When Can They Play Outside on Their Own? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 52 Old 01-19-2010, 04:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My oldest is three, so I'm really just gritting and bearing it for when I can say, "Everybody out!"

When were you able to say it? I mean, obviously it depends on the child, but what I'm asking is, when did you toss yours out on the sidewalk and let them have at it?

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#2 of 52 Old 01-19-2010, 04:23 PM
 
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I think it depends on where you live

Right now we are in a fairly urban community, but our kitchen overlooks a small, fenced in backyard. Would I let my 2 year old DD out there while I was in the breakfast nook cleaning something? Probably because I can see her every move and she's likely to hang out with her sandbox.

I also think it depends on the kid?

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#3 of 52 Old 01-19-2010, 04:37 PM
 
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I think this comes down to two main things...

1). The child

and

2). Where you live

At three - for us - my son was out playing on his own. I am assuming you mean front/unsupervised rather than enclosed back garden right? As for enclosed back garden, my son was out there playing on his own since he could move there himself. This too though was also down to my son (his personality/temperment/capabilities/etc). (and he couldn't move out there on his own until he was about a year and a half anyhow as he was pretty late in the physical get up and go department...gets the 'lazy' from his father lmao)...

In the front - he was just a bit under three. It started with fantastic weather and me being able to leave the front door open (as he wanted to be out there and I didn't). So it was semi-unsupervised. I could be in the kitchen (window faces right out front) and watch him whilst making the lunch or sit in the doorway with a book or the laptop! lol This worked.

It really also has been a really slow natural moving process for him. He started epressing an interest in playing out front. He didn't want to play out there long - just long enough for me to make the lunch...he didn't want to go far either - about a yard away from the open front door...to, gradually, further and further...and this all has matched his age and capabilities I feel. When he started wanting to go out of eyesight (we have a little foresty big next to the house that is so FUN for anyone to play in! lol) - he was old enough for us to talk about other things (like how not to walk away with anyone but me and how he can run right back to our house (its like only 5 yards away tbh) if he feels uncomfortable, etc). And - for me, most importantly, if I should out 'Duncan - you okay?'...to give me an answer back (I can then guage if he really is and tell where he is about...he was 4 in September and I am not comfortable with him being farther than where he can hear me shout and this is consensual for the time being! lol)

We live at the end of a cul-de-sac though away from any main roads. Quiet area - out in the country/middle of nowhere -where everyone knows your name type of town. So this has worked for us. Last summer, when he was nearly four - he even made 'friends' with the neighbour hood children and was running up and down our little cul-de-sac road with them for hours in the warm summer sun for the afternoon. It was nice. How do you think this baby was made? lmao

And generally - as a boy, he is pretty placid and cautious and a perfectionist. He wouldn't do something unless he was 100% sure he could and comfortable with it. He is very road wise, etc. So that part of it plays into our comfort levels too! ...if any of these things were different, then the situation would be too!

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#4 of 52 Old 01-19-2010, 04:42 PM
 
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For me, it's between 2 and 3 years old.

We live out in the country and our driveway is 1/4 mile long, so I'm not very worried about him going down into the road.

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#5 of 52 Old 01-19-2010, 04:46 PM
 
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We live in an area where everybody has seven foot block walls.

I don't have a pool, keep the yard free of dog poop, and have no dangerous things in the backyard. (the backyard is actually safer than the house)

So, if they can get out... crawling, walking doesn't matter, they can go out without me. As long as it isn't hot.

But, if I had a huge yard, or it wasn't properly fenced, I would say it depends on the yard, and the child.

Playing out front is different entirely. (to me) I didn't let my daughter play outside without me until she was about eight. And, even then, I watched through the window and hoped she didn't see me.
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#6 of 52 Old 01-19-2010, 05:05 PM
 
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My ds will be 7 in a couple of weeks and I'm just not comfortable yet. I agree it depends on the kid and the area.

The closest he gets to being out "on his own" (in front) is us watching as he walks to a friend's house about three houses down. We don't go in until he does and we come back out at the time he's supposed to walk home.

I'd be comfortable with him playing in the fenced in backyard alone for bits of time but that's where our dog does her business a lot of the time so it's just too much of a minefield.
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#7 of 52 Old 01-19-2010, 05:08 PM
 
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I think it really depends on the child and where you live.

We live in an apartment community with many other children who are ds's age, and go to his school. A little over a year ago all he was allowed to do was go back and forth between one friend's apartment (she lived very close to us) ... but now, at age 7 and in 1st grade I'm pretty comfortable with him going to the playground with his friends, riding his scooter around the complex and going to 3 different friends houses (I'm in contact via phone or txt with the Moms each time). He's definately out of sight, but I can either call for him at the park, or make a call to one of my friends to have him come home.

We live in a residential (apartment) area in an upscale part of town with no mapped sex offenders. I guess that helps me feel comfortable .. but more than anything I know I can call for him and he'll hear me .. or I can call or txt the Mom home where he is, and she'll send him home. I like being able to give him some freedom to "roam" .. even if it is all pretty close to home and supervised.

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#8 of 52 Old 01-19-2010, 05:09 PM
 
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My oldest is 7 and has been going out on his since 5ish. We don't have a fenced yard, we live in the country, but on a main road, so it took me awhile to get comfortable with it.
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#9 of 52 Old 01-19-2010, 05:20 PM
 
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We have a relatively small, fenced in backyard and DS and DD1 have been playing out there since the summer she turned two, they are currently 5 and 3.5. When she just turned two I would sit out on the back deck with my book or a laptop, then as she got older I would let them play while I was in the kitchen (could see through the sliding door and window). Now I'm comfortable with them playing outside when I'm in the family room, dining room, or kitchen (all with doors or windows overlooking the yard).

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#10 of 52 Old 01-19-2010, 05:37 PM
 
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We live in a urban semi-commercial area. I will let my two kids (aged 2 and 5) play in our small side yard. It is fenced in with a 7 ft fence and has a gate that they cannot open (and cannot be opened from the outside). Besides that I do not let my 5 yr old play outside alone (and definitely not the 2 yr old!). We live on a busy street with a narrow sidewalk. Around the corner it's a shopping street with tons of people and again lots of cars. In the other direction it's more residential and at some time in maybe a year or so (we'll see) I'll feel comfortable having dd walk to the corner store (which is in our block on our side of the street). Besides that there aren't any friends or parks or anything close enough that I can see be comfortable letting her go to on her own for a good few years.

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#11 of 52 Old 01-19-2010, 05:46 PM
 
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we don't have a backyard, just an unfenced front yard, driveway off to the side of the house and a small (7 ft x 10 ft) back patio. Our house is on a dead end street off of a main road and is on a hill. If I am in the front yard, I can't see the driveway, etc. Being on a dead end street we don't get a ton of traffic, but enough - garbage trucks, UPS, mail truck, neighbors coming and going, etc, etc. Last summer I was ok with DD in the driveway if I was in the front yard or on the back patio, etc. I would also go into the house and get a drink or go to the bathroom, she was 3.5 at the time. This summer I'll have an infant so I see her getting a bit more freedom as I go back and forth with the baby, but completely unsupervised? Maybe 5 or 6 depending on her maturity level - aka can she get out of the street when she sees a car coming, will she even notice the car or be too absorbed in her play, does she know not to chase a ball down the hill and into the main road, not ride her tricycle on the hill only in our driveway, etc.

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#12 of 52 Old 01-19-2010, 06:35 PM
 
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I was letting dd1 out in the front yard by herself last summer.
She was 2.5 then.
But our front yard is fully fenced. She has a big swing set/gym in there that can keep her busy. As well as the sand box.
She has always been independent. She is a very focused child and I know that she can do the same thing for a long time. I always had the front door open so I could hear her if she called.
I also have a big dog that barks when someone she doesn't know approaches the house.

I also look after another one 2 days a week. But I am not comfortable letting him out alone. I just feel he is not ready.

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#13 of 52 Old 01-19-2010, 07:46 PM
 
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My ds was able to be unsupervised last year when he was 6. It is still hard for me to do but I have to be strong and not hover too much.
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#14 of 52 Old 01-19-2010, 08:09 PM
 
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for my dd it was about 3 and then for the other two it was about 2 with a sibling.

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#15 of 52 Old 01-19-2010, 08:18 PM
 
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My place isn't fenced but it's a little off the beaten track, ds COULD go down the driveway or off into the woods i suppose but he's not a wanderer. and i'm not in an area i'm worried about anyone taking him.

He started playing outside alone at 2 with me leaving the door open so i could hear him. I check in vocally every 10 minutes or so but generally he makes his presence known. A friend of mine made a little leather belt that has a small cow bell on it, when ds was on the younger side of two i put it around him so if he did wander down the driveway i could hear him leaving.

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#16 of 52 Old 01-19-2010, 09:55 PM
 
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Depends on where you live and the kid.

I'm comfortable running inside to grab something for a second while DS is busy in the fenced backyard, but I won't do much more than that. He can unlock the gate and will run away if given the chance, he doesn't really care about staying out of the road no matter how much you explain the consequences of going in the road. He will inevitably get into trouble if left unsupervised anywhere, inside or out, for too long so I keep an eye on him.

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#17 of 52 Old 01-19-2010, 10:15 PM
 
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I've been fine with my kids playing outside alone from a very young age (younger than three, for sure) in a fenced yard. My oldest is almost 9, and I still don't let him play outside the fence. If I was still in the US, I might, though. However, my son's limited Spanish and the fact that kidnap for ransom is an actual industry here means that I just don't feel it's safe.
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#18 of 52 Old 01-19-2010, 10:25 PM
 
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For me, we just started to let ds, age 5.5 outside unsupervised after many discussions about what to do if a teen or adult approaches him on foot or in a car, even if he knows them, he is to come into the house. If it is someone he knows, it is to let me know, "Hey, Mom, so-and-so is here, I'm gonna play/chat with them/pet their dog/whatever." If it is someone he doesn't know, then he lets me know that and I check on it. I also leave the door open so I can hear him and I check visually every few minutes.
I know my particular child is very good about not going into the street so I don't worry about that. I worry more about strangers, even when there aren't registered sex offenders in our area. There are lots of sex offenders out there who have never been arrested, let alone "registered".
I am also more comfortable letting him outside after we've had a big snow. Then there is very little traffic on our street and lots of neighbors out with their kids playing and shoveling the snow.
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#19 of 52 Old 01-20-2010, 04:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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. I am assuming you mean front/unsupervised rather than enclosed back garden right?
Yes. For me, the backyard doesn't count as "outside alone" if I can see or hear them.

I mean like, walk to the park with a child of the same age.

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#20 of 52 Old 01-20-2010, 04:12 AM
 
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I agree that it depends on the child and where you live.

My son started going out front alone around 5. A little younger if he was with older neighbor friends. But we live in a city, and going out means going to the sidewalk. This factored significantly into when he started going out alone.

I am not sure what age he could walk to the park alone or with a friend. He's almost 7, and he could manage with his almost 9 year old BFF. But I'd still feel comfortable going with them.

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#21 of 52 Old 01-20-2010, 10:55 AM
 
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I have been wondering this too, and I guess that I am more overprotective than I thought I was lol. My son will be 7 in June we live on a corner lot in "town" our road is fairly busy- well at least I think it's busy, even though it's a neiborhood road it is also a connector between 2 major routes, so even though it shouldn't be people use it as such. I don't let him outside alone. I am just too worried he will lose his ball and cross the street without looking, or go with a stranger, he's not shy and doesn't "get" stranger danger no matter how much I tell him. I have been thinking about letting him try it this summer but it scares the crap out of me. It would be so nice if I could let him because he could be playing out in the snow instead of being "stuck" inside with me who is 9 weeks pregnant and feeling bleh. I think if our yard was fenced in I would feel totally different.

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#22 of 52 Old 01-20-2010, 11:00 AM
 
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My oldest son is 9 and I still don't let him play outside on his own. But for us, it's more a matter of location. I'd never chose to buy in this area, but it was the only house to rent in our price range when we were looking. There's two busy roads and a really nasty neighborhood not too far over. We have no fenced yard and little grassy area.

If I lived in a more rural area or a nice neighborhood, I'd have no problem as long as I had a general idea of where he's at. For me, It'd probably be 5-6 years old without supervision.

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#23 of 52 Old 01-20-2010, 11:00 AM
 
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Back yard - two I guess? Maybe even younger but there's nothing to get into trouble with there. Front yard, I think 4. If I remember right. By 4.5, she was going to the two or three close yards to play with friends if she wanted. Now, at 7 (8 in Feb.), she can go just about anywhere in the neighborhood so long as I know where she is.
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#24 of 52 Old 01-20-2010, 11:58 AM
 
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After what happened to this past Saturday, my kids won't be out alone again until they are MUCH older, if at all.

We have 12 acres in a rural area. DD is 4. We were outside playing and I ran in the house to get something for her. On my way back out, literally 1 minute later, I heard DD begin shrieking. I went running back outside with DS in the Ergo on my back and found DD pressed up against the side wall of the house with two huge dogs advancing on her. I started screaming for DP for help, and started towards them when they finally ran up my driveway and were gone.

Its one of the neighbors dogs. They are irresponsible people who don't take precautions to keep their dogs under control and this is the second time I've caught them on my property. This time I reported it to the dog warden and they are getting a citation and have to appear before the judge.

DP went to their house and flipped out on them. 2 hours later, the daughter drives up and asks me if I've seen them again. They were still running loose.

I really thought moving to the country would be so much better, I'd be able to have my kids outside without fear of cars, buses, creeps in the park, etc. Instead I have to fear my neighbors dogs ripping my 4 year apart. Thankfully, she didn't get bit this time. I'd almost rather have the damn cars and buses to worry about.

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#25 of 52 Old 01-20-2010, 12:32 PM
 
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In our fenced in back yard he was out last summer at 2.5y...the front is not fenced and although a very quiet street there is still a street and our driveway is shared with 2 other houses...it will be a while before he goes out there unsupervised.

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#26 of 52 Old 01-20-2010, 12:48 PM
 
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My oldest was 18 months when he started playing outside by himself. We had 3 fenced acres in a semi-rural area, and he liked to play on the patio. I could see him all the time, since there were lots of windows right there. My other kids have played outside with siblings starting around the same age, but again, I could pretty much see or hear them all the time. Like PP, I would leave the door/windows open in the summer, and keep going back and forth so I can keep an eye on them. I think it very much depends on the child and where you live. I am much more cautious now, because we recently moved to a neighborhood with a lake. I am paranoid of someone going out on the ice and breaking through, or in the summer, wandering out and losing their footing in the water.
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#27 of 52 Old 01-20-2010, 02:39 PM
 
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In the backyard (fenced)? About 2.

In the front (not fenced, quiet street), about 4 if they stay our yard, about 5-6 if they're out with friends. (But our dd, at 4, was out with her 7 year old brother.)

Truth be told, by the time that my kids wanted to play outside without me around, they were old enough! Ds isn't terribly independent, and so he was 3 or 4 before he'd be in the backyard by himself. He was about 6-7 before he stopped asking us to come out with him in the front.

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#28 of 52 Old 01-20-2010, 03:35 PM
 
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I'm liking this thread... I'm about the same on backyard, enclosed play. DS has been going out by himself since he could safely navigate the steps down from the porch (14 months???).

As far as going to the park with a friend, it would depend on the kid and the friend. My gut says 7, but that's so far away for me, I don't know. That's about when I was doing things like that myself. At around 5/6, I went to friends houses by myself, but farther destinations were more like 7.
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#29 of 52 Old 01-20-2010, 04:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am now thinking I should have put in a poll option with clear explanations. Ooops. I am glad to learn that it was not massively neglectful, however, to let my now-three toddle about by herself in a yard with non-fence physical barriers.

My three-year-old doesn't so much want to play alone as she wants to go to the park down the street (on a military base, but they don't check kids' IDs on the way out... or anybody's ID on the way out, for that matter) and I just don't have time to spend hours there.

It seems like in olden days, better days, where there were still pervs galore, but they weren't registered, there were more kids on the street, period. So you wouldn't feel like your kid was so alone if you sent her out to play. If I sent mine out, she'd be all alone. She'd be the only kid there!

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#30 of 52 Old 01-20-2010, 05:19 PM
 
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Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post
I am now thinking I should have put in a poll option with clear explanations. Ooops. I am glad to learn that it was not massively neglectful, however, to let my now-three toddle about by herself in a yard with non-fence physical barriers.

My three-year-old doesn't so much want to play alone as she wants to go to the park down the street (on a military base, but they don't check kids' IDs on the way out... or anybody's ID on the way out, for that matter) and I just don't have time to spend hours there.

It seems like in olden days, better days, where there were still pervs galore, but they weren't registered, there were more kids on the street, period. So you wouldn't feel like your kid was so alone if you sent her out to play. If I sent mine out, she'd be all alone. She'd be the only kid there!
sending a 3 yo alone to the park? no way, never. Forget about pedophiles, I'd be more worried about them falling and getting hurt or getting lost. I'd just try to make as much time to go there as possible.

Mom to Morgan 4-3-06 and announcing Baby Kelsey 4-11-10
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