up attention to him.

Most people mistakenly believe there are laws regulating at what age kids can be left home alone. This is almost never true. In almost all states there is no legal limit AT ALL. A few have ‘guidelines’ but I think there is only 1 or 2 with actual laws. I’ll try to find the info.

Here’s a list:
Alabama
None

Alaska
None

Arizona
None

Arkansas
None

California
None

Colorado
None

Connecticut
None

Delaware
None

Florida
None

Georgia
None

Hawaii
None

Idaho
None

Illinois
14

Indiana
None

Iowa
None

Kansas
None

Kentucky
None

Louisiana
None

Maine
None

Maryland
8

Massachusetts
None

Michigan
None

Minnesota
None

Mississippi
None

Missouri
None

Montana
None

Nebraska
None

Nevada
None

New Hampshire
None

New Jersey
None

New Mexico
None

New York
None

North Carolina
8

North Dakota
None

Ohio
None

Oklahoma
None

Oregon
10

Pennsylvania
None

Rhode Island
None

South Carolina
None

South Dakota
None

Tennessee
None

Texas
None

Utah
None

Vermont
None

Virginia
None

Washington
None

West Virginia
None

Wisconsin
None

Wyoming
None

Note: Some states have guidelines, but very few have laws.

Normally I’ll leave my 9 and 7 year olds alone for up to half an hour, maybe a little more. But today their 11 year old brother was with them while I was gone for 2 hours, and there were no problems. And if the oldest is there (he’s 13) I can leave them for much more extended periods.

On reflection, I’m terribly afraid that zombies will eat my children if I leave them unprotected.

Zombies or not, I’m surprised to hear the difference from when I was a child in the 60s. I was the 4th of 5 children, and us “older kids” were born a year apart. I think my mother was ready to flee the house as soon as she could. We would walk downtown by ourselves when I was 6 or 7, and my parents would leave us alone when my older sister (No. 2, and the responsible one) was 9 or 10 and my younger brother was 3.

Never in my dream as of this moment thinking to leave my kid home alone unattended by any adults in the family. I have 10 and 12 year old kids, but I am not confident enough leaving them home alone. As a parent it is our responsibility to protect and ensure safety of our kids. Thus,as a mother I find some ways to protect my kids in times that I am not around them, I ask any adult in my family to look at my kids, plus I provide them such safety and protection wherein they can ask for immediate help in such an emergency occurrence. It’s a mobile personal safety solution that has a panic button to press that gives an emergency alert by notifying me and my family if my kid is in danger. And if needed, gets the emergency call directly to the nearest 911emergency service dispatcher. For one-click emergency help checked this out http://safekidzone.com/

I don’t have kids but was left in charge of other children as early as 12. We had a few interesting misadventures but no one ever got hurt.