24 answers

Playing in the Backyard Without Parents

Would you allow your 3 and 4 1/2 yr old kids to play in your backyard alone? My friend recently critized my parenting when I told her the kids were out back playing while I was doing the dishes. I could hear them and could easily look out and see what they were doing, but she still thinks they are too young to play unsupervised. I think she is being too overprotective. I will add that there is no way for my kids to get out of the yard and there are only regular backyard hazards for them to get into trouble with. They are also great about not playing with things that are "off limits". I just want to know what the majority feels is right. Thanks

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

I'm so glad to hear that I'm not doing anything wrong in allowing the kids to play in our backyard. My yard is completely fence with a locking gate and I can always see them. My friend really doesn't let her 3 yr old out her sight for a minute and I think the next time we have a discussion like this I will stand up for myself a little more.
Thanks for all the positive reinforcement.

Featured Answers

Let them play, laugh and explore on their own in the backyard. As long as their isn't any dangerous stuff laying around or a swimming pool.

I also have a 3 and 4 year old that i let play in the backyard all the time by them selfs. I know my backyard is safe and can hear them at all times. I don't see any problem with it. It's a great time to get stuff done around the house and I think they use there imagination more when I'm not right there watching them.

I would say that you are doing fine. I think too many people are overly protective these days. My kids have been playing int he backyard together alone (fully fenced backyard) since they were 1-1/2 and 3. They are now 4 and 6-1/2 and all has been fine, nothing has happened that wouldn't have even if I had been there. Kids need the chance to learn life's lessons without an adult being ever hovering.

More Answers

I guess I'm a bad mom, too! I let my 2.5 year old son play by himself in our fully fenced backyard for brief periods. I always make sure I have a window or door open so I can hear him if he calls, and I can see the backyard from the kitchen and living rooms.

I think it's incredibly beneficial to kids to have a little alone time to learn to entertain themselves. A healthy sense of independence is crucial, especially for an only child like mine, and I'm always thrilled when he can play solo for 10-15 minutes without mommy or daddy there to entertain him.

I say, "Good for you!" and the next time your friend criticized your parenting tell her to go suck it! LOL.

2 moms found this helpful

I think its fine as long as you are listening for them, checking on them and keep your awareness keen. Some parents are "helicopter" parents: they like to hover. I think kids need breathing room. And what better place than their own back yard! I say let them play.

1 mom found this helpful

When my kids were that age, I let them play in the fenced back yard alone, but I always watched them from the window doing dishes AND kept the window open so I could hear them. We had a rule that they had to be able to see me, or they would know I couldn't see them.

We moved to a house in the city, on the corner of a somewhat busier street, and I did not let my kids play outside alone, even when they were a bity older, except for on the back deck, where, once again, I could watch them from the kitchen window. Even now, that they are 11 & 12, I am uncomfortable letting them skateboard around the block or something, but like I say, this is not like a suburban neighborhood. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I'm with Jenifer. I have young daughters (now six and seven, almost eight) and I regularly boot them out of the house. I can hear them and the house is completely fenced in and our dog is generally with them. I probably started doing that around the same age your kids are.

When I was growing up we weren't even allowed in the house during the day. Yes, I know things are different now but kids HAVE to be kids and part of that is learning how to live in the world without Mom constantly breathing down their necks. There can't be any consequences (which is how we all learn things) if there isn't any risk of failure.

Hopefully that all made sense it is after 1 am! :)

1 mom found this helpful

I think it all depends on the neighborhood and a fenced yard. My daughter is 6yrs and I don't let her play outside alone. Our yards are very open and we have people walking by and cars racing up and down the road. If I had a nice family neighborhood with a fenced backyard, I'm sure I would feel more comfortable with letting her out by herself. At this age I'm not afraid of her taking off now since I know she wouldn't, but I'm not as comfortable with the strange man walking down the street looking like a predator. I also do not tell other Moms how to raise their children. Would you like to hear that from someone? Have you ever walked a mile in that Mother's shoes? A stay at home mom....this may be the only break she gets. Good luck.

You know your kids and if they are good about listening and not getting into things then I think it's fine! I have a 2 year old and I let her go outside by herself and play too while I do the dishes or am picking up. I too can see her from our family room, kitchen and dining room. As long as you're keeping an eye on them. It's great that they are getting outside and not just watching movies or cartoons. They need to learn some independence, and what a better way to do it than in the safety of your own yard!

Let them play, laugh and explore on their own in the backyard. As long as their isn't any dangerous stuff laying around or a swimming pool.

Wow! Does your friend know how incredibly loud kids can be when any little thing happens that hurts/annoys them? I think your children are just fine. It's important that they have time where they can experience a little independence in a safe place and that you have some time to get a bit done around the house. It's also necessary for kids to have time to make up their own imaginary play without adult reality creeping in, and time outdoors is perfect for just that.As long as they are within sound and sight of an adult, they are fine.

If this friend is a neighbor, it might be that she's annoyed by the noise kids make, or is has such a high level of vigilance that it is stressful for her to see. If your friend brings it up again, you could ask her what she thinks could happen. Kids do get hurt, all the time, because they are kids, they are clumsy and distracted and testing their limits. It happens indoors and outdoors and even with mom and dad standing right next to them. We can't shield them from everything. Just do what's within reason and hope for the best.

Unless you have snakes lurking in the bushes or toxic plants (foxglove, etc.) or other attractive nuisances like a pool, you are fine and so are your kids.

You know your kids best! It sounds like you are very thoughtful and careful. (I let my 2 year old and 5 year old play outside in a safe backyard because I can see them and get to them quickly if needed too.) Your "friend" should not have criticized! We have enough stress as Moms....find some supportive friends :)

Oh my goodness, let your kids play!! As long as you can see and hear them, they will be fine. Kids get hurt from all kinds of things, we can not protect them from everything,they need to be kids. Just as long as the area is secure and you feel is safe.
:-)
D.
SAHM of 3 (14, 10 and 6)

I have been letting my son play outside alone since he was about 2. He loves to play with our dog, he can't get out of the yard, and he just explores and plays. I check on him regularly and can hear him and I think it's totally fine. He has fallen and gotten hurt, but he just runs in or I run out. It hasn't dampened his enthusiasm for exploring outside alone. We also play together outside a lot too! I'm curious to read what others have to say now.... :)

I would say that you are doing fine. I think too many people are overly protective these days. My kids have been playing int he backyard together alone (fully fenced backyard) since they were 1-1/2 and 3. They are now 4 and 6-1/2 and all has been fine, nothing has happened that wouldn't have even if I had been there. Kids need the chance to learn life's lessons without an adult being ever hovering.

Wow! I say if your backyard isn't safe for your kids, you might think about moving. As long as they can't get out, I certainly see no problem with allowing your kids to play in the backyard without you there. You seem intelligent and aware enough. Sometimes I think we shelter our kids too much. Kids learn and develop by exploring and making mistakes. Yes, sometimes stitches are involved. But we can't keep our kids completely safe, and they should be allowed to be kids. Protect them as much as you can, but don't stifle their growth. Also, don't instill unrealistic and unhealthy fears in your kids. Life's too short. Have fun!

I agree that it is safe to have your kids play without adult supervision in your fenced back yard. My granddaughter played in my backyard without adult supervision from the time she was 3. The back door was open and she came and got me any time she wanted to do something else.

years ago I briefly had a 3yo foster daughter who played alone in my fenced backyard. If that hadn't been considered safe CSD would have told me.

I let my 2 and 4 1/2 year olds play outside by themselves. Of course, I am near the door and leave it open so I can hear what they are doing. I pop out to check on them every so often and they are totally fine. Your friend is a bit of a control freak. Your yard is safe and enclosed and you don't have anything dangerous for them to get hurt on, let them play! It's better than keeping them indoors all day (dishes HAVE to get done!)

P.,

There is nothing wrong in allowing your children to play by themselves in the backyard. The only thing I would suggest is to have the yard fenced if it isn't already. Kids do have a way of wandering and I am sure that you wouldn't want your to wander out into the street. It helps the kids to grow up with self esteem by learning to do on their own. Good luck and it sounds to me like you are doing right. We allowed our kids to play in the backyard as we do with our grandchildren and yes the backyard is fenced in and they have a ball being alone outside.

B. mother or two grandmother of seven.

Hey P.! You know, First of all, we all parent differently, and even if this is a close friend telling you this, it is really not her business to tell you how you should parent your children. Maybe next time you could just respond with: thanks for your concern, but this is how we choose to do it! And for some peace of mind for you.... we have our 2 and 4 year old play in the backyard without us out there. Honestly, as long as there is no water (like a pool or a pond),or a way for them to escape, I think they will survive the dirt and grass okay!! So they may eat a bug or two...extra protein right? :-)

P.,
I think your friend needs to step back and check herself at the door. There is nothing wrong with letting your children play in there backyard by themselves. Like you said they can't get out and they know what they can and can't play with. Besides this helps build independence in them as well.

I also have a 3 and 4 year old that i let play in the backyard all the time by them selfs. I know my backyard is safe and can hear them at all times. I don't see any problem with it. It's a great time to get stuff done around the house and I think they use there imagination more when I'm not right there watching them.

I have two daughters, 5 1/2 and 2 years old. I too, let them out back to play alone. I can see them and hear them and the yard is fully fenced. I was feeling guilty about that wondering if the neighbors were thinking I was a bad mom?
Just make sure there are child locks on the shed, and the hazards are child proofed. Even though our kids know of the off limits, they get curious sometimes...
You have to use your instincts, and it sounds like what you are doing is fine!

i'm with you! your friend is uptight! my daughter is 4 and i let her play with my neighbors who are 4 and 5 in the backyard all the time and nothing even remotely serious has happened. like you i leave the back door open so i can hear everything and i check on them often. if you've set up a safe environ (and it sounds like you have!) i don't see why they can't be unsupeervised for bits of time.

Did we play outside alone when we were that age? Yes. Are we harmed in anyway. No. I think that is fine, check on them from time to time. Let them know you are keeping track of them. Otherwise wrap them in bubble wrap and keep them in a padded room.

I'm with you. At 3 and 4 1/2 they're old enough to play in the back yard while you're washing the dishes. If they're fenced in, it's not really any different than letting them play in their room while you do the dishes and check in on them occasionally. Kids need to be alone sometimes anyway and there's no way we can protect them from everything. As risks go, letting them play outside is LOW risk.

Does your have children? If so, are they younger than yours? Sometimes people who don't have experience with kids have a skewed view of what's okay in parenting. Maybe she is just more protective with her own kids. To each her own, though, right? But rest assured the world doesn't think you're endangering your children!

I think they are fine - as long as the backyard is secure and you can watch them. I think it is great to let kids explore and make up fun for themselves instead of constantly hovering over them. I think it is a confidence booster. I am on your side on this one!

Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.