Children who are let out to play unsupervised grow up to be healthier - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 114 Old 12-27-2007, 03:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/com...cle3097463.ece

Interesting.

The bit about the flashers made me giggle, I remember us perfecting the point and contemptuous laugh at around that age...These days parents would probably put a kid in therapy if she saw a flasher.
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#2 of 114 Old 12-27-2007, 03:56 PM
 
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that is interesting. Nearly half of children 8 to 11 were never allowed out of the house without an adult? Wow!
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#3 of 114 Old 12-27-2007, 03:59 PM
 
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great article. I totally agree with its point.
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#4 of 114 Old 12-27-2007, 04:10 PM
 
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I disagree with the article. The title was noteworthy...
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#5 of 114 Old 12-27-2007, 04:12 PM
 
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Cute! While I totally think the article has a point, I struggle a bit. Mostly because in the culture of my town, DC is likely to be stopped by a "well meaning" stranger wanting to know where her mommy is. DC was in Germany this summer and went for ice-cream with a gang for kids between 2.5-7!! It was wonderful. I think it's illegal here. : - (

We are taking the lead with allowing DC some freedom in the neighborhood - by far. The reactions from fellow parents sometimes makes me question myself tho.

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#6 of 114 Old 12-27-2007, 04:14 PM
 
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Makes total sense.
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#7 of 114 Old 12-27-2007, 04:15 PM
 
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I further think that the biggest difference between “these days” and better days is not an increase in risk but a huge increase in artificially stimulated alarm, boosted by prurient gawping at the occasional, albeit dreadful, tales of a Sarah or a Madeleine, whose agonies handily provide an excuse to impose a constant, intrusive and ultimately counter-productive adult presence upon children who deserve better.
I'm so glad that somebody is saying this.
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#8 of 114 Old 12-27-2007, 04:16 PM
 
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I don't agree with the article either. I don't think the point is that a child has to be out alone, I think the point is that a child from the time they are little needs to be given lots of open ended toys and time in the outdoors. My child can have supervised but non-intrusive play outdoors when I'm gardening and she's wandering around in her own little world, or I'm right inside the window peeking out or sitting reading while she plays. A parent's supervision does not have to mean the child can't be in their own little creative world.

Children not playing outside by themselves is not the problem - children who don't know how to pay by themselves is the problem. Children growing up with things that entertain them from dance classes to karate to video games and battery operated dolls and cartoons and.... on and on - those are the problem. Not saying all of those are bad all the time, but when most of the child's time is consumed with something to entertain them, and most of that entertainment is indoors, that is the problem.
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#9 of 114 Old 12-27-2007, 04:19 PM
 
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children who don't know how to pay by themselves is the problem.
I completely agree with you.
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#10 of 114 Old 12-27-2007, 04:27 PM
 
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I think the alone part is important when it comes to dealing with life on your own. From the crotchety lady down the road to a person asking for directions. It's just different when your parent is there watching. It seems a shame for kids not to have that.

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#11 of 114 Old 12-27-2007, 05:08 PM
 
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I suddenly feel like a much better parent. I give my kids a lot moer feedom than most parents; at least on here. i always feel so neglectful but I also remember running all over town from the time i was about 5 years old. with a pack of other kids. yeah we made all kinds of trouble and it is a miricle no one ended up in the emergancy room. but those were valuble times.

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#12 of 114 Old 12-27-2007, 05:15 PM
 
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I don't agree with the article either. I don't think the point is that a child has to be out alone, I think the point is that a child from the time they are little needs to be given lots of open ended toys and time in the outdoors. My child can have supervised but non-intrusive play outdoors when I'm gardening and she's wandering around in her own little world, or I'm right inside the window peeking out or sitting reading while she plays. A parent's supervision does not have to mean the child can't be in their own little creative world.

Children not playing outside by themselves is not the problem - children who don't know how to pay by themselves is the problem. Children growing up with things that entertain them from dance classes to karate to video games and battery operated dolls and cartoons and.... on and on - those are the problem. Not saying all of those are bad all the time, but when most of the child's time is consumed with something to entertain them, and most of that entertainment is indoors, that is the problem.
I totally agree with this. I'm much more overprotective of my kids than my dh is. We grew up basically the same with lots of unsupervised time to play by ourselves. Our 5 year old is perfectly content playing outside out of our sight. Dh is also fine with this but it freaks me out a bit.
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#13 of 114 Old 12-27-2007, 05:19 PM
 
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I'm a firm believer in benign neglect, so this makes sense to me.

ETA I like this quote:
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It would, of course, be ridiculous to suggest that they be left to run feral. But there is a difference between intervention when it is needed and interference as a default position.
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#14 of 114 Old 12-27-2007, 07:38 PM
 
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I think the author is right that increased adult interference is, at least in part, a governmental thing. This article helps explain why my friend had CPS called on her for letting her children, between the ages of 3 and 7, play in their own yard while she was in the house.

It boggled my mind that anyone would even make such a call for this reason, and it boggled my mind even more that CPS would respond to such a call. But the caseworker insisted, in his conversation with my friend, that anytime a child's outdoors an adult needs to be out there, too.

I realize 3-7 is younger than the 8-11 the article was focusing on -- but these small children never left their yard, it's not like they were out roaming the city ... I was shocked to learn this could even be construed as neglect.

I believe in always being available to my kids, and attentive when they want/need my attention. But I agree with the author that they need the freedom to branch out as they're ready, and as they express the desire to do so.

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#15 of 114 Old 12-27-2007, 07:46 PM
 
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yeah we made all kinds of trouble and it is a miricle no one ended up in the emergancy room. but those were valuble times.
My sister and I each ended up in the emergency room once as children. Both incidents happened in our back yard, with my parents both present. We ran around the neighbourhood a lot, and never hurt ourselves then.

I hate that I don't give my kids as much credit as my parents gave me.

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#16 of 114 Old 12-27-2007, 08:09 PM
 
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I don't agree with the article either. I don't think the point is that a child has to be out alone, I think the point is that a child from the time they are little needs to be given lots of open ended toys and time in the outdoors. My child can have supervised but non-intrusive play outdoors when I'm gardening and she's wandering around in her own little world, or I'm right inside the window peeking out or sitting reading while she plays. A parent's supervision does not have to mean the child can't be in their own little creative world.

Children not playing outside by themselves is not the problem - children who don't know how to pay by themselves is the problem. Children growing up with things that entertain them from dance classes to karate to video games and battery operated dolls and cartoons and.... on and on - those are the problem. Not saying all of those are bad all the time, but when most of the child's time is consumed with something to entertain them, and most of that entertainment is indoors, that is the problem.


I agree.
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#17 of 114 Old 12-27-2007, 08:20 PM
 
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I think it probably depends on where you live. Where I live, my daughter can play in the yard without me so long as she's within view out the window. When she's 8, I won't mind if she goes up and down the street without me, so long as she stays on our street. But my neighborhood is self-contained, we all know each other well, this is a small town where everyone knows everyone, and we have a very low crime rate. In different circumstances, I would almost certainly feel differently. Also, there's a causation/correlation problem here. Maybe the kids who are allowed to roam around unsupervised outside are allowed because they are in circumstances like mine, in which case they probably are at a level of affluence relative to mine, and in which case their schools are probably at a quality relative to ours, and in which case they can probably either afford a SAHM like me or quality and beneficial childcare rather than the childcare usually available to people in worse circumstances, etc. Those kinds of things could have caused the differences in the study as easily as outdoor unsupervised play.
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#18 of 114 Old 12-27-2007, 08:27 PM
 
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What a great article! I am lucky to live on a cul-de-sac and we have 14 kids from toddler on up. There are usually at least 5 of them outside at any time during daylight, non-school times. They are usually unsupervised but my dd knows that she has to stay with them and there needs to be at least one older kid present. It's great because they play all the traditional things like jump rope and kick ball and use sidewalk chalk. THey have bike/scooter/trike races, play hide and seek. I love it. I noticed that the family whose kids are not allowed to go outside unsupervised are not nearly as social when their mom agrees to let them outside while she's working in the yard or something. They are hardly around because when they out of school they are usually in some supervised class or activity.

When the little ones play outside, we always have at least one or two neighbors on lawn chairs chatting and keeping a loose eye on the kids. I remember the days when I could bike with my friends all over the neighborhood. When my dd is older I will let her do that with a group of friends, but not as freely as I did. I was allowed go to the local park and the KFC and even the mall!

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#19 of 114 Old 12-27-2007, 09:02 PM
 
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mamazee - i don't know. i grew up in poverty and that is exactly why I had the freedom I did. because we didn't have a sitter most of the time in the summer/holidays. we lived in a little dirty town outside of Dalas with lots of crime. and i am sure the places we rode our bikes were sketchy at best. Some of the running around we used to do was to get my neighbor ciggarettes.

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#20 of 114 Old 12-27-2007, 09:16 PM
 
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I am pleased w/ the article because I am constantly being chided for being "so relaxed" with our son. Everyone here is petrified of "stranger danger" and their children are never out of their site, never ever. I do admit to being less relaxed then my folks (I had cousins 2 miles away that I walked to on my own at 4/5. This was with woodsy cut thru's and parts on an open road.) but I still give my child plenty of freedom. We live in a rural area w/ a state park as a back yard. He is often out there alone, playing w/ the dogs, riding a bike, playing on the swingset, etc. He walks to the neighbors on his own and while I can technically hear them I can't see them. He knows to give me holler when he gets there or to have the mom call me if its winter and the windows are closed.

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#21 of 114 Old 12-27-2007, 10:46 PM
 
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Like most things, I think the important part of this in an attachment-parenting-way, is considering what are the needs of the kids.

My six year old is such an extreme extrovert, to play outside without company for him would be a tortuous event. It's not that he doesn't know how to do that--it's that his personality is such that being alone is unpleasant for him. He would not be comfortable.

Even with friends over, I try to stay close by--there are numerous instances where the kids need help navigating some situation or another. I feel like it would be a disservice to them to impose a situation where they needed to figure it out on their own.

I don't know. I AM that mom at the playground who's following my kids around loosely on the equipment. There are so many instances where my kids and other kids have turned to me for help b/c I'm the only adult available, or I've had to intervene in some kid trying to whale on mine. It's just not been my experience that kids do better faring for themselves in these situations. Given the choice, it seems that many of them are looking for an adult to help them. I guess if folks are comfortable with that, then that's their business, but I always find it curious that the ones who say they're not right there also assert that the kids are just fine and not needing help--uh, how would they know?
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#22 of 114 Old 12-27-2007, 11:16 PM
 
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My child can have supervised but non-intrusive play outdoors when I'm gardening and she's wandering around in her own little world, or I'm right inside the window peeking out or sitting reading while she plays. A parent's supervision does not have to mean the child can't be in their own little creative world.
Yep. A parent can be present without hovering or even being involved in the child's play. And a child can be free and exercise his/her independence without being alone.

I think the main issue now is that parents are all over their kids at all times, constantly intervening in everything they do. DS doesn't go to the playground much anymore, but I remember when he was smaller and we used to go and there was a constant chorus of "No!" "Share!" "UP the slide, not DOWN!" "You're supposed to do it THIS way!" "Take turns now!" Parents can be such downers.
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#23 of 114 Old 12-27-2007, 11:31 PM
 
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I do let my 8 year old and 4 year old play outside unsupervised. That said, there are often a few parents outside at any given time and we all sort of look out for one another's kids, but we rarely interfere unless someone is in danger or hurting someone else/themselves. I also do look out the window or open the door and check on them every now and then but I think it's good for them to have a little independence.
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#24 of 114 Old 12-28-2007, 09:55 AM
 
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The article is correct that I had a lot more freedom to roam the neighborhood.

I am lucky that I live on a block with a lot of kids ranging from 5 - 14. There is always a bunch of them outside doing something. We parents make periodic spot checks to make sure all is right with the world and then go back to what we were doing. My sister was visiting yesterday with her 2 children (6 & 8) and the kids went outside to play. My 9 year old asked if they could go down the block (we live on a dead end) and I said sure. My sister looked a little paniced when she couldn't see them. I told her they walked to the end of the block, but don't worry, I told them to stay away from the river. It is not often a younger sibling can get in a zinger. Anyway, the kids were fine. Where my sister lives you don't let the kids off your property. It's just not done.

I do believe that kids need freedom but I also believe that the amount of freedom can be dictated by the neighborhood you live in.

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#25 of 114 Old 12-28-2007, 10:07 AM
 
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I guess if folks are comfortable with that, then that's their business, but I always find it curious that the ones who say they're not right there also assert that the kids are just fine and not needing help--uh, how would they know?
Maybe they know because, like me, they're always available and their kids always know where to find them?

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#26 of 114 Old 12-28-2007, 10:08 AM
 
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I don't know. I AM that mom at the playground who's following my kids around loosely on the equipment. There are so many instances where my kids and other kids have turned to me for help b/c I'm the only adult available, or I've had to intervene in some kid trying to whale on mine. It's just not been my experience that kids do better faring for themselves in these situations. Given the choice, it seems that many of them are looking for an adult to help them. I guess if folks are comfortable with that, then that's their business, but I always find it curious that the ones who say they're not right there also assert that the kids are just fine and not needing help--uh, how would they know?
I'm that Mom too and yeah I agree. It's not that they don't need help - it's that someone else is helping them!

A few weeks ago though I was at this playground and a young girl (about 6 probably) had gotten stuck in the monkey bars and was balling her eyes out calling for her mother. Her mother was lounging on a chair and without looking hollered back "you're OK!" So I helped the girl down and her Mom looked over just as I was putting her daughter down and ran over and shot me the most awful look, like this:

I hate the playground.

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#27 of 114 Old 12-28-2007, 10:47 AM
 
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Like most things, I think the important part of this in an attachment-parenting-way, is considering what are the needs of the kids.

My six year old is such an extreme extrovert, to play outside without company for him would be a tortuous event. It's not that he doesn't know how to do that--it's that his personality is such that being alone is unpleasant for him. He would not be comfortable.
You know what monkey's mom, and that's really just the bottome line. It's not about "hovering parents" or "helicopter Moms". It's about meeting the needs of your Kids.

My DS is also an Extreme Extrovert. Extreme. It's NOT meeting his needs to be left alone without company for him. (Company) preferably either DH or Myself. That's just who he is.

One size does not fit all. I have to really hold tight to that phrase when I read articles like that.
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#28 of 114 Old 12-28-2007, 11:01 AM
 
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One size does not fit all. I have to really hold tight to that phrase when I read articles like that.
That's a good point.

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#29 of 114 Old 12-28-2007, 11:03 AM
 
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This is a very interesting thread.

When I was little I was also a roamer. The neighborhood, the woods, we'd go to the corner store sometimes. I am so hesitant to let dd go for a walk around the neighborhood with her friend and not me. I don't KNOW if this is an unreasonable fear. I was okay doing it as a child, why wouldn't she be? Yet, still when she asks to go for a walk I ask her to stay where I can see her (there's a road she can walk down in front of our house that I can see her for about 7 house lengths). I worry about somebody snatching her up (shes 10 and wears size 6x, petite child). So, how do you get to a point that you loosen that leash and let them go unsupervised? At what age did you begin allowing your kids to roam the neighborhood? I know I was doing it when I was 7, but that seems awful young.
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#30 of 114 Old 12-28-2007, 11:04 AM
 
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Sigh. Another writer who obviously lives in a suburban cul-de-sac with a fenced in back yard. Back in the 1970s, most of us grew up in this environment.

Perhaps this person should try living in an apartment in the center of a city (and in a commercial rather than purely residential area) with a few kids in tow. I would then be interested in how she felt about sending the kids out in the street to play.

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