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

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.

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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!

29 23

i dont think you are overprotective at all..............

5 80

No, I think your smart

1 24

I always keep a watchful eye on my 3 yr old son. He's my only child. Something always goes wrong when I have my back turn. Children these days are running wild and aren't taught with manners. My son is like an outcast because I taught him to be a respectful gentlemen. I live in an OK neighborhood and have a yard with high fence all around. The neighbors "seems" nice but doesn't mean that I will trust my kid alone. It's very different world today.

279 28

Wow. This is SAD. Times are ABSOLUTELY NOT different than they were... except for one thing - the MEDIA. the MEDIA puts terrible scary child-related things in the forefront of our minds in expenentially higher numbers than they did in the 1980s, 1990s etc... I grew up in the 80s/90's and was playing in the pulbic park with other little kids by age 6 (my sister was 4!). My mom could see us if she walked outside or through our bedroom window, but never came with us. Kids NEEEEEEEEEED to be given chances to prove themselves. Thier whole self worth depends on it!! We are raising fearful children with no sense of esteem because we are lead to believe it is dangerous for them to be anywhere out of our sight! There are sooooooo many valuable cognitive things children get from unsupervised play, where they can do things they would otherwise NOT do or say with an adult present. Without these opportunities, (safe risks we call them) that development is squandered. Do you HONESTLY believe your child will be kidnapped, killed, run over etc while playing alone or with a sibling or freind in your backyard while you are doing the dishes, or reading a book in the livingroom? Do you think they'll never come home TRULY if you allow them the independance to walk to the corner store alone?? You cant live life like you're going to die. And you cant live thier lives like that either. They deserve your trrust, and the opportunity to flourish fully. Please, let up. I beg all of you parents.

29 23

Well, people can call me over protective if they wish but I do not trust my 3 yr old and I don't trust my 6yr old (well I do with some things but not in for this type of thing) My kids always try to do things they aren't supposed to do after I tell them what the rules are, kids are always going to test their parents...............I am not going to hoover over them all their lives, once I feel like they are mature enough to do certain things I give them the opportunity to do those things....but i'm not going to trust that my 3yr old is going to come inside and tell me that a man was trying to take her away, because chances are he will just take her and she wont have the opportunity to come and tell me anything...............My children are my world (and i'm sure every parent in this discussion feels the same way about their children) but I don't trust the world at all, my children are still learning that there are bad things and bad people, they don't have the right mentality to make those judgements right now..............they do what looks and sounds fun.............I will "let up" on my children as they grow and mature.......I don't have much of a backyard, and what I do have isn't fenced. When I did have a fenced yard I did let them play outside while I did dishes and checked on them often, but in the place I am now it isn't possible. I keep my son active in sports, he is able to play among friends and enjoy himself. I will also do the same for my daughter...............They have friends that come over and I dont sit in their rooms while they play, they have small responsibilities here at home that make them feel good about themselves and they feel good when they do well in school or in sports. I wouldn't be happy if the teachers just let them play at recess without some supervision so in my opinion I don't expect to be any different at home. Did you read the story about the 8yr old Jewish boy that was allowed to walk a few blocks for a trial run for his parents to feel comfortable?? First time he was allowed to try it he was kidnapped, and dismembered.............i'm sorry I don't want that to be my kid. I had them to raise them and protect them and that is what I will do.

29 23

And Tiffany this was in know way meant to be a rude response to your response.............I think all children and situations are different........some children are more mature than others, locations are different, and situations are different, my response is just a personal decision based on my environment

4 0

Things are how they used to be, we just know about it instantly now. All mothers should know that the most common person to abuse your children are people that they already know. Too many moms think that someone is going to snatch up their kids. Statistically, thats extremely rare. Your new boyfriend is 95% more likely to hurt your kids than any stranger walking down the street. If your child is unsupervised, they are more likely to get hurt rather than get snatched up by a child predator. I dont think any child under the age of 8 should be unsupervised (playing alone away from home) at any time. There are many 10 year old not mature enough either. In this case a mother needs to use her judgement, and hopefully she has talked with her kids about how to be safe first.

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There is no such thing as "overprotective." You are "protective" - and good for you! There's no excuse for lazy parenting. Bad situations are a numbers game; why increase your odds? Good for you!

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I agree... my son is 8 and my daughter is almost 6. I don't let them go outside un attended. and I won't still for at least a few years. I was a child in the 80s as well, and we were outside all the time. Of course, we lived in the country and our neighbors were like family, so we were seemingly safe. We still weren't allowed to go far enough that we couldn't see the house, or mom and dad couldn't see us out the windows. But there is no way I could do that with my kids. I live in the city now, and I don't trust anyone. Our neighbors are great, but they shouldn't have to watch my kids either. I see kids all the time riding their bikes, or runnin around or at parks without grownup supervision, and they are only 10 or 11 years old. I just won't be able to do that. I'm with you completely, I'd rather be safe than lose my child. and if someone wants to ever call me overprotective, I'm okay with that, because I don't ever want to lose a child, especially if I should have been watching them.

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you don't have to but I think it's healthy and teaches independance. Just be smart about it.

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you don't HAVE to but I think it's healthy and teaches independence. You just have to be smart about it

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I also want to add that just because you feel confident enough to let you child play unsupervised does not mean you are a lazy parent....at all. I think it's wrong that the "overprotective" parents are implying that the parents allowing their children more freedom are lazy. My mom let me and my brothers play outside unattended with our friends from the time we woke up until it was time to go to bed (with the exceptions of coming back for lunch and dinner) and she was NOT a lazy parent at all. It was good for us, it taught us independence among other things.

29 23

Lacy, I think it just depends on what type of child you have, and where you live..............everyone has a different situation. You can't expect that a parent of a 4yr old would feel just as safe letting their child play outside unsupervised outside of an apartment building on a busy city sidewalk as they would in a rural country setting on 10 acres. It all just depends......thats the way I see it.

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I agree with you one hundred percent Amanda. Under no circumstances does a child -have- to be allowed out to play unsupervised, ESPECIALLY in this day and age. A friend of a friend's little girl was just taken from her home on the 14th. IMO mothers who allow small children out unsupervised, or let thier small children walk home alone from school (I Have seen it as young as 5 and 6 in my own neighborhood) need to have thier heads examined. I think they tend to have this "It can't happen to me" frame of mind, and it CAN. Even when we lived in a gated housing development, I never let my children play outside in the front yard alone (read: ever lol), though many did. And I am speaking of very young children, 6 or 7 or 8 years old. As if someone can't just leap over the gate or fence the gate is attached to. My current neighborhood there is a neighborhood blockwatch, and 3 police officers our HoA fees pay extra to to drive around and patrol our neighborhood, and I will -still- not allow my children to play in the front yard unattended. Or ever, really, I just dont think the front yard is a place for children to play, because you still have idiots who speed through neighborhoods at 40 miles per hour, etc. Having said that, I don't really let them outside in the back to play that often either, without supervision. There is still potential dangers, even though we tried to child proof as best we can, but there is a shed they can get into with a lawn mower and power tools, though we do have a padlock for it, im sure its just a matter of time before one of the little stinkers figures out how to open it. My fiance is allergic to bees, and we usually have bees year round. We dont want to risk finding out the hard way if either of the kids picked up his allergy. Though we get less in the winter, obviously. From time to time I will let my daughter go play out in the backyard if I really want to get things done around the house, but thats double checking all the gates, the locks, opening every single blind in the diving room and off the sliding glass door so I can get a clear view of her. But Im always making sure she is within my line of sight at all times, and even then... Im checking every 5 minutes or so lol. A little paranoid I suppose, but when something like a child abduction happens to close friends, it brings it home. Having said all that, I think it is acceptable around the ages of 12+ to allow the child some freedom to play with friends and not have to have a parent "cramping thier style" but making sure there is still a way to keep in touch.. cell phone, beeper what have you.

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I just saw this comment from Tiffany. You're mom was just.. well im not gonna say it, most of us know what I am thinking. I was born in 1978, and my mother NEVER EVER let me play out front unattended. She NEVER let me go to my friends house by myself until I was 10 years old, and i had to call her as soon as I got to that house, which was around the corner from ours. I had another friend who lived 2 houses down, and she would watch me walk over to that house to be sure I got there safely. At that point, we would play in her front yard, which was grass and not full of dog poop lol. But her parents/grandparents were always looking out the windows to watch us and every so often would make sure by opening the door and coming out front. It is INDEED a very different time we live in the reason there is more news from the media is because there are MORE child-related crimes happening. You can pretend its not happening all you want but I will protect my children with every fiber of my being as best I can, and there is NEVER a NEED for them to play unattended, unless maybe in one's own back yard. But my daughter is 4 and my son is 18 months and I will be DAMNED if I let them go anywhere together by themselves. In this state, they can arrest your ass for CHILD NEGLECT, children who are TOO YOUNG to really be outside because they can not be counted on to make smart decisions, or the right ones, such as looking both ways to cross the street. I dont know about your state, mine has heavy child protection laws and we need them, we I believe, are one of the top states for abduction, molesting, etc. Hell I myself was raped twice as a teenager so DONT tell me "its not that bad."

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Well, in point of fact, times have changed since the 80s, and abduction and other dangers are far less today than before. It is so weird how people love to be frightened! Especially moms. It starts with pregnancy (wine will kill your baby! deli meat will kill your baby!) and builds...

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Its already been said, but just to reafirm the point; statistically children are no more in danger today playing outside than they were YEARS ago. Of course how you let your children play is up to the individual, but the fact is, that it was as true 50yrs ago as it is today that physicall, sexual, emotional and mental abuse, and murder of children is much more likely to be at the hands of a relative or person close to the child than a stranger. just because these things are more widely reported in the media doesn't mean it happens more often. However, sheltering your children too much can have negetive consequences. Not allowing a child independance can lead to insecure and naive adults who are totally unprepared for the adult world. Not allowing a child any freedom, then at 18 saying "here you go, this is the world" cant be a very good idea, can it? Surely, allowing small amounts of freedom gradually increasing over time will alow that child to build up a wealth of experiences, and coping stratergies that will be extremely valuable later on. our job as parents (as i see it) is not just protecting our children from all the possible dangers of the world, but to make sure that we raise emotionally healthy, secure, productive members of society with the skills and abilities needed to live the best possible life. Not everything can be learnt through teaching, some things have to be lived.

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This post and a lot of the responses made me happy. I notice it's a few years old but happy to read there are people that think like me :) I see too many saying aww let them be kids. They can be kids without having to wander the streets alone! I was a child of the 80s and I was allowed to play in our large fenced in back yard without adults. Guess what, my mom told me years later she stayed in the kitchen most of the time so she could see me. When neighbor kids wanted to play I'd ask my mom and she'd watch me walk to their house. We almost always played in the backyard. It wasn't until I was about 12-13 that I was allowed to ride by bike to a friends about a mile away, and I always had to call when I got there. My mom was pretty "over" protective according to a lot of responses here and elsewhere on the internet, but look at me - I grew up just fine! Happy and healthy. So why do other people always want us to be less protective parents? I don't worry about what other people do with their kids and wish people wouldn't worry about mine. They are going to grow up just fine.

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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!

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Sounds pretty safe to me!

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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...

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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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No your right kids are not as safe as they once were and I am going to do whatever I feel I need to do as a parent. We were older when we had a child 40/42 she is our only one and we will do whatever necessary to keep her safe. She is comfortable at this time with the rules and until she isn't we will cross that bridge when we get to it.

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yes amanda your right. elizabeth smart was taken from her bedroom. jaycee lee dugard was taken while walking to the bus stop. she was 1/2 a block away from her house. and not to put you guys down because i agree with you, but her step father was watching her walk to the bus stop when it happened. a car pulled up and he tazered(sp?) her then pulled her in. so no matter how vigilant you are it can still happen.

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It is so scary to think about things like this

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I hope none of you are over looking the fact that it's FAR more likely that someone you know and trust (such as a family member or good friend) would kidnap and/or molest your child. It's easy to blame the "stranger" because no one wants to think someone they know could do such a thing but statistically speaking more kids are kidnapped or molested by family and friends of the parents than by total strangers....not to be a debbie downer or anything.....

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Who said we are ONLY worried about strangers? Actually there are some people I know that I do worry about because they know where I live! So all the more reason to keep a watchful eye.

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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.

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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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as long as the yard is child proofed and gates are locked whats the problem?

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Sarah, love it! I did the same, again in a safe and secure backyard. Katie, your dog is more likely to attack your child than he is to be taken by a stranger.

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Yep, my little girl has been in the back yard with our dog from 18 months. But "alone" means that I check every few minutes as I do chores. Now at three I check her about every 6-10 minutes, but when her 4 year old cousin was in town, they disappeared and we only checked every 15-20 minutes. Usually they came skidding back through the living room more frequently than that...

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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.

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Well said.

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Thank you! I do judge people, though. I hate it when people say "it's so much more dangerous now" because that is simply unsupported by any data in the US. And I like people to be accountable to facts. All these late in life one kid helicopter moms make me feel a little crazy...

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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.

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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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It's not only our responsibility to supervise our children, it is also our responsibility to teach them. I agree with your comments. If my child has consistently demonstrated that she has good judgment, makes safe choices and knows how and when to seek help then she can go outside alone with guidelines about where she can go and for how long. Physically watching your child wont prevent someone from abducting her or her getting injured.

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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.

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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

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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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Thanks :) I think at some point they have to be given some independance, he always thinks he is playing out "unsupervised" but in fact there is always some one there to watch lol. As he is older i wil let him stray further from home. I will add that playing on the street today is no more dangerous then it was around 17 years ago when i first did it. its just that with media reports we hear alot more of it now. Most kids i knew started walking to school on their own when they were atound 7/8 years old, i wonder if any one would let their kids do that at such a "young age" nowadays? (i was 11, mum was overprotective lol) x

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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!

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Well put!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 :)

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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!!

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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

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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.

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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.

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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!!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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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I completely understand. My 11 yo has autism, and he wasn't allowed to play outside alone for a long time because he'd run off. Now he understands that he has to stay within a certain distance of the house, and he always asks if he can go outside first so I know where he is at all times.

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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...

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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.

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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!

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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. :)

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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 :)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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I think it really depends on where you live and how mature your child is. We’re hoping to move from a quiet family-friendly suburb to an acreage with fences, wide open spaces, and few (if any) neighbors.

I understand that children are harmed and kidnapped everywhere, but being out in the country there’s quite a lot more freedom to do as you wish. As much as I’d like to protect my baby from every little hurt and fear, it’s not going to happen. She’s going to get stung by a bee, trip over a tree root, crash her bike, bump her head, fight with bullies, etc....that’s just part of life and she needs to develop good coping skills (with our guidance). Plus we’ll have trail cameras to put up all around the property, and have several guns at our disposal should something happen to her (don’t bother arguing with me about gun laws/safety/hazards, my husband is military as well as an avid hunter, and I have undergone all the legal work and the class).

All that being said, I’ll let my child play outside alone probably by age 5. I’ll still peek at her from a window and check on her once in awhile though just so she knows I’m not far away. There will be boundaries to where she can wander, of course, and immediate consequences if she tests me. It’s scary but necessary to give her independence...I don’t want her to grow up to be an anxiety-ridden recluse with low self esteem, and trust issues.

To sum, depends on where you live but I’ll let mine play outside alone at 5 when we’re living out in the country. Will often check on her, give her boundaries, and swift consequences for testing the limits. Hard as it is for me, she needs to explore the world for herself with me watching at a distance until she’s in middle school.

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We moved to a neighbourhood where there are many kids living around and when my kids come from school or on the weekend they play outside with our neighbour's kids soccer. They both are having fun playing outside I just want to know is it fine or safe for them in the future?

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I was a mother of 4 and as of March 23, 2012 I'm a mother of 3 living children! My son Tyrone Ronya Bowers Morris Jr was hit and killed by a Ford 150 pickup truck on Davenport avenue in Hainesport NJ, in his fathers custody with no supervision! My son was born on May 29, 2006 he was 5 years old! He endured so much pain he didn't make it in the helicopter his bones were so fragile and his organs so young that he couldn't hold on! That is what I think about when I think about that day! I'm saying this to get the attention and awareness that this behavior from parents is unacceptable "OUR CHILDREN NEED TO BE MONITERD IN OR OUT THE HOUSE"'! If you wanna hear more about my sons story inbox me! P.s the state of NJ will give physical custody to a man who clearly has history of negligence which a child of his own paid the price for his lack of knowledge! You give a child an inch they will take the mile! Duhhhhh

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Lynaise, I am so very sorry for your loss.

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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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