6 year old need advice, Is this OK! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 23 Old 07-14-2010, 02:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My almost 7 year old wants me to give him a little more independence. He is an only child and I work from home, I don't make enough to afford childcare or a summer camp. So of course he is bored out of his mind.

About a block or two away is a park where all his school friends play at. All his school friends also live on the street next to the park. He wants me to let him ride his bike to the park and play with his friends unsupervised. We live in the city and the street in-front of the park is busy, however a cross walk does exist. We have walked together to the park many times and we have gone through the routine of the crosswalk and watching for traffic.

Is this ok, is he at the right age? He is already very independent. He knows our phone number and is well aware of stranger danger.
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#2 of 23 Old 07-14-2010, 02:36 PM
 
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I would say let him go. I would recommend getting him a walkie talkie or a cell phone to take with, in case of emergency (either yours or his) but I think it's fine. When I was 7, I rode all over my neighborhood.

My only caveat would be the safety of the park itself. I would suggest, if you are unsure about the park, to make sure it's not someplace that druggie teens and such hang out.
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#3 of 23 Old 07-14-2010, 02:42 PM
 
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It depends on your child and the safety of the neighborhood. Some 6yos need an adult supervising the play, ready to break up conflicts as they occur. Others are fine without that. Similarly, some kids are good about following traffic safety rules while others might dart across traffic if they're not with an adult reminding them not to.

Age six is old enough for SOME kids to go the the park alone, but not all. You also run the risk of a "busybody neighbor" deciding your'e being negligent and calling CPS on you, even if your child isn't actually in any physical danger.

Do his school friends play there unsupervised, or are their parents/babysitters watching them? You might want to talk to these other parents and ask them to keep an eye on DS while he's there without you. (This will also minimize the chance of one of them calling CPS.) OTOH, if his classmates are playing unsupervised, I'd feel better about letting him go independently.

I would suggest an intermediate step before letting him ride his bike to the park alone. You walk or drive him to the park and leave him there, with instructions to come home at a specific time (or with instructions to stay there until you pick him up at a specific time, or he calls you from a cell phone when he wants to be picked up.) This way he gets to play at the park while you can get work done, but he's not going there "all alone" quite yet.

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#4 of 23 Old 07-14-2010, 02:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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yes, i think it is ok too. We dont have a walkie talkie but that is a really good idea, I will buy one. The park is family oriented and not many teens hang out there. Since it near a busy street it not quite that discreet. I think im going to have a talk with him about the rules send him with my phone number in his pocket and tell him to return back at a certain time, he has a watch. If he proves that he is responsible than we might do this more often. I also will probably walk over there a few times to check on him. Its scary though giving him this much independence but I believe it teaches him to be responsible and street smart.
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#5 of 23 Old 07-14-2010, 02:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruthla View Post
It depends on your child and the safety of the neighborhood. Some 6yos need an adult supervising the play, ready to break up conflicts as they occur. Others are fine without that. Similarly, some kids are good about following traffic safety rules while others might dart across traffic if they're not with an adult reminding them not to.

Age six is old enough for SOME kids to go the the park alone, but not all. You also run the risk of a "busybody neighbor" deciding your'e being negligent and calling CPS on you, even if your child isn't actually in any physical danger.

Do his school friends play there unsupervised, or are their parents/babysitters watching them? You might want to talk to these other parents and ask them to keep an eye on DS while he's there without you. (This will also minimize the chance of one of them calling CPS.) OTOH, if his classmates are playing unsupervised, I'd feel better about letting him go independently.

I would suggest an intermediate step before letting him ride his bike to the park alone. You walk or drive him to the park and leave him there, with instructions to come home at a specific time (or with instructions to stay there until you pick him up at a specific time, or he calls you from a cell phone when he wants to be picked up.) This way he gets to play at the park while you can get work done, but he's not going there "all alone" quite yet.
I would suggest an intermediate step before letting him ride his bike to the park alone. You walk or drive him to the park and leave him there, with instructions to come home at a specific time (or with instructions to stay there until you pick him up at a specific time, or he calls you from a cell phone when he wants to be picked up.) This way he gets to play at the park while you can get work done, but he's not going there "all alone" quite yet.

I like this idea too!
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#6 of 23 Old 07-14-2010, 06:37 PM
 
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Making sure it's legal would be my first step. In our state, we couldn't do that until DC are 8, which I find absurd, but there you go.

Beyond that, DS (5) has been wanting more independence lately. We often walk around a 3-block area that is pretty slow. He is now allowed to cross those streets without us if he's ahead of us. He thinks that is wonderful and so very grown-up. I've found with him that it doesn't take much to make him feel that I'm treating him more like a "grown-up."

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#7 of 23 Old 07-14-2010, 06:45 PM
 
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I wouldn't. At that age, I just don't feel like my child is equipped to handle the 'what ifs' that could come up in such situations. He could be fine under normal circumstances, but if something went wrong.... I don't feel confident that he would know how to respond.
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#8 of 23 Old 07-14-2010, 10:01 PM
 
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Personally, I wouldn't do it. (it's illegal in my state, anyway)

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#9 of 23 Old 07-14-2010, 10:45 PM
 
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I wouldn't let a six year old go to the park alone, especially if it is known for having unsupervised children. In some places known and unknown child molestors hang around parks. It is very unlikely that your child will be snatched but why risk it with a child who isn't even old enough to be left home alone. I would be more worried about traffic safety, especially with a young child who may act on impulse. Many kids that age still hold their parents hands and have to be prompted to look both ways before crossing. Our neighbors daughter almost got ran over when she reacted on impulse and ran across because she was going to do something fun with a friend a few years ago, the car had to screech to a halt and her dad flipped out, and my dd (7) got distracted by a friend and started crossing when a car was turning just last month. I think you should check into the laws regarding latchkey kids in your area and check around to make sure CPS isn't frequently called on parents who leave their kids unsupervised. My neighbors had the police called on them when they were letting their four year olds play in their front yard unsupervised.

Are there things you can do around the house to let him feel more in control of his life? I give my dd a lot of say in our lives, responsibility, and an allowance to help her feel like the independent child she is. We are also getting a fish when we move in a few months and it will be her responsibility to care for it, my friends son loved having a fish to be responsible for (he now has a crab and loves that as well).
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#10 of 23 Old 07-14-2010, 11:56 PM
 
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personally i wouldnt.

like i have told my dd - i would totally do it if it wasnt illegal in our state.

if a cop saw my dd ride alone and even though my dd could say everything right, chances are CPS might be called on me.

and i have explained to her that even though personally i dont have a problem, i would not let her do it because there is a chance that she could be taken away from me. 20, 30, 40 years ago i wouldnt even ask such a question.

in todays legal world - NO WAY!!!!!

however because i express the reason why - my dd finds it hard to accept but does accept it. and i dont come out looking like a villian.

we didnt have a car for a long time. so at 2 i had supreme confidence that dd could cross the road alone. i had all that because we would change roles before crossing streets. she would be the mom and i would follow without saying anything. and sure enough time in and time again she always showed how responsible it was. in fact she was the friend who taught her visiting friends road safety.

but does that mean i would let her cross alone at 2. i still would not do it because she hadnt developed an instinctual response but being near a busy road would not make me more careful. if she ran ahead and crossed before i did i would not mind. however she is v. precise and would never cross till i was with her. so i never got to trust my reaction to her crossing alone.

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#11 of 23 Old 07-15-2010, 02:10 AM
 
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I wouldn't be comfortable with it. My 6 yo dd would be fine as long as everything was going well. If some type of bad situation came up, I think she would have a hard time.
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#12 of 23 Old 07-15-2010, 04:14 AM
 
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I would do it with my child. So much depends on the child and the situation. I think if you went over some basic rules and worked up to it, it would be fine.
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#13 of 23 Old 07-15-2010, 05:52 AM
 
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No way. I'm not comfortable with that.

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#14 of 23 Old 07-15-2010, 01:35 PM
 
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Though it is obviously is very dependent on the individual child, I'm guessing that your DS seems mature enough to you or you wouldn't be asking us, you would have just said "no" if you really thought he couldn't handle it. 6 or 7 yo is about the youngest that many kids would be ready for this.

I'm with Ruthla on the halfway step. I would walk with him at least till you could see he was safely across the busy street. I would want him to call some of his friends first to make sure at least one kid he knew would also be at the park. I would want him to have a phone and call me before he wanted to come back home, so I could meet him at the busy street.

If that went well for a while I would gradually let him be More independent about going. I would want him to walk there independently for a while before I'd let him do it on the bike. Riding the bike along/across the busy street is more dangerous than walking across in a cross walk.

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#15 of 23 Old 07-15-2010, 01:37 PM
 
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Living in the city would make me feel safer. Depending on the crosswalk, and who he's playing with, I'd let him try. If he doesn't follow whatever rules you lay out, I'd keep him home for a while, then try again later.

I agree with the walkie talkies. It's nerve wracking at first when you let him go by himself, but, it gets easier.

I was leery of letting my daughter go to the park with friends, but there wasn't a crosswalk, and I had to hope she had common sense, and nobody was speeding down the street.

The only problem she and her friends ran into (everyfreakingtime) was older kids picking on them. It's like being in 8th grade turns kids into jerks until they get into high school. The older kids took their soccer ball, and harassed them on a regular basis.
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#16 of 23 Old 07-15-2010, 10:42 PM
 
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The traffic would be my concern. I would do an intermediate step, like Ruthla suggests. What if you walk with him but remain silent and walk behind him? (I have done with this with DD.)

I have been letting DD cross our street to get the mail for about a year now. I often don't even watch, but one day I was out there with her and a car she was waiting to pass stopped for her and waved her across, which totally confused her. She went and stopped and went and stopped. It made me realize that she could easily get flustered if the whole shtick didn't go as she expected. Gave me pause.

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#17 of 23 Old 07-16-2010, 08:06 AM
 
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I would. The thing that I would be careful about is biking. Young kids tend to do better walking and watching traffic, as opposed to concentrating on biking and watching traffic. Has he been biking for a long time, a skilled biker? Can he succesfully gage the speed/distance of traffic in relation to his bike? If not, I would let him go, but walking there instead. I'd have no issues with most 7 yo being out with his friends, esp. since many live on the street. 2 blocks isn't far.

We have the same setup - bunch of houses with kids, playground around the corner, and I let my 5 yo and 3 yo go over there by themselves. I even let them bike there - but this is 100% on the sidewalk, no intersections, and in a very very low traffic neighborhood. If there were any intersections, I wouldn't let them bike there alone. My 3yo has just learned to bike, she can't concentrate 100% on other bikers, people or traffic.

IMO, 90% Depends on your childs personality. My 5yo bikes home from school, which is 12 blocks, but I am with him (I might be 3 blocks away and he is a spec in the distance, but I still see him. However - I can't reach him ultra quick. But I let him do this because of his personality - he is so cautious, he 110% of the time stops at all intersections and waits until all traffic is clear. My DD is only 3, and I don't let her do this, because of her personality - she thinks she is invincible and she will just bike out in traffic. If she still has the same attitude when she is 5, she won't be biking alone then either. A lot of it is personality.
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#18 of 23 Old 07-16-2010, 03:57 PM
 
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i definitely would be ok with this. if his friends are there unsupervised too, i'd set some strict rules about how long he can go, and the boundaries of where he can go and what he can do while by himself (like if all his friends decide they want to go to the convenience store, or someone's house?). if his friends are there with some parents, just call one of the parents and ask/let them know that your son will be there unsupervised, could they keep an eye on him?

it's only two blocks and as long as you feel comfortable with his ability to follow instructions (be home by X, cross the street carefully etc) there wouldn't be a doubt in my mind. my absolute biggest concern would be him deciding to go somewhere else with a friend without thinking to tell an adult first.
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#19 of 23 Old 07-17-2010, 09:57 PM
 
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I might do it.

First of all I really like the idea of taking the intermediate step of walking him there and back but letting him play there by himself.

Also I think I would only be comfortable if there were other people he knew at the park with him, ie. if he was in a group of friends/neighbour kids (or at least one other kid). I think there's strength in numbers, yk. So maybe what I would do is have him call up a neighbour friend to see if s/he wanted to meet him there. Or just walk over to the park but not leave him alone there unless some of his friends were there.

I have an almost 6 yr old dd and her best friend (my best friend's ds) is almost 8. We feel comfortable with them (together) at the park directly across the street from my friend's house if we're at the house in the front yard (we hang out on the front porch) keeping an eye out. A park that is out of sight would be a little out of my comfort zone, but then again my dd is younger (still not 6) and our area is busy (traffic-wise and with a popular shopping street one block over).

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#20 of 23 Old 07-17-2010, 10:28 PM
 
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The first time I let my dd ride across the neighborhood to her friends house right next to the park, I told her to call me as soon as she got there and again right before she left. She was just going there for a short time, and we discussed the route she needed to take. I know it takes no more than 5-7 minutes to get from here to there, so I could look for her. We gradually built up from there.

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#21 of 23 Old 07-18-2010, 08:36 AM
 
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Sometimes people think things are illegal that are actually perfectly lawful.

I am not suprised if things are moving in that direction, though. Saddened but not suprised.

If it's illegal to have a six year old play outside by himself in a neighborhood park in your state, could you please post what state you're in?
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#22 of 23 Old 07-18-2010, 09:02 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pigpokey View Post
Sometimes people think things are illegal that are actually perfectly lawful.

I am not suprised if things are moving in that direction, though. Saddened but not suprised.

If it's illegal to have a six year old play outside by himself in a neighborhood park in your state, could you please post what state you're in?
I think the general thought is that perhaps it is illegal for a 6 year old to be unsupervised, as I would well agree it should be. I can see where playing at a park can seem like sort of a grey area, but so many laws are that way.
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#23 of 23 Old 07-18-2010, 09:12 AM
 
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I would try to make contact with the parents of one or two of the kids he wants to play with and ask if it would be okay for you to walk over with him, and if their child is out, have them stick together until one of them is done playing...then if nobody else is there to play with, your son could call you on the walkie and you could walk over to pick him up....that way he is never walking alone back and forth to the park. This way you know when he is leaving the park to come home; you know he is not hanging out there alone; and people will not regularly see him walking back and forth by himself.

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