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What age did you first allow your child to play in the street unsupervised?

(5 Posts)
Alisonjayjay Tue 09-Aug-11 13:46:57

I am writing this as I am nervously watching my 7 year old through the window. He has recently started looking for a bit more to play out in the street with his friends. He is at an age where he is now telling me he wants a little bit more independence and I am nervous about allowing him to roam too far. Am I being too overprotective? If I could I would just keep him at home where I can see him but I know that is unrealistic and I don't want to be this overbearing and overprotective Mum. At the moment I am allowing him to play in his own street and cross the road (carefully) as long as he stays where I can see him from the house. I have went over and over road safety with him (my road is very quiet) and I have warned him that he mustn't go into any of his friends houses without telling me exactly where he is first. He knows not to speak to strangers or go with anyone and there are lots of kids who play outside in the street, some slightly older who are looking out for the younger ones. I have begrudgingly given him this little bit of freedom but I still feel apprehensive about it. Do all Mums worry like this? When is a good age to allow a little bit of freedom like this? Am I being overprotective? Any advice? Thanks!

Mowlem Tue 09-Aug-11 18:59:56

Tbh, the answer to your question depends on so many factors, that it is a bit like how long is a piece of string. Everyone has got very different circumstances and suitable ages for children going out to play will depend on the maturity of your child, the other children out playing too, road safety, general safety, whether other children are out too (slows down traffic, other parents also keeping an eye out and so on..) the general neighbourhood that you live in and so on.... For some the answers to these questions will mean that some children will be able to play out younger than others.

My DD is 7 (8 in a few months) and she has been playing out for the last year, but round here that is the norm and she regularly has friends coming to call for her, and she calls for them too. My DD has a 'route' that she is allowed to ride on her bike and she is also allowed to go to the park with a group of friends (but not alone).

If it helps, we do the following to keep her safe:

* She has specific boundaries that she is not allowed to go past (with anyone).
* She has lots of designated 'safe houses' (the houses of other children) that she can go to if in need (if she felt uncomfortable with a stranger say). From there, she can phone me.
* She doesn't go anywhere without letting me know where she is. For this reason she does now have a mobile phone which she takes with her, as in the past some of her friends have bigger boundaries than her and they went off and left her a few times because she wasn't allowed to go with them.
* She is never alone. If she is, she calls me to come and get her / she comes home.
* She is also well versed in stranger danger and knows what to do in an emergency. I am pleased that on occasions when things have gone wrong (friend fell off bike and hurt themselves), they were extremely sensible and I was very proud of how level headed my DD and her friends actually were.

My DD loves going out on her bike and having that little bit of freedom. I think it gives her confidence and is good for her maturity. When things have gone wrong, I have always been impressed with how she has handled the situation etc. But yes, last year when she first started going out I felt sick with nerves. Now, she practically lives outdoors in the summer and often only comes home for tea (she usually manages to bag a lunch at someone else's house and I have my turn of feeding the tribe that turns up!)

Mowlem Tue 09-Aug-11 19:00:12

Sorry, that was very long.

Alisonjayjay Thu 11-Aug-11 23:29:14

Thanks for the advice and the great tips! I appreciate it.

MrsShrekTheThird Fri 12-Aug-11 00:38:57

Mow, that is a fab post!

I've got a nearly 8yo and I'm in the same spot. Mines a bit of a "boy" in the stereotypical sense - the sort that climbs trees and falls out, plays football and forgets to come home for tea, carries frogs and worms in his pocket. So it's a bit more difficult reaching the point where I trust him to go beyond our gate!! The safe houses idea would be easy, lots of local friends. Love it, thank you!
As well as mobile with essential numbers in, I'm also tempted to set an alarm on his phone to make sure he knows when he needs to be back - 1.5hrs max!!

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