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Old 22.08.2010, 16:09
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Leaving kids unsupervised at home - the position of the law included.

Hi,
I have 3 children: aged 6, 10 and 12.
The question is: when they can be left at home alone.
As far as I am aware, in this country it is legally acceptable to leave my eldest at home babysitting the other 2.
Of course, there's the legal position and also the moral and ethical one one - and certainly the choice as to when it is okay would vary from one place (country) to another.
But we are in Switzerland, and I would appreciate your ideas, as Swiss residents (and hopefully some nationals) as to what you think.
For example, I think my eldets two would be absolutely fine at home for the whole day (my wife and I both work and there are occasions when they have a day off school - since they are schooled in a different canton to where we work). This would be from 8.00am to 5.00pm. Of course, I would leave them plenty of activities to do. We also live in a small village with a garden, if that's relevant. I would not leave my youngest at home all day without adult (ie over 16, and trusted) supervision.
Thanks.
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Old 22.08.2010, 16:12
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Re: Home alone in Switzerland ...

can't comment on the legality but I think it's safe for them to progressively become independent and self functionning.

Do you find them always being stuck to you while at home?
If that's the case you should try and make them a little more detached and autonomous which is a good start before you leave them all alone for half a day or whatever.
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Old 22.08.2010, 16:13
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Re: Leaving kids unsupervised at home - the position of the law included.

12 is still a bit young to look after the other two all day, irrespective of the law
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Old 22.08.2010, 16:16
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Re: Leaving kids unsupervised at home - the position of the law included.

I would not leave all 3 at home all day - the 6 year old is too young.
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Old 22.08.2010, 16:18
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Re: Home alone in Switzerland ...

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can't comment on the legality but I think it's safe for them to progressively become independent and self functionning.

Do you find them always being stuck to you while at home?
If that's the case you should try and make them a little more detached and autonomous which is a good start before you leave them all alone for half a day or whatever.
Hi,
My kids are very autonomous and I am comfortable with my treatment of them - I am interested to hear about your opinions with your children.
Thanks
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Old 22.08.2010, 16:20
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Re: Leaving kids unsupervised at home - the position of the law included.

I think there is a thread on this topic already but I couldn't find it.
Perhaps somebody can put the link to it.
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Old 22.08.2010, 16:27
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Re: Leaving kids unsupervised at home - the position of the law included.

Ooh, very 'piece of string', isn't it - depends so much on the child's temperament, proximity and helpfulness of neighbours, how close you are if you needed to get back quickly, etc.

I have a boy of 10 and a girl of 6. So far, I've been happy to leave the 10 yr old alone for up to 2.5 hours. I phone him once or twice during this, and he knows to go to the neighbour's in case of problems or just loneliness. He knows the rules about not opening the door (he can run upstairs and spy out of a window if he wants), not going on the trampoline and not preparing any snacks that involve knives or heat. I don't think he'd like to be left alone for longer at present - he's quite a sociable child, and is clearly pleased when we're back.

My 6 yr old is a very sensible girl; so far, I've left her for up to about 15 mins whilst nipping to the village shop. I wouldn't leave her for longer at this stage - although she wouldn't do anything foolhardy, she's just not old enough to cope with anything unexpected.

I don't know if 12 is old enough to be left all day - I guess I'll find out in 2 years. I think there's also a difference between responsibility for self and others: I wouldn't leave my 10 yr old in charge of my 6 yr old for more than about 20-30 mins, as it's not fair to ask him to be responsible for her safety and well-being (she's still young enough to get very grumpy and irrational without realising why if she forgets to eat and her blood sugar drops, whereas he's more adult-like, feels hungry and gets a snack).

Not knowing your kids or home set-up, I wouldn't immediately rule out all day for 12 and 10 yr olds. I assume you've drilled them on door opening, phone answering, water leak, power cut and fire rules. Statistically, they probably wouldn't come to any physical harm. It's more, I think, a question of how happy they would be to be alone/just the two of them for 9 hours: do they get on marvellously, enjoy their own company, are self-aware enough to disappear into their own rooms for an hour or so if they get a bit niggley and start picking fights, etc.

Overall, I think the odd day for the 12 and 10 should be ok in a spirit of adventure, but not the 6 of course, and not as something to be done regularly throughout the holidays. Whether it's dark outside or not can also sometimes make a difference to their emotional state.

Hope this helps!

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Old 22.08.2010, 16:55
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Re: Leaving kids unsupervised at home - the position of the law included.

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I think there is a thread on this topic already but I couldn't find it.
Perhaps somebody can put the link to it.
This thread might be the one:

[Thread split] Home alone -- the Swiss view on leaving children unattended
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Old 22.08.2010, 16:59
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Re: Leaving kids unsupervised at home - the position of the law included.

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12 is still a bit young to look after the other two all day, irrespective of the law
A few months before I was 12, I baby sat a 1 1/2 & a 5 year old from 8am to 5 or 6pm 5 days a week and the occasional weekend night all summer. Of course these were NOT my siblings.

I look forward to finding out what the laws are here.
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Old 22.08.2010, 17:04
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Re: Leaving kids unsupervised at home - the position of the law included.

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Ooh, very 'piece of string', isn't it - depends so much on the child's temperament, proximity and helpfulness of neighbours, how close you are if you needed to get back quickly, etc.
I would agree with you - in fact, your situ seems very similar to mine. I have left the 2 eldest for up to around 4 hours. We also have helpful and friendly swiss neighbours. The 2 eldest also attend the local swiss school and this also helps. Personally, I am very comfortable with leaving my 2 for the day, - as long as long as they have instructions for constructive things to do. I would also agree that it is not something you would want to do more often.
Thanks,
AP
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Old 22.08.2010, 17:07
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Re: Leaving kids unsupervised at home - the position of the law included.

Thanks, yes it does cover most of what I was looking for.
Apologies to the thread waster haters!
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Old 22.08.2010, 18:11
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Re: Leaving kids unsupervised at home - the position of the law included.

On another thread, I was wondering from which age you can leave a child alone. I have to take the youngest to the Kita and my oldest who is 6 does not always want to come with me, but I drag her along anyways even if it is close.

When she becomes 12, I hope that she will be able to look after her sister who is 4 years younger occasionally. But in my situation, I would not expect her to look after her the whole day. I think I could not bare the guilt if anything would ever happened. Of course something can happen regardless of how long they stay home alone but the risks are higher.

Is there any chance you can pop in at some point during the day? Do you have neighbours who can also keep an eye ?
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Old 22.08.2010, 18:58
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Re: Leaving kids unsupervised at home - the position of the law included.

Being the oldest of a big family I sometimes feel I didn't have a childhood. I was always responsible for someone and often at a loss how to do right for wrong. My siblings hated me for being bossy and my mother told me off when i couldn't keep everything to her plan.

I'm all for a bit of responsibility for kids but it should come in small doses. My developing years were full of stress.
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Old 22.08.2010, 18:58
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Re: Leaving kids unsupervised at home - the position of the law included.

@olympe
Thanks for the concern but I (we) are well set up with friends around and neighbours who can help.
The question was more hypothetical and to get an idea of how "socially acceptable" it is - to get a snapshot of what other people think about leaving kids at home for a while without parents.
I am not in a position where I need any kind of help with this issue!
(Very good point made by oldhand - but my eldest relishes the idea of getting extra pocket money for "babysitting"!!)

Last edited by AjarnPat; 22.08.2010 at 19:00. Reason: aqc
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Old 22.08.2010, 19:07
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Re: Leaving kids unsupervised at home - the position of the law included.

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Being the oldest of a big family I sometimes feel I didn't have a childhood. I was always responsible for someone and often at a loss how to do right for wrong. My siblings hated me for being bossy and my mother told me off when i couldn't keep everything to her plan.

I'm all for a bit of responsibility for kids but it should come in small doses. My developing years were full of stress.
My mum was the same, oldest of 7 with parents running a pub, so she was effectively the parent; she could cook a full Sunday roast for the whole family by age 10. She also very much feels the 'didn't have a childhood' thing, and it took her a very long time to develop a sense of fun. (Granted, she compounded this a little by having my brother aged 17 and me at 20...)

I think the difference here (and other issues of independence) is the child wanting to rather than having to. The OP is talking about the odd adventurous day of them learning that they can cope for themselves, which is positive and invigorating.

And worlds away from the boy in my son's class who has been spending lunchtimes and afterschool hours alone since age 8 that I know of (when we moved here) because he has no choice. He's perfectly 'safe' but desperately lonely, and went through a period of ringing the bell to collect my son for the walk to school about half an hour before they actually have to leave, just to come in and have some company.

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Old 22.08.2010, 19:08
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Re: Leaving kids unsupervised at home - the position of the law included.

My kid is not as old but I would totally leave a 12 yr old, responsible older sibling (if he/she is mature enough for this) to take care of the little ones for probably up to 3hr, or an afternoon. And not really young siblings. I think it is great to learn how to be cohesive and care for eachother, we were three at home and each had tasks when parents were not home yet, I cooked, older bro was our cop and fixed thigns and the little one laid the table, cleaned up, etc. How else are the kids supposed to learn? But to leave it on the oldest one only, and for weeks, months etc, is so not fair. I would never pay my kids to take care of eachother, tho. Big family comes with perks and responsibilities..Just my 2cents. Sorry I can't chip in with how locals view this, I have a feeling they do leave the older kids with smaller ones at home, though.
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Old 22.08.2010, 19:13
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Re: Leaving kids unsupervised at home - the position of the law included.

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I would never pay my kids to take care of eachother, tho. Big family comes with perks and responsibilities.
Good point - I can relate to the perks and responsibilities point you make - but I would give each of them a cut (and each some responsibility)
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Old 22.08.2010, 19:18
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Re: Leaving kids unsupervised at home - the position of the law included.

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Good point - I can relate to the perks and responsibilities point you make - but I would give each of them a cut (and each some responsibility)
That's a better idea (another debate about whether the reward is money, Lego, special outing, etc); if it was my 10 yr old, he would be massively hacked off that his barely older sibling was getting paid to effectively behave the same as he was, and would probably trot out the 'but it's your job to clear up lunch/ pick up my toys/ clear up this... ooops... juice I just 'accidentally' spilled...'

Much better to foster a sense of cooperation and teamwork that they are both responsible for managing during the day and having everything straight for when you get home.

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Old 22.08.2010, 19:28
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Re: Leaving kids unsupervised at home - the position of the law included.

The thing with being paid, we only received our allowance as long as our tasks were completed (that included the little responsibilites when our folks were not home yet), we each had a list. So, we were in fact being paid, all of us, tiny miniscule amount, I think it converts to 50centimes a week, haha...(and we spent it all on bday and xmas presents for eachother, I know, sickening, but that was also a result of that family cohesion). The allowance was linked to how we performed. I have to say, it was great having that cooking responsibility, etc. Stayed with me my whole life, love to cook. My bros were also proud for having their little field of expertise. I guess it is sexist, etc. And I know that most of people advocate for unconditioned allowance. Somehow I view that archaic model of my childhood pretty neat, though.
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Old 22.08.2010, 19:43
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Re: Leaving kids unsupervised at home - the position of the law included.

@musicchick
I'm like you: I don't like giving pocket money without it being earned.
Consequently they do not always receive pocket money.
When I was a kid I rarely got pocket money, although my dad would sometimes give me a lump sum for helping him with a "big job" - I remember when I was only around 8 I would occasionally take a note in to school explaining that I had missed the previous day becuase I was helping dad with some job or other (he worked as an metalworker, plaumber, builder etc. etc.). My teacher did not really mind since I had obviously been learning something...(a little off-post - sorry)
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