When should you let your child play outside by themselves?

It can be hard to pull your child inside when they want to stay out and play. But there are often things you need to get done inside and you're not sure if you should leave them alone. What age should children be left outside alone?

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40  Answers

3 10

Wow maybe I'm over protective but my little boy is almost four and I can't
Imagine letting him play by himself. My poor kid won't be playing himself
Till hes at least 9 or 10.

2 19

I was definitely like that with my first - I guess I've mellowed out with the addition of 3 more! LOL

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1 16

for me personally it is not about how well my children behave when im not looking, i will not let my children play outside by themselves in an open area.. thats how too many children get kidnapped. if for some reason i cannot be outside with my children then they come in the house with me

3 10

I agree 100 %

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8 1

I let my almost 4 yr old play in the back yard when I am inside. I started letting him do this when he was 3. We have a small fenced in yard and he can't really get into much trouble, though I do check on him every few minutes.

29 31

I have a great website for you to use its called WATCHDOG it will show you were sex offenders are around your home,I live in a small town and within a 5 mole radus I have 6 sex offenders so I am very protective of my children.

25 11

Listen to your child as they will tell you when they are ready.
1: Allow you both to adjust to the changes and keep in mind that you will not be there when they are at school and at kinder.
2: use the kitchen timer to know when to check on them
3: kids need to be kids

Children grow at different rates and the worst thing you can do is constantly observe them and overly protect them from harm. The child will need to get some time to themselves or they will suffer from seperation anxiety as they go to kinder etc.
You can't stop every bump and scratch. Children need alone time just as much as we do. they need to learn that we trust them just as much as you need to allow yourself to be able to trust that they are ok.
kids need to be kids and they need to learn life lessons, just as we did when we were younger. If you think back to your childhood you might be able to relate to how your parents felt at this time and then you can see just how the first step is the hardest one to make but once you make it, the easier it becomes and you will grow in trust and will be able to trust yourself to leave them alone, even for 5 minutes at a time, but then those minutes gradually overtime will become longer and longer (as the child grows older) til eventually it will become natual to you and you will be able to cope with leaving them alone for hours at a time. (However there are exceptions to this rule, as long as you are at home with them, these steps are great to use for your peace of mind.. meaning never leave your child unattended at home or anywhere else without adult supervision.) they still require adult supervision no matter what, you just dont need to be constantly watching them.

103 88

I don't think it matters how old or responsible they are, if your child is not big enough to fight off an abductor or run away then they are not old enough to be outside alone.

None of my children play outside alone. My oldest will be 9 in two weeks and my two youngest are 5 and 4. I will never allow them to play outside by themselves. I was almost abducted when I was 8 and then again when I was 10 by total strangers, the only reason I wasn't is because I screamed one time and the other time I ran and screamed. I don't care if my yard is fenced in, I don't care if I am inside and can see them, I don't care if they think they are old enough, it will NOT happen. There are 7 sex offenders that live within a ten mile radius of my home and we live in a small town.

I also heard a story not too long ago of a woman who was in her house and could see her child from her window and as she was going to the door to call her child inside she watched a man scoop her child up into his car and drive off. There was nothing she could do but call the police. Her husband tried to catch him but didn't find him, I do not want that to happen to my children. I don't care if it is a small percentage of children that are abducted by strangers (24% is not that small in my mind though) I do not want my children to be in that small percentage and the less aware I am the more likely it is that it will be my child.

I will not post where I live on any type of forum or discussion board and I do not tell anyone my childrens names that I do not know. This is why I did not post when or where that story happened of that child being abducted and that was 100 miles away from here.

It's not just abductions you have to worry about though what about your child getting hurt or run over or picked up by an animal, or worse. There are so many things that could happen, I will not risk my child's life for five minutes to myself. I have a friend who was in her house while her 5 and 3 year old were outside playing and I almost ran over her child because she wasn't in the backyard where she was supposed to be. It is not a 5 y.o.'s responsibility to care for a 3 y.o. and a 3 y.o. does not have the ability to pay attention to watch for every danger when they are outside alone, they just don't think like that yet.

I won't even let my kids go over to my neighbors house and play in the garage or in there driveway because I can't see them. There are so many stories of children going over to a friends house and being molested. Why take chances with your childs life? If it is an inconvenience for you to be outside then don't take them outside, they can wait until later. These are just my feelings and with all of the stories out there now-a-days you would think that people would be more careful.

1 20

This story just crushed my heart and I agree with you completely!! My yard is fenced and there is no way that my girls are going out by themselves. Period!

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8 8

I let my 5 year old, three year old, and two year old play outside with each other for short periods of time as long as I can see them in our windows. We live in small town Iowa and I know all my neighbors so I feel relatively safe for short bursts of time. Admittedly I don't get a whole lot done when I'm constantly checking on them but it gives them a sense of independence and responsibility. If we lived in an urban area my kids would never be out of my sight though!!! That would be too scary for me. My kids are also very good at staying put. I think it's the kids' personalities and where you live that should determine whether or not they can be outside by themselves for any length of time.

3 18

I totally agree, kudos to you woman!

2 14

my older son couldn't play outside unattended until he was 7 or 8. i trust him, it's others i don't trust. you cannot be too careful. he still is mad at me today because i wouldn't let him go down the street because i couldn't see him. same will go for the 3 year old.

2 11

We allow our 5 year old son and 2 year old daughter to play in the backyard alone, however I check on them constantly and our yard has very high cedar fences and is very private...and we have a lock on the gate :) they are never allowed to play out front alone.

3 61

Not until 10 yrs old

3 18

I'm just glad I don't live in a household as a child that I can't BE a child, let them run let them play, obviously people will parent as THEY see fit, a lot of it I've read on here I CERTAINLY DONT agree with but hey, I'm Canadian, waaayyy laid back, calm and loving. I just love my kids, I don't smother, or stalk, I know where I need to be, and my kids know I'm always there, it IS like I DO have eyes in the back of my head, LOL! Aww life, just live it people and enjoy as there are NO DO-OVERS.

0 0

I totally agree with u, it's a real shame that all these mums won't allow children to be children and explore and play and learn social skills, kids also need to learn to be streetwise, bad things happen to everyone not just children!! U can't wrap them in cotton wool forever, chill out everyone!

0 0

We live in Alaska and my boys 4 and 6 can build a fire, use a small ax, build a temporary shelter with hammer and nails, which bark to eat if necessary, what part of the cattail to eat, identify wild sage and mint, use the sun to tell time and direction and how to track animals. I am so surprised at how many moms are scared of kidnapping and abduction in children playing outside. The statistics from www.missing kids.com give a clear numbers on this.The beautiful thing is its up to each of us based on our children and comfort level. I wonder how old many of you were when you could play independently outside. I would have been out of my mind if I had to play within parents reach until 10 years of age. By the time I was ten, I could ride my bike to school, hike in the woods, build tree forts, swim at the beach, walk to the store to spend my chore money, and develop other traits of responsibility. I started babysitting at 11 after I finished my red cross certification. The real danger actually exists in our homes. One in five children 10 to 17 years old receive unwanted sexual solicitations online. That is scary to me. My children can play outside independently but they cannot use media without supervision. We all do the best for our children and it doesn't look the same for every family.

623 5

I think it depends not so much on the age of the child, but the area in which you live. If you live in a very busy area with cars and people coming and going all the time, and easy access from the street to your yard, then even older kids (12, 13) can still be at risk - they may be old enough to know what they should and shouldn't do, but aren't old enough to fight off a would-be kidnapper. But if you live in a quiet suburban area or small town where you know the neighbours, and there is no access to your back yard from the street (or houses behind) and it is secure enough that your children can't get out, then you can let them play outside from a much younger age. I don't think I'll be letting my kids outside alone for a very long time (they are much too young now anyway - one's two and one's four months) because I have just been hearing too many horrible stories of child abductions, murder, home invasions, etc lately and I don't think I'll be letting them out of my sight until they are teenagers! Well, hopefully by then we will be in a house of our own with a secure backyard with no street access but even then I think you need to be pretty vigilant in checking on them very regularly.

0 17

when you have a fenced in yard its easier to let your small children play outside, especially if you can keep an eye on them from a window or patio door... but when you live in a city and dont have a yard... how young is too young. i see kids playing on the block all the time... ive even let my 5 year old ride her bike back and forth, but i was outside... i cant see myself leaving her out there while im indoors.

0 0

I'm an old male. I still have an image when I first saw snow. Wow what a wonderful sight and I wanted to play in it. My mother dress me warmly and out I ran. Fun until two big monsters came up to me and rumb my face into that snow. I went home crying I would not go outside without my mother for anything.
My parents moved to the burbs where there was no monsters. (5 years old) I ran all over the place, the police knew who I was because they kept seeing a little boy walking all over. It got so bad that my mother had me tie on a long, long rope. When walking with her I was in a harness. It kept me from dashing into the street.
It depends upon where you live. In farm country little will happen in the city you need a neighborhood where adults are on the streets.
I still remember the monsters. I also dream of monsters attacking me. Silly is it not.

77 140


16 26

in Ontario i'm pretty sure it's illegal for you to lave your child under 10 unattended... they have warning signs at the library and stuff soo unless its just here in my city i was pretty sure it was criminal neglect or something like that...

736 10

I think this is extra tough because a child may be ready to be alone outside, but there are still child predators who are a lot stronger than a child no matter how mentally mature that child is. I live in a small town about 4,000 people, and there have been creepy men in trucks by the schools trying to get children to come with them. So, personally I would never really let my child play outside by herself unless I could keep watching her, maybe age 9 or 10 but I would still check on her frequently. I am not sure I would feel comfortable with her walking around town by herself until she was like 13 or 14, and even then, children get picked up by sex traffikers all the time at that age (not that it's common) but you have to think about everything!

47 0

I have two sons, ages 5 and 6. I never let either of them go out alone. And when they go outside together I make them stay in our fenced backyard ONLY, and I keep the screen door open so I can hear them at all times. If it's quiet out there, I go immediately and see what they're doing. Usually something naughty (like torturing a worm, watering the plants with bottled water, transporting all the sand from their sandbox over to the garden in dump trucks, etc). Plus, I usually let them go play outside when I'm cooking, which I have a clear view of the backyard from my kitchen. And I make sure to tell them to stay where they can see the kitchen window, because if they can't see it, I can't see them. They never go outside of the fence. They did one time and I didn't let them go outside for a week.

24 0

Call me crazy i guess but my 4 and almost 3 year old play in my backyard by themselves. Yes i have a fully fenced and gated backyard and can see them from inside. I can also hear the gate if it opens and closes. I guess I also feel comfortable with them outside because their very protective and very loyal Lab dog is always right with them, she won't let anyone she doesn't know even near them...

8 27

i agree, i have a 5yr old and 2yr old and they play happily in our yard togeather. i watch the from the kitchen window or on the veranda.

11 15

I don't let mine play outside by themselves. I have 2 girls; 5 & 7 yrs old. and that to me is not an option. If I or Daddy r not outside or by the window where we can c u....u cannot go outside.

1 20

I have a 4 and 3 year old. I will not be letting them play outside by themselves for awhile. This is just to young in my opinion!

6 11

We lived in the city with my oldest and she started playing outside, while I was inside at around 3 years old. But just our street alone had at least 15 kids. They'd all be on their trikes and bikes. There would always be at least 1 adult sitting outside their building at some point. If any kid got hurt or they were hitting or being bad, you could trust that atleast 6 would come running to your door to let you know. Now, with my youngest, we live in the suburbs. Again our neighborhood has tons of kids and they all play together and I let him out while I was in about the same age. He comes and goes as he pleases and understands there are strict rules. I do step outside every so often or peek out the window or even have the windows open so I can hear. So, I'm not completely removed. They have a better sense of responsibility and independance if you give them some space. I suppose I'm lucky that we always live in a populated area where all parents understand the old concept "It takes a village...". I think they would be bored if there were no other kids to play with. That's when they get into trouble (like step all over the flowers in mommy's garden or throw rocks at the house).

0 0

I have twins that are 4 1/2 and I just for the first time left them outside by themselves in the back yard for a minute to run in the house, and was nervous the whole time! If my 3 yr old is outside I have to keep an eye on him at ALL times, there is no leaving him alone outside or in.

6 33

I have two boys, 7 and 4, and I let the oldest play in our fenced yard when he turned 3. My youngest has been playing by himself (or with his brother) since then, as well. I check on them if I haven't heard them playing for a while, mostly because it probably means they're doing something they shouldn't be. I've only just this year allowed my oldest to play outside in the front, which isn't fenced, and to go bike riding by himself. However we live in a small town of only about 1200 people, so it's safer than larger places.

0 16

we moved to a co-op townhome 3 yrs ago and this yr I have been keeping our 3 girls in MORE rather than less. I see a 5yr old that live on the other side of our co-op running around our cul de sac all the time - he actually just came to our door and asked if our 12 yr old daughter could come out! I asked if mommy knew where he was and he said she was out and his aunt was watching him but there is NO WAY she can see him on our street! and I am being told all the time to "mind my own biz" - problem is that our co-op park is right behind our yard and I hear and see alot of kids misbehaving and I don't want my kids to be aroudn that! aand without a fence, I cannot even go out there without having the whole "gang" that is at the park come towards our yard when anyone is in it! We have NO privacy and our kids are now becoming couch potatoes! I drive school bus and cannot afford a vehicle with 3 girls - hubby has been out of work on and off for the past 3 yrs and we have been struggling - and I am being told I am too anal and have had other mom's actually delete me from thier Facebok because they think I am too judging - it's hard NOT to judge when it is in my face!

7 0

So Agree!

21 12

I remember playing outside by myself all the time when I was a child. It helped me gain independence and fueled my imagination. Many children do not learn how to be independent (or to really learn to do things for themselves). Don't base it on age as much as maturity since each child is different. Also, it should depend on how safe your area is. I live in a small town in the country and let my son play out in our yard by himself often. He is 7 (but has been doing this since he was 5). Our house is a bit from the road and I know the neighbor in front of us. He knows which areas he can be in and doesn't go outside the boundaries. I check on him from time to time, but overall do not worry. Kids need time to develop their own personality and view of the world. We are too scared to do anything anymore. Use common sense and make sure it is a safe environment (which means for some of you depending on where you live that you wouldn't let your kids out to play alone). Remember folks, we all have different children and communities so let's not judge too harshly.

2 21

i live in a town that has 390 people in it and a lot of them live in the country I let my 3 1/2 yr old play in the back yard while i'm inside i go check on him every once and a while and he never leaves our fenced in area, i don't think there is anything wrong with that. if i lived in anyother town i probably would not let him play alone.

5 0

Good on you Jamie. I also let my young ones play outside in our fenced backyard. They need to get out to nature without us breathing down their necks all the time.

12 7

my boys are 3 and 2 and we live right out in the middle of nowhere and i let them play in the back fully closed of garden all the time i cheek on them alot but have never had a problem, but i dont think i would let my two year old out alone, i think 3 is an ok age but only you can tell if its a good age for your child!

0 24

I have an 11 year old a 8year old and a set off 6 year old twins all boys. I allow them outside alone only when they are with each other or a friend. They have to grow some time.

17 0

I live in Ontario and where I live, I see kids outside like 5 or 6 older siblings who are only 10 and with their youngest sibling playing outside and No PARENT!!! what the hell? Like that is just irresponsible, I will NOT leave my kid outside by themselves, at least til maybe 10 or 11, if she says she's old enough to be outside by herself I will be like well I am sorry but you still need parental supervision. I mean my parents live out in the country side and have a fenced in back yard, but I would still be outside with her.
I guess I am very paranoid, as Kids are curious and LOVE to get into things.

22 24

I don't think you should let your child play outside by themself , Just because people are crazy out there. If there was someone watching them then yes you could leave them outside if you trust the
person. Now if you were at a playground no! you shouldn't leave the child or children alone. Knowng
something could happen. like being kidnappap or even worse.
I lived in a nieborhood with lots of nice people growing up but even if I was outside my mom
had her eyes on me.

53 28

I live in a Townhome community and the kids around here all play outside. But we never let our kids go outside here. We go up to Mama and Paps they live in the country with the neighbors being family and they are allowed to go out in the yard and run and play they are 10 and 7 but I will not allow them to play in our community by themselves. I don't know who might be coming in to "visit" here. But my husband worked corrections in the Federal system for years and in a treatment facility so we have seen some really bad things that people do. so maybe we are over protective. Hope this helps

84 18

Me I wouldn't till they are old enough to watch out for vehicles, other kids and strangers. We live in an apt complex where kids of all ages play in the little yard/ grass patch in front I personally would not let my daughter or up coming son play out there alone till they are old enough and mature enough to watch out for themselves. many things can happen in a blink of an eye. better to be over protective than under protected and let something bad happen because I wasn't there. No matter who else is around or how many other kids are there.

5 15

Now days its not safe for any age. I'm still new to everything this is my first child so everything's scary to me lol. Back in the day my mom let me play outside with my friends at the age of 12 she watched me though, and it wasn't as bad as it is now. But I don't know my baby is only 2 right now.. and like "Michelle" said I think I'm a little over protective! .. lol

9 26

I have 4 children & I am super protective... My youngest are 7&9 & I just started letting them play outside by themselves,but that is only with other children & I check on them regularly or know their is a neighbor that is close by also...

29 31

I live in town and have a 8 and 5 year old.I dont feel right leaving them outside alone.I feel that at any moment they could be taken it ony takes a second and you child is gone.My 8 year old also has autisim spectrim so even thou he is 8 he is not able to keep an eye on his sister.

0 0

No never, they can climb, they think and see things that they want and what
they want, they will go after it. My grandson is seven and i watch what he is doing all the time. Children want to learn and we need to teach them and protect them and watch over them and teach them. I also have a grandson whom is is two and i will display and instill in him the same .

1 12

I let my 9 yr. old go outside to do a quick chore (bring up the trashcan) and she is allowed to be outside in our fenced backyard with a friend. I also have 4 yr. old twins, but typically do not leave them outside by themselves longer than it takes me to run inside and get them a popsicle!

2 41

I have 3 daughters ages 7, 5 & 3. I will let my 2 older daughters play outside alone or together if they stay in the part of the yard that I can see them out the kitchen window. My 3 year old I don't think is ready to be alone outside. and I don't feel right putting the burden on her sisters to watch her without me present either. If I had a fenced in yard I may feel differently and let them all play outside together. It is difficult to know when to let them have a little bit of freedom, and still keep them safe.

0 0

8 or so we live in apts very proteted by each other as neighbors so some times younger


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