Playing outside alone

Janice - posted on 02/02/2012 ( 129 moms have responded )

1,890

18

63

So two other threads in other communities got me thinking about how much freedom I give my toddler.



Since she was 19/20 months old I have let my daughter play in our small, fenced in back yard alone. I'm sure some may be gasping ;) I keep the back door open so I can hear her and I go out and visually check on her about every 5 minutes. My apartment is small so I can always hear her and I make the dog stay outside with her to ward off the very unlikely chance a stranger is interested. I personally am comfortable with this.



So what do you think? Do you let your kids play outside with out direct supervision? If so how old are they?

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Merry - posted on 02/08/2012

9,274

169

248

Yeah by 16 they're driving alone anyways, not too much you can do to watch them. By then is turned into trust, not keeping an eye on them. And hopefully they call and check in frequently.

Mary - posted on 02/04/2012

3,348

31

119

Oh, Janice, I agree with you. Perverts, sickos, kidnappers - whatever - they've always been around. We just have more access to info through the many more types of media that exist these days. I don't think it's the threats that have necessarily increased - it's our awareness of them that is tenfold what it once was.



Obviously, you have to know your area, and there are absolutely some environments where letting a child out alone is beyond foolish.



And, yes, Laura - I often wish my dogs would just walk away from her sometimes, but they almost never do. This morning, my pit bull just sat there like an idiot on the kitchen floor while she was meticulously applying tiny little glittery stickers to his claws, being oh-so-careful to wrap them around. He still has two of them on right now ;)

Kate CP - posted on 02/03/2012

8,942

36

754

Wow...you can never been 100% certain a dog will do ANYTHING. It's a dog. You have no idea what might set it off, even at a distance.

Sally - posted on 02/23/2012

577

5

11

I find it sad reading some of these posts. What happened to childhood. When i was little i was left to play and my kids ,youngest 15 where let to play. I don't believe the dangers are different now to what they where then. The only difference is media. The fact that its headline news when something happens should tell you how very rare it is. Kids need to breath and really can't see the harm in a 2 year old in their back garden,yard if your with in hearing /seeing. Let the little loves get mucky make mud pies etc.

[deleted account]

I think the risk of a stranger walking off with any child is highly overstated. Honestly, with a kid that age (less than 2), I think the biggest risk is that she is going to eat something she shouldn't eat and get sick or possibly choke on it. How do you know a squirrel isn't going to drop a nut in your backyard? Or that a bird isn't going to fly over the yard and poop in it? Or that she's not going to eat a handful of grass, a rock, a stick, etc.? Or a balloon isn't going to blow out of a nearby trees and land in the yard? There is just so much that can happen when kids are alone in an uncontrolled environment. Five minutes is more than enough time for a child to choke and die and you might not "hear" her choking at all. Personally, I wouldn't be comfortable doing it, even for 5 minutes.

If you see this, leave this form field blank.
Powered by RESPECT not THUMPS

129 Comments

View replies by

Kelly - posted on 10/19/2012

38

0

3

I think that if you're comfortable with it and your child is comfortable with it, go for it.



I let my SD play outside unsupervised frequently. She's 5 now, but we started letting her do that when she was 3. We didn't have a fence at the time, but we did live on several acres in a rural area. The dog followed her around like she hung the moon and stars and we knew all the neighbors well, so we were never really worried about anybody running off with her. We may not have been out there with her, but she only thought she was alone. There is ALWAYS someone checking in every now and then.



We would've let her be outside by herself earlier, but we had some landscaping features that could hurt her (stone retaining wall by the driveway that has a 3 or 4 foot drop). We had to make sure she was old enough to know where she should be careful.



I think it's been very good for her. She is a tough, independent, confident child with an incredible imagination. I don't think she would be quite so confident and independent if we supervised her all the time. She'll try things by herself if we're not around, but if we're there she insists she needs help.

Tracie - posted on 10/13/2012

317

9

1

Even in a fenced in back yard, 20 months is WAY too young to be playing unsupervised. In those conditions, it's not strangers you need to be worried about, it's accidents. What if she finds a dead bird and decides to put it in her mouth? What if a squirrel or other backyard animal bites her? What if she's running and trips and smacks her head on brick or cement? An adult needs to be with that baby at all times, and at only 20 months, that's what she is, a baby.



My two girls, ages 8 & 11 play in our fenced in back yard alone, but if they want to play in the cul de sac they must have an adult with them. Matters of safety are not negotiable in our house.

Janice - posted on 02/28/2012

1,890

18

63

Awww, Sherri, even your tiny little avatar pic makes me want to pinch his cheeks.

I'm lucky my first didnt sleep but baby boy is a fabulous sleeper. Hopefully he will start sleeping longer soon :)

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 02/27/2012

6,434

12

67

Don't you love how you completely forget about that factor until they're born? I forgot how badly some babies sleep since my older one is 7.



But don't worry, a little extra coffee and bam... except the baby gets that too.

Sherri - posted on 02/27/2012

9,593

15

387

Oh well he is up every 2 hrs so other than some sleep deprivation I am doing really well.

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 02/27/2012

6,434

12

67

That's good. Maybe he can teach my almost 1 year old to sleep through the night. Her cousin and her new friend can't do that.



And how are you doing?

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 02/27/2012

6,434

12

67

I share ice cream with my cat. That way I don't have to share it with my husband. It's a win win for everyone.



BTW how's the new baby?

Sherri - posted on 02/27/2012

9,593

15

387

Eh I don't worry about it. No different than the cat sitting on your lap or sleeping on your couch, but then again I will share a spoon and share ice cream with my cats too.

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 02/27/2012

6,434

12

67

My older daughter had cat bum on her toothpaste for a while before she finally started putting the cap back on.

Merry - posted on 02/27/2012

9,274

169

248

I don't let cats in by sleeping babies cuz I hate the hair getting in baby's mouth clothes or hands :) its cute though.

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 02/27/2012

6,434

12

67

I don't like the cat in the crib because he wakes up the baby. DH is more paranoid about that than I am.

Janet - posted on 02/27/2012

89

2

4

As long as u no she is ok then i think it's fine - just keep troughs or water - my daughter loves to play with water so i would turn the taps off very tight so she wouldn't get access and then i had to put something over the dog's water and i know u love her and cherish her cause u check on her frequently..............

Sherri - posted on 02/25/2012

9,593

15

387

Before we got our pool I would send the dog out with the kids, the youngest being 4. I knew they were safe and no one would bother them with the dog out with them. But heck I let the cats sleep in the crib with them when they were babies too.

[deleted account]

I have no problem with my 7 year old taking off on his bike for an hour or 2 in the neighborhood. I know exactly where he goes, who is is with, and he knows never to leave the neighborhood. He has my old cell phone and I set the timer on it. Timer goes off, he needs to come home and check in. I also know some of the parents of the kids he plays with and it's no big of a deal to walk down the street to find him.



But as a toddler, I had no problem with him playing outside on his own in our enclosed backyard. The ground floor is all windows and door, so I had full view of him playing outside.

Morgan - posted on 02/24/2012

1,116

44

166

I wanted to add to my post, I do let my daughter play alone in our yard we live in a town home where the yards are about 10x20 feet very small I feel totally comfortable doing so, but i never ever would leave my child alone with an animal bIg or small not even my own golden retriever or cat for that matter!

Sally - posted on 02/24/2012

577

5

11

I agree that there are certain times it would not be safe for a young child to be left. I.E water,we have all heard stories of kiddies drowning in a small pond never mind a pool. I also think that its unsave to leave them where a passer by could reach them but i think if its on the back with a good gate its ok. I never minded mine playing out back when they where little but i think the were about 10 before id let them go to the play area a couple of mins way

Meme, i agree you should make time to make mud pies etc with your kids. I used to put mine in swimsuits and let them loose with paper and paints,great foot prints etc and lots of mess but fun. I do think though playing without you lets their imagination run free. I used to love listening to them when they didn't know i was there. I still do with my grandaughters.

Janice - posted on 02/24/2012

1,890

18

63

Our next door neighbor has a quick-set 3ft pool and she lets he 3 year old go out and play w/o her! My MIL/ upstairs neighbor can see into their yard from her porch and the stories she has told me make me crazy. I definitely draw the line when it comes to playing around pools. The kiddie-pool only comes out when I am out.

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 02/24/2012

3,377

8

66

Sally

I agree somewhat but I also agree it is much more fun for them when Momma gets out there with them and rolls around in the mud a bit too.... No, you can't always do it but there should be periods of the day, especially if you are home with them where it is mandatory that you get out with them. ;) We do it on the weekends (and weekdays when it is summer and we have more daylight). It also really depends on where you live and what you have in your yard. For us it is a pool our neighbour has one too. And we only have a 4.5' chain link fence, my boy could climb out of it if he wanted to in less than 5 mins. I would die if I went to go check on him and he couldn't be seen. We have french doors out to our patio off the back of our dining room, I could listen for him too but kid's are not always loud, especially when they find something of interest. ;) We also have some idiots (like anywhere) that are still not practicing the "No dogs off leash" law. Not all of them are friendly...



So, for me it is best to go out there with him, until he is older, around 4 or 5.



We live in a very safe neighbourhood but people do tend to drive fast around the corner by our house. I have had to bitch a few of them out for it, young punks thinking it is fun to fly around the streets.... sigh....

Sarah - posted on 02/23/2012

203

26

10

Our backyard is fenced in, but I still wouldn't let my kids play outside by themselves. My kids are 3.5 & 20 months (I have a 2 month old also, but he's too young to play) Our family room is right next to the sliding door that leads out to our backyard, but I usually sit on the step of our back porch. My daughter always asks me to come out & play with her, so I sit outside & play with her. I trust my neighborhood, but I'm just always paranoid.

Morgan - posted on 02/23/2012

1,116

44

166

I let my two year old play in our tiny fenced in yard alone I check on her every few minutes, she enjoys feeling independent and I always make sure there's nothing in our yard that could harm her. But I also never leave the kitchen so I can always see her out the window

Sumi12 - posted on 02/22/2012

52

0

4

hey Janice Coleman never do such thing again as you know children had habit to put any thing they found in their mouth no matter how clean and safe the area is but you should not leave them alone.

Barb - posted on 02/22/2012

286

38

7

No I don't I don't have a fence in back yard and we're only lived in the area for like 9 months so I don't trust the people don't know the neighbours well enough and I just wouldn't let her at this ago 2. My mom never let me do that till I was older and with my older brothers supervison and I feel the same way.

Sarah - posted on 02/13/2012

219

5

14

Yes I do let my 8,5,3 year olds play alone outside. My kitchen and living room is one huge room cut in half and there are 4 french doors that i leave open. There is one huge room cut in between where it cuts in half and becomes my living room and kitchen. Where my pool is its one big patio then a screened in pool area .. So i can be in the kitchen living room and even dining room and still hear my kids they are also aloud to play in the garage which i just turn my lights on and shut because i can't hear them well. I yell for them or go vidually check on them every 5 minutes depending on what i'm doing...

Jessica - posted on 02/13/2012

165

26

15

Yep I sure do. I do have a fenced in backyard tho, and 2 kids, but when my oldest is at school and my 2 yr old wants to go outside, I can't always accompany him out there as I have a 9 week old and its the middle of winter. So I dress him up and let him go wild outside by himself. I feel comfortable with it, theres no present danger, he cant get out and we have no swings or jungle gyms in our yard so he cant fall off anything. I don't know if I would be comfortable leaving my 2 yr old outside in a public backyard (such as one of an apartment building) just because you never know, unless you're level with the ground and can see everything at any moment. But I definitely dont take the 'anything can happen at any moment so keep your kids by your hip' approach to parenting. They need their space and their independence.

Brittney - posted on 02/12/2012

1,510

49

722

I can't say the same for my daughter. She just turned 16 months old and she will not stay in the back yard, there are older kids who live across the street and down one house, we live on a steep hill with no fence and no side walks but very little traffic. The problem I have is when I'm not looking she's heading down the street to the park, so I always have to be on guard and ready to chase after her.



There was one day, she was playing in the living room with the front door open (screen door was closed) while I was doing dishes and my husband was outside in the backyard (thankfully). Suddenly I didn't hear her anymore so I called for her, no answer. I dried my hands and went into the living room, she wasn't there. I looked outside and there she was playing with the older school kids in the street. I put her back in the house and resumed dishes. My husband comes in and says our daughter was helping him in the back yard. I said okay and to watch her. She played in the backyard for awhile then got bored and walked off again. So I cannot trust her to stay in the front or backyard to play by herself.



I think that if you can hear them it should be just fine. Even better if a dog can keep tabs on them. I know my parents dog would guard my daughter from kidnappers. But that's just me!

Janice - posted on 02/12/2012

1,890

18

63

I definitely think it depends on the child. Some toddler put everything in their mouth. If my child was a mouther, I wouldn't do it. My daughter is the opposite, she only puts food in her mouth, so choking on an acorn seems far fetched for her. I will have to wait and see what my son is like. I may not be able to leave him.

Deborah - posted on 02/10/2012

256

8

16

Granted I think that's just a LITTLE young (19-20 mos) but a fenced in back yard? I wish I had one! I'd let my kids out to play all the time. My son is almost 23 months, my daughter will be 4 in April and she 'checks' on him for me all the time (while I"m cooking dinner, for example).



We also live a fair distance back from our road, so I'm not sure at what age I will let them outside to play alone just yet but with an open door, checking on them all the time, and a fence.... there isn't a problem with that at all, particularly if your dog barks at strangers and they are outside together.

Aleks - posted on 02/10/2012

546

0

46

There would have been probably a lot more danger of my toddler choking at home than outside, or eating something she shouldn't. What, with having a 5yo at the time (when toddler was 20mths) and may have forgotten (or just refused) to clean up that lego, or better yet missed a piece when cleaning up when the said toddler waking up from nap. Or the marbles..etc (yes, we were there to surpervise *most* of the time for the clean up but things do and can be missed). Or what about those darned spiders that lurk around in corners... heck, at one stage snails and slugs would come in our house (don't ask why) and we did not always find them but just the silvery trail. Personally ( and I bet that the emergency medical staff can confirm this) I believe that most of the dangerous "accidents" and mishaps that kids encounter happen INSIDE their home, at least when they are little and before they start (grade) school.



There are a lot of "what ifs" in the arguments. If I lived and acted on most of the "what ifs" in my life, then I probably would not leave the house EVER and would walk around covered in cotton wool to boot.



Now, if there is clear and identifiable dangers outside and around your house, and ones that cannot be easily removed or put away, then sure it makes sense to keep them supervised or not out at all. But living with "what if" a bird poos or a squirrel dropping a nut (we don't have squirrels here in Aust so that is not a problem, though I guess it may be in some areas???) is a bit of an overreaction IMO. Besides, I am sure most people are pretty familiar with their own yards, at least to enough extent to be able to judge them, safe or unsafe, without the "what ifs" mentioned, unless its a real possibility (say you do have large trees and you have seen squirrels roaming around in them and sometimes nuts laying beneath said tree, of course.

As for eating grass and sticks.... am sure most toddlers have sampled some organic stuff.. he he he.. and not been worse off for it...LOL. I have seen toddlers munch on ants, worms/bugs, feathers, textas and pens, and grubby outside toys too... not to mention dirt and sand (my toddlers favourite...lol).

Sherri - posted on 02/10/2012

9,593

15

387

I used too when there was more than 1 of them but now that we have a pool they can't go outside without an adult present at all times.

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 02/10/2012

6,434

12

67

Rebecca K, with my brother and his friends by the age of 5 it was 'Are they going to climb the wood pile to the shed roof and jump off again or are they just going to climb the swing set and jump off again'.



I don't know, maybe it's because of how my brother was when he was little I waited until my older daughter was 4 before letting her in the backyard by herself

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 02/10/2012

6,434

12

67

I think sometimes it also depends on the parent and the children. My brother and I were allowed out on the porch at our grandparents' house when they would watch us and they lived in the city. We just couldn't go off the porch unless we told my mama we were going into the backyard. But we were in grade school by the time that was happening.

Corinne - posted on 02/10/2012

1,288

14

121

My kids play in the back garden alone a lot. It is walled, but has a gate leading to the front garden which doesn't have a gate. I usually bolt the side gate, but if it's stiff I wheel one of the bins in front of it, no way they're shifting those. They're usually worse if I'm out there as they'll jump off things and do 'tricks' to impress me and last time I took them in the front garden with me (I was gardening), Devon thought it was funny to run out of the garden because I told him not to. Nobody gets to play out there now.

Momof1 - posted on 02/09/2012

528

0

15

My son is just over two. We don't have a fenced in back yard, so no, I don't let him play in the yard by himself. I wouldn't even if it was fenced in. I'm not saying I wouldn't quickly run into the house to grab something (if we had a fence), but never for something that would take longer then 30 seconds. There are a few kids on my block that would be outside, with out parents, at ages 3 and 4. Even though there would be a couple older kids (10 or 11) out there with them, I still didn't agree with that. We don't get too much traffic, but that is besides the point. At this point I don't know what age I'd let my son play by himself, but I do know that I would not let him at 3 or 4. I freak out when I can't find him for 30 seconds in a store. I'm not over protective, but I just can't see letting him play outside, at his age, alone. Whether fenced in or not.

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 02/08/2012

3,377

8

66

Agreed Megan. I was on my own by age 12. However, no one wants to know my "stories" of how much fun I had as a teen! LOL SCARY However, I have raised my daughter very well , and I trust her, she deserves that since she is such a good kid.... Kids need to learn who they are at some point and be trusted to do so, if you as a Mom are not comfortable with it, then perhaps you don't feel you have done your job very well... (Not sure, just how I would perceive it). You can only be comfortable with your child's knowledge and maturity if you are comfortable with what you have taught and guided them towards. At some point you need to stand back and watch them blossom into the person you have striven so hard at helping create.. ;)

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 02/08/2012

6,434

12

67

Elena, this sounds like over kill to me. Part of it is probably because I was at home by myself at a young age, but really by 13 years of age a child is normally able to take care of themselves if they've been given the opportunity to do so.

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 02/08/2012

6,434

12

67

I know Janice, that's also part of the reason I did supervised visits. There was a woman beaten to death just down the street from her a few years ago.



My parents' neighbourhood is safe and aside from random car break ins every few years (and that even happens in the wealthy East side neighbourhoods in Rochester) nothing happened.



I wouldn't allow a 2 or 3 year old outside unattened because of how my brother was as a child. When he was 3 he snuck out of the house when our mom thought he was napping and almost fell into our neighbour's pool because they didn't put the ladder up.

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 02/08/2012

3,377

8

66

Oh my, I have a very hard time keeping a watch "over" my 13 year old. I mean, typically she is not in our backyard. She is usually over in the court, which is 2 streets over. However, she knows the rules, she must tell me where she is and if she moves on to somewhere else and she must check in every so often (I tell her how often at the time, since it can differ, depending on the circumstance). I mean they do need some freedom, how else will they learn things for themselves? But, if it works for you that's great. ;)

Elena - posted on 02/08/2012

13

0

1

I personally would not live any child in the backyard playing especially when kids are being taken out of backyards. I keep watch over all of the kids playing...even the 16 yr old.

Janice - posted on 02/08/2012

1,890

18

63

"I agree that it does depend on the neighbourhood and the safety of your yard. I wouldn't let a 10 year old play by themself in my ex MIL's neighbourhood because there are a lot of shootings even in the daytime in her area."



That is very scary Megan!



My fence is chain link but my daughter is not a climber. In general her large motor skills are at the slow end of normal. Actually now at 27 months she is becoming more adventurous with climbing so I may not be able to leave her outside alone much longer. Of course with the door open I can hear if she touches the fence so we will see. Typically if I cant hear voice or her feet on the sidewalk or if I do hear her climbing on the cellar doors, I'm out checking on her.

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 02/08/2012

6,434

12

67

Bunnies are such evil creatures, we had them under the shed at my parents' house and they were always taunting the dogs.



When I lived with my parents I didn't let my older daughter out in the back yard by herself until she was 5 because of the above ground pool- yes the ladder was always up, but I liked being cautious. Besides my parents have a chain link fence so even though you can see most of the backyard through the kitchen and family room windows, if my daughter had wanted to climb she could.



At my apartment I let my older daughter play by herself in the courtyard and over at the swings because I can still see her. She's 7 now. She can play in the backyard by herself at my MIL's because she just has the fishpond and it's been drained. There really aren't any daytime wild animals, but she does live in the mountains and there are black bears and cougars out there. We haven't seen any though and my MIL's backyard is small and enclosed. You have to go through 2 gates to get into it.



I agree that it does depend on the neighbourhood and the safety of your yard. I wouldn't let a 10 year old play by themself in my ex MIL's neighbourhood because there are a lot of shootings even in the daytime in her area.

Janice - posted on 02/08/2012

1,890

18

63

Yes, my yard is safe in my opinion. The stairs are blocked and the gate is almost impossible for me to open so I know my daughter cant do it. No dangerous creatures either. Although we have seen bunnies in the evening, they take off as soon as we come out.

Stifler's - posted on 02/07/2012

15,141

154

597

Exactly Aleksandra if you have a ride on mower sitting around, long grass, crap to trip over,chemicals sitting around or a massive dog then of course you need to supervise your kids. Your place sounds a lot like mine, nothing they can get into.

Aleks - posted on 02/07/2012

546

0

46

See it depends also on the neighbourhood you live in and also what is in your back yard. My neighbourhood is quite safe and there is very little except for grass in my back yard. 3 potted plants, 5 roses under my kitchen window. No stairs. No animals or trees. There is an enclosed trampline. 6+ ft fence all around and even the gate I struggle to open myself. A small sandpit.

So yeah... I am happy to leave my kids there barely supervised from age 20mths and 5yrs (they are now 3 and 6.5). I can hear them very well when inside (as there are slider doors with glass all the way down them which I usually leave open, these give plenty of visibility too).

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 02/07/2012

3,377

8

66

My children are not allowed to play outside on their own until at least 5. We do have a fenced in backyard but it wouldn't be hard to get out of if they wanted. My daughter would have been 5 before she could go out on her own, my son will be very close to that, maybe older, since we now have a pool too... Besides, I enjoy getting our there with them. I use to spend as much time as possible outside with my daugter. We are really looking forward to this Summer, since my boy is now 15.5 months. It is going to be sooo much fun!



They are too young to be unsupervised IMO under the age of 5. But, everyone has their own comfort levels and there is nothing wrong with that, as long as they are fine with it and I don't find their under age 5 kids running the streets or something... ;)

Vegemite - posted on 02/06/2012

916

0

15

My kids are 2 and 4, they don't play outside by themselves. We live on a couple of acres with 1 fenced off, there are also poisonous snakes and spiders in our yard so it's not really safe for them to be alone. We have dogs too and no matter how much I trust them there's no way I'd leave my kids alone with them. Dogs are dogs and kids are kids you never know how the will react to eachother.

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 02/06/2012

6,434

12

67

My family misses everything because they're all in Rochester. When Irene went through they didn't even get rained on. When all those blizzards went through we didn't even get a snow flake. But I confuse my friends who aren't in Rochester by talking about lake effect snow. The first time my friend from Troy came out to Rochester it was Summer and I got to show her how you can literally feel the temperature change when you get on the Lake Ontario Parkway to head to the beach. She had never experianced that before.

If you see this, leave this form field blank.
Powered by RESPECT not THUMPS

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms