to leave (just) 9 year old home alone after school

(187 Posts)
redskyatnight Thu 17-Jan-13 12:31:33

Really in 2 minds about this so seeking some clarity …

DH normally looks after DS after school, however he has a business trip coming up and will be away for 2-3 weeks.

All the childminders/after school clubs that might take DS are full or wouldn’t consider it for a short period.

We can call in various favours from friends but realistically wouldn’t have enough to cover the whole period (friends have other commitments after school and we wouldn’t ask any 1 friend to have him for more than 1 or 2 afternoons anyway in the interests of not imposing).

DS is brought home every day by a neighbour (who is one of the people we could ask to look after him for the odd time or 2).
I can jig my work hours so that I will be home at most an hour after him.
DS has just turned 9.

Both DH and I have memories of letting ourselves in after school and being alone for a similar period at a similar age. So DH has suggested that we give DS a key and ask the neighbour to make sure that he does get in ok (and put her and a couple of other neighbours on standby in case of emergencies). DS would most likely watch TV or play on the Wii for the whole time.

Are we (or would we) BU?

(and for those who mumble about we should have a proper back up plan I should point out it is highly unusual for DH to be away for so long at a time- he normally only goes away for 2 or 3 days which we can cope with).

LilyBolero Sat 19-Jan-13 12:50:34

Actually I just thought; our state primary gives Y4/5 as the age when it is appropriate for kids to walk home alone, do I don't believe for a second that social services would be worried about a 9yo at home for an hour with phone numbers, and neighbours on hand.

It does worry me that society has lost sight of what is a 'real' risk and what is just hysteria.

5madthings Sat 19-Jan-13 12:59:48

Ultimately we only know our own children, some would be fine with this.

My ds1 (now 13) would have been.

Ds2 is 10 and I would let him do it now but maybe not a year ago.

Ds3 is 8 and I think he could be fine with this in the next year.

All children and all situations are variable, its up to us as parents to make the call for our own child.

yggdrasil Sat 19-Jan-13 13:07:24

The only thing I'd say is that if the OP's child does not want to stay at home alone...on the Wii...then that is something different. I don't believe a child this age should be forced into this situation before they are ready because it could be downright scary.

I'm assuming that the kid is enthusiastic however and if so I think its a really safe way to ease into a bit of independence. As another poster said, depending on your situation, it really can be all change at age 11.

LaQueen Sat 19-Jan-13 14:25:26

yggd I do see your point.

But, as a parent I don't ever want to put my 9 year old DD in the situation where she is alone and concerned about something, and yet can only tell me about it over the phone.

At 9, I just think that is wrong.

A 8/9 year old's perception and ability to rationalise and reason is still fuzzy, and not as well defined as a 11/12 year old. Psychological tests have demonstrated that the ability of primary age children to judge things like speed of cars, relative passage of time etc is still quite impared - compared to a 11/12 year old.

LaQueen Sat 19-Jan-13 14:27:48

ygg yes, I do agree with you on that. How many 8/9/10 year old children are left alone at home, feeling uneasy, but their parents have made them feel that they don't really have a choice in the matter - and that if the child raises an objection, then they're perhaps being baby-ish and 'need to grow up a bit.'

That would be very sad, indeed.

twentyten Sat 19-Jan-13 14:30:51

Could you get a local 6th former to come in and babysit?

LilyBolero Sat 19-Jan-13 14:50:07

Well fwiw my kids (and their friends) LOVE being left on their own, and beg me to leave them when the others have activities on. So I really don't think the 'not daring to say' is an issue for them, or their friends.

My DS turned 9 last Sept & I am happy to leave him for up to an hour.
He is v responsible though,
He has contact numbers in case he needs/wants to talk to someone.
I think you know your own child.

DS will go to middle school in Sept 2013 and will walk to & from school himself (good 20 min walk) and I want him to feel confident & he knows the trust i have in him

I agree that no child should be left on their own if they don't want to, and are uneasy or sad or scared about it.

But if the child is eager, and the parent thinks the child is mature enough, and all the other things discussed here have been set out and done then it is just a matter of choice and there is nothing wrong with the parents and child deciding it is something they can do.

There is no right or wrong here. It's up to each family.

I personally don't think it will do my DS any long term (or short term) damage to have to call me for help rather than have me there.

He came to my work after school one day as we had pre-arranged. It was the first time he had been there and the plan was that he calls me when he is outside and I let him in. As it was he forgot his phone so couldn't call me, so he thought on his feet, assessed the situation, walked around the building and found a way in and then searched for the right department and asked someone if they knew which room was mine. He found me, he was fine, he wasn't even phased by this in the least, just rather proud of himself for finding me by himself. Tha'ts how I know he is mature enough to be left, because he acts like that in unexpected situations. Another child might not act like that, and then I probably wouldn't leave them in situations where they might not cope.

Each to their own and all that. There is no right or wrong answer here. Personally I tihnk most kids could handle it by Year 5 (not so sure about Year 4s though).

oopsadaisymaisy Sat 19-Jan-13 18:48:25

Well social services might laugh, its still my view and I would never leave my child alone for a long period unless I was reasonably nearby. I know a lot of people with children around this age and not one of them would even consider leaving heir children on their own. Maybe when they get to secondary but not before. Its my view, I don't expect everyone to agree. I work with social workers and my sister is a children and families sw. Some social workers would be concerned. I can guarantee it.

LilyBolero Sat 19-Jan-13 19:01:54

The point is though, that even if you say 'it's ok once they get to secondary', imo going from a position where a child is never left on their own, straight to the situation where they not only are on their own, but are not in the safety of their homes, but travelling across a busy city, crossing busy roads, negotiating public transport, and with lots of contact with strangers, is highly irresponsible and places the child at much higher risk.

A child who has had some experience of looking after themselves, within a safe environment, will be far better equipped to deal with problems out of the house, where the environment is far more unpredictable.

madwomanintheattic Sat 19-Jan-13 20:22:36

Oopsa, it's about context.

The context where social workers and your sis get involved is a far cry from normal developmental stages in stable situations.

And your friends may well be quite happy doing it with their 9yos, but not telling you for fear you'd report them to ss. grin

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