Can 7 year old DS go to park alone?

(70 Posts)
HerNibs1980 Tue 05-Mar-13 15:08:15

Hi guys,

I have a question. My 7 year old DS is quite responsible for his age. Now we live right opposite a park that I can see from my windows, and we go there as much as we can, although with me doing a full time Uni course maybe not as often as i'd like. Now my 7 year old is begging to be able to go over on his own on days I cant take him. He has his own phone, and I can see the park from my windows and other children of his age play there unattended. Do you think it would be ok for me to let him occassionally go there on his own if he takes his phone with him so I can contact him regularly?

GooseyLoosey Tue 05-Mar-13 15:09:37

Wouldn't let mine do it.

LeMousquetaireAnonyme Tue 05-Mar-13 15:14:48

I would let my just 8 years old DD go if I still leave in the UK could see the whole park from my window. Here I can't, park too far away, but I have been sitting on a bench since she was 4/5 now letting her do her thing, really out of sight now for about 2 years.
She knows the boundaries, not following anybody and always asking me if she is not sure. I do keep an eye on her (especially that now she is followed by DD2 who is only 3)

Iseeall Tue 05-Mar-13 15:16:29


CaptainSweatPants Tue 05-Mar-13 15:17:55

In my area only secondary Sch kids have phones

I wouldn't.

7 year olds have phones now?

LeMousquetaireAnonyme Tue 05-Mar-13 15:18:34

she doesn't have a phone.

nannyof3 Tue 05-Mar-13 15:18:58


nannyof3 Tue 05-Mar-13 15:19:26

Cant u do some work in the park?

IncognitoIsMyFavouriteWord Tue 05-Mar-13 15:20:28

mine did at that age very much so and I lived opposite a park when I was a child and I was much younger than 7.

Now I know times are different but I'm only 33 so it wasn't that long ago.

It basically depends if you can trust your son to check before crossing the road and to never ever leave the park except to come home.

No way on this earth, I have just started letting mine play in the playground while I do a 5 min lap of the park with the dogs and dd1 is 9.5yo. Also out of interest why the phone? dd1 wants one but I said until I let her g places on her own she doesn not need one.

HerNibs1980 Tue 05-Mar-13 15:23:37

Not entirely sure why the topic of conversation is turning towards the fact my son has a phone at happens to be so his father, who lives 400 miles away can contact him direct without having to go through me. Although not really sure what is so offensive about him having a phone. But to those who commented regarding my question, thank you for confirming what I was thinking, which is to tell my son No he cant go on his own. Was only asking as he's been going on so much I started to doubt my judgement and wanted to ask other peoples opinions.

Its not offensive in the slightest, I was interested smile

HerNibs1980 Tue 05-Mar-13 15:39:15

Oh no not yourself as you seemed to genuinely ask, smile whereas other comments on the thread seem to not answer the question I asked at all yet make it apparent they have no approval for the fact my 7 year old has a phone. Although its only a bog standard cheap as chips Nokia that doesnt even get internet and looks more like a toy then anything, it seems to have been met with alot of unnecessary disapproval. sad

Wallace Tue 05-Mar-13 15:39:20

Of course he can go on his own. Unless it is a very busy road.

HerNibs1980 Tue 05-Mar-13 15:43:03

No its not a busy road at all, its on a quiet estate, where loads of young kids hang out on their own. And due to my course and the fact I have 2 younger ones and being a single parent I cant always take him when he wants to go. But the worry is always there that what if he gets snatched you know? Just didnt know if I was being too overprotective or if I was justified in my concerns as I was getting the whole "But they're over there on their own, why cant I" routine.

nickelbabe Tue 05-Mar-13 15:46:36

no, I wouldn't.

front garden, fine, but not park.

I have no problems with him having a phone, but would not trust him to be able to use it properly in case of emergency (what i mean is he might panic and not ring you etc)(certainly not that he's not trustworthy but that i don't think he'd be developmentally adept)

If you were outside too, then I would say okay.

KateShrub Tue 05-Mar-13 15:50:18

This is common in civilized countries, but not in this one, sadly.

HerNibs1980 Tue 05-Mar-13 15:51:33

No I think the same. He can use the phone in a calm manner, but like you say if something happened and he paniced would he be able to still use it properly. Am going to have to tell him he has to wait a while yet and just have to put up with going couple times a week or when weather is nice. What age do you think a child should be allowed to the park on their own?? Just I want to make sure I'm not wrapping him in too much cotton wool and let him have some freedom and responsibility, but dont wat to endanger him in the process.

HerNibs1980 Tue 05-Mar-13 15:53:22

Kateshrub, do you mean not this one as in not in the UK?? As I see your point, too many children go missing nowadays, its not like when I was a child and used to go out on my own really young.

Wallace Tue 05-Mar-13 15:53:24

Honestly I see no reason why not. He is more likely to hit by a squirrel throwing nuts out of a nearby tree than be snatched, honest!

You could start by letting him go for 10 minutes (he could tell the time on his phone) and build up the time slowly - if he doesn't come back when he is supposed to then he doesn't get to go next time.

HerNibs1980 Tue 05-Mar-13 15:56:44

This is such a tough one, as i'd love to let him, I just have this constant fear of "What if..." You know?? I'd never forgive myself if something happened to him.

nickelbabe Tue 05-Mar-13 15:56:51

you don't need to say "oh we'll look at it again in such and such time"

maybe just keep an eye on him when he plays - go with him but stay on the edge of the park, or tell him he can go ahead of you and you'll follow on in 5 minutes (increasing the time by 5 minutes every now and then)

make sure he is always careful of the road and if he shows signs of forgetting, go back to "no not at all"

thinking1 Tue 05-Mar-13 15:57:17

I would let him go.

minicreamegg Tue 05-Mar-13 15:57:37

You can see the park from the window so I would let him go.

Wallace Tue 05-Mar-13 15:58:23

I took Kateshrub to mean that it is common for 7 year olds to go to the park themselves in civilised countries but unfortunately not the UK grin

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Tue 05-Mar-13 16:02:47

If you are confident he can cross the old, and the park is not frequented by dangerous dogs/gangs/alcoholics/drug addicts then I would let him go.

Bad things happening to kids are incredibly rare, at least as rare as they were when we were all wee. Bad stuff is just reported more in the media and much more hysterically.

You need to be worried about the cars, not the peeedos...

LeMousquetaireAnonyme Tue 05-Mar-13 16:03:24

My "no phone comment" was because I said I would let DD1 go in my 1st post and she has no phone.

There no more children snatched than before it is on the news more though.

CPtart Tue 05-Mar-13 16:03:29

I have a 7 year old and I would say no.

HerNibs1980 Tue 05-Mar-13 16:05:46

That might be an idea, like maybe when I take the kids to the park with me I set off with the younger 2 and tell him he can stay an extra 5 mins and walk really slowly out of the park, and do that for a while and see how we get on??

HerNibs1980 Tue 05-Mar-13 16:09:29

Me too Wallace, thats what I thought. Lol. :D he's actually really good at crossing roads. And the one between us and the park probably has one once every ten mins as its just a little estate road so not busy at all.

TheChaoGoesMu Tue 05-Mar-13 16:13:38

Not sure really. It depends what its like where you live. I couldn't do it here, but I let my 5 yr old do it with a little group ranging from 5 to 8 when we were in france.

Meglet Tue 05-Mar-13 16:15:21

My gut instinct is yes. You can see the park and the road isn't busy.

My 6yo DS has played out the front (out of my sight) with some slightly older children. If there was a quiet park and a road I think would be tempted to let him do it. I know we did when I was a kid, there was a big group of us though.

DeepRedBetty Tue 05-Mar-13 16:21:18

I let mine go when they were in Year 5. But they're twins, and had very strict instuctions to stay together - and I got an older lady, a friend of mine who they didn't really know very well - to go and spy on them check they were behaving the first couple of times too grin

mercibucket Tue 05-Mar-13 16:30:43

You have to go with your own gut instinct on this one, I'm afraid.
I might, if he was a mature 7 year old. I definitely would at 8, but then I am happy enough with our local area. I don't let mine take phones out with them though in case it gets lost or broken

SusannahL Tue 05-Mar-13 16:31:04

This is a very interesting discussion as I have often wondered if my now gownup offspring were still children ,if I would give them the same freedom they enjoyed when they were young.
Mine played outisde under the conditions which HerNibs described. I had plenty of freedom as a child as did my mother. It is so sad that this generation of children is the first not to be given the same amount of freedom to just 'be children' - ride their bikes, climb trees etc.

The point is are we living in more dangerous times now ? Clearly there is far more traffic, but ARE there really more 'weirdos' out there or are they just reported more?

I would say yes let your son prove himself to you to be trusted. He will feel so proud and grown up!

Kendodd Tue 05-Mar-13 16:36:30

I would let him go.

I would be terrified doing so, but I know that that fear is irrational, not risk based, so if I didn't let him go it would be for my benefit (spare me the fear) rather than his. I know there is a tiny risk but I think the benefits for him far outweigh this. Of course this all depends on the child.

I remember seeing on the telly once that 25 years ago the average eight year old could play half a mile from home unaccompanied, now they are not allowed out of their garden without an adult.

FeelsSad Tue 05-Mar-13 16:47:48

I have done so with my two and have no regret at all. There is no way I would have been able to spend that much time at the park.
I started with a short time. 5 minutes more on their own after a trip to the park. I knew they were ok to cross the road. They always have time by which they have to be back home. Started with 5 or 10 minutes. Now building up to 30 min.
It is working well and giving them some independence.
What I would be looking at is who s going to the park but from our description there seems to be quite a few young children, perhaps some friends from school t

thinking1 Tue 05-Mar-13 16:47:59

Agree we give our children much less freedom than I certainly had as a child. It's very sad.

My 8 year old plays out with his friends, he rides his bike with them, scoots, plays in the park. He knows when to come home, and he knows not to stay out on his own. I can't see him at all. Sometimes I let him go to the football pitch around the corner with his brother who is 6 - conditions that they stay together, they only go there and nowhere else, and they come back if there's a problem.

By 12 they'll need to walk to school across town by themselves. How will they manage that if we don't let them out at all until they are over 10?

Personally I don't think there are more "weirdos" out there now. But there is a more powerful media.

FeelsSad Tue 05-Mar-13 16:51:07

.... Some friends from school to play with.
No phone for either. I think, apart from the risk of the phone getting lost or broken, it might also attract the wrong sort of attention.

5madthings Tue 05-Mar-13 16:55:59

Yes I would let him, start by going together then you go home and he can stay an extra ten mins and then come home etc. Its good to start building their independence gradually and a park opposite your house is perfect for that!

nickelbabe Tue 05-Mar-13 16:58:10

I think it's the road that bothers me - that's why i suggested him going on ahead of you so that you can test how well he uses the road when he thinks he's not being watched. smile

Smudging Tue 05-Mar-13 17:11:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WowOoo Tue 05-Mar-13 17:25:56

I've let my almost 7 yr old go with a very sensible 12 yr old boy to the local skate park.

On his own I wouldn't because he's not sensible enough, yet.
He can't be trusted to cross a road on his own. This is my greatest worry. Not the weirdos, but crossing the road. There are some scary drivers out there.

HerNibs1980 Tue 05-Mar-13 17:59:07

Yes I do think its awful that we even have to question this nowadays. When I was a kid I used to go down the local Beacon...(huge hill surrounded by fields), and have a wail of a time with my mates. Some of my best memories came from there. Its such a pity that our kids are so imprisoned. sad I think I may try him bit by bit and see how he goes as he will be 8 in 5 months, is sensible for his age and I dont know...i just trust him you know?....its just others I dont trust.

abbyfromoz Tue 05-Mar-13 18:06:33

No sorry i wouldn't... It's a shame but better safe than sorry... If you know one of the other parents who are with their child at the park perhaps you could ask them to keep an eye on him? 7 is still so little...

Mintberry Tue 05-Mar-13 18:14:48

If you trust the area, I would say go for it. 7 was the age I remember being let out to play by myself (also on a quiet estate) and in all the areas I've lived in since this seems to be the general trend.

I know some people get very paranoid, but you should use your best judgement. I think a little independence can be a good thing.

hellhasnofurylikeahungrywoman Tue 05-Mar-13 18:22:53

But why are children today not as free to roam? The risk from cars is greater but the risks of being murdered by a random stranger is no greater now than it was 50 years ago.

atrcts Wed 06-Mar-13 02:02:19

I wouldn't. A 7 year old is vulnerable even if they're well behaved and trustworthy!

I think of parents like the little girl April who was recently allowed to play nearby because 'all the other kids can' and it had always been safe, and how much they tragically must wish they'd have chosen a different path.

I know just because it happens to one parent it doesn't happen to them all, but at 7 I wouldn't take that chance.

Twinklestarstwinklestars Wed 06-Mar-13 03:03:13

My nearly 8 year old has been playing at the park next to our house (no road just over a fence) since he was 5 so I would if you think they're sensible enough.

My ds has a phone too so I can ring him if he goes to a friends house and I need him back, but he doesn't carry it all the time.

pamelat Wed 06-Mar-13 12:48:17


I'd take my work with me to the park bench

SelfRighteousPrissyPants Wed 06-Mar-13 13:45:45

Yes. The only danger that has increased since we were all allowed out on our own is traffic. If your road is a quiet one there's no problem. No more strangers abduct/kill children than before. If you let your child visit other people without you that is as dangerous! April Jones was taken by a friend's Dad not a stranger.

nickelbabe Wed 06-Mar-13 15:04:18

I don't think it's about being abducted - it's about safety in all sorts of areas - cars, accidents, etc

UseHerName Wed 06-Mar-13 15:09:11

hmmm yeah, in these circumstance, i would - since you can see it. is there a little crowd of his friends he can go with??

thinking1 Wed 06-Mar-13 15:56:15

How are our children to learn to deal with risk and decision making if we never allow them any kind of freedom, or to take any measured forms of risk? They'll get to secondary school age, and have to walk to school across town, but won't have been out of the sight of a parent? How will they cope? Surely the situation OP describes is a PERFECT way to start her DS on the road to independence, in small baby steps?

The risks of a child being abducted by a stranger are miniscule. If we become a society that won't let children do anything because of the miniscule possibility they may be abducted, then I worry what sort of society we will have in 30 years - micro managed probably.

As for road crossing, surely we should be teaching our children how to cross a road safely from the time they start to walk or even before. Clearly not on their own at that age, but I would have thought that a child who is nearly 8 should be able to cross a quiet road safely.

bingodiva Wed 06-Mar-13 16:08:21

yes i would let mine go, dont see a problem with it.

NeverendingStoryteller Wed 06-Mar-13 21:14:09

My 7 year old is allowed to go to the park by himself and has been allowed to do this for at least the past year. He usually meets up with other kids to play football. I tend to wander up every now and then to check, and he has to come home on the hour every hour to check in. If he misses a check-in and I have to go and collect him, he has to come home.

WeAllHaveWings Wed 06-Mar-13 21:35:28

we also stay in a quiet estate with few cars and no through traffic

when ds was 7 he was allowed to play in our cul-de-sac, but not go past a certain lamppost, which he was very good at, even when his friends went and played further away. He was allowed to the park around the corner out of sight of the house last summer when he was 8.

Is it a park (large area, with trees, adults, dog walkers etc) or a playground (mostly kids)?

If its a playground in sight of your windows I would have let ds go at 7. If its a park would have been more wary.

HerNibs1980 Thu 07-Mar-13 13:00:42

Wow, this thread has generated alot more interest then I expected. smile The thing with April Jones as well is that she was still out playing at 7.30pm at night, my children are in bed by 7pm so they'd be home eating and bathing by 5.30pm.

And its not just about me taking "work to the park" as a couple of people have suggested.

a) That would not work as I have 2 young ones, 4 and 3, which would not allow me to work at the park and I tend to do my work when the kids are in bed in the evening, and

b) it's not just about work. Its about me rushing in from a long day at uni, running around trying to get tea on at the same time as tidy up from the morning, help the kids do their homework and generally do mum/house stuff which I cant do during the day due to me attending lectures at university until 4-5pm most days and it is this fact which does not allow me to take them to the park every day, not my "work".

Its about giving him the freedom do pop over to the park for half hour to an hour while I cook their tea so he's life isnt constantly just school-childminder-home-bed!! smile

HerNibs1980 Thu 07-Mar-13 13:02:08

*his not he's, and *to not do. lol

BobblyGussets Thu 07-Mar-13 13:14:31

How about you let him go as long as he is with mates and then "spy" on him from your window so you can tell if he is sensible when he thinks you aren't
looking? That way, you have done a little check for peace of mind.

I find it ridiculous that someone up thread wouldn't let their 9 and a half year old out unless they have SN. My Ds was allowed out at about the age of 8, told to come home if his mates drifted off and not to play alone. We did the road safety and "stranger danger" talk and that was that. My youngest is only 4 and a half, and although I wouldn't let him out now, I can see myself letting him when he is about six, with DS1 who would be 11 by then. I would never have let DS1 out at that age, but he didn't have a big brother.

Good luck, and if you do let him out, enjoy the peace.

ThingummyBob Thu 07-Mar-13 13:16:14

I let my dc's out at this age OP smile

I don't believe children are in any more danger than ten, twenty of fifty years ago. In fact I believe they are far safer at times due to the restrictions we all put on them and the fact that kids do have phones, so help can be called quickly in case of accident and injury grin

I decide each request at the time its made. Sometimes I am probably a bit unreasonable and say no for no apparent reason other than my instinct, but as I do give them a reasonable amount of freedom most of the time they respect my silly concerns decision.

MrsSham Thu 07-Mar-13 13:30:21

I would, my 7 year old plays out, if there are others his age unaccompanied and you can see the park I think its safe enough. I would just go through some basic rules of safety. My dd must come home if no other children are playing out or if everyone else goes home and she must never leave any friend alone with out telling each other if they go home.

Chopstheduck Thu 07-Mar-13 13:38:02


I let my 7yo twins play out last summer within sight of the house and to the park, two roads away with either ds1 (10) or dd (12). I don't let them go together, because they are more sensible as individuals.

I won't let them go to the park at the moment, just because the park is too quiet and it is out of sight. I'd let them if I could see them. As the weather warms up, and the park gets busier again, I will let them. I'm not so worried about abduction, but if one of the kids hurt themselves, and there is nobody around to help.

I',m not sure I would let a 7 year old carry a phone, I'd be worried about it being stolen from him and him getting hurt. It might be a cheap nokia, but I'd still worry about the risk. Surely with the park opposite you can shout for him if need be - or get a whistle!

Issy Thu 07-Mar-13 13:38:03

We've talked to the DCs about 'stranger danger' but sometimes it's hard for children to know who is a 'stranger' and who isn't. So our rule is that everyone is a stranger unless they have eaten a meal with us in our house. We're very sociable but that rule still makes the circle of trusted people fairly tight and all the people with whom we might have the odd friendly conversation but don't actually know - the parents of a school friend we may have bumped into in the playground, the school caretaker, the guy who runs the corner shop - are still "strangers". The only exception to this is the DCs' current and past teachers.

Having said that, I still think the roads are a way, way bigger risk.

anotherbrewplease Thu 07-Mar-13 13:46:40

It's a tricky one. For me personally I say no to my 7 year old - even though the park is literally just 5 mins walk away. This is because around 6 years ago when my sons were that age, a car with 2 men stopped near the park, and they talked to some children playing there, and tried to persuade them to get in the car to come and see some puppies confused. I know it was a long time ago, but that incident remains at the back of my mind, and my daughter is very small in height etc still and would not stand a chance if someone tried to force her into a vehicle. We live in an extremely quiet village with very little traffic.

With my sons, I waited until they were in year 5 before going to park on their own. With DD, I don't even know about that, but perhaps I am overprotective.

MrsSham Thu 07-Mar-13 13:51:33

I think its impossible to say who is and isn't safe issy, that list is very confusing to me as an adult. I go with the never go any where with anyone is not your parent or aunts and uncles, because unless there was an emergency I would never send anyone for you, and in the event of a emergency the only people who I would send for them would be an aunt or uncle and strictly no one else.

I would filter your list down to relatives or one or two very very close friends who are in agreement that in the event of an emergency you would call upon them.

merrymouse Thu 07-Mar-13 13:56:25

It's difficult to judge without knowing the park and your house. If it's virtually your garden and it is full of parents and children you know and you all have similar rules (e.g. about what behaviour is acceptable, which areas are in and out of bounds) then cautiously yes.

If it is mainly deserted, and there is one swing swinging eerily, a crisp packet blowing bleakly across the tarmac, then no.

fififrog Thu 07-Mar-13 20:27:26

My DD is only nearly 2 so I have no direct experience but I just wanted to say that I read an article in, of all places, the national trust magazine a year or so ago which said that people's fear of their kids being snatched is actually unrealistic and no more likely today than it was in the 70s or whenever. What has changed considerably is the likelihood of being hit by a car, so as long as you can supervise the road crossing he should be fine. Maybe you could do some research on the crime figs at the local library to satisfy yourself that your fears are hopefully unjustified?

ChristmasJubilee Fri 08-Mar-13 18:37:09

No I wouldn't let mine go. I think it is too young.

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