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

(100 Posts)
Idbeloveandsweetness Fri 19-Apr-13 19:42:04

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?!

Icelollycraving Fri 19-Apr-13 19:46:22

Yanbu. That's much too young IMO to play outside without a parent.

Fargo86 Fri 19-Apr-13 19:46:50

Doesn't seem too wrong on a culdesac with older sibling and other older children with him.

Fanjounchained Fri 19-Apr-13 19:47:10

You will probably be told that you are being judgey but at 4yrs old neither of my two would be further than my front garden. I can pap them out the front in the morning when I'm putting my slap on and watch them from the living room window. But I know other Mums on the estate where I live that are quite happy to let their 4 or 5 yr old wander to the other side of the estate. My two are 3 and 5.....

LindseyLittle Fri 19-Apr-13 19:48:06

Far too young in my opinion, but then I know a woman who let her 2 year old (now 3) play out with 'all the kids from the street' and thinks that it is fine. He is an only child, so just out with kids from the other houses, not even with an older brother or something to look out for him. I was shock when she told me and had to hide my judgy tendancies grin

badguider Fri 19-Apr-13 19:48:23

I grew up in a cul-de-sac where children were out from about 3yo in a group, it was generally assumed that the older children would look out for the younger ones and also all the parents generally kept half an eye out on all the children (and could certainly all be trusted not to run them over!).

But there wasn't a single house in our cul-de-sac where we didn't know the family who lived there... and only one house didn't have children in the 'group' themselves. maybe it was a different era... ?

But because of this I wouldn't say what age is too young or old enough, i'd always judge it on the individual situation.

Molehillmountain Fri 19-Apr-13 19:48:34

I wouldn't do it, but actually, I reckon he'll be fine and it's far better than the alternative of him being indoors a the time watching telly because his mum is too scared to let him out.

expatinscotland Fri 19-Apr-13 19:48:51

You'll get flamed for this and told older siblings make perfectly sensible and responsible guides for young children, but IMO YANBU at all.

AnyFucker Fri 19-Apr-13 19:50:14

Of course it is too young

I took a child of a similar age home once, knocked on the door and said "I think X must have got out of your garden without you realising..." (I knew full well she hadn't)

I got a mouthful of abuse (and made a call to SS)

UnscentedStillRomantic Fri 19-Apr-13 19:51:15

Yadnbu. Mine were much older before they were allowed out to play away from the garden.

Happens a lot where I live though. I'm very judgey knickers about it. One used to sit in the roadshock

KurriKurri Fri 19-Apr-13 19:52:07

No YANBU or judgey. - Four is too young to have any road sense or safety awareness (and even if he did know about stranger danger four year olds can be easily overpowered) and a 7 year old is not old enough to have sole responsibility for a four year old (as evidenced by the fact that he went off and left his little brother alone).

I don't know why people think seven year old sibling can look after younger children, - would you employ a seven year old baby sitter for your under fives?

olibeansmummy Fri 19-Apr-13 19:53:19

YANBU ds is 4 next month and is years off being allowed to play out alone.

2 years ago a boy on our street started playing out at just turned 4 years old. He took a liking to ds probably as he was always outside with us. He used to follow us when we went for a walk and several times I had to turn back as he followed us off the street and u didn't want to be accused of child abduction!

He also used to come in our garden and in the end he broke our neighbours conservatory window by throwing stones ( he was in her drive way and dh had told him to get off it several times that day). The police were involved and the dad ended up threatening my neighbour!

He was just too young to be out alone. Mind you he's 2years older now and even more horrible!

Hulababy Fri 19-Apr-13 19:54:35

Far too young, and a 7y is far too young to be responsible for him - as shown by the fact that the 4y has already been left alone playing whilst his brother went in another house.

Parents need to be supervising.

digerd Fri 19-Apr-13 19:55:06

4 is much too young to be riding a bike with parked cars and traffic. The 7 year-old is also too young to be watching him all the time.

AnyFucker Fri 19-Apr-13 19:55:15

I believe there is research that suggests the acquisition of basic road sense, judging the speed of cars and how to get out of the way of them does not develop until the age of 7

thegreylady Fri 19-Apr-13 19:57:08

Much too young-I think 7 is a bit young to be out of sight of home too [obviously ok if he lived in the cul de sac].

CarpeVinum Fri 19-Apr-13 20:00:15


Small enough to not be visible to a reversing car, head to young to be truely "road sense" safe if a ball rolls or a lovely kitty appears on the other side of the road.

We weren't allowed to play on the front side of pur cul di sac until 7 ish I think. All the younger kids would congregate in one or two of the back gardens.

I remember when corralled in the backl I managed to drop a brick on my younger brothers toe. But I did avoid charging in front (or behind a car).

The thing with cul di sacs as well is that they can lull you into a sense of false security. We used to sneak to the open end and dare each other to cross the busier road at the top. Only got caught once and we did it quite a few times (but stopped after getting caught. Scary valkyrie mothers have that effect). I wouldn't put it past a four year old to go off for a wander and end up on a busy road even if they were quite safe in the cul di sac itself.

Not sure if there is anything you can do about it. Other than drive really carefully and be a bit paranoid in checking before reversing and keep an eye for him when you are on the road to see if he is staying more or less where he should.

Idbeloveandsweetness Fri 19-Apr-13 20:06:48

See my ds is four in a couple of months and there's just no way I'd be happy with him being out of my sight. We are in a cul de sac but off a main road which you can cut through to and be on in a matter of metres. The entire estate is like a rabbit warren. I'd worry ds would get lost.
I also think it's too much responsibility at 7, to be expected to look after a 4 year old.

They are still outside now. I think it looks worse because he's tiny tiny tiny. So he looks about 2!

HollyBerryBush Fri 19-Apr-13 20:10:09

I think you have to know your own children and your own area.

Not something I'd have done, DS1 was capable of playing out from 7, DS2, from 9, DS3, from 10/11 - that comes down to 'streetwise' sense - and I don't mean cars!

DS1 would merrily sit in the sitting room window, open wide , chatting to all and sundry that went past.

5madthings Fri 19-Apr-13 20:17:00

Depends on the area and the children.

I let ds4 play out in our cul de sac at four yes (just turned five now) he was out with ds2 and ds3, but our cul de sac is very quiet and I can see then through living room and kitchen windows. So am keeping an eye out.

everlong Fri 19-Apr-13 20:17:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Idbeloveandsweetness Fri 19-Apr-13 20:19:14

Maybe I'm overprotective then...
Perhaps it's different if there's an older sibling.
Don't think it would be so bad if they were by the house but they are right round the corner so no way parents can see them.

Viviennemary Fri 19-Apr-13 20:26:26

I wouldn't be happy to do this myself. But people probably think it is safe enough in a cul de sac and with older children.

Soupa Fri 19-Apr-13 20:28:38

Too young and vulnerable to traffic, too much responsibility for the brother. Actually I would go and speak to the parents or report when seen unattended. Don't care if I seemed judgy much less of a problem then knowing how much I would judge myself if he was in an rta.

He isn't in view, isn't safe and has a complete inability to keep himself safe.

HollyBerryBush Fri 19-Apr-13 20:35:21

20 years ago, when we had our first house and were child free, there used to be a little boy who played out from dawn till dusk (and I do mean 7.30am till 9.30pm), we had a little pathway that lead into the woods, he'd merrily go down it.

In all seriousness, I had no idea of his age. Sometimes when I got home from work he'd approach my car and try and get in, for a chat, like small people do.

We lived there 3 1/2 years, he started school in the September, we moved in the October.

The dawning realisation that an 18 month old was playing out all day from 7.30 in the morning - and it didn't actually hit me until we were ready to move and he was in school uniform.

I did tell my HV about it (the attempt to get in the car) and she wasn't interested at all. Said it wasn't 'her problem'.

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