Leaving Children Home Alone--- How Young is "too young"?

I am a single mom to a 6-year-old starting a new job with strictly 17 days of PTO a yr and no paid holidays. While I have NOT left him home alone before, he has been increasingly requesting to be left home alone (i.e. when I am running to store, to pick someone up, to run the trash to the dump, etc.). Of course, I have always said no, however, I have been heavily considering conditioning him to stay home for 15-30 minutes by himself.

Up until this point, he has had significant time left alone within our 4 walls, while I am home. I have worked many overnight shifts, occasionally he is left to fend for himself while I sleep for 3-4 hours. He knows how to use Netflix and I always make him a big plate of snacks. He also plays outside in the backyard for 30 minutes at a time.

Ideally, it would be convenient to leave him home alone under dire circumstances, like can't find a sitter on a holiday, Friday's when the free summer program isn't in session, etc.

I would like to start conditioning him now, by leaving him alone here and there for 15-20 minutes while just driving around the block or running to the grocery store a quarter mile away. I would teach him how to use the phone, contact emergency services, and lay down ground rules. While I feel like this is reasonable, so many people are against it and I fear CPS will be called even though I would consider myself and active and loving parent.

What age did you begin leaving your kids alone for short periods of time?

22 Answers

  • 2 months ago

    Too dangerous! When my kids were 12/13 they were allowed an hour at home with phone numbers and specific directions while I got groceries. The hours increased with each birthday.

  • 2 months ago

    How would he cope if there was a fire? Or other emergency? Six is far too young to be left.

  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    Leaving a child alone under the age of 10 is too young in my opinion.

  • 2 months ago

    Nope. It's illegal to leave a child alone. Check your local laws, but you probably can't do this before age 10 or so legally.

    You can leave your child so you can take a nap, no problem. You can let them play in your yard, no problem. But you can't leave the house.

    Look at it this way: how long does it take for a child to start a fire? A minute? Less? That's why you can't leave them alone. How long would it take for a stranger to ring your doorbell and have your child open the door and the stranger to put them in a van and take them away? That's why you can't leave the house.

    Look into Boys & Girls Club to have a place for him to go after school and during holidays. Call 211 if it exists where you live and ask about programs. Talk to neighbors and friends about being able to watch him while you run errands. But you don't leave him alone no matter what the excuse.

    Google "child left alone" and read some nightmare stories if you still think this is a good idea.

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  • 2 months ago

    Of course you don't leave a six year old home by themselves, that's completely irresponsible and is against the law. If you have to work and need someone to look after him, either hire a babysitter or put him in daycare ( yes they do have daycares that accept kids his age). If you leave him home alone then he'll most likely get hurt or even worse, especially if you live in a bad neighborhood. Tell him that when he's twelve, he'll be allowed to stay home by himself.

  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    You do realize you answered your own question when you mentioned the FEAR of CPS being called.

    Obviously if you are concerned that CPS would be called, then you KNOW that six is TOO YOUNG to be left alone.

    The laws vary slightly in each state. Some states consider it alright to leave a child alone for SHORT periods of time after the age of 9. (age 9 to 12). These same states usually consider the age of 13 to be a suitable age for babysitting. Some states have guidelines that help you evaluate your child's readiness to be left alone. But even in those states, I doubt that they would consider 6 years old to be old enough even for 15 to 30 minutes.

    Check this website for more information. Find your state and check out info for your state.


    BTW - if your child is insisting on being left home alone, you can always pretend to leave and then hide someplace to observe his behavior. Nanny cams that you can watch from your phone while hiding in your own yard would be a great way to know exactly what your child would do if left alone. BUT DO NOT ACTUALLY LEAVE A SIX YEAR OLD CHILD ALONE.

    Personally, I have two children, so I never had to deal with what age would be okay to leave one child home alone. I had to decide at what age I could trust the older one not to kill the younger one if I left them home alone. (joking - but the age gap between them did cause some sibling fighting.) I would take my younger one with me and leave my older one at home for short periods at the age of 11. I started leaving them both home alone for short periods of time when the older one was 13. At that point, the younger one was 9.

  • Lita
    Lv 6
    2 months ago

    Not at six. Not until he's at least twelve.

  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    I assume this is a troll because no responsible parent would ask this. A 6 year should never be left unsupervised and home alone.

    You need a license to drive a car and to own a gun but not to parent.....it's crazy.

  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    A 6 year old shouldn't be left home alone......in some places it's illegal

  • 2 months ago

    We never did because the people around us are psychotic. However, what we did do was sent our child to day camp in the summer. She would be out all day at camp, then come home. It gave her a sense of independence where we did not need to be home all of the time. However the theoretical cut off is 12 around here.

    When I was about that age, I would arrive home on the bus and be home until the parents arrived home. Then when summer came, I was either home or at camp. Yes I was alone or my brother was there. But I knew how to take care of my self and cook things. That is what you should do is teach your child how to make things for lunch and dinner. So that he can get use to things like the Toster, microwave, or making simple things like PB&J sandwiches. All simple warm up stuff, or things like lunchables(but they are expensive). I also had full access to entertainment in the house, TV etc and a select few channels to watch. Things to keep me busy.

    6 is a bit young, but those little times away can help him to be more independent. The biggest thing is the environment that you live in. Some places, are better than others. If you in a city, its a lot different from the superb or country side. Good luck

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