There's no hard and fast rule about the age a girl should be before you allow her to go to the mall without adult supervision. However, as a parent, you can assess her maturity level and evaluate how much you trust the friends she'll be hanging out with at the mall. Some malls have rules and restrictions concerning unsupervised children and teens, so make sure your daughter abides by those regulations.
Mall Escort Policies
Due to loitering concerns, safety issues and economic reasons, many malls have official parental escort policies that require children under the age of 18 to have an adult with them when they enter the mall. Most malls enforce those policies primarily on weekend evenings, but some require adult escorts seven days a week, according to Kayleen Schaefer's report at ABCNews.com. Of course, parents and adult guardians might allow their children and teens to go off by themselves once they enter the facilities. Depending on the shopping center's policies, separation inside the mall might be permissible as long as guardians remain on the premises.
Reasons for Going to the Mall
While developmental psychologist Nancy Buck believes that 9-year-old children are too young to go to the mall unsupervised, according to "Psychology Today," an appropriate age must be determined by parents. You might consider why your child or teen wants to go to the mall. According to investment bankers at Piper Jaffray & Co., a company that tracks teenager consumer habits, 83 percent of female teen shoppers prefer to shop at stores, rather than online. So, a 13-year-old girl who wants to go to the mall to seriously shop might be responsible enough to go unsupervised. However, if she wants to go alone so she can hang out with boys, going to the mall might not be the best idea.
Before allowing your young teen girl to go to the mall unsupervised, consider safety issues, such as crime rates in your community, security at the mall, your daughter's maturity level and the time of day. For example, you might allow your 13-year-old daughter to go to the mall for two hours on a Wednesday afternoon, but not from 5 p.m. to closing on a Saturday night. You can also drop your daughter off and pick her up at specified times and insist she has a charged cell phone. Structure and accountability are important. It's best not to leave an underage child at the mall alone, so make sure she's with a friend before you leave, just in case one of them needs to call for help.
Beginning of Adolescence
The beginning of adolescence is an ideal age for many girls to start going to the mall without adult supervision, according to the American Academy of Pediatric's website Healthy Children.org. The key to responsible mall behavior is open communication and parental instruction during the preceding months. You might talk with your daughter about mall safety, marketing tactics used by stores and their employees, respectful mall behavior, ways to develop a healthy self-image and responsible spending habits. You can also go with your daughter and her friends to the mall and observe their behavior before you agree to let your daughter go without you.
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images