Macaulay Culkin in the original Home Alone
Macaulay Culkin in the original Home Alone

How young is too young to be home alone?

WITH school holidays looming once again, it's the big question for many families: When are kids old enough to stay home alone? The Sunday Mail's new parenting panel weighs in.

Dani Westport: If I was just popping out for half an hour or so, I'd be happy to leave Cleo, 2½, at home alone by age eight, but I'd obviously leave her with a mobile, and only do it if she felt comfortable being by herself. The real question is, are you worried about the safety of your kids when they are home alone? For example, the house might get broken into or they might hurt themselves or you do not trust your kids to stay out of trouble. Do you think they'll watch something inappropriate on Netflix? If it's that you don't trust your kids, then that's a bigger issue, but if you trust them and the house is secure, why wouldn't you feel comfortable leaving them alone? If I was using a babysitter I don't think the age of the sitter is an issue - it's their personality and maturity. I know a 10-year-old boy I'd trust to look after my daughter more than some of the 60-year-olds I know.

 

The Sunday Mail parenting panel Dani Westport (left), Nicolas Bonastre and Elisha Casagrande
The Sunday Mail parenting panel Dani Westport (left), Nicolas Bonastre and Elisha Casagrande

 

 

Nicolas Bonastre: My parents were fairly traditional in their parenting approach, and my mother was quite strict. I believe I was 18 when I was first left at home on my own, but never overnight. I think it depends on some factors such as, for how long - is it for a weekend, overnight or a few hours - and the maturity level and developmental stages of children. I would expect a safe and comfortable age to be 14 years for short periods of time, and 16 to 17 years for longer periods and overnight. And I wouldn't be comfortable with a 14-year-old looking after my two, Eloise, 3, and Thea, five months.

Elisha Casagrande: Twelve is too young to be left home alone, I was 13 before my mum let me stay at home by myself. Kids these days are more mature, and seem to do things at a younger age than I did growing up, however that also means that they are more likely, for instance, to browse the internet and go searching for something they shouldn't be. I think leaving a 14-year-old at home while you duck out for an hour or two is OK - 14 is the new 16. If I had to leave Scarlett, 5, and Enzo, 2, with a babysitter, the sitter would need to be 16. I was 16 when I first tried my hand at babysitting. You need to have your wits about you to control small kids with bad intentions.


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