When is it okay for your kid to play outside alone?

Kimberly - posted on 11/15/2010 ( 36 moms have responded )

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My son is almost 3. We live in a really good condominium complex. I see a little boy about his age playing outside alone. His mom alway has all doors & windows open & she checks on him about every 10 minutes or so. I know my son gets bored when it's cleaning day. What do you think? There's nothing really to harm him. I'm just not sure. Thanks for any advice.

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My daughter has played outside alone since she was 18 months old. I'm always in the kitchen by the door, and she stays by the door under the carport. So it's just like playing in the next room.

Honestly, the statements about you can't trust anyone anymore is just not true. The world hasn't suddenly become a dangerous place. Kidnappings and such have ALWAYS happened. We just hear more about them because it's sensationalized on the news.

However, you still need to use your own parental judgment. Maybe you live in a high crime area, or your kid is more prone to wonder away than others. Every situation is different.

Iysha - posted on 11/29/2010

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I think like 6/7 is a good age. They can follow directions on how for they can go away from the home and are old enough to not run in the street after something, etc....If they cant do that at 6/7 years of age then i would wait longer. It's not necessarily the child being taken that would scare me the most, it would be the getting hit y a car, falling and breaking something on the next block over, getting bitten by someone's dog...those less serious things that are more likely to happen than an abduction.

Cat - posted on 11/18/2010

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3 is a bit young for a child to play outside by themselves. Not just for the danger of being taken or molested but because they can easily get hurt or get into something they shouldn't.



One mom here said "it depends if you live in a good neighborhood or not." I disagree with that, because bad things happen in good neighborhoods all the time. I think in "good" neighborhoods, the criminal can hide better, because he doesn't "look" like a monster.



I think 10 minutes is a generous amount of time for a child to get taken. The perp can just watch for a few minutes, understand the pattern of time it takes for the mom to check on her kid and strike. Then he'll have a good 10 minutes to get away before the mom realizes her child is gone. It took less than 5 minutes for Samantha Runion to get snatched in front of her grandmother's home.



I think it's OK to let your kids play in an enclosed back yard if they're at an age to know how to play safely. I let my 8 year old play in our enclosed back yard alone, but not my 5 year old, unless his older sister is out playing with him. Our back yard is enclosed with a high fence on one side and concrete walls on the other, which is difficult to climb over, but if someone tried, my kids would be in the house calling me by then. As far as the front yard, they are not allowed to play there unless I'm out there watching them. If they want to play out in the front (which is not enclosed) then I stop what I'm doing and go out (after all, I can do the dishes later) OR if I'm really too busy, then I just say, "no you can play here in the house until I'm finished."



I don't think any one should live being paranoid, but it never hurts to be cautious. Lives can change in a blink of an eye and as a parent it's our job to protect our children until they are old enough to protect themselves.

Jennifer - posted on 11/17/2010

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if he is in a fenced yard then absolutely if not.... well i'm just not sure thats a tough one!

Laura - posted on 11/16/2010

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I would think that in a condo complex 3 is a bit young, but you could begin to instill independence by letting him be outside for maybe 10 minutes with you very close by and watching him and checking in 2-3 times. Grow it from there. The goal being that by the time he is 5 he knows what to do, where to go and not go, but you are still in ear shot and check on him often. And after 10 minutes of him playing are up, you can kick a ball around with him for 10 minutes! You both win then!

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36 Comments

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Jeannie - posted on 11/16/2011

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I wouldn't feel comfortable with it. I only let my 8 and 9 years olds outside when they are with a group of other kids. They have to stay in the complex play area and must stay with the group. And even then, I check on them every 10 minutes or so. The day of letting kids play outside by themselves is sadly long gone.

Nicole - posted on 11/29/2010

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Personally I can deal with something less serious happening, (I have a boys I'm kind of expecting stuff like that LOL) but I am Scared to death that he's going to get taken by someone...I couldn't live with myself. So yes I am extra safe, and if my child grows up to be safe, but not scarred I will consider myself successfull in this area!!

Nelly - posted on 11/29/2010

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I live in a house and I would never have allowed my kids to go to the back yard alone at that age, I think 6 years old and older is ok but not younger

Nicole - posted on 11/20/2010

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Our back yard only has a privacy hight fence along the back, and the others are like 3 or 4 foot....I wouldn't let my child play in that alone, for me it's the simple fact that we have to go through the gragae to get to the backyard, so I can't see him, now if it was open and I could see him, that might be a bit diff....when he gets a bit older

Anne - posted on 11/20/2010

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My 5 year-old plays in our backyard only, It's completely fenced. With a part that is privacy fence. The gate is locked and the dog is always out with her...We also make to repeat the rules EVERYTIME she goes out. 1. Scream and run to the house is a stranger EVER tries talking to her. 2. She is NEVER allowed to leave the yard. She does really good but I would be cautious at with out a private fenced in yard

Amanda - posted on 11/20/2010

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My 3 year old cleans with me. We put on music and dance around cleaning. I use all natural cleaners so she can help out.

Medic - posted on 11/19/2010

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My four year old plays in the back yard by himself but our yard is small and hes got the biggest mouth in Texas so we are good. I would never let him go play in the front without a fence ever. In the back yard no one outside of anyone in my house would even know he was out there.

Nicole - posted on 11/19/2010

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I think 3 is MUCH to young to play outside alone! It always makes me so mad when I see this...I don't care how safe it is, there could always be that one person that drives by and see's them alone! why would you take that chance?! I don't know what an appropriate age is but I think it depends on your child and the maturity of your child even then I don't think everything should be closed up!!

Kimberly - posted on 11/18/2010

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Thank you Lyana for the advice. I let him play outside for the first time without me right on his heels. He played on the porch while I cleaned the living room. He did so well. He stayed in the area I told him he could play. He was such a big boy!!!!! He just played with his batman toys & had so much fun. I guess he's not my baby boy anymore :( lol

Lisa - posted on 11/18/2010

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We live in the country and my kids play outside by themselves but they play inside the fenced in area off the kitchen. I have a 2 year old and a 4 year old. My hubby put up the fence so the kids could go outside without me and I could still get things done in the house.

If I want to get cleaning done but don't feel comfortable with him outside, let him do something fun like finger painting at the kitchen table while you clean. But he only gets to do that activity on cleaning day...then it becomes something he looks forward too.

Lyana - posted on 11/18/2010

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I live in a reasonably safe neighborhood, and I'll let my 6 year old daughter and 3 year old son play outside in the back yard often while I clean or cook inside. I'll have a window or two open and check on them often, but I feel safe with them out there.
I would suggest talking with the other mom, and you two can have your kids play outside together, and take turns checking on them and even playing with them a little.
Just go with your feeling about how your neighborhood is safety wise, and even call the police department and ask about crime rates.
Hope things work out for you. I had to keep my daughter in until she was 4 almost 5, and she has a very hard time playing on her own.

Gina - posted on 11/17/2010

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My oldest is 8 and he STILL doesn't play outside by himself unless he is in the back yard which is fenced. With the world as crazy as it is now days, I am just paranoid.

Kimberly - posted on 11/17/2010

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I let him play on the front porch yesterday while I cleaned the front of our home. I felt okay. I made sure I was able to see him at all times. He did really well. He stayed right at the front door & played batman.

Rebekah - posted on 11/17/2010

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My 3.5 year old plays in our fenced in backyard all the time by himself. Occasionally, he'll be in the front yard for a few minutes by himself (or with his 1 yr old sister) when I'm loading the car or something, but I try to keep him in eye sight at all times outside. I'd say 3 is a little young to be completely alone outside in the front yard (without a fence), but so much depends on where you live and the situation.

Khadijah - posted on 11/17/2010

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IMO I Wouldn't do it! There's no way I would let my girls go out to play alone at 3yrs old. Its simply not safe anymore. It only takes a second for someone to walk off with your child. I sit and think about all the Mom's that are on the news saying "I just checked on him and he was playing" or "I thought my neighborhood was safe". To me...its just not worth the risk.



Is there anyway you could talk to the other little boys parent to see if he could come over and play with your son? That way you can keep and eye on them and not have to worry so much. Living in a condo complex potentially exposes him to way too many people. If you lived in say a rural area in a single family home then I would say "maybe" if you were sitting outside watching him.



My girls definitely won't be going out alone until they are at least 10 or 12 and even then I will be keeping a close eye on them.

Kimberly - posted on 11/17/2010

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Thank you Lyn. I did let him play on the front porch yesterday. He did so well. He didn't leave the area I designated for him. I'm not too worried about him getting in the street. We are a ways back from the road. Thanks everyone for the advice.

Lyn - posted on 11/17/2010

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My boys are 4 and 7. We live in a ok neighborhood. We have a fenced in yard. I let them out in the backyard to play by themselves all the time! We have parents on either side of us who have kids the same ages. Someone always has an eye on the kids at all times. Besides my sons have big enough mouths and if something were to happen i'd hear it! I think it depends on how much you trust your kids. Now i won't allow them to play out front by the street without someone with them since our street is like a drag strip for speeding cars. I always go over the rules any time they play outside and if they aren't willing to play by the rules they can't go outside. I know your son is only 3 but go over the rules with him let him know where you are going to be and if he needs you he can come get you. Reaffirm he is not to talk to strangers or leave the area he is playing in. It all comes down to trust. Trust him and trust your instincts as mom.

Candy - posted on 11/16/2010

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I dont think they are ever old enough. Even if mine were 9,10,11 etc. I would be sitting on the front porch watching. I really dont thin a 3 year old should be outside alone no matter how often you check on them.

Jodi - posted on 11/15/2010

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I feel that regardless of your community, 3 is a bit too young to be out by oneself. But, that's just me. I happen to have two convicted pedophiles (and not the highschool love story statutory rape pedophiles either, 60 year old men and little little kids!) who live right in the block (one is 3 doors down), so my daughter will not be playing by herself until she's AT LEAST 8!!! A lot depends on your child, on your neighborhood and what you're comfortable with.

Stifler's - posted on 11/15/2010

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Is this in the backyard or front yard? I would never let my kids play in the front yard and I was never allowed to play in our front yard as a kid as there are cars driving past and no fence. I don't see what's wrong with the backyard though.

Amanda - posted on 11/15/2010

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I'm a mother of 4 and my oldest is almost 7. I also do inhome daycare. We live in a small town and the park is only about a block away. My son begs and pleads to go ride around with his friends who are all the same age or a year older, and other parents tell me that he'd be fine with the group of kids but I still don't feel comfortable letting him go with the kids. He can play in our yard or ride around behind our house and the neighbors house, they all watch for him when they come and go. Other than that I don't want him riding around time even with other kids. You can't really trust anyone anymore. Better safe than sorry. My son was almost 6 about a yr ago and that's when he was able to play in the yard alone. Too much to risk if you ask me. 3 seems awfully young.

Bonnie - posted on 11/15/2010

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I think it depends on how safe your neighbourhood is and how mature your child is, although I feel 3 is a bit young. I don't think I will let my boys play outside alone until my youngest is at least 8 and that's just in the backyard. Out front or at the park probably more like 10 at least.

Nikkole - posted on 11/15/2010

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No way my kids are not going out by themselves till there like 12 lol its just not safe anymore even in your own back yard i hear soo many horror stories of kids getting taken everywhere and some moms are even close!!!

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