When is the right age to leave your child alone?

Today I wanted to write about something that I thought others might find interesting and a subject which a lot of people don’t actually know the answer to. When is the right age to leave your child alone?

If you need to quickly pop to the shops to grab some milk or maybe you work till 5 and the kids finish school at 3:15 is it OK to leave your kids at home? This is a question I have even googled myself as I didn’t want to drag all the kids last year down to the local Tesco just for some milk. At the time Harry was 12 and Ellie was 11. I would never have dreamt of leaving Annabelle with them as she was only 6 at the time but I wasn’t sure if it was legal for me to leave the elder 2 or not.

When I was younger I would stay in the house until my parents finished work and either get on with homework or crack on with starting tea. I was actually thinking the other day about how at Ellie’s age now I was able to walk at 8pm from one part of Telford to the other. I’m not so sure I would be so happy to let her do it. But maybe I am just over protective . I even wrote a post about being over protective back when I first started my blog.

So is there a legal age?

As I said I took to google to ask my question and on there is a mix of advice. But as a rule it says that you can leave a child at any age that you feel they are responsible enough However if anything was to happen to them then it would become your own responsibility and you would be liable for prosecution.

I have taken the below advice from the website Child Law Advice UK

What age can I leave my child at home alone?

Parents often wonder when it is safe to leave a child unsupervised at home. The law does not specify an age when a child can be left at home alone. However, parents commit an offence if leaving the child at home alone puts him or her at risk.

Coram Children’s Legal Centre advise that most children under the age of 13 should not be left at home alone. Even a short period of time on alone can be distressing and lonely for a child and most children under 13 years of age would not be able to cope with an emergency.

Why does the law not specify an actual age to make it clear?

There is no specific age when a child can be left at home alone as maturity and understanding differs from child to child.

Whilst there is no law stating at what age a child can be left home alone, there are legal consequences that may result from a child being left at home alone where it is felt that this was not safe for the child, or placed the child at risk.

Under the Children and Young Persons Act 1993 if a parent leaves a child unsupervised ‘in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health’ they can be prosecuted for neglect. It is important to be aware that frequently leaving your child home alone can constitute neglect, which is a form of child abuse.


You can find out more information from the website including advice on how to decide if you should leave them or not. Also they have lots of other amazing information for other subjects such as taking them on holiday.

For now I’m happy to say that I would be confident letting Harry and Ellie stay at home whilst I went shopping or similar but I most definitely wouldn’t feel confident in leaving them for longer than a couple of hours. How about you? When did you chose to leave your children? Do you regularly leave them?

I’d love to hear your thoughts

If you are looking for legal advice on a range of subjects you could check out ICLG

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2 thoughts on “When is the right age to leave your child alone?

  1. This is really interesting actually. I read somewhere before that parents were being penalised for leaving their kids in the car for 2 minutes whilst nipping into the shop to get milk, or leaving an older child (under 15) at home whilst they popped out for similar things. I can’t find the article now – annoying! But this is always good to know! 🙂 Becky x

    1. I’ve seen people also get prosecuted but it’s usually being left in a hot car or somewhere where there is danger. I found it interesting that there isn’t actually an age , I wonder how when prosecuting they decide whether it was the parents fault or not? Especially when it says you ‘could’ be liable if they are under 16 but doesn’t say you definitely will x

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