When Can You Leave Your Child Home Alone?

When Can You Leave Your Child Home Alone?

My boys are in Grade 1 and 2 and as much as I'd love to leave them at home to run an errand now and then, they are definitely not mature enough to handle the responsibility.

The thing is, they will always be my little boys. I will always worry about them and want to protect them. My brain will always think to worst-case scenarios and err on the side of caution. They might never seem mature enough to me. What if someone comes to the door? What if there's a fire? Will they know what to do?

The problem is they often would rather stay home than run errands with me. Getting them out the door so we can get groceries is a battle. We aren't even able to have a dog even though they desperately want one because I can't leave them home alone to walk the dog in the rain. They would have to walk in bad weather with me. The situation is limiting, for them and me, and I often wonder at what age they can be left on their own for even a little bit.

I have friends with kids only slightly older than mine and it seems life changing when you can run out and leave your kids at home. I think back to when I was younger and I clearly remember walking home from school when I was the same age as my boys. I used to babysit for my neighbours' kids when I was only a few years older than my oldest. My boyfriend used to take the TTC to grade school.

So at what age is it appropriate? Does it depend on the age of your kids? Their level of maturity? Do they need to take a babysitting or CPR course first? Or does it just depend on when I'm ready to let go? I'm honestly not sure I'll ever be ready . . . or that they will be.

There's no federal law that addresses the topic in Canada. The age at which a child can be left and for how long is mainly up to different jurisdictions. Where I live, 10 seems to be the benchmark, as safety courses are geared toward kids this age.

For instance, St. John Ambulance offers a safety program for kids 10 and up. (Visit sja.ca.) Babysitting courses tend to be offered for kids ages 12 and up at Red Cross. (redcross.ca.). They'll cover the basics of first aid, solving problems and preventing injuries.

When my kids are older and more mature, I will probably sign them up for these courses before I leave them at home alone for even a few minutes. I want them to be independent and confident in their skills. I want to learn to let go, but that time hasn't arrived yet.

For now, my kids will have to come to the store with me, even if I have to bribe them to get them out the door.


Reply to
  • Jeff W.

    Answer Is there is no answer and up to you

    • shoppingdad

      There are legal limits in several provinces.

      Manitoba and New Brunswick - 12 years

      Ontario - 10 years

      • Heather H.

        Depends on your child (ren) and their maturity level. When my kids were 12 and 8 I would leave them to get groceries but I would stay in town (small town) so if they needed me I could be there in 10 mins. I never had anything running like laundry/dishwasher for that just incase momment and to this day they are 13 and 16 and I still don't. The first few times is very hard and you call all the time. But again knowing your children is the first step. Parenting is not easy lol.

        • Savannah L.

          Depends on maturity. My 6 year old would honestly be fine but I wouldn't because I know it's not a good idea. When he's 10 I know he will be more than capable. My youngest who is 4 is a bit wilder so I may not trust him until he's in college :joy:

          • Deborah A.

            Hmm...Not sure!:thinking:....I was around 11-13 when my parents started leaving me home but I'd have my older siblings with me. I was about 13-14 when they let me keep the house for 2-3 nights but one of my relatives would check up on me twice a day :grinning:

            • Deborah A.

              But than again we lived on a remote reserve!