At What Age Do You Let Your Kid Play in the Neighborhood with Other Kids??

Updated on May 02, 2010
S.T. asks from Kansas City, KS
13 answers

Just wondering at what age is it appropriate to let your kids play (ride bikes) around the neighborhood with other kids. I don't know these kids but my son does and they have asked him a few times to go play well he has strep right now so I got out of it again. He is seven and just now learned how to ride his bike he's still not very good at it and I haven't got him another helmet yet either. I don't want to be known as that mom or anything but he's my baby boy. Another thing is people in here don't slow down for kids I started putting out and orange cone in the street and we are getting a slow sign to put out as well. Just wanted your thoughts Thank You

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answers from New York on

my first reaction is 'it depends on the neighborhood. How safe it is and if you know the children and their parents. My 11 year old is not allowed to ride his bike on the street nor around my house by himself. Him and my other two (10 & 8) can ride the bike on the sidewalk and with an adult supervising them. Eventhough we have a STOP sign at one corner, people here fly by!!! Just try to get to know the kids, have some cookies out or lemonade so they can come eat and drink and you can hear how they express themselves. I know that we eventually have to let go, and I don't think I'll mind letting go as long as I know it's the right time and he is with the right people.

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answers from Honolulu on

I wouldn't personally.... unless I was there and supervising.
Also, you don't know these kids nor their Parent/Mom. So... that is like leaving your kids with a "stranger."

My daughter is 7... and I wouldn't do that. Unless I KNEW the Mom real well... AND we had a plan for supervision.... of the kids.
Kids, can disappear.... and get hit by a car or other things.
Their aptitude for thinking 10 steps ahead is not fully developed yet either at this age no matter how "smart" the kid is. Even grown ups don't have oversight sometimes nor anticipating things.... and acting accordingly.

Better safe than sorry.
I may sound like a protective/helicopter parent... but I"m not. But with certain things... I don't leave my kids, just with anyone. AND when it comes to predators and safety and whatnot.. and if I don't know the kid's family/Mom NOR trust them... I don't doubt my gut instinct.

all the best,

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answers from Casper on

If they aren't safe, never. If the other kids can ride safely, fine. If he can ride as safely as they can and keep up, also good. It is going to differ between children. Some are more socially mature, street-smart and not going to do something dangerous, while some need help for as long as you can be there. We always err on the side of caution because while being that mom is no fun, worse is being on the news because something terrible happened - not saying that it would.

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answers from Jacksonville on

On the neighborhood. The other kids. The traffic. Your son's ability. Your son's maturity. Etc.

It sounds like he isn't a "pro" on his bike just yet. Believe me, he isn't the first to reach 7 and not be a bicycle extraordinaire. He will get there in time... but he isn't there yet. And I wouldn't be comfortable having him ride with the other kids just yet because of that alone. One quick swerve from one of the other "better" kids, and they can lock up tires and have a mess. But I'm a little on the cautious side anyway.

Our neighborhood is very quiet, and no speedsters that I am aware of. But it is a giant "C" and I can't see the road once they round the curve. I only let my 8 yr old daughter go around the loop with her older brother AND the dog (german shepherd). And then I carefully watch the time and expect them back in an appropriate length of time to make the trip. If they are just out riding for 30 minutes or something... she is only allowed to the stop sign and no further. If she is alone, only to the curve past our 2nd neighbor's house. And we know the folks in every house in the neighborhood.

But if there is a fall, it is a long way for me to run in an emergency... and too far for me to hear her crying. So they go together if going past the curve. That way one can come get me if need be. The likelihood of an accident goes down the better they get on the bikes, and the more practice they have.

I would tell my son (if I were you) that I am not ready for him to be out riding without me. (Not that he isn't able or you don't trust him, etc, but that YOU are not ready for it). Get him that new helmet (kudos for making him wear it) and go outside and ride WITH him around the block a couple days a week. In no time, he will have been coached through watching for cars in the roadway, backing out of driveways, doors opening on parked cars, etc, and you will have a lot more confidence in him being ok. Then you can base your decision more on the kids he wants to go with. Have you met their parents? Do they follow the 'rules of the road' when on their bikes? Have you seen them darting across the street in front of cars or misbehaving riding up other people's driveways? Let those questions be a starting point for whether you want your son to ride bikes with them. And when you do finally decide to let him give it a shot, give him limits. "yes, you can ride to ___ and back one time." "Yes, you can ride to _'s house and play for 30 minutes. Then you must come home." And since you may not have thought of this yet... be aware that once he starts riding with friends, he will want to be stopping and playing at friends' houses, too. So think about how you will want to handle that in advance. It sneaks up on you. (Be sure to meet the parents. I usually call over and say "so and so is riding over on his bike to play. I told him to be home at __ time. Give me a call if you need him to leave for home sooner/there is a problem/etc").

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answers from St. Louis on

We have let ours play outside with the neighbor kids since they were 4, but they live one house away and we can see the yard. They usually just run back and forth. We have only let the go inside once and if the kids are outside playing either my husband or myself are always outside since the others parents are never outside. Once they understand rules I would think it is ok if you trust them and there is always an adult close by.



answers from Los Angeles on

Maybe the boys could do something in the yard. Or out front
Mine was about 8 and we lived on a cul-de-sac. I left my door open and he had to check in often. Its hard because you want them to have the freedom to explore the way we did. But in this day and age its hard.

Now I have the 9 year old and a 5 year old there is no way my 5 guy is going to stay in while his bro is out playing so he gets to go with but he is looked after by older bro. We know every single person in neighborhood and its County not city. we are surrounded by cul-de-sacs.


answers from Kansas City on

it definitely depends on the neighborhood, and how you feel. i am not very trusting when it comes to other people, so i would probably be more cautious. people driving is one thing, but also, you never know who might just be walking down the street. i also don't trust other people with their dogs. (yes i am paranoid). if he is just learning to ride maybe take him to a park with a trail, or a school, and let him get better at it before he goes out with them. i would worry about him getting left behind. of course, mine is only 3 1/2 lol. he stays in the yard and the yard of the next door neighbor. i dread him wanting to take off on his bike!



answers from Nashville on

I would let him play in your front yard or on your driveway or worst case, in the street only in front of your house. I think 7 is old enough to play but not old enough to be out of your sight.



answers from St. Louis on

I think you've gotten some great suggestions. I would just add that if you don't know the other kids in the neighborhood, let them ride bikes and play around your house, and you soon will. I would rather have my kids and all the other kids play where I can supervise them and know what they're up to, especially if you're not sure how well the other parents supervise their kids. Your house can become the place to hang out, which will hopefully last until they're teens! Take this opportunity to get to know their parents, too, through the kids. If you get to know them, you'll have a network in the neighborhood, and know that your child is safe when he ventures out a little further as he gets older. I would much rather be "that parent" than a "I should have been more careful" parent!!!



answers from Dallas on

My next door neighbor lets her two boys roam around the house and I (and my other neighbors hate it). They run, ride their bikes ands throw footballs in the alley and I think it is so dangerous. When I am back out out my driveway or driving down the alley I can't see past the privacy fences, so it makes me super nervous when they are zooming back and forth on their bikes. THey even circle around my car when I am driving to my house. My neighbors ask all the time if the mom knows what they are doing.....she was in another neighbors driveway talking to the neighbor when her son quickly ran across the alley to catch a ball and two seconds later, the other neighbor ran right in front of me to get to the other side. It's a good thing I drive SUPER slow and not like the other neighbors that speed through the alley. So, the mom of the boys probably thinks it is safer for them to play in the alley, but it is really dangerous, but if they were in the streets it would be just as dangerous. So, I would go with your gut and tell the neighbor boys that your son can only ride his bike where he is still in your sight. Am I that mom to my neighbor boys? Yes. Do I care? No.


answers from Richmond on

GREAT question, I haven't read the other responses yet but I look forward to it! We live in a relatively quiet neighborhood, and I let me 4 and 6 year old daughters play in the yard unattended... I constantly watch out the window and I always make sure our (very protective) dog is out there with them. The girls and the dog never leave the yard. They know that if they see ANYONE walking down the street or if a car stops, they are to come in immediately... but that never happens. We used to live in the city and THAT was a whole different ballpark. I wouldn't even go out to the car without my dog, or take the kids to the park without the dog. As long as your child knows to be well aware of their surroundings, I don't see a problem with letting them play outside without you by their side. As far as bike riding, my girls are allowed to go one way only down to a certain mailbox and back (since they are in my sight range the entire time), and they HAVE to use the buddy system. A helmet is a MUST. No matter what though, I always keep one eye on the kids, even if I'm still inside. Until they're 10 (or so, we'll see), they are not allowed out of my sight range.



answers from St. Louis on

If by "that mom" you mean a mom who wants to know where her child is, a mom who cares about his safety, a mom who knows it is up to her to protect her child, then you should be proud to be known as "that mom", and I welcome you to the "that mom" group!!

Children are abducted every day. If these children are playing throughout the neighborhood, then it sounds like there is no adult supervision - so it is up to the children to protect them selves. I do not allow my children to roam the neighborhood freely without supervision. Instead I compromise and give them a specific area they can ride in. (maybe 3 houses to the left and 3 houses to the right). Then the kids can ride their bikes, but I always know where they are. I can see them at any given time and I can hear them if my back is turned.
As far as the helmet, in our house the rule is : No helmet, No bike!! It is our job to teach our children bike safety. One of which is wearing a helmet. If there is resistance, explain what the helmet is for and why it is important to wear it.
Follow your instincts as a mother and don't worry about what others think about your parenting skills. Some may say you are over protective, but in reality you are being a responsible parent-that's your job. Now, if you wrap him up in bubble wrap and make him sit on the front porch watching all the kids play, than you might by over protective!!
Good luck :)

One more thing, it is always good to know if you have any sex offenders living close by. You can look it up online. It will tell you their names, addresses and what they were guilty of.



answers from Chicago on

its your call, and who cares if you are known as "that mom", as long as you feel comfortable with the decision you make. that being said, i let my kids go out with the other kids on the block for the last 2 years or so, they are 7 and 6. i never never let them out without me being out there to monitor what they are doing and who they are with. i didn't know the parents or kids when they first started going out either.....but now i do, because most of the kids come to our house in front to hang out. both my kids knew how to ride their bikes since they were about 4. i feel comfortable leaving them out there when i run inside to get something or if i have to come in real quick and change the baby, but for the most part we are usually out there with them, reading, on the internet, or just talking on the porch while they play. i feel that i might have started letting them out sooner because they had each other and they were never out individually. its also a good way to get to know neighbors and the neighborhood in general. also i give my kids boundaries, like you can't go past the big tree or dont go in the yards or houses or gangways of anyones house. good luck

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