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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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