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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?!

Lawabidingmama Fri 19-Apr-13 21:33:48

YADNBU would dream of letting a child this young play out in a million years, IMHO this is completely irresponsible and no the alternative would not be that my children are inside watching TV its that I'm out in the garden playing with them!

Inthepotty Fri 19-Apr-13 21:35:29

My DD is nearly 4- and I let her play out in our cul de sac. There are now 16 kids who live here, ranging from 4 up to 12. Plus all their friends! The older ones play with the little ones, there is always a parent hanging around the front bit, I can see from living room windows. DD checks in constantly. They are not allowed past 'number 5' house. I have 4 DC though, so lots of pairs of eyes about.

Hard to judge without knowing full circumstances. For eg of siblingsc, My 7yo DTs are pretty responsible. My 9yo DSlives in his own little world!

everlong Fri 19-Apr-13 21:45:39

Inthepotty if your 4 year old went missing or had another accident ( god forbid ) would you blame the other children for not looking after her?

HappyMummyOfOne Fri 19-Apr-13 22:00:00

YANBU, its way to young.

We live in a very quiet area but am still reluctant to wllow DS out alone and hes much older.

Even if there are older children playing out, the parents not other children should be responsible for them. Siblings are not childcare, well unless teens and being paid to babysit.

expatinscotland Sat 20-Apr-13 09:32:31

I'm agog at peoples' abdication of responsibility under the pretext of fostering independence in children too young to even be able to cognitively understand the concept fully.

NorthernLurker Sat 20-Apr-13 09:40:43

Children aged 7-10 aren't capable of being responsible for any other child. Come to that a 7 yr old shouldn't be playing out either - they aren't old enough to manage traffic safety which is the most likely disaster to befall them. I think the usual age quoted is 8-9? My daughter is nearly 6 (tomorrow). She doesn't play out and won't be doing so for two years. If she wants to scoot outside we go with her or her 12 or 15 yr old sister does - they ARE old enough to be responsible and independant. There are a lot of kids who do play out and have done for years. The weekend after April Jones went missing one of the dads sat out at the front and read a paper whilst they played. I sympathised with his fears but the likliest thing to happen to any of those kids was a traffic accident and that's always been the case and always will be.

RedHelenB Sat 20-Apr-13 12:54:48

I think kids playing out is positive to their development. On a website we can't know if traffic wise it is safe or not but I would say that a quiet cul de sac where you can see/ hear from the house is ok. I do agree about the traffic awareness but I think that is more in line with crossing a road, (judging how big a gap to leave in order to cross safely )My ds knows that if a car comes he goes onto the pavement & he's not yet 7.

MomsNetCurtains Sat 20-Apr-13 12:59:25

YANBU. Older children around or not, if I had a 4 year old, they would not be playing on the road - cul de sac or not. What is wrong with people? sad

NorthernLurker Sat 20-Apr-13 13:38:33

'I think kids playing out is positive to their development' only if they actually get to grow up.

Problem with cul de sacs are that drivers coming in often don't pay close attention because they're nearly home and are thinking about what's for tea or what to wear later rather than hazards on the road - because they're nearly home nothing will/can go wrong. Also there's a lot of reversing vehicles and a 4 yr old is too young to reliably get out of the way OR to be seen.

RedHelenB Sat 20-Apr-13 13:41:50

I was walking to school by myself age 7 in this country. In a lot of countries this is considered the norm. Ds age 6 is out now with his penny floater, I can see him from the window & hear cos the front door is open. We live at the bottom of a small cul de sac.

Soupa Sat 20-Apr-13 13:47:41

This child isn't seven he has just turned four, he isn't in view or within hearing. It is neglect and no more appropriate for him to be out alone than home alone.

CarpeVinum Sat 20-Apr-13 13:49:02

I'm agog at peoples' abdication of responsibility under the pretext of fostering independence in children too young to even be able to cognitively understand the concept fully.

I have a question. I'm British, but left when I was 21 and am now ...much older. Reading UK parent oreinted forums, independance is a thing. Not totally unlike it is here, but there is more importance placed upon it over your end.

I may be reading too much into it, but would it be fair to say that right from being very very small there is a great amount of emphasis on creating independance as fast as possible ?

And is this a new thing, or did I just forget it was part of the culture ?

I'm a bit taken aback by some comments on this thread and another in particular, cos while I and my peers value independence it generally isn't given a priority over significant risk and develpmental readiness. Rather the oppostie, it takes a bit of a back seat compared to other considerations (not saying that is always a good thing, and over here there can be some foot dragging creating indepdendance wise) so I'm wondering if there is a cultural leaning behind some of the posts ?

Saski Sat 20-Apr-13 14:07:38

I think the whole move towards kids independence is quite understandable given that they've been stripped of much of the freedoms that we enjoyed as kids, like playing outside unattended.

I live in London so it's out of the question for my kids to play outside alone (we have a postage stamp back garden with a wall; obviously they can play there) - I would welcome some kind of culdesac situation where they could safely play.

I think it's very hard to make an summary judgement of whether a 4 year old can safely play unattended in some area without understanding the area or the child. I don't even remember exactly what a 4 year old is like, my youngest is 7.

expatinscotland Sat 20-Apr-13 14:37:02

Sure are a hell of a lot of 'quiet cul de sacs' in MN land. hmm

AnyFucker Sat 20-Apr-13 14:40:38


And every single one of them has zero boy racers, preoccupied drivers, cars with 100% 3D surround-vision AND populated by children who never do anything unpredictable

It's quite marvellous, really

expatinscotland Sat 20-Apr-13 14:46:24

I'm 42, plenty of us 'played out' because our parents couldn't be arsed. Scads of accidents that I can remember - not just knee scrapes, but stitches/broken bones/requires a doctor sort - and 2 deaths (a drowning and a RTA).

What Northern said, what good is all this 'independence' to one who doesn't live to grow up?

We don't have a garden, we live in a flat. Is it a PITA to haul the 4 and 7-year-old out to play? Yes. But it's my responsibility to do the best I can to try to keep them safe until they are old enough to do it themselves, and they are not now, even though the 7-year-old is 'sensible'.

The April Jones' of this world are very rare, but they do exist and more than that so do many, many who are hit by a motor vehicle.

RedHelenB Sat 20-Apr-13 14:46:38

He was with other children though I think. As I said, it is hard to judge without actually being there. But it IS a car driver's responsibility to reverse safely & obviously if you can see/hear children playing then it is your responsibility TO CHECK CAREFULLY before moving off.

MomsNetCurtains Sat 20-Apr-13 14:47:33

Sure are a hell of a lot of 'quiet cul de sacs' in MN land. hmm

Exactly. FOUR years old?! Wouldn't be out of my sight! I'm 35 so I grew up in the age of 'playing outside', but that was from the age of TEN and up!

NorthernLurker Sat 20-Apr-13 14:50:40

Redhelen - doesn't matter how carefully you check. If a very small child moves behind your car when you're reversing HOW can you see them? You may catch sight in your wing mirrors, you will see them in your rear view if far enough away but if they walk right behind you you won't see them. It's a nightmare - and one which lies with PARENTS not drivers to manage. Useful word for parents 'no'.

RedHelenB Sat 20-Apr-13 14:59:00

Not everyone lives in cities or London on MN! Surely if you see children playing out as you get in your car you take extra care Northern Lurker? I agree with you that a four year old by themselves is not a good idea BUT OP did say he was with a group of children & I've never known a group of children play quietly!!! And I agree that ultimately it is up to the parents to monitor.
Maybe it's where I live but kids play out & I think it's a plus point.

everlong Sat 20-Apr-13 14:59:01

I live on a quiet cul-de-sac. One where children play out from a young age because it's safe.

But at four I didn't trust ds. No chance. There is a river at the end of the path for a start and it's a cut through to get to the village so lots of people walking through.

NorthernLurker Sat 20-Apr-13 15:01:33

hmm Of course I take care. However I cannot see through a car bonnet or boot. hmm

RedHelenB Sat 20-Apr-13 15:12:34

I appreciate what you are saying Northern but I personally would wait till that group of children were a safe distance away before reversing.

expatinscotland Sat 20-Apr-13 15:15:05

'I appreciate what you are saying Northern but I personally would wait till that group of children were a safe distance away before reversing.'

Because none of them would ever run after a ball, trip and fall, or anything like that.

McNewPants2013 Sat 20-Apr-13 15:18:01

I with allow DD and Ds aged almost 4 and 7 out the back garden unsupervised which has panel fencing all the way around, no way would I allow them to play out the front garden because they would be out of the front gate and where a car could run them over or they would go missing.

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