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POLL: What age do you allow your children to go out without adult supervision?

Poll Results: At what age do you start to allow your child/children to go into a business district (i.e. downtown) without adult supervision (with other kids)?

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14 Total Votes  
post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

At what age do you start to allow your child/children to go into a business district (i.e. downtown or nearest businesses to your home) without adult supervision? I am specifying that this is with another kid/s because, presumably, that would come before going alone.

Edited by mmjones - 2/11/14 at 7:05pm
post #2 of 15
Hmm, this could mean anything from a half mile walk to a movie theater and local ice cream shop in a safe small town, to a bus ride in a busy, large, confusing major metropolitan. I can see a 5ish year stretch between when I'd be comfortable with those extremes.
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 

The question specifically says "Start." The youngest age for the first of those activities. I would think you could just answer for your town and the nearest businesses to your home, but really what ever the scenario that you would START your child on.

Edited by mmjones - 2/11/14 at 7:13pm
post #4 of 15
We move frequently and are never really familiar with any 'downtown' area so that's a difficult question to answer. It also depends on which child, a few of my children are more responsible and a few a more, um, carefree.

If we lived in Mayberry, a stone's throw from a small town business district, we knew everyone well, the kids were very familiar with the area, they were in a large group, and were making a quick outing (like walking up the street to pick up a snack) with older friends maybe 7 years old.

If we lived outside NYC and a not very responsible 17 year old wanted to ride the subway in for a day trip with a friend or two I would probably say no.
post #5 of 15

I had a lot of freedom as a child. Probably too much at times! My friends and I wandered around our neighborhood from the age of 5 or 6...As we got a little older we would sometimes venture down to a busy industrial area a few blocks away, and a beach. 


I started taking public transportation at about 14 and I would go to NYC on trains and subways too. I think the key was that I was always with friends.


My son is not the most social kid and prefers to be by himself. If he had more friends, perhaps I would start experimenting with letting him hang out without parents. When he was 10 I invited a few friends to a movie. One parent was fine with me dropping them off and waiting in the lobby, the other wasn't, so I went into the theatre with them. 


We don't really have a very kid friendly downtown. It's mostly restaurants, bars and shops. There are also some high crime areas surrounding our downtown. I could see kids hanging out at the outdoor mall village more than the downtown area. I would say during the day would be best (the rowdy older teens come out at night). I could be in the same general area shopping and set up a meeting time and place...I agree it also depends on the kids. Some kids are more mature and responsible than others. I think my son is ready for something like this at age 11, and my daughter will be even sooner.

Edited by jmarroq - 2/11/14 at 8:42pm
post #6 of 15

Growing up, I had complete freedom by age 2.  I was navigating the entire city of St Louis and Chicago by age 8.

How I survived that I'll never know.  I'm glad I had the opportunity to do it.  But, I don't understand why my Mom allowed it.  I was honestly lost so many times as a toddler,and I can remember several times I had to be brought home lost and alone....it didn't bother me either.  To me it was just normal.

I let my daughter have free run of the neighbor's farm when she was seven.  But, the neighbor girl's dad was almost always nearby, and I could see them from the balcony.   

I let her go to the mall with friends (I drove, but let them walk around alone) when they were 12.  

post #7 of 15

Downtown business district for us is too far for them to bike (now aged 7 and 9) and neither are competent on the bus or train without me. So I have no idea. As far as walking to the local playground and playing on their own, or walking to a friends house, since they were 3 and 5.

post #8 of 15
My dd started at age nine but in a very small business area. I don't think she's ready for the downtown area alone yet and she is 11. I do let her go off and do her own shopping at the store.
post #9 of 15



for various reasons.


- dd is a mature, responsible kid. she has never broken safety boundaries i have set.

- she is big for her age so looks more like 14/15 (someone thought she was in university - that is stretching it a bit too far i would say)

- she desperately wanted to do it. we were in a new city with an excellent, excellent public transport system. we had already been taking public transport together for a week. we took the same bus that passed downtown. so dd was familiar with it. 

- i felt she was ready for it. I was ready for it. even though we were in a new city we had already been there a week. dd had already gone for many walks in the enighborhood by herself. she was familiar and confident enough.


result : dd came back soooooooooo proud. she knew i would be worrying so she didnt stay out v. long. she came home earlier than expected (we had set the time and thankfully its towards the end that i realised she had forgotten to take her phone). she went to her favourite book store, got a bubble tea where we had had some before, and got a book and her favourite udon restaurant and had a v. spicy bowl (we had eaten there earlier).


the first time is the most important time. once dd did it it no longer was a big deal. she went down a couple more times but prefered the local library and local shops and did not  venture down to downtown again. mom its actually quite boring. you can do xxx, and xxx, and xxx. so i did it all. now what. there wasnt much else to do anyways. 

post #10 of 15

DD1 started walking down to local businesses a couple blocks away at 9. By age 10 she was responsible for riding the public transit or riding her bike to and from practices a mile away. She is 11 now and does go downtown alone with friends and by herself sometimes to run an errand. 

post #11 of 15

I voted 6 because that is when we began allowing our son to walk around our block, and two sides of our block are part of the neighborhood business district.  He was not going farther away until he was 8, and so far he still isn't allowed to go to the far end of the business district, almost a mile away.  He's been alone on these walks and has always been fine.  So far he does not go into the businesses; he's just walking for fun.  Our next step is for him to buy something at a store on our block.  Then we'll let him go one block further north than currently allowed so he can get to the supermarket.  I'm hoping to get him successfully doing that this spring so that when I'm with the new baby, I can send him for groceries!  But we won't push it if he's not ready.  He likes the walking but is shy of interacting with cashiers, etc.


He won't be going to other neighborhoods, alone or with friends, until he's 11 or 12, I think.

post #12 of 15
I wish we lived in a place where I felt safer. I was allowed to ride my bike all over town (a 5 ish mile radius) at 9. The next summer, I was allowed to cross the two major roads through town, doubling my territory, and giving me access to all shops. (The summer I was 9, I spent at parks, the library, and the two fast food options on my side of the road.). In my own neighborhood, I had a newspaper route of over 100 papers before I turned 9.

I give my kids what freedom I can, but we live in a big small place. Hard to get to know people, and transient enough to feel sketchy about some people. I do send the older two (8 and 6) aheadof me from the parking lot to the soccer field, several football field lengths and out of sight away. Lots of trustworthy adults around, but it gives them 15 min or so on their own.

I have been thinking about this a lot. How to protect them, and yet let them go.
post #13 of 15

I voted 12 because that's when we started letting DC walk to the little ubran village down the street from her school. It would be earlier for us if we lived in a neighborhood where more kids walked to our shopping center (or DC goes to school in another part of town).  We also don't live in an especially safe/comfortable city for this, although choices about when kids can walk/city bus tends to vary quite a bit as well. When visiting a safer town, DC was going for icecream with friends (some even younger than her) by age 5. 


As far as just playing in the neighborhood, DC has been doing that since she was 5, around the bock, down to friends and etc. She walks to a friend's house that is a couple blocks away. If doing that she calls me when she  gets there/leaves to come home. 

post #14 of 15

Ds was 9 when we started letting him walk to the gas station or park without an adult.  He usually went with friends, but occasionally went alone.  He's a big picture kind of kid and very safety conscious, so I don't worry as much about him.  Dd will be 9 in the fall and I'm not sure she will have the freedom he does.  She's very stubborn and would likely choose what she wants to do over what she's supposed to do.  

post #15 of 15

I had free run of my neighborhood starting at 4 or 5. Though I highly doubt my mom ever knew how far me & the neighbor kids went. Certainly farther than I'd feel comfy letting my own kids go unless they could demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that they were capable of making smart/safe choices. Where I live now the streets are fairly busy but there's a grocery store only 2 blocks or less away that I would let a 5 or 6 yr old go to if they were confident enough to go by themselves-no street crossing involved. Downtown is about a mile and a half and pretty quaint though still very busy...I'd probably let a mature/motivated 9 yr old go that far especially if they had a friend that was mature as well. 

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