23 answers

What Age Do You Let Your Kids Play Outside Alone?

My daughter is 5 1/2 and lately has been wanting to play outside with the other kids in our complex. Most of them are a few years older than her - probably 8 -13 years old. She knows many of them from school and they are fine playing with her, but my concern is letting her play outside alone. She often wants to play outside right when we get home after work & school or on the weekends when I'm normally doing chores she can't help with. I have an almost 3 year old son, so I can't always be outside to watch her, especially after work when I'm trying to get dinner cooked.

So my question is, what age did you let your kids start playing outside unsupervised? When I was growing up, I was kicked outside pretty much all day unless the weather was bad from the time I was probably 4-5 years old, but I know times have changed. Oh and my daughter does know not to talk to strangers or to run off with anyone she doesn't know.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks for the advice everyone. I do want to state that I have no intentions of letting her outside by herself at only 5 1/2. I was more curious as to what age other parents started letting their kids play by themselves outside. She is one to question everything, so sometimes me being the only one telling her no isn't good enough. When I mention other parents don't let their young kids play alone outside, it helps curb her desires. She especially likes to question why I won't just drop her off at the bus stop in the morning and leave for work when other parents let their kids wait for the bus alone. I tell her that's their parent's decision and that the kids are older, but she is not old enough to be left waiting for the bus alone even with other kids there.

Oh and she does help with chores - vacuuming, dusting, emptying dishwasher, picking up toys, etc, but I won't let her clean bathrooms and floors yet - she doesn't need to be in contact with the cleaning supplies.

Featured Answers

With all of the abductions that happen these days - I wouldn't let my kids play outside alone until they were 15. Too many tragic things could happen. It's not like it was when we were kids.

3 moms found this helpful

When my older kids were younger, I'd let them play out front by themselves but now I don't let my other kids because it is much more dangerous.

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

I think there are variables that dictate an answer here. What's the layout of the complex? Is she behind a fence, or near a road? Is the road highly traveled or fairly private? Do you know a lot of the neighbors? Do you trust them? Have you looked on Megan's Law website for local sexual predators? Do you have a procedure in place with what your daughter should do in certain instances -- not just "don't run off with strangers" but what if a man she recognizes from the neighborhood asks her to go help him feed his puppy?

i don't actually think the world is all that different now, it's just we know more about what can happen, we hear more of the horror stories thanks to technology. The truth is she is less likely to be snatched by some random passerby, and more likely to be vulnerable to the people around her. Older kids can bully and harass, sexual predators prey on people they know, not strangers. Talk through all the possible scenarios of what she could encounter (a group of 13 year olds have unsafe ideas, an older man in the hood asks her to keep a secret...) not only will you be arming her to play outside with her friends, but she'll be better prepared to deal with any strange situation that makes her feel funny inside -- trust that instinct, say you have to ask your mom first, and then run home!

3 moms found this helpful

With all of the abductions that happen these days - I wouldn't let my kids play outside alone until they were 15. Too many tragic things could happen. It's not like it was when we were kids.

3 moms found this helpful

My kids are 7, 5, and 3. If my kids are outside, so am I. No exceptions. The only time I am not outside with them, is if we have friends over and they have kids that are in their teens. Even then, we sit at hte back door and watch. I'm just too nervous. And I'm not sure that will change. Now I do let them run to the car to get something in pairs...but that's it.

2 moms found this helpful

I'm gonna have to say that I think if you can't see her then 5 1/2 is a little too young. It's bad that the world is so scary but it just is. Also- thinking back to being 8 and 13- there were things my friends and I got into that we shouldn't have- climing fences and what not- when our parents were not watching. Could she invite one or more of the kids over to play inside for a bit?

1 mom found this helpful

When my older kids were younger, I'd let them play out front by themselves but now I don't let my other kids because it is much more dangerous.

1 mom found this helpful

My 6 year old can play outside without me there but I live in the county, with a fenced in back yard and loud dogs. Is there another adult you can trade out supervisory duties with? It is scary out there and people really need to watch out for children and make sure they are safe.

1 mom found this helpful

Depends alot on the neighborhood. My kids were about 5 when I began to allow peices of time outside with the other kids in the neighborhood - but we live on a court with only 12 houses so I could see everywhere they were and there were very few cars. I'd generally fold laundry during those times and I arranged my dining room table in such a way that i could watch the kids outside while I folded and sorted near the window. My kids have always known that if they "changed locations" (neighbor's back yard, or inside) they had to let me know. To this day, they're teens, the same rule applies and when they forget and I can't locate them they know all hell may break lose until I can find them.

1 mom found this helpful

I would say 8-9 years old. Also, you may be surprised, she can probably help with a lot of those chores. Really, if she isn't old enough to help with certain chores, she isn't old enough to play outside without adult supervision... of course, that's just me!

I too played outside with friends much younger than 8, but I agree, times have changed, and even then a man tried to take me and my sis when we were walking to school one day. And in an apartment complex, there are a lot of cars driving through and backing out and such.

1 mom found this helpful

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