What age is ok to play outside alone?

Merry - posted on 06/02/2011 ( 37 moms have responded )

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Obviously it depends on your area, but what age is it ok in your mind for your kids, and kids in general to be outside unsupervised? Is it ok if they're is an older sibling going with? Or if they have cell phones? I see kids as young as 6 walking home from school, or playing alone at a park....makes me cringe cuz there's so much that can go wrong with such a young kid!

When did you first open the back door and say, go play!?

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[deleted account]

Quoting Jenn Morris ~ "Again with this different world stuff."



I'm not saying I think the world is a bigger, badder place now than it was when I was a child. What I'm saying is that the people we are surrounded by are different. I couldn't flick a booger two blocks from my house without my mom knowing about it before I got home and we didn't have a phone. That's the kind of tight-knit community I grew up in. The people around me now, most of them aren't like that anymore. People HAVE changed a lot over the last 30+ years. That's how I see it. I don't keep my son close out of fear that he'll be kidnapped or molested by some random stranger. I don't live my life in fear like that. I keep my son close because he's only 3 and I don't think it's unreasonable that when he's outside he be in my sight at all times. Also, there are teenagers in my neighborhood that like to speed up and down the street, drag race, etc. You bet your butt I keep my kid close. I don't want my kid to be the one that dies teaching some stupid punk teenager a lesson about being careful driving down a residential street.

America3437 - posted on 06/02/2011

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Yes I am fully aware of all of that , all i was saying is that this is how so many of our children are missing weather it from known family members or strangers. Do you think that family members don't watch and wait for these kids to be left alone and maybe if they are being left to run the streets at 5 or 6 then maybe they should be with the other family members? Just a thought.

Jenn - posted on 06/05/2011

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That makes more sense Joy. I just tend to see/hear a lot of people talking about how the world is so different and they panic about strangers and kidnappings and stuff like that.

[deleted account]

When I say 'roam the streets' I don't mean the parents are clueless as to where the kids are. For my kids there will be boundaries as to where they can go. I will know exactly where they are going and they will call when they get there. And if they run into trouble, there are homes of people we deeply trust all throughout the neighborhood. That's just how it is in my particular neighborhood. Kids are in groups on their bikes or walking with each other or playing in someone's yard. It's not like one single five year old and aimlessly wondering around all day with no one knowing where he is...that WOULD be stupid. We will be smart about boundaries and teaching our children safety, but we will not live in fear of rare occurrences like kidnappings (which can also happen under my own nose, how many kids are taken from bedrooms at night?)

[deleted account]

At our old house I wouldn't let my 6 year old nephew outside alone. We lived on an incredibly busy hwy, and two wrecks ended up in our yard in the 18 moths we lived there. Behind the backyard was a swamp...with alligators.

The house we are in now is in a very safe neighborhood, and we know most of our neighbors, and many of them are relatives. The carport is right off the kitchen. I would open the kitchen door and let my daughter play under the carport...at 18 months old. She's three now started playing in the backyard alone a few months ago. I would have been okay with it sooner, but SHE was scared to be alone back there.

The 2nd and 3rd grade school is about 5 blocks away. I'll let her ride her bike or walk by herself (unless she is ditzy or immature).

Now that it's summer, kids as young as 5 and 6 roam the neighborhood all day. I'm good with that, they are in groups for the most part.

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Stifler's - posted on 08/14/2012

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Our yard is fenced and there's nothing they can get into so they have always been allowed to come in and out as they pleased. They are not allowed in the front yard yet without me there. People drive way too fast in this street.

Sally - posted on 08/11/2012

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When we had a fenced back yard that I could see from the kitchen, 2. Now that we have no yard, my 8 year old can go out by herself but my very hyper 2 year old needs a grownup.
When we were kids, it was common to be outside sans grown-ups from after breakfast until wash up for dinner. Because the 24 hour international news cycle plays every "something bad happened to a kid" over and over and over for days, it's easy to not realize that it actually happened a lot more back then.

[deleted account]

I was put outside as far back as i can remember, just as long as I was out of their site they didnt care what happened to me. And alot DID happen. I was molested by the neighbor's teenaged boys, I was hit by a car and when i was a teen I was abducted and repeatedly raped by a deranged lunatic. So yeah, I dont let my kids out of my site. I cant help it. I dont 'hover and smother' but there are things I just dont allow. If the kids want to play outside that's great, they can play while i garden or trim the hedges or whatever. Sometimes I take my lap top outside and play on com while they play. But they would never be out there alone. I dont know when I would ever feel comfortable with that. I cringe at the thought of them being teenagers when i have to 'let go' and give them freedom. Im not going to let my fears hinder their development but in all honestly this is a really hard thing for me.

Merry - posted on 06/11/2011

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The incident that triggered this question was I saw a kid, about 6 yrs riding his bike home from school, in the middle of the road. There was sidewalks, but he was riding IN th road. Middle.
He had no helmet and there was no one in sight. Sure it was a 25mph road but honestly in our city people go 30-35 on these side roads.
Same day I saw another young kid same age I'd guess, he was crossing the road, again it's a 25mph road but this is the one road that goes all the way through town and it I always very busy, I have issues crossing it myself cuz there's rarely a big enough gap in traffic to cross.
Anyways this kid was so short and I barely saw him as I passed him, and in my rearview mirror I watched as he crossed right after me, he ran the whole way and there was cars that were approaching him as he crossed. Honestly I just felt scared for him.
Both kids I got a motherly worried feeling for.
Not that they would be abducted, but hit by cars!
6 year olds have such a long way to grow, and I don't think they should be all alone and trusted to manage traffic safety.
And when I see groups of kids, the big ones are always like a block ahead of the little kids, that doesn't do any good!

Charlie - posted on 06/10/2011

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My yard is fully fenced , I live in a safe community and I can see the entire yard from inside and can get to the yard in seconds ...My two year old plays outside by himself and has been for a while now although my yard is usually full with his little gang of friends so I am usually out there having a cup of tea with my friends ( his friends mumma's ) or I am in the veggie graden .



BTW I was walking to and from school as a 6 year old along with several other friends in my year , I still see hoards of young children walking to school on their own every morining , I see no problem with it , they are fit and healthy and I know everyone on their route calls out to say hello and keeps an eye on them , they are never really walking alone because their are so many walking at the same time again this is all dependant on where you live .



I think media portrayal and internet access to information on crime has made people WAY too paranoid , the crime didnt increase , information did .

Erin - posted on 06/10/2011

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If the yard is fenced-in, child proof and there is no dog, I have no issue with small kids having the freedom to play in their own backyards. I have a dog, so I do not let my 2yo out there without me. But if the dog wasn't there I would have no problem with it.

Obviously I don't allow a 2yo out the front unsupervised. But there is a group of kids (and some mums) who gather out on the footpaths (and in a driveway) to ride their bikes and scooters. I allow my 2yo to ride her scooter/bike up and down the footpath as long as she is accompanied by one of the older kids (8-9yo) and I can see her. It is a quiet street, my daughter has never attempted to go near the road, and the older kids are very good with her (and very responsible). If any of these combination of circumstances didn't exist, she wouldn't be allowed to go further than the driveway.

Heather - posted on 06/09/2011

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my son is turning four in Septemeber i let him play in the front yard as long as the front door is open and i have the blinds up so i can keep an eye on him. I'm 26 weeks pregnant and its too hot for me to go outside with him. but he does really well and understands not to go towards the road (which doesn't have much traffic at all anyways) I would not let him go out if he didn't understand his limits.

Jakki - posted on 06/05/2011

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When my daughter was 10 I started letting her walk up to the shops (about 500m away) including crossing a couple of roads. She's a very responsible sensible person and there's very little chance of anything terrible happening to her. No drive by shootings here either!

Just a thought to those folk who say they don't let their 4/5 year old play in the back garden by themselves - I think playing by yourself is a really important life skill... let them breathe out there!

Jenn - posted on 06/05/2011

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America3437 - posted 3 days ago
I don't like my teenagers outside alone and when they are I am constantly checking on them. We live in the country so the dangers of the city aren't present but I am always aware of where they are and what they are doing. This is my job as their mother.

Really?!? Teenagers? So your job as their mother is to hover and smother?

Emma - posted on 06/03/2011

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My kids are 3 and 18 months and they go out in the backyard and play by themselves all the time. I wouldn't let them go to the park on their own & I'm not sure at what age I would but I don't see a problem with them playing in their own back yard. The only drama I have at the moment is that my youngest likes to keep closing the doors so they can't get back in when they want & I have to keep going and opening the doors. I think it is great for them to have a bit of independance & it gives me five minutes to get something done like a few dishes or some tidying up without the kids climbing all over me.

Kate CP - posted on 06/03/2011

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If she's playing in the backyard where I have a 6 foot privacy fence and pad locks on the gates then I say when she was 4-5 (now). I'll let her outback to play on her swing set or run around and sing and dance. It's actually really funny to watch her play outside because the girl HATES to get dirty. When she was playing with her soccer ball she refused to pick it up because it had dirt on it.

I have such a girly-girl. :P

Elfrieda - posted on 06/03/2011

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My son is 17 months now, so not yet! :) Once he stops putting dirt in his mouth, I'd be happy to let him roam around our property while I garden or do other chores. I think I wouldn't be comfortable to let him out of my sight for long even after he's 5 or 6 until we get a dog that I trust to look after him if he falls in the stream or encounters danger of some kind, or a sibling or cousin who's at least 3.

I have great faith in the ability of kids to look after other kids. If I saw a three-year-old wandering around by himself, I'd be concerned, and take him home, but if I saw a three-year-old with an older sibling or two wandering around, I'd think, "Aw, how precious. Childhood really is great, isn't it. I wonder if they're building a fort."

Bonnie - posted on 06/02/2011

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My boys will be 3 and 5 later this year and they never play out in the back yard alone for more than 2 minutes. I honestly don't know when I will be ready. Maybe when my oldest is 8. Walking in the neighbourhood alone, maybe 10. I also see really young kids walking to and from school alone. I just shake my head. It bugs me.

[deleted account]

My son played in the backyard for short periods of time when he was 3-3 1/2. It is fenced in and the entire back of the house is window/glass door.

Only just within the past month or so I have allowed my now 6 year old to play inthe neighborhoos with the other boys. I know every kid, and their ages range from 6-11. These kids all know me as well, and they all keep an eye out for the smaller ones. I do consider my neighborhood safe. It is small, and most of the kids play onthe common area grassy fields or in the cul-de-sacs. One of the other moms uses walkie-talkies to communicate. My son is also allowed to cross the street/ride his bike throughout the neighborhood too. I frequently take the dog for a walk under the disguise of checking up on my son and his friends. For the most part, they are all doing kids things and are fine.

Lady Heather - posted on 06/02/2011

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My kid has to learn that dog poop is gross and you can't pick it up with your bare hands before she can go out alone. Once she's figured that out I'll let her in the backyard by herself for short periods. I can do the dishes and see everything out there. I have no idea about the front yard. It'll be a while.

[deleted account]

My son is 3 1/2 and we have a pretty decent sized back yard but since it's not fenced in, no, I don't let him play outside alone. Maybe if the yard were fenced in. In fact, I'd say a big "probably"....IF our yard was fenced.

As for when I was allowed to play outside alone? I think I was around 3 or 4 but my mom was always near (at the sink doing dishes or on the other side of the yard hanging laundry). That was the early 70's though and it was a different world.

Rosie - posted on 06/02/2011

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lol, do you really think it's only the 5 and 6 years old that are being taken by strangers? fact is most kidnapping are by family members or someone the child knows. whether they're on their street or not, they'd get taken. misinformation abounds!!!

America3437 - posted on 06/02/2011

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I'm sorry but I disagree sara, 5 & 6 year olds should NEVER be aloud to roam the streets alone!!! This is why we have so many missing children in this country! Parents are to busy to watch their own children! Kidnapping is what happens to children that society is left to watch.

Rosie - posted on 06/02/2011

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3 ish in my fenced yard. of course it always depends on the child, but that has been the general age for my boys, give or take a few months. my oldest i let go around the neighborhood when he was 8ish and i also let him walk home from school then as well. i think my 6 year old can be trusted next year when he's 7-we'll see. he's pretty responsible though. :)

Becky - posted on 06/02/2011

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I let my 3 and 1 1/2 year olds play outside alone for short periods of time. Our yard is completely fenced in, with neighbors on all sides, so no one is going to come over the fence and grab them. I leave the back door open so they can come in and out and I can hear them, and I'm always in the kitchen or living room where I can see them out the window. The only worries I have are that we don't have a proper gate on one side - dh will be building one this year - so the kids could go out to the front, although they don't unless daddy is out there - or a dog could come in. A lot of our neighbors have dogs. They all seem friendly enough, but you still never know. Oh, and in the summer, there are a lot of hawks around, which worries me a bit with the little one. So I keep a close eye on them and make sure I can always see them. The backyard is the only place they are allowed to be alone though. Never in the front yard - it's too small for them to play in anyway - or the street. I'm not sure what age I'll let them go to the playground and stuff alone. There's one just around the corner from our house, but there are only sidewalks on one side of the street - of course, the opposite side from the playground! and none in our cul-de-sac - so they either have to walk on the street or cross it. Some of our neighbors back right onto the playground, so if they could cut through their yards to get there, (with the neighbor's permission, of course!) then I'd probably be okay with it by around 5 or 6.

[deleted account]

My girls didn't HAVE a yard til 4, but my ex built a tiny 'caged in' area out our back door. They were out there at a year and a half, but I could always hear them. When we moved they pretty much had free range cuz we were completely isolated.



My son is allowed to play outside where we are now, but only under his sisters supervision and they have to stay where I can see them if I look outside. Of course, my kids ARE the most supervised ones at our apartments....

America3437 - posted on 06/02/2011

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I don't like my teenagers outside alone and when they are I am constantly checking on them. We live in the country so the dangers of the city aren't present but I am always aware of where they are and what they are doing. This is my job as their mother.

[deleted account]

I do not allow Jake in the street without me watching yet. He's 6, and I do allow him to run across to our neighbors' house alone, but I have to be watching.

Another issue is that we live on the older side of our neighborhood, so the houses are too small for most families. Thus, all of our neighbors are retirees, no kids for him to run around with.
When we go visit friends who live in more family oriented neighborhoods, I let him play up and down the street, but I never take my eyes off of him. They live on cul-de-sacs and often play street hockey and kickball in the streets.

[deleted account]

J was about 2 1/2 or 3 when I started letting him play alone in the back yard. It is fenced in, we live in a gated community, and I can see him from almost anywhere in our little house.

He's 6 now, and I've only just begun letting him play in the front yard without me right there with him. One issue is that I can't see or hear him as well due to the layout of the house The other issue is teen drivers speeding and I worry about him being distracted and chasing a toy or a cat into the street at the wrong moment. He knows not to, but he gets distracted easily.

Mel - posted on 06/02/2011

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for out the back I let my daughter out by herself when I had my second baby because I found it much harder to manage both of them and be out with her when I had a baby when it was to hot for the bub especially. So when she was 2 yrs 3 months old. EVen now I worry my backyward is not kiddie safe far from it there is big drops, where if she climbed over the walls she would have serious injuries or worse, there drop is huge and cement at the bottom but shes never tired ot climb them so I take comfort in that and my mum says she will be fine just have a look out the window every now and again. I just yell her name and wait for her to respond usually. I still dont like t though. I dont know when Ill let my kids do things like walk home from school or be out th front by themselves. I had been walking home or playing walking around the neighbour hood as long as I could remember from my childhood. Also do recall nearly getting hit by a car once trying to cross the road walking to school.

Jenn - posted on 06/02/2011

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Well, there's nothing to cross the street to go to. We live out in the country, and across the road is a soybean field.

Jenn - posted on 06/02/2011

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Oh - and when I was 6, I was in grade 2 and would walk home from school. We only lived a block away mind you. My kids will never walk to or from school, as we live in a rural area and they have to take a bus to school.

Jenn - posted on 06/02/2011

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When my son was 3 1/2 I started letting him in the backyard for short periods of time, then over time it was longer and longer that he could be out there alone. Now he is 5 1/2 and goes out to play all the time and sometimes will go back and forth between our yard and the neighbours' yard (their little girl is 6).

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