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10 Answers

It seems to me children gradually transition from being constantly supervised to having certain freedom – like walking to school, staying home a few hours on their own, going out to the shops without parents, staying home overnight (or to the early hours) on their own etc. I have never found any legal guidelines about what is ok when, so what age were your children when they were first “alone” and what was the situation you allowed them to be in unsupervised and for how long?


Posted by mom176887, 5th April 2016


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  • It all depends on your child too. Some are mature at an earlier stage then others. But when you do decide to try it, do it slowly with a little bit of time alone doing whatever. Build on that when you can see how they’re coping


  • Yep, agree with some of the other MoMs here about building gradual responsibilities and trust with your child. It’s easy to cotton wool them these days so I would imagine you would start with little things like walking to the next isle in the shops with you to get a grocery item and building up from there. Of course, it would depend on their age etc.


  • I’d say it comes down to the individual child and guidelines have to be set such as not answering the door etc. I would say at night they would need to be a bit older.


  • I’m pretty sure that legally a child can’t be left alone until they are 12. I think it would depend on the child. Even at 12 I wouldn’t leave my child for more than an hour or 2 and only during daytime. My daughter is 13 and often comes home on the bus while I am taking the other children to sport, and she is home by herself for 1-2 hours but we have set guidelines about her ringing me when she gets home, locking the house, not answering the door, she also has the neighbours phone number if she is worried.


  • My daughter is 12 and she brings her little sister who is 7 home from school and they are together alone for about 3 hours before we get home. Dad is only a 10 minute drive from home if anything happens. They are pretty responsible and know the rules I.e no swimming or on the trampoline unless there is an adult there and they follow them because they know the reasons behind the rules and understand the danger.


  • I agree with Mum’s here.. “it really is about the individual child and building gradual responsibility and trust.” I let mine go to the movies alone when they were 12 and in high school. I must admit I bought a ticket and sat right up the back corner and watch how the kids behaved and they were fine! Leaving them home alone for a hour or two at a time when they are in high school is fine. Give clear instructions like you will be back with in the hour, where you are going and have your phone on you. It’s great to have a date night with your partner and leave teens home alone for a couple of hours. (Let the neighbours know and tell them to call you if the kids are playing music too loud or a party starts up.) Give clear instructions no party’s no guests, no going anywhere, do your homework or watch tv etc…. Every family is different. Kids under 12 should always be supervised.


  • I agree with both of the answers so far – it really is about the individual child and building gradual responsibility and trust.


  • I think it really depends on the maturity of the child, I think i was in grade 6 before i was left at home for no more than a few hours. And about 13 with a 18 and 19 year older sibling over night. I was always allowed to walk to the shops by the age of 10… But if i wasnt home with 20 mins mum would be out looking for me.. At the age of 12 i was catching a bus to school with a bus change over in the city.. ( and this was in the days before everyone had a mobile phone for safety and always contactable…)
    I think it comes down to if the child is secure and mature and sensible not to get themselves into any trouble. Eg if you left them at home and try tried to cook some thing to eat and things went wrong would they know what to do..etc… My kids are 7,5 and 3. And it will be quite a while till they are left alone although i do let my oldest son ride the 300 metres ahead to school while i walk with my 5 and 3 year old. But i do check to see if he is there once i drop off my daughter in her class..Thats the most freedom he gets…


  • I think I left my daughter alone for the first time when she was around 10. I went to the supermarket, no more than half an hour. I let her close the door from the inside, explained her how to use the speed dial in the phone to reach me if she needed. I instructed her not to open the door to anyone.


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