What age were your children when you let them play outside alone?

Any time your children leave the house, they're bound to encounter some risks, but eventually every mom know she has to let her kids play unsupervised. What age do you think your kids are old enough to be outside alone?

40  Answers

2 9

Depends on your yard and where you are in regards to them. I will let my 3 boys (3,5 & 6) play outside in our backyard, if our windows are open, gates are locked and I am in the kitchen, where I can see our backyard!

23
4 0

Sounds pretty safe to me!

29 23

I disagree with the question to a degree, you don't HAVE to let your kids play outside unsupervised ever. Things are not like they used to be. My little boy is 6 and my daughter is 3, so they will not be playing outside anytime soon by themselves. When I think of unsupervised I don't thing of that in context as playing in a fenced in backyard, I think of it as roaming the neighborhood (like I did in the 80s). Kids don't really do too much of that anymore, most people set up playdates at their home, or the park. I plan on sticking to that, and keeping my kids in sports to stay active and making sure I have friends with children around their ages for them to bond with. I enjoy family time, so I enjoy sitting outside watching my children dig a hole in the yard, inspect leaves and trees, riding bikes, playing basketball and drawing sidewalk chalk creations ( I love doing this too). It's all depending upon where you live, how safe your neighborhood is, how close to major roads you are, and how well you know your neighbors. No one is ever exempt from bad things happening though so always keep a watchful eye................stay safe everyone.

22
1 5

it better to be safe that to be sorry. i agree with you, Amanda! times have changed since the 80's when we were kids. my son is 3 years 7 months and he is NEVER left alone to play on his own outside. i guess i amm overprotective since he is my only child. keeping any eye on our keeds at this vulnerable age will keep everyone away from the blame. be safe one and all!

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5 24

No unsupervised outside play here! We live in a safe town and safe neighborhood but that doesn't mean squat anymore. Hell they come in and take them out of their bed in the middle of the night (Jaycee Lee Dugard). No thank you. We have a fenced in yard and dogs but I am still right there. She won't ride her bike on the sidewalk out front unless one of us is there to physically watch her. It just takes an instant. Someone at any given time could be watching and you would have no clue. If she goes to her friends home 2 doors down I go out and physically watch her until they have made contact because I know her mother/grandmother are right there on the back porch watching too! Call me paranoid if you like I am better safe then sorry! I am one of those people if something were to happen I would not forgive myself and I would blame myself for letting her out of my sight. I don't want to be that parent. I NEVER WANT TO SAY WHAT IF...

17
29 23

First off I totally agree, second I think Jaycee Dugard was taken from her bus stop and it was Elizabeth Smart that was taken from her bedroom............I know I know nitpicky I am, sorry I wasn't trying to offend at all, lol..............it really doesn't matter kids are not as safe as they once were no matter where they are and I know thats the point you were trying to make..........i think you are doing great............some of my friends call me over protective but I dont care...im the same i never want to say What If.........NEVER

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1 14

Our 3 kids now 6 1/2, 4 & 2 have played outside alone since they were about 18 months old! By outside I mean on our property with high fences and locked gates. I think it totally depends on the area you live in and your children, with the oldest two we lived in a very small town in New Zealand, we also had a protective german shepard and I could see most of the lawn from the kitchen. We now live in Indonesia and have 4m high concrete walls around the lawn (not for sercuirty is is the way they build houses here, our wall is actually the side of the neighbours house). When we visit New Zealand the 6 & 4 year old love playing in the paddocks at their grandparents homes. We can not wrap our children up, they need to make mistakes, learn how to play independently and play with children not adults, yes they will fall over, have arguments and get dirty and yes that is ok. The only injuries my kids have had are bumps, scratches, the two finger nails our youngest lost were due to inside doors not playing aloone outside.

15
1 21

Ok sorry but 18mo outside alone, that is nuts no matter what area you live in. I am protective as well and have a fenced in yard and a very protective dog but my 6 year old only goes out if one of us or his 17 year old brother is with him. we live in a nice safe neighborhood but you still have to take every measure to protect them. no one said they cant get dirty and bumps wont happen we are talking safety from others 18 mo is just insane

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0 15

It depends on where you live. I let my then 6 year old go out side and play unsupervised. They had older friends and stuck by the house. I also knew my neighbors and almost everybody around our neighborhood. Everybody knew who didn't belong. Yes I do want to keep them safe but I know I can't shelter them from everything. I have to teach them and help them understand where it is safe to play when alone. Some people think that the back yard is safe because they have fences, well while it make it a little more difficult it is possible for something or someone to enter your back yard with out anybody knowing. My neighbors keep and eye out when they are out and same for me, but with everything I have to do inside my kids would kill me if i kept them inside. People don't under stand that anything can happen wether they are outside or inside unsupervised. I realize that there is always a risk and I just make my own choices. I have a 11year old and a 8year old now and they are growing healthy and strong, so I know I made the right decision for my kids. I don't judge people.

10
100 1

Well said.

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4 0

Im not sure there is a magic age fore children to play outside unsupervised. It probably varies greatly with your childs individual level of responsibility, common sense, and attention span. I do feel confident about my 9 year old playing outside unsupervised if she uses the buddy system. When playing alone, she stays very close to or in the house and under a watchful eye. Maybe by next year she could walk or ride her bike close by in the neighborhood with a friend. So I think 10 might be a good age. We live in a safe neighborhood as far a creeps go. Although we have a large yard, I worry more about traffic here.

8
4 0

10 would be the youngest age I would say along with maturity and a great deal of common sense. 95% of child predators are people that your children already know. You cant have your child live under your fear forever. Teach them safety. I tell my daughter real stories and explain to her about bad people. Im not trying to scare her, Im teaching her about the REAL world in which she wants to go play in. Watch those who care for your children! Mothers newer boyfriends are the most common person to abuse your children. Your safer letting them go off and play in the park rather than their own homes in many instances, dont base your mothering on a national news story. Look into the stats and reality. Common sense people. Where has it gone?

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76 32

mym son has been playin in the street since he was 4 in summer time,. we live in a quiet cul de sac with no thru traffic, and every one always sits in their front yards, so there is atleast one adult he knows keeping a shady eye out at all times. also his group of friends are 3,4,4,5,6,7,10,11,12,14,15 they all play together and watch out for each other. x

7
1 9

Love your comment Alana, so refreshing after all the hysterics. My kids are 4 and 9 and we also live in a cul de sac that the kids all play in by themselves.

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4 5

My daughter just turned 4, we live in a safe neighborhood, and I will not let her play outside by herself unless one of my neighbors that is also a friend of mine is there and gives me the ok that she'll keep an eye on her. One thing that I think that we need to remember as parents is that, while we love our children with all of our hearts, other people may not feel the same way about them. I do not trust anyone with her that hasn't already unwittingly proven to me that they love her and want her to be safe. I'm not sure when I'll let her play outside by herself. I just know that it's not now. If I lived in a house with a fence equipped with a lock, that would be different, but I don't. She's a good kid, and doesn't willing do bad things, and she watches out for the other kids in the neighborhood as well. I'm just not comfortable with it. It takes 5 seconds to snatch a kid, and that scares the hell out of me.

7
3 7

The VERY 1st THING you should do is a "google" Predators/Sexual & Violent offenders Search for your AND the surrounding neighborhoods ... then make your decision. Its better to be SAFE than sorry ... and MAKE SURE the children know EXACTLY what to do in that scary situation. Also, MAKE SURE they know "your RULES" (i.e. what they are doing, don't go in the street, etc. ~ make them repeat "the rules" back to you!) My son (7) can play in our fenced yard. Its a pretty large yard, so he doesn't mind ... much! lol. *BUT, When he wants to play with his friends in the neighborhood, we moms watch them cross the street, round bends, etc., until they reach the others house. We are LUCKY to live in a GREAT neighborhood, but, AGAIN, it's BETTER 2 B SAFE THAN SORRY!:-) ... However,& I MUST say this, do NOT be a helicopter! ~ give them a wee bit of rope. They DO need to learn boundaries and EARN TRUST!

7
0 22

Well put!

11 44

My son is 3 and a half and he plays in our backyard without supervision often. If something happens like he's scratched himself or has falling off his bike he would come in and let me know. When he plays outside that is when I get quiet time to myslef inside. I know my backyard is safe and I trust my son enough to come tell me when something is not right.

6
29 23

as long as you know your neighbors and are comfortable with that then thats awesome...........We are so busy daily that I look forward to watching them play and be relaxed. I am a full time student, single mom of 2, kids are in pre k and 1st grade, i work part time, team tball mom, so i relax when they are relaxed................i send them upstairs to their rooms to get my peace lol.

3 2

We live in a very rural area - surrounded by trees, house set back about 50 feet from the road and neighbors on both sides are only around on the weekends. I let me 5 year old and almost 3 year old play outside without me. They only stay outside for 5-10 minutes before coming to get me for one reason or another. When I'm not outside with them, I watch pretty closely from the windows.

5
0 6

I think age 10 is a good age to let my son be outside by himself. There have always been predators...at every age. your daughter could be 5, 11, 17 or 30 and bump into a bad person. I think teaching your children how to safely handle themselves will take them a lot farther in life than to always be a helicopter. By the time they are teenagers, they are going to go out without so you might as well teach them right and let them have the experience before they go out without being prepared.

4
0 4

I will allow my son to play outside alone when Im sure he is very aware of stranger danger. Playing alone and running around with the neighbor kids are different. i might let my son play in the backyard alone when he's 4 but checking on him frequently and only if i'm certain he will follow the rules but running around and playing with the neighbor kids alone will have to wait until he's a little older. like between 6-10 depending on his maturity and the neighborhood.

4
0 0

I think it depends on your location. I live in a community where everyone watches everyone. I have no problem sending my children ages 7 and 8 to the store around the corner. I live in a community where there is hardly no crime at all and the threat of telling your grandmother stills means something. When I lived in a big city, I did not let my kids out of my sight. They could not even turn a corner by themselves. For me, that is no way to live. To a certain extent it teaches fear. I don't like being afraid that someone will take my kids. So if you live in a good community as I do then when you are ready as a parent, give your kids the freedom to go and play alone. It teaches them to work situations out for themselves. If you live in a big city then play dates with parents of kids that you know is the best way to go.

4
8 10

My son is 3 and we let him play in our fenced in yard alone. Most of the time a window is open to hear him and we check on him regularily. Living in Canada in a quite neighbourhood is a bonus...... That and the 100lb german shepard :)

4
7 25

i have a 6 year old she only goes out with me or both mom and dad we dont have no back yards we live in appartment.not sure when i will let her go out by herself

4
0 0

Everyone keeps referring to 'then and now'. I live in Canada and the murder rate, for example, hasn't been as low as it is now since the 70's. As for sex offenders, they existed back 'in the good ol days' too. With our more globalized world, we hear of all these terrifying stories (Elizabeth Smart, etc.) and assume that means these things are more common now. They aren't, we just hear about the abduction that happened on the other side of the continent when in the past we didn't. We need to educate our children about being safe and keep track of their whereabouts, but at some point they need to be trusted to go out (within set boundaries in the neighbourhood, for set periods of time) without adult supervision (with other kids, for example). I think the exact age depends on the child themselves, but to say as a general rule that, for example, 10 is too young seems extreme.

3
1 13

that depends on what you consider "outside." My backyard ( 10 foot wood fence, on all sides, and i have run a daycare for over 5 years, so its inspected yearly) I let my boys go out freely. So basically, as soon as they can walk, or get down the one step. In the front yard? never. there arent any fences, and all of the yards are open to eachother, and the street. Not to mention older kids on bikes and skateboards, who could mow my 4 and 1 yr old down. I think if you have them in a yard, that is kid proof, any age should be fine. Just dont give them a snack or anything to take while playing... if you arent supervising, you cant prevent choking.

3
7 9

My children are 8 and 4 and I still do not allow them to play outside unsupervised. I personally don't think any neighborhood is safe. There are attempted abductions all the time in "safe" neighborhoods. I used to teach and would get notices any time there were attempted abductions in the area. I taught in what was referred to as a "very safe neighborhood" and yet it was here where things happened. You tend to be a little relaxed because you think your neighborhood is safe. Maybe I am overly protective, but I'd rather be safe than sorry!!

3
0 10

I'll give you a finnish point of you. So I live in a village on about 5000 people in Southern Finland (near our Capital-city Helsinki). I have one son age 11 and two daughters aged 10 and 5. I've let my older kids play alone outside when they were 6 years old. The summer before they started school at age of 7. After that they are often outside alone with their friends. They drive around with their bicycle around the village. They have certain times when they have to come home for dinner and so on. I go to work (as my husbund) and my children have to leave to school alone. They've done that since the first grade. I leave home at 7.30 am and their school starts between 8 and 10 am. And at first grades their school days were short so they could be alone home about 2 to 4 hours.

I think that our culture is so different than yours that our children spend a lot of time alone and withe their friends. They are either at their friends house or at our place or they play outside on playgrounds. When our youngest one goes out, I go with her. She's never out alone. Untill she is that 6 years old and begins school.

One thing my both older children have is mobile-phone. I can call them anytime and ask them to come home.

I hope I'm not too provocative (or something like that). But this is finnish culture and we let our children play alone outside a lot. And I'm not worried about them. I know that they are safe. And if something happens, they have their phone and they can call me.

2
0 4

In this day and time i don't believe it is ever safe to let a kid play outside without adult supervision. It only takes a second of a parent not paying attention for something to happen to a child.

2
100 1

you are obviously unaware that there are no more children going missing now then there were 30 years ago, we just have more media coverage.

4 8

I think it all depends on the area you live, my kids were allowed to play on our patio when they were small as long as the backdoor was open and we were in the family room when they were about 2. Now my kids are 8, 5, and 3. They ride their bikes in the alley and play in the yard alone, they come inside if they need anything and they know where they can go. We only allow them to go to the next house on either side. We still keep doors and windows open while they are outside and if we aren't going to be in the back part of the house they play in the front(they get to ride their bikes farther in the front). Now if we are visiting my family, who lives in the country, that's a different story. There they can go play and we don't have to worry about anyone taking them or cars or anything like that, so they have more freedom.

2
8 113

As of right now? NEVER! My baby is almost 7yrs old with Autism and she likes to run away. This may change as she gets older but I doubt it!

2
0 13

Exactly what I was thinking Donna! My son is 10 with HF autism and there's just NO WAY that'll be happening. As in a lot of other decision situations...ours is different isn't it? =)

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5 5

I finally am letting youngest go outside alone and he is 8...I am very over-protective to say the least about being alone outside...

2
288 1

My son is 6 and he rides his bike around the area and plays in the field next to our house. I live in a rural area and our neighbors watch out for each other. I grew up roaming on my families farm. My brother had free range with a bb gun and a fishing pole since about 5 years old. I know things have changed some but I am glad I live where I live. I never realized that I fell into a category of "free range parenting" I just did what felt right with my kids. I have 2 year old, almost 3 year old twins and they roam in the yard and play around our property. Of course I check on them so they aren't completely unsupervised but they get plenty of free play everyday. In the summer they are filthy and covered in dirt everyday :) As parents we try and do the best we can and in some areas it means your kids can play safe unattended and others need more supervision. Use your mind and heart in parenting. You know your kids better than anyone so you get to make the decision and remember to be kind and not judge too harshly. What works for one family/child may not for another and that's ok.

1
0 12

It use to be 6 years old the kids could play out front or in the back yard until my 6 year old daughter was approached by a man in a car while my husband was standing in the garage not 50 feet from her. As soon as the man saw my husband he sped off, thank goodness. Now, no one is allowed outside in the front yard unless my husband and I are there and paying complete attention to them. Mind you I live in a very family friendly neighborhood. It only takes a second though and you never know who is watching your kids. I agree with many of the comments that we need our kids to learn independence and learn how to play but there are too many bad people out there praying on our kids. It is sad but its the time we live in. Protect them, its your job!!

1
177 7

If we had a fenced in back yard I would have let them as soon as they could get off the porch safely. Since we don't they can't play outside unsupervised until they are at least 5. I do allow my 3 year old to play in the back yard with me sitting in the living room looking out the window. She has to stay where I can see her and if she doesn't she has to come back in. She is not allowed in the front yard without one of with her.

1
0 27

It is not safe in this day and age to let any child play outside unsupervised. There are too many perverted people to leave your child unattended. It may be safer in the country than in the city but there are weirdos in the countryside as well. We are to protect our children at all times!

1
6 3

We live in a small, safe neighborhood, and my kids have been allowed to play alone outside since they were about 4yrs. Although my oldest has autism and would run off, so he wasn't allowed outside until he was old enough to understand he had to stay near the house. We know all the neighbors near us, and all the kids play outside with each other. There is usually at least one parent outside watching them, and if not, they all usually end up at someone's house. We live in AZ, and right now it's too hot to be outside, so mainly they just go over to each other's houses. Since I'm a teacher and home everyday during the summer, most of the neighborhood kids end up at my house. I really can't complain, because it's nice to know that the neighbors trust me enough to let their kids hang out over here. Plus, we always have our freezer stocked with Otter Pops. :)

1
0 0

You're kids are old enough when you feel comfortable... that's really the bottome line. Because everyone feels differently about this topic. Mine are 3 and 7 and I (or my husband) are always outside when they are. You might feel comfortable in your neighborhood but that doesn't mean someone couldn't drive through and take them right off the front lawn when your not watching (it's happened) I feel that even though it may be a small chance of happening, I don't want to be that small percent, I could never live with myself. We are there to protect our children, that's what it's all about anyway :)

1
0 0

I might be considered overprotective but my son just turned 11 and he is only allowed to play in our drive ( plays basketball) ride his bike to the stop sign and back. All of which I can see from the front door and window. Usually I go outside and read while he plays. I'm there without seeming to be watching him.

1
0 0

my 6 year old daughter playes with her friends in our cul-de-sac its a quiet street and she knows her boundaries of where shes allowed up to... she plays with another 6 year old and a 7 year old girl plus there are a few boys and they all play together. i do check on her regulary and if shes going into her friends house or back garden she comes to tell me where she is so i dont worry. i didnt like her playing out at first but you have to give them some independence early on. my daughter was very shy and quiet before we moved to the cul-de-sac however now she has come out of her shell and is far more confident in herself.

1
0 12

I let my 11 play outside in our front yard if he is with a friend and they are playing together. Even then, I check on them every half an hour, and can see them outside the front door. My 6 and 4 year old are allowed to play in the backyard if I am in the kitchen where I can see them through the sliding door. Our yard is fenced and small, so they're always in sight. I wouldn't trust any child alone by themselves outside... you never know what could happen... even if it's not the child's fault.

1
6 4

My son is 3 and I let him play outside but within my sight. I have a large fenced section with gates. I leave the doors open and I can see & hear him from the kitchen and lounge. We live in New Zealand. He is only out there for maybe 10 minutes without me at a time.

1
1 18

My kids are 8 and 9. They play outside alone but only between specific areas that I chose. And they have to check in every 30 min. I even go out and check on them. But I live in a section where my kids and the neighborhood kids everyone and anyone can see them all.

1
0 0

I have two boys, ages four-and-a-half and almost six. We live in a townhome complex in the middle of a lower-middle-class neighborhood in the middle of a small city (pop. 75,000). I see some barely-5-year-olds roaming the entire complex alone while some eight-year-olds are required to have their parents with them to even go outside their home. I was watching my youngest child go biking on the sidewalk right outside my door (sans training wheels) and heard a kid a little older than my youngest son call from his stroller (which he looked to be straining with his size), "You're out here by yourself, without your mom? Aren't you scared?" and my son called back "No. Why, are you?" I never taught him to be scared, though I did warn him about the rules (no talking to strangers without permission, no crossing any drives/streets, etc). No one should be careless, but there are degrees of being careful. If the statistical likelihood of something bad happening to your child in your area is high enough that it warrants extreme care, them by all means be extremely careful. But if the risks are minimal in comparison to the average of the surrounding area, then a parent should be allowed to exercise minimal caution in favor of increased opportunities. Such opportunities include developing parental trust, learning responsibility, increased experience practicing skills independently, and just being allowed to think and play freely without the guidance of an adult, thus fostering creativity and self-expression. I will note however that the "more cautious" parents do occasionally call on CPS to talk to the "less cautious" parents, but the CPS workers tend to report that here is nothing to worry about, owing to the other factors involved, such as disciplinary measures should a child break the rules, how frequently the child is "checked on" by the parent (the suggestion for my area is about 2-3 minutes for every year of age), whether the children are otherwise well cared for, etc.

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0 0

6

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1

I think this generation has been far too sheltered and controlled. When we were young, kids got taken, people got killed and people didn't pay attention while driving just the same as now. Nothing has changed, we just didn't hear about it all back then as we do now.
Kids need freedom! They don't need to be mini mommys and daddys, they need to run their own life and do things that kids do. This generation is over weight, stuck to TVs, can't live without electronics and don't know what to do when it's time to play alone let alone what to do outside unless mommy or daddy has told them. Now don't get me wrong, there is an age that is too young and places likes cities that are too dangerous for them to just run the streets. There are also some kids who are not mature enough to be allowed to have that freedom.
I have two children, 2 and 7. I have sent my 7 yr out in the backyard alone since he was a little over 5. Granted, it's gated and I live in a very tiny town but he's still out there alone and told to play and entertain himself for a period of time (a lot shorter when he was 5). He also walked alone to and from his bus stop all first grade and is allowed to walk to nearby friends houses. And depending on how mature he shows me he is, we are talking about allowing him to explore past two blocks, to be able to go to the park down the road.
I encourage kids playing alone (inside and outside) for a while, It helps them develop their imagination and to make smart choices on their own, without me hounding them. It gives them the chance to be independent and to have some freedom rather than those poor kids who are stuck on mommys schedule and never learn to do things on their own. Tell your kids smart advice, no talking to strangers or being near them, wear a helmet, be careful, watch for cars and don't go too far.
Loving your kids doesn't mean you need them by your side 24/7, let them have some freedom and they will enjoy it just as you did once, They'll be ok.

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1 0

My daughter is now 5. When we lived in a smaller town (when she was 3 and 4), I would let her play unsupervised outside after school. Our apartment complex had 4 other children so they would go to the backyard and play on the jungle gym. I could always see her from my bedroom window.
Now that we live in a bigger town, I still let her play unsupervised. She has the knowledge of where she can and cannot go. She doesn't go past our neighbor's house 2 doors down. And she only goes down there because her friend lives there and they spend a lot of time together and I know the family. We look out for each other's children. My daughter also knows that she needs to ask me anytime she wants to cross the street to play with our other neighbors. If she doesn't ask ( which sometimes she is too stubborn to do), she will just sit on the porch and watch the other kids play. She needs room to grow and make friends and be a little independent, so unsupervised outside time will help grant her that.
Besides, I have a list of my expectations that she must tell me ( from memory) before she even goes outside alone, otherwise she can't go.

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5 21

10-years-old. That's when we moved to another city and into a house with a back yard. Before that we lived on the third floor of an apartment building and two buildings down from a registered sex offender. Not a snowball's chance in hell I was going to let my daughter play outside alone there.
And common sense should dictate to ANY parent to check the sex offenders database before letting your kids outside alone.

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