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Question
Posted by: Mich | 2004/01/13

Child Home Alone - what age is okay?

Good morning,

FROM WHAT AGE may I leave my daughter alone at home - it is only for the afternoons from 13h00 to 16h30 from Monday to Friday and it will not be everyday as some days she has sports and extra classes. The days she has sports - she will go home alone at 1h00, sports and extra classes is for an hour. We live in a safe small town in a another country that is crime free.

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Our expert says:
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Dear Mich,
One can understand your concern, because there's such a fine example in Ish Bo, who clearly should not be left at home alone, especially with access to the internet.
You haven't mentioned your daughter's age. But if she is able to travel home from school on her own, and handle sports and extra classes, she's presumably not an infant. Ah, reading your reply to others, I gather she's 9. That may be a little young, though potentially OK if there is a home help at home when she arrives, and also able to call for help if there is any problem. In some countries there is actually a law not allowing a parent to leave a child alone below a specific age, but obviously I don't know if such a regulation applies where you are. And 13 ought to be OK.
I certainly don't think you need wait till 18 ! Much also depends on how mature and esponsible your child is. There are some folks, like Ish Bo here, who wouldn't be safe to be allowed out alone even when 50.
J makes excellent points --- what do other parents around you do ? And the "afternoon club sounds potentially useful. Mona, too, makes good points about sensible precautions to consider. Ater all, you do have a helper there, to see how she is managing. And jay asks very wise questions. Also, you seem to be asking not whether to leave the child at home ALONE, with nobody, but how much longer you should plan to keep your helper at home --- wouldn't that be easier to judge as time goes on ?

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Our users say:
Posted by: Mich | 2004/01/13

Thank you all so much for your help.
Let's just hope RSA will be safe again. Just keep looking for a safe place - I'm sorry to say, but it won't be in RSA - not for a long time. The governments world wide should ban criminals to space or somewhere. Either that or the death sentence should be brought in world wide - untill they do that NOTHING is going to change. Thanx for everyones help, I have decided not to leave my child alone at home.

Reply to Mich
Posted by: Nick | 2004/01/13

OK so your town is crime-free. Good for you. But, reading your response it seems to me you are making a decision whether you should pay a helper to mind your kid or save the money and then hope that the kid manages on her own (and does not burn the place down, become the town's first crime stat, have unsupervised parties with other immature teenagers, does her homework etc).

How much money is your peace of mind worth? Once you have decided that, and effectively put a dollar (or pula or lira or Zim. dollar - whatever) value on her head, then, hey, go ahead and take a chance! She may survive the experience and the money may be worth it! Perhaps the pot of money you create can be used for therapy when she's older! Who knows!

Reply to Nick
Posted by: Kernel | 2004/01/13

In Orania.

Reply to Kernel
Posted by: Jay | 2004/01/13

Is Your Child Ready?
Consider your child's maturity level and his ability to handle a variety of situations. If you answer "yes" to most of the following questions, this may indicate your child is ready to stay alone.

Has he handled brief periods of being left alone well?
Will he come straight home after school?
Will he be lonely or frightened by himself?
Can he manage simple jobs like fixing a snack and taking phone messages?
Is he physically able to unlock and lock the doors at home?
Can he solve small problems himself?
Does he know when and how to seek outside help?
Is he prepared to handle an accident or an emergency?
Will he follow the rules set for him and use his time productively?

Reply to Jay
Posted by: Morgan | 2004/01/13

Where is it you satay and what is it called???

Reply to Morgan
Posted by: Scorpio | 2004/01/13

In my opinion you are only asking for trouble. My parents used to leave me alone at home and it is natural for a child to imagine noises etc and end up totally frightened and scared.
Also, it won't be long and friends will come over to play, with or without your knowledge (as this is also natural for kids) and then you sit with a whole set of other potential problems. From a safety point of view regarding appliances, possible electrocution or fire hazards ........ I rest my case - it's your decision.

Reply to Scorpio
Posted by: Juzlisen | 2004/01/13

I agree that if even if she is responsible enough then maybe you should ask her how she feels about being left alone at home. Where do you stay - I would love to stay in a place that sounds so safe.

Reply to Juzlisen
Posted by: Mona | 2004/01/13

Hi there, my son will be 9 in April, and he is always wanting to stay at home alone when i go shopping on weekends etc. I havnt left him alone yet, but think by the age of 10 i might start doing it. I do live in SA, and can be quite scary. Make sure she doesnt use appliences that can catch fire (stove, iron, matches, lighters etc) Warn her of all the dangers. Make sure she knows where the keys are for the doors to get out in case of fire. Make sure she has a phone available to use in emergencies. Put all emergency numbers next to the phone, and make sure she knows your full home address (to give to the emergency personnel) I think its a big step to take to leave her alone every day, and you'll have to phone her and check up on her, but i'm sure she will be safe.

You will know your child best, you will know if she is mature enough to handle staying alone.

Reply to Mona
Posted by: J | 2004/01/13

Mich,

I think 9 is a tad too young still. I myself was a "latch key kid' from the age of 13 and I've had no harmul side effects and I DO live in SA. Only you can decide what you are comfortable with and what your daughter is capable of but in my opinion 9 is very young to let her be on her own. Are there any other kids and parents in the same situation in your neighbourhood? Maybe you can organise an "afternoon club" where there are a few kids with a caregiver and the cost gets split between the parents.....

Reply to J
Posted by: Mich | 2004/01/13

Please read my note carefully - OUR TOWN IS CRIME FREE. I do not live in South Africa. This town belongs to a company, there has in 100 years only been 1 murder. If you take a lollypop from the shop - you will be thrown out of the town - anyone who has a crime record is not allowed to enter this town. This town is so safe that people even leave their houses and cars open. Sometimes a school child will steal a cellphone out of a car, but that is how far it goes - the only criminals here are the school children - but after several warnings the child and even sometimes the parents will be requested to leave. Please just answer my question - will 13 years be too young? Some one said from 15 years old is allright or must I wait until she is 18 years old? The only thing bothering me is a fire hazard. Please just answer the question - which age? She's 9 years old and I have some one looking after her at our house, but my helper asked me for how many years will I still need her.

Reply to Mich
Posted by: Ish Bo | 2004/01/13

Ohhh Me..I dont know bt you've just made me horny!! Can we hook up sometime? Lets 4get about this dumb who wants to leave her kid alone at home.

Reply to Ish Bo
Posted by: Nick | 2004/01/13

"latch-key" kids, as they have become known in the US of A, are a recent and intriguing phenomena. Prevalent in our country too and, infortunately, there is no good news about it.

Understandably many parents can't afford to either stay home or hire help to supervise kids while they are at work. The latch key option is, in fact, a Hobsons Choice as I do not believe any parent will, out of choice, allow there kids to be unsupervised for large parts of the day.

Regardless of the effects on homework, discipline etc there is a very serious security and safety threat that you should not take lightly - who else knows your kid is alone at home? Follwing them? Are they going striaght home?

The fact that you are concerned and doubting your childs maturity is indication enough: he or she is toooo young to be left to his or her own devices for any lenght of time. How safe is this anyway.....

Reply to Nick
Posted by: Me | 2004/01/13

Ish-Bo how old are you? 14? That was realy uncalled for and if you dont have something constructive to say rather go play on the highway.

Mich, It depends on your daughter. Do you feel that she is responsible enough and is it safe enough for her to open and enter the "empty" house. The problem is not always them being alone but what will happen if she enters to find someone else there. If you are confident about this then I think it is OK and it will teach her some more responsibility.

Reply to Me
Posted by: Ish Bo | 2004/01/13

Whatever age your dumb head deems fit.

Reply to Ish Bo

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