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What Age Would You Let Your Kids Stay Home Alone?

This week there’s a lively discussion on Let Grow’s Facebook group page where a mom asked:

At what age do you let your kids stay home alone for short times (not date night, but maybe a few errands)? What benchmarks do you require first? Like knowing how to call 911, or anything else? My kids are 10, 8, and 6, and I don’t mind leaving them alone to go grab library holds or pick up 2-3 things at the store. But I wonder whether I “should” if it’s something less necessary…

As a gal who remembers walking to kindergarten solo at age 5, I feel — and am! — transported from an era lost to the mists. The norms, fears, mores, and expectations have shifted — as has some basic trust in kids and neighbors. It feels like most parents are fine with letting a child of 8 or, for sure, 10 stay home. The first graders (that’s age 6) who used to come home with a latchkey don’t seem to be part of the scene anymore. That leaves me thinking about what is considered normal childhood independence these days, how it’s shifting — and why. Chime in!


Photo by Bermix Studio on Unsplash

One Response to What Age Would You Let Your Kids Stay Home Alone?

  1. Reziac November 2, 2020 at 3:35 pm #

    I’d walked to school by myself since I was 5. First time I stayed home alone for a weekend, I was 7 or 8. I could cook rice, cream-of-wheat, or a TV dinner, and I knew how to take care of the house, including simple stuff like how to wash dishes or unplug a toilet.

    This was not so unusual in 1963. In fact back in the 1700s and 1800s, it wasn’t unusual for mom to be dead, dad to go on the trap line for the winter, and the little kids stayed home alone and ran the farm.

    Kids learn what you expect of them. If you guide and expect them to be competent and responsible, THEY WILL BE.