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Old 06-14-2014, 05:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Primer for "big kid" outdoor play?

So, this is going to sound dumb, but I need some tips and advice for dealing with the new world of my 4 year old playing outside with the neighborhood kids. I'm just not quite sure how to approach it, or what the rules are supposed to be.

Should the play be supervised or unsupervised? (DD's playmates are both almost 4. One of them plays outside on her own with a grandparent checking in frequently. The other can come outside with her older brothers and you don't see a parent for hours, but I never see her outside by herself without a parent. My DD is allowed to play alone in the backyard, but not the front, but the other kids are allowed to play in the front.)

What do you do when the neighbor kids won't listen to you? (A particular problem with the less-supervised kiddo. I'll ask her go home because we're having supper, and she just flat out refuses. Ummmm...This one also treats me like her mother and requires a LOT of attention, so it's more like babysitting than supervising.)

Is it kosher to let them inside the house without letting their parents know first? Particularly for use of the bathroom? They seem to like moving in a troop...

How do you deal with your children playing in other kids' yards when their family's boundaries are looser than yours? I hate to be setting all sorts of restrictions on my DD's neighborhood play, and I really want her to be able to go with that flow. BUT. When she goes next door, I know there will be no supervision, and that kids are allowed to play near and even in the road. Plus there are a few boys over there that are just...mischievous. This is the family who shares our yard, so it's very hard to set a boundary for my DD. She's allowed to play over there when the kids AREN'T out, so I can't really tell her it's not okay when they are, can I? But I also feel like it's totally weird for me to go over to another family's house and supervise the kids.

Anyway, I'd love to get some BTDT advice about how you all managed the transitioned from "little kid" outdoor play when they need you a lot to "big kid" outdoor play where they are more interested in other kids than you. This big kid thing is feeling very new.
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Old 06-14-2014, 06:10 PM
 
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Our DC is 3 and we are transitioning to outdoor alone time. I would say that I am probably the more relaxed family in many respects - but not all.

I'd like to give a bit of support and perspective of the family who lets the 4 year old play with siblings. We do that and it feels like a really good way to function as a family. It's one of the perks of having older siblings!

I can't remember when I was OK with my child going into the neighbor's house w/o asking but I think it was probably over 4 and, honestly, even at 12 I like my DC to tell me when she's going into a neighbors house. To me that's just a way to be contentious and aware that I do check from time to time and I don't want to go hunting through neighbors homes. ;-)

I have a sort of relaxed preference that my kids play in our yard when they are not playing with the kids from other yards. I don't actually care if other kids play in our yard but I feel vaguely uncomfortable with my kids in other people's yard when they aren't there with them.

When my kids are playing in other people's homes I am generally a "house rules" person.

That said, I also like the idea of neighborhood rules. The kids in our neighborhood are outgrowing some rules the neighbors made together (no going down the hill to the public side-walk near the road). If it weren't for my 3 year old, I'd probably be fine with relaxing the rule but I just told the neighbors that I would prefer to keep the old rule for the sake of the youngest neighbor. They were all agreeable and understanding.

As for the front yard/back yard thing -- I think I would just tell the neighbor kids that your child isn't allowed to play in the front and if they want to play with your child they will have to come in the back. Likewise, if your child is not allowed to do something that other kids are doing in the neighbor's yard, I think you can just tell your child to come home.

As far as a neighbor not listening, I think maybe I would be very firm. "It's time for you to go home now." I would continue to give the child a clean slate each new day but I don't think I would have the energy or patience to deal with rudeness from a neighbor.

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Old 06-15-2014, 11:00 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by IdentityCrisisMama View Post
Our DC is 3 and we are transitioning to outdoor alone time. I would say that I am probably the more relaxed family in many respects - but not all.

I'd like to give a bit of support and perspective of the family who lets the 4 year old play with siblings. We do that and it feels like a really good way to function as a family. It's one of the perks of having older siblings!

I can't remember when I was OK with my child going into the neighbor's house w/o asking but I think it was probably over 4 and, honestly, even at 12 I like my DC to tell me when she's going into a neighbors house. To me that's just a way to be contentious and aware that I do check from time to time and I don't want to go hunting through neighbors homes. ;-)

I have a sort of relaxed preference that my kids play in our yard when they are not playing with the kids from other yards. I don't actually care if other kids play in our yard but I feel vaguely uncomfortable with my kids in other people's yard when they aren't there with them.

When my kids are playing in other people's homes I am generally a "house rules" person.

That said, I also like the idea of neighborhood rules. The kids in our neighborhood are outgrowing some rules the neighbors made together (no going down the hill to the public side-walk near the road). If it weren't for my 3 year old, I'd probably be fine with relaxing the rule but I just told the neighbors that I would prefer to keep the old rule for the sake of the youngest neighbor. They were all agreeable and understanding.

As for the front yard/back yard thing -- I think I would just tell the neighbor kids that your child isn't allowed to play in the front and if they want to play with your child they will have to come in the back. Likewise, if your child is not allowed to do something that other kids are doing in the neighbor's yard, I think you can just tell your child to come home.

As far as a neighbor not listening, I think maybe I would be very firm. "It's time for you to go home now." I would continue to give the child a clean slate each new day but I don't think I would have the energy or patience to deal with rudeness from a neighbor.
Thanks, ICM. I was feeling like my concerns were possibly too overprotective, but it sounds like you have a pretty similar outlook on it, and I think of you as a pretty relaxed/free range mama.

I'm actually pretty cool with the neighbor's little girl hanging out with her brothers (8 and 6 years old-ish) and no parents; I'm just not really cool with MY daughter hanging out with them! She's not too savvy in the ways of older kids, especially boys, and I know that their mom isn't really checking in on them much. Sometimes, too, the cousins and aunt are over and "watching" the kids, and I do not get a good impression from that family, so without knowing which adult is in the house, I have a really hard time letting my DD play over there.

The last time we had the little girl over, she was NOT cool with the idea of running back to her own house to go potty, and pretty much forced her way into the house over and over again and was very hard to get back out. She IS 3, after all. So that part of things is really awkward for me. She's a lot more headstrong, and I think used to a bit less in the way of boundaries, than my kiddo, so she doesn't respond well when I try to direct her.

I'm also really conscious of the fact that my own DD still is a bit needy for adult attention, and I don't want to put another adult in the default position of mothering her.

I feel like lately I just spend a lot of time sort of doing nothing for hours while I keep an eye on my kid playing with the neighbor's kids! I think that might just be the way of it until they're all a tiny bit older. I LOVE the idea of her wanting to spend hours and hours just playing outside with the kids. But...I just kind of wish I didn't have to be there, too!
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Old 06-15-2014, 01:00 PM
 
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Ok, I have a better picture of where you're coming from with your 3 year old neighbor child. My DC is 3 and LOVES, loves, loves going to the neighbor's house (they have a dream play-basement!). If I weren't there to limit how free my DC feels about going into their house, I'm afraid she would move in. So, yea, I totally feel for you if you have a 3 year old free-range kid who is always wanting in to your house and whose parents aren't there to help mitigate that. I'm not sure how I would handle that. Again, with neighbor kids I tend to be pretty blunt and firm because they are just different from friends who come for playdates. One thing I would consider is telling the 3 year old that she needs to go get permission and that you need to hear that from her parent before coming in your house. That seems a totally reasonable rule (it is one of ours). It may be that that level of the parent needing to interact will naturally limit the amount of time she spends over at yours. It may also establish that you feel this is a good neighborly practice and something that perhaps the neighbors will do for you if your child should ask to come into their house.

All of that said, she should be going to the bathroom at her own house. I kind of feel like neighbor kids playing outside in the summer should use their own home for snacks, drinks, bathroom, hand washing, towels, first aid, and all of that good stuff. To me, this is the beauty of neighbor kids.

My DC was 2+ 3 months last summer and I spend A LOT of the time outside. I do think that is just the way it is during these transition periods. This year I have more freedom to be inside with the windows open but I do feel I have to check in after a short while of not hearing my DC. I also feel kind of uncomfortable if the neighbor parents are outside -- a little like they are feeling like they have to supervise. I tend to be outside doing chores when this happens.

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Old 06-15-2014, 01:59 PM
 
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These are the general rules in our street. Keep in mind it is a cul de sac and most of the kids are school aged, with 3 little kids, and it is a new area so a lot of people, me included have only partial fences, or no fences yet, no grass. Mostly they play in the street and front drive ways/ yards unsupervised, sometimes back yards, but they are mostly boring as just dirt. Everyone pees, gets a drink and eats in own house, unless someone specifically brought out a treat for the neighborhood. No going in the house unless you are invited and you check with parent first. Generally everyone s outside, not inside. My youngest, 4 can play outside without a parent if siblings out or if I am coming outside in thenext 10 minutes or if I am watching from the window. He has a defined boundary he can't cross. when my older 2 were little they didn't go outside much unsupervised because they were the only preschoolers and had no big siblings, but did go in back yard alone.
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Old 06-15-2014, 08:01 PM
 
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We have several preschoolers and kindergarteners in our neighborhood. My son is four years. Parents are out and supervise their children. Usually if the children are in their own yards we are welcome and free to join, parents are present. My neighbor's child is five years and when our children get together we both are there to watch over our children, even if older siblings present. As far as eating and pottying, so far it is in their respective homes. They are young though, so not at all on their own.
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Old 06-16-2014, 02:52 AM
 
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Ours are all a fair bit older, but there is still that sense of negotiating new rules once they are out alone.

I think mine were about 4/5 when I started letting them out in the front with the door open, but me inside.We have a pretty big driveway but they were not to go out onto the road (on trust as there is no gate).

I really prefer the kids to stay around here so I can keep an eye out, I'm not really ready for my 7 year old to go off with a group of children without some supervision, though I do let him for very short periods.

The local rules seem to be its OK for the kids to play in front yards, but if they are going to go into a house or back garden then pop home and tell the parents. I've even sent them home with a note of my phone number as I don't know the parents of most of these children.

I'm fine with kids coming in to use the toilet, rather that than they had an accident. Unless the kids have invited a specific child home then I require them to stay downstairs, and usually stick the stair gate up to make the point.

I do occasionally go out with a bowl of popcorn and a jug of water but mostly they go home for snacks.

My current issue is that some of the neighbours have recently got a dog, and let the dog play out with the kids. I'm not happy for my kids to play out with the dog. It's still a pretty lively puppy and I've not seen much evidence of training yet (certainly doesn't seem to come back when called!). Without adults around it doesn't feel like a good situation.
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