My son is 9, but very mature. I am wondering when he will be ready to start staying home alone for short times (like if I run to the store or something). How do you decide? If I left it up to my ex, he would be about 20!
Well, I think it boils down to maturity level. I was never left home alone growing up because I had 3 older siblings, but my wife on the other hand, started spending summers alone after fourth grade when she was still 9 years old like your son. If he is mature, understands that he can't open the door to anyone while you're gone, and knows better than to play with the stove, grill, or matches, I'd say you're probably okay to leave him there for short periods.
This is a hard one. I will always be afraid to leave my daughter home alone until she is an adult, because I am over-protective. Honestly, the youngest age that I would leave my daughter home alone would be eighteen... But I know that's over-doing it.
I would say that it depends on the maturity level, but fourteen is the age that comes to my mind, as long as they know what not to do when left home alone.
Yeah, I'd say that waiting until 18 is a bit over-protective, and it's not doing your child any favors, either. I'm of the mind that leaving them alone, for at least short periods of time, does them well because it instills confidence in them that they can handle basic, everyday situations without you.
Thank you for your input. Maybe I will start with something like running to the gas station. I do want him to feel more independent. It occurs to me that I am going to need to either get a second cell phone though, or install a land line, so he can call if there is an emergency or he got scared or something.
I think that if you are talking about quick runs to the grocery store and things like that it is perfectly fine to start at nine. You would need to get him a phone though and I wouldn't leave him for more than half an hour or so to start.
I completely agree that the kid makes all of the difference. This particular 9-year-old is extremely bright, and quick-thinking. He does not take crazy risks, does not get into things, has an innate concern about strangers, and does not panic. He's not perfect, of course, but those things seem like the right combination for small amounts of independence.