It’s possible that our parents did it – and we see plenty of others doing so as well. However, is it actually legal?

Besides the ethical ramifications, (I’m sure we’ve all witnessed or experienced a  helper member of the public telling someone about how to parent) what does the law say?

According to the GOV website:

“The law doesn’t say an age when you can leave a child on their own, but it’s an offence to leave a child alone if it places them at risk.

Use your judgement on how mature your child is before you decide to leave them alone, eg at home or in a car.

the website also warns that parents could be prosecuted if they leave a child unattended  ‘in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health’.

Parents know their children best – so bear that in mind while judging whether it’s ok to leave them in the car alone.

Some children get very upset and distressed and may try and follow you. in post cases of petrol pumps children can be seen in the cars through the glass windows.

However, you should probably take precautions like making sure the child knows what’s happening and locking the car doors.

The NSPCC suggests following these rules if you are going to leave your child unattended:

  1. set ground rules – no opening the doors, or windows, not interacting with strangers.
  2. Ask how they feel – if they’re old enough, you should ask them how they feel about being left alone
  3. Be clear how long you’ll be and tell them where you’re going
  4. Let them know what they should do if there is an emergency

This question of leaving your child alone was sparked by a mother who found out that her husband was leaving their 20-month toddler while paying for petrol or going to the ATM machine.

She posted her views on Mumsnet and was greeted with a huge response from both sides of the argument.

Some branded her as ‘overprotective’ and ‘over the top’ for her disagreement, while others vehemently defended her viewpoints.

For more information on family law matters and more take a look at our other blogs here: