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Leaving your children on their own - how old?

Discussion in 'Personal' started by headforheights, Feb 24, 2011.

  1. headforheights

    headforheights New commenter

    My son is a sensible 11 year old (year 6). I think that he is old enough to start leaving for short amounts of time - he probably won't even notice when he's plugged in to his X-box!! What do you think? When did you start leaving your children?

  2. headforheights

    headforheights New commenter

    My son is a sensible 11 year old (year 6). I think that he is old enough to start leaving for short amounts of time - he probably won't even notice when he's plugged in to his X-box!! What do you think? When did you start leaving your children?

  3. lilachardy

    lilachardy Star commenter

    Depends surely on where you are going. If you're standing in next-door's garden it's a bit different from going to the city for 6 hours.

  4. headforheights

    headforheights New commenter

    Half an hour to pop to tescos was all I was thinking of to start with!
  5. I think he would be ok for a small amount of time if it is OK with him.
    As others have said, it depends how far away you are going.
    I think a trip into the town centre is OK, but obviously don't go to Skeggy for the weekend!
  6. I think that this would be fine.
  7. headforheights

    headforheights New commenter

    He's actually quite keen to be left!
  8. It depends where abouts your Tesco's is.
    For example my Tesco's is at the other side of Chesterfield and would take a good 15 minutes to get there from my house!
  9. headforheights

    headforheights New commenter

    Mine is literally 2 minutes in the car. Wouldn't do full shop - only bits and pieces to make sure I was back after 30 minutes.
    He hasn't got a mobile but would set up a signal with the land line so i could contact him. have also spoken to him about what to say if anyone else phoned - I am in the shower!!!
  10. Good idea about the phone!
    Have you told him about the door?
  11. headforheights

    headforheights New commenter

    Yes - don't answer it!! Or again, I am in the shower??
    I would lock both doors - he can unlock the back door and get out in case of an emergency
  12. Sounds OK to me!
  13. EcoLady

    EcoLady New commenter

    My very sensible nine year old daughter is left for about very short periods (10-15 mins). She has a strict rule to never answer the phone or open the door. We put the answerphone on. If we did need to ring her, then she'd hear it was us on the answer message asking her to pick up.
  14. I think I started to leave mine at a similar age. My initial rule for myself was to make sure I was no further than 30 mins walking distance away (in case the car broke down - or an emergency road block means that I have to abandon the car and walk - that happened once when they were with me!) so trips to the local convenience store or a quick visit to someone in the village was fine, further away was not.

    My conclusion was that if I was trusting them to walk for 30 mins from a neighbours house to school on their own in the mornings, I could surely trust them for a similar amount of time at home occasionally in the early evening.

    However, I am not a lawyer, and given the scare stories you sometimes hear of police hauling parents up for leaving youngsters alone, I don't suppose it would be looked on favourably if an accident occurred.
  15. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    I rang a friend who was very late arriving at my house for something. Her daughter answered and said her mum was in the shower. Typical, I thought, but my friend appeared at that very moment! So I know never to believe the 'she's in the shower' routine in future!
    I leave my ten year old for very short periods. To be honest, although he's often minded by his sensible 17 year old brother it doesn't make a lot of difference if his brother's there or not as he is in his bedroom (the 17 year old) plugged into his computer and ignores his little brother, who is a lot more sensible and worldly wise.
  16. doomzebra

    doomzebra Occasional commenter

    When they are ready. Only you know this. If you are asking people who don't know them, they probably aren't
  17. headforheights

    headforheights New commenter

    My son attends a breakfast and after school club because we live 7 or 8 miles from his school and both work. So he doesn't get the chance to walk to school on his own at the moment. However, in September he will be travelling by coach to secondary and home again and will be home before us. So we need to begin to prepare him for being on his own for an hour or so at the end of the day.
  18. headforheights

    headforheights New commenter

    I just wanted to know what others thought or had done.
  19. This was debated on BBC Breakfast tell last week (ish). According to the NSPCC etc the answer is "when you think they are ready".
    There is no hard and fast rule, the law only addresses abandonment and endangerment.
    As kids I was left with my sister when I was about 6 or7 and she was 3 or 4. We played in the house/garden and were probably oblivious to our being alone.
    At age 9 I loved every other Friday when they went out for a big shop and would be gone for a couple of hours. While they were out we would make an enormous pile of sausage and mash with a tin of tomatoes (still my favorourite tea) and bake dad a coconut tart or apple crumble.
    I appreciate we were very independent, latch key kids from an early age, but I do think that somewhere between my own experience and the current fear/inability to give junior some independence and responsibility there must be ahappy medium.
    Especially given the current vogue for sending 16 year olds off en masse for a summer holiday without adult supervision!
  20. smoothnewt

    smoothnewt Star commenter

    How marvellous!
    My youth was very similar to this, for which I feel fortunate. With my own two girls I can't remember when I first left them on their own, but I know they had a lot more freedom than most of their peers - especially when it came to playing out, and then getting the train into London, etc. As a result they are both streetwise and confident about getting from A to B on public transport, and just getting around an about without expecting me to chauffeur them anywhere. But I have a friend who can't trust his boys (14 and 17) to be left at home together for too long without world war three breaking out. It does, as everyone has said, depend on the individual children concerned.
    I read a brilliant letter in the Times on this matter recently. A retired chap had written in recalling his own childhood. His father was a GP running a busy practice, and his mother worked in the practice full-time. This would have been back in the fifties. He wrote that when the summer holidays came around, his mother would drive the four kids down to a caravan on the coast near Brighton, fill it with food and leave the kids to get on with it, driving off and leaving them with a "have a nice time." The eldest was about 10! She would apparently call in for a couple of hours at the weekend to restock the food supplies and see how they were getting on. [​IMG]

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