May 03, 2007,
S. asks from Louisville, KY on March 11, 2007
Appropriate Age for Playing Outside Alone
I'm looking for advice on what age is appropriate for playing outside alone. There are some kids in our neighborhood that are 5 and 6 and they are often outside with no apparent adult supervision. My son is 5 and I don't feel comfortable letting him out alone, and I feel responsible for keeping an eye on the other kids if I go out with him. Sometimes they'll come over and ask if he can play and we say no because my husband and I have other things to do indoors. Just curious about others thoughts on this.
S. answers from Louisville on March 13, 2007
Thanks for asking this question and everyone else for the responses. I have a 3 year old and had no clue what the guidelines are--except that mine is WAY too young. This information is very helpful.
B.C. answers from Indianapolis on March 13, 2007
I feel 5 is WAY too young. My son is 11 now and just last year we were comfortable sending him out with a walkie talkie. That way if we can't see him, we do feel better knowing he can talk to us whenever he would need to.
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A.W. answers from Lafayette on March 12, 2007
If you don't feel comfortable letting him play outside alone and unsupervised then he's not old enough. The correct age to let a child play outside unattended depends on the child. Nobody knows your child like you do...you're with him all the time and you know best what his responsability level is. When my daughter was 5, I would allow her to go out alone, because she has always been very grown and very responsable for her age...she still is at 9. She knows what to do if someone tries to pick her up and drag her away...she knows when it's time to come in...she knows to check in often...she knows where she's allowed to be and where she's not allowed to be and she's excellent at following the rules and guidelines that I set for her to a T. My 5 year old son on the other hand, I would never let him out alone at this age as he is to compulsive, doesn't pay attention to his surroundings and isn't so good at following the rules. The only way he gets to go out without me is if he's with his sister and if stops obeying her then she will tell on him and he'll have to come inside for the rest of the day. He personally isn't ready to be out alone. Maybe he will be ready by the time he's 6 and maybe he won't...I'll have to wait and see. I can tell you that if YOU are uncomfortable with him being out alone then he is to young. As for the other kids in the neighborhood...if their parents didn't ask you to watch them and you didn't agree to, then don't do it...it's not your responsability. But even if you have a responsable child that you feel can handle being out alone...I still recommend popping your head out the door every 10 to 15 minutes just to get a visual on him. And keep in mind that just because you don't see a parent, doesn't mean that there isn't one watching. Another thing...if you think he may be ready, you might want to pick up a couple of cheap walkie-talkies from wal-mart that have voice activation...I suggest the rechargeables so that you don't have a battery burdon from hell. You can set the one your child has on voice activated and clip it to their shirt so anytime he talks you can hear what he's saying as well as the other kids standing by him. And you can communicate with him as well.
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J.C. answers from Fort Wayne on March 13, 2007
In my opinion, and this really sucks, but I think that in this day and age, there is no "safe age" on letting children play alone outside. It doesn't matter what kind of neighborhood you live in, how old they are, or how mature you think they are. There are terrible people out there that drive around neighborhoods with children to find their next victim, and if God forbid, your own child is the chosen one for those perverts, it doesn't matter how old or mature your child is, they can be taken.
I will NEVER let my children play outside alone, EVER. That's not because I'm necessarily a paranoid mother, it's because there are hundreds, I think over 700 sexual predators in Fort Wayne and the only protectors our children have from these perverts is us, their parents. I know that if my child got to an age where I felt they could go outside alone, and I allowed it, and they were kidnapped, I would never ever get over it because honestly, I would know that it was my fault. I wasn't protecting them. So, that's what I honestly would think about, not whether or not your child is ready, but rather, whether or not YOU are ready to risk it. It's totally not fair that it has to be that way, but it's just the reality of the cruel and perverted world we live in today.
I honestly don't mean to sound like the "debbie downer" of the much needed time without children for mothers to either just relax in quiet, or get housework done. I realize that that's one really nice thing about kids playing outside, but honestly, who is there to protect them, other than us? This is why all sexual predators should be put away for life, no exceptions.
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C. answers from Indianapolis on March 12, 2007
I'm not sure of an exact age to let your child play outside alone but I'm with you. My son is also 5 and if he's outside so are we. I will on occassion let him play in the fenced in backyard by himself but he's to stay on the deck where I can see him through a window. We live on a busy street where people cut through to get to different intersections. You just never know who's going to drive by & try to coax them into their vehicle if you aren't with them.
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K.L. answers from Indianapolis on March 13, 2007
I have the same situation in my neighborhood.
I saw a show last year (I think it might have been the today show) they talked about how kids are not developmentally ready to handly certain situations until they were a cetain age.
Like being able to say "NO" and fullly understanding the concequences.
I didn't allow my kids out without supervision until they were 7 and I still constantly check to make sure they are okay!!
S.F. answers from Louisville on March 12, 2007
Everyone's right, it all depends on your child and your neighborhood. I will let my 4 and 6 year old's out in the backyard (fenced in) unsupervised (at least they think i'm not watching! lol) But in the front yard, or if they want to go play in a friend's yard, I have to be outside, and they have to stay where I can see them. We live at the back of a quite subdivision, so there's not much traffic, kids play basketball and ride their bikes on the street.
S.D. answers from Indianapolis on March 13, 2007
My children are very young, so I don't have experience with this. But it is my opinion, as a mother, that you will just know when your child is old enough to play outside alone. I think that you know your child, and you will know when he is ready. Hope my opinion helps!
T.M. answers from Louisville on March 13, 2007
Well, first of all let me say I am an extremely paranoid mother, so my kids do not get to wander the neighborhood. However, I have 4 boys 10, 8, 6, and 3. Now the 3 older ones are allowed to play outside as long as one of the other guys are out there with them. They are not allowed outside alone even if they are playing with a friend. The reason being is that the friend could be told to go inside and that would leave them out there alone.
In your situation it has to be difficult with just the one kid, and if I had just one I wouldn't be comfortable with them going outside by themselves until they were at least 10. There's just so much that could happen, whether they get hurt and are unable to get help or whatever.
So, as you can see I probably don't have any good advice because my nerves wouldn't handle it. Now I do live in a neighborhood with tons of kids, but I've also done a predator check and there are some in my zip code even though we live a block down from the elementary school.
J.F. answers from Elkhart on March 12, 2007
My sons are 5 and 3 and I do let them play outside alone in our fenced-in back yard. I can see them from my kitchen window, and I even make my presence know my going to the door and taking with them periodically. We have one family I do let them go to to play with. we walk them there, and their mother usually walks them back home or calls me to come get them. Since I don't know some of the other children in the neighborhood as well, and my 5 year old is hungry for friends (other than his little brother) I let the other children play in our backyard, and go over some general rules. If trouble arrises, I tell them they have to go home. At least if they are in my backyard, I can monitor what is going on. My oldest is a pretty good tattle-tale, so if anyone gets out of line, he's quick to come tell me. It's important they learn to find ways to play with others, and learn rules. I'm glad I can be there to supervise both learning experiences and guide them through. You have to do what is best in your circumstances.
God Bless J. <><