To think just 4 is too young to play out alone?

(100 Posts)

Yes I know it's probably none of my business aside from the fact I live in fear of knocking the child over!

The child was 4 last week. He is playing out with his older sibling (7) and a few other children aged between 7 and 10. Our road isn't terribly busy being a cul de sac but it has three roads off it so there are quite a few cars in the evening.

I'm not so concerned about someone snatching him, very unlikely. More likely to be squashed as someone reverses off drive. Lots of parked cars as well which makes it trickier.

His own house is round the corner on a different road. He could actually be anywhere and parents wouldn't know. Presume they are relying on older sibling to watch him. However watched older sibling go into another child's house for about ten mins and leave little bro just riding around on his own. I kept my eye on him!

Aibu and judgey?!

ShowMeTheYoni Sat 20-Apr-13 15:18:48

Where I live a 4 yr old plays out alone. Has done since he was 3. A lot of kids seem to play out young here, I don't like it. We live in a quite busy street right next to a main road too. Parents here Also let DC walk to school from age 5. I'd like to move!

McNewPants2013 Sat 20-Apr-13 15:22:08

My dd is tall for her ages, and when she helps me with shopping she struggles a bit because she can't reach.

It harder or impossible to see a small child behind a car,

livinginwonderland Sat 20-Apr-13 15:28:13

i used to play out with my neighbours kids at that age. we lived on a really quiet road and we had a limit on how far we could go (three houses to either side of our houses). my dad was normally in the garden but he would go inside too. i never came to any harm and i had a great time.

all the neighbours knew us and would look out for us to make sure we were safe and keeping out of trouble.

5madthings Sat 20-Apr-13 15:28:18

I am sat out the front on a bench in our front garden at the moment. There are eight kids from 4-10yrs playing out and my toddler. I am.out enjoying the sin and watching the toddler as she plays in the driveway but the elder ones are playing in the cul de sac. It is quiet, cars parked in driveways but none on the road and no cars have come in or gone out in the last few hours. Some cul de sacs reallu are quiet. So i can let five yr old ds4 play out with his brothers and our neighbours. I can sit in the sitting room and watch or when in the kitchen i can watch and the front door is open so i can hear and call out to them if necessary. They can only go up to a certain lamp post and are directly out the front of our house or next door with the kids from next door. Its a quiey estate no rat runs, our cul de sac is a dead end and the entrance is such that you have to turn in slowly. So yes its safe to let them play and i can see them.

CarpeVinum Sat 20-Apr-13 15:34:26

i never came to any harm and i had a great time.

That proves bugger all in terms of risk and benefit.

As I mutter darkly when it is trotted out by my firends as justification for never strapping their childen into a carseat or seatbelt so they can play at bouncing all over the back seat unhampered.

livinginwonderland Sat 20-Apr-13 15:39:07

That proves bugger all in terms of risk and benefit.

i never said it did. i am just saying that some roads are perfectly safe and quiet and that in some cases, there is nothing wrong with letting your kid play outside while you do the gardening or wash the car. where i was, nobody came down our road unless they lived there. it was a road full of elderly, retired couples except my family and the neighbours.

CarpeVinum Sat 20-Apr-13 15:45:45

It was appropos of nothing ?

It is an old chestnut used almost exclusively as suporting "anecdata".

See also

"my grandmother smoked 90 a day till she was 457 and it never did her any harm"

5madthings Sat 20-Apr-13 15:53:26

Our cul de sac has eight houses, four each side and then some flats at the bottom. The first two houses don't come in to the cul de sac to get to their driveway. Then there is us and the house opposite, my neigh our to the next side doesn't have a car. The next house is empty. On the houses on the otherwise two have cars, both on the driveway. Out of the eight flats only three have cars parked down the far end out the way off the road. There are four families with children including us, the others are a family whose children have grown up and left home and elderly in the flats. It is deathly quiet at times.

Dp's aunt lives in a similar road. The estate my parents are on is busier and wouldn't be suitable for children to play out. It depends where you live.

CarpeVinum Sat 20-Apr-13 16:12:35

bUt any cul de sac will have a mouth that opens onto the road that feeds the traffic in. Surely with a 4 yo what lies yonder is as relevant to risk from cars as the cul de sac itself.

Aside from the possibility of a child wandering off to a busier road there is also the possibility of what could come in. Somebody mentioned boy racers up above, and I think that's a valid point I hadn't considered before.

It doesn't really matter how quiet the road is usually when there is no control over what could come in unannounced, univited or by accident. (wrong turns, demonic SatNavs etc.)

I think "being able and prepared to keep self safe from any unusual/unexpected traffic and drivers" has to be factored in and the decsion can't safely be based on just "able and prepared to keep self safe from the usual/expected traffic and drivers" when deciding a child is old enough to play out street side without constant adult supervision.

Becuase no matter how quiet a road is typically, or how careful, slow and watchful for children the usual drivers are, it is still a road and unless there is a check point at the mouth anything could turn in at any time for any reason.

AnyFucker Sat 20-Apr-13 16:14:37

Being able to see your kids through your window is less than useless when their legs are getting crushed by a car, btw

5madthings Sat 20-Apr-13 16:24:14

It leads off a 20mile per hour limit road, you have to slow down considerably to turn in and they are playing a distance away from the turn in anyway. As I said in the last few hours no cars have come in or gone out. My five year old is quite scared of cars and if he even hears one he jumps onto the pavement, they are mainly in the driveway, directly out the front, playing kerby, or chalking, just playing with the neighbors whose parents are also in and out as we are and watching. From my sofa to the front door is ten steps if I need to go out to them.

Fillyjonk75 Sat 20-Apr-13 16:27:55

It's difficult when you have an older child and the younger one wants to play out. Mine are 7 and 4, the oldest one is allowed out anywhere on the cul de sac on her bike with her friends and has been since she could ride a bigger bike at 6.

DD2 is allowed to go out with her if they are just walking round to a friend's house or calling for friends and coming home again. I did let her just play out on the street with DD1 initially but think she is too young, and it's too much for DD1 to keep an eye on her, but walking 100 yards down the pavement without crossing the road is ok. It does make me feel a bit wobbly at times but I think small risks and gradual responsibility are worthwhile at what the parent believes is the right age as it makes them safer overall.

AnyFucker Sat 20-Apr-13 16:29:49

I didn't find it difficult at all. I just said "no"

sheeplikessleep Sat 20-Apr-13 16:29:50

I wouldn't let my 5 and a half year old out by himself.

We live on quite a quiet estate, and whilst he does (most of the time) show good road sense now, there are still times when he gets overexcited or distracted. When we're out and about, I've seen him lose any thoughts of cars - I still have to occasionally remind him to look before stepping off the pavement.

He is even more giddy when playing with friends, the thought of him like that near roads, without an adult there makes me nervous. He is just too young.

expatinscotland Sat 20-Apr-13 16:34:23

I'd love to have a back garden, so I'll never understand this. If you have a back garden, why a 4 or 5-year-old needs to 'play out' unsupervised.

Remotecontrolduck Sat 20-Apr-13 16:37:24

Obviously dependent on where you live, but about 7 seems right to me in most cases. I'm not overprotective at all or risk averse but 4 is just too young isn't it, they just can't be responsible for themselves or have good road safety awareness.

There's no need to get a 4 year old to be independent because they're er, 4.

AnyFucker Sat 20-Apr-13 16:37:32

When my kids were small, I had the whole fecking neighbourhood of kids in my back garden.

It was annoying at times, but I always knew where my young children where, and that they were safe (mainly from RTA's)

5madthings Sat 20-Apr-13 16:47:51

Our front garden is bigger than our back garden so dp often parks out of the cul due sac so they can play on it, paved bit to scoot up and down and grass either side, with swing ball, play sand and water table etc. Its big enough out front that they can run about, the back garden is small, trampoline and small climbing frame, which they play on lots as well but no space to run, scoot or kick a ball about.

At 5, 8, 10(almost 11) and often ds1 (13) they are old enough to play out whilst I watch, nip in and out if I am sorting dinner. Tbh they are mainly on the driveway and the bit in front of our house, the footpath is quite wide and they can do a u shape on the footpath, round and back (to dead end) whilst in view. I often sit on the front step or the bench but go in and out.

Lots of people drive everywhere and use cars for short unnecessary journeys, that's a risk as well but one lots do and deem acceptable. We walk pretty much everywhere, don't see the point in using the car unnecessarily, costs too much in diesel and you are taking a risk by driving. I let my children play out in a very quiet cul de sac, others take a risk by driving. There are plenty of places I wouldn't let them play, including one localish park that often has used needles in the bushes. There is risk in everything we do, its how you access that risk.

everlong Sat 20-Apr-13 17:10:20

The kids on my street that play out range from 4 upwards. They all have gardens. But they choose to play out together on the street. Up and down in the middle of the road on bikes and scooters or pushing their prams or kicking their ball.

The cars come down quite fast at times and I often flinch. I've told a few people to slow down quite often. Ds doesn't play out with them hardly ever. He's 7 in August. I would let him he just prefers not too.

Tbh I think folk prefer them playing on the street rather than having a garden full of other people's kids.

Fillyjonk75 Sat 20-Apr-13 17:15:59

"I didn't find it difficult at all. I just said "no"

God, you are incredible AnyFucker. How did I not think of that? hmm

Fillyjonk75 Sat 20-Apr-13 17:22:03

Tbh I think folk prefer them playing on the street rather than having a garden full of other people's kids.

Or, less judgementally maybe it's because the kids WANT to play in the street and not be confined to their parents' or friends' gardens.

everlong Sat 20-Apr-13 17:24:16

Maybe or probably not.

AnyFucker Sat 20-Apr-13 17:25:18

I didn't and don't always give my kids what they want

It's not incredible to parent like that, however

CarpeVinum Sat 20-Apr-13 17:44:01

God, you are incredible AnyFucker. How did I not think of that?

The thing is though, she's right.

I only have one, so don't have to deal with two in the same home being allowed different things. But I still have every sympathy with a mum faced with an ongoing onslaught of "but why can't I toooooooooooo!" cos I remember my mum dealing with "But how come Sarah's allowed...?" pleanty.

She said no. They didn't like it. There was whinging. It didn't stop them asking the next time I got a "promotion" that they were going to have to wait for. She still said no. Wash, rinse, repeat, wash some more....

I only have to deal with my son doing the same "s'not fair" routine as my siblings when it comes to the huge (cultural) differneces between his upbringing and his friends.

"why am I only only one with a bedtime?" <S'NOT FAIR!!>
"nobody else has to wear a seatbelt/use a carseat?" <cries>
"why can't I ride a bike without a helmet?" <pitiful face>

and there were/are times when it drove me potty.

It wasn't (and isn't) fun but I more or less just copied my mum and said no (also why, but he'd generally lost the will to live and was in full huff&flop mode by then)

And I'm grafeful I don't have that times 16million due to sibs in the home. Hell yes. I can totally see how that would so much more of a difficulty to deal with.

But I doubt very much my MO would change if I did have more than one and the volume of "me too"s was bigger, louder and persistant.

It's just part of having kids isn't it, if it's not saying no to something older sibs can do, it's mates and their freerange xbox useage, or issues like jumping on beds and using cream coloured sofa cushions to make a fort in the garden,.

Pain in the arse, wears you out, occasionally breaks your heart even if you know it's for their own good, but more or less what we signed up for and the reason why sometimes I wish I'd checked the small print before I concived

AnyFucker Sat 20-Apr-13 17:54:02

Thta's a much kinder post than mine, Carpe , saying exactly the same thing

My apologies for being snippy Filly

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