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At what age do you let your children play in your backyard without you?

So I live in a small town of around 800. it is a very safe town and for the most part we have great neighbors. but my beighbor lets her kids play in her yard, unsupervised, and it is not a fenced in yard. they have a swingset with a slide, and lots of toys out there (that they are usually not interested in) The girls 6 and 4 1/2, but I know that she was letting them play alone last summer as well.
It makes me & my DH uncomfortable cuz when we take our 3 yr old son out to play, we end up having to watch all of them! and we dont let out son play alone! they end up wanting turns on his mortorized tractor. I know he needs to share, but the problem is they dont take care of it. i watched the little one slam it head first into a tree at full speed the other day. my son doesnt treat his toys that way so we will be very upset if they break it! I was jstu wondering what age people ususally let their LO's play alone?


Asked by Anonymous at 12:04 AM on Apr. 15, 2009 in General Parenting

This question is closed.
Answers (16)
  • I let my kids starting around 5 years old, with the back window open and me watching, plus we have a fenced yard and a very good gaurd dog who would let me know if anyone even wlked down the street while the kids were out there. I still dont let my 8 yo play ouitside in the front by huimself, but we live in a bigger city and not in the best of neighborhoods.

    We have a neighbor like that too (that doesnt take care of my kids tuff, breaks things occasionaly) I just tell him no, he lives with his dad and dad works nights so big brother watches him most of the day. At first I would tell my kids to share, then I saw how it was effecting them and figured I needed to teach them the appropriate times to say no, when it was okay not to share, and I back them up 100% when they do it. Special or expensive toys with this kid I say no even if my boys don't. Bottom line you have to protect their stuff if the mom wont supervise properly

    Answer by AK_aries at 9:37 AM on Apr. 15, 2009

  • My yard has a high fence and when they play (ages 4.5 and 6) I am always in the kitchen or by the back door to the yard so I can always hear or see them. I still feel uncomfortable. You, though, have a problem that I don't have an answer to. I think you'll end up having to either not play with them or you'll have to chat with the parents about how you've taught your kids to really be gentle with nice toys and to respect them and if their child can't be the same he can't play on your stuff as it's a bad role model that you don't want your kids to emulate. Or the like! good luck.

    Answer by jeanclaudia at 12:11 AM on Apr. 15, 2009

  • I think it all depends on the area you live in and the maturity of your children. I have 4 children (they are all old enough to play outside on their own) but my kids started playing outside without me between 5 and 6. When it comes to the 6 year old watching a 4 year old, no way. Not on your life. If they are being rough with your son's toys I would go and talk to the parents. Hopefully they will understand. If they don't then it comes down to you having to tell their kids they can not play with his toys if they are going to treat them that way. It is your right to do so.

    Answer by craftykidsclub at 12:13 AM on Apr. 15, 2009

  • If it was anybody else's kids I would have already talked to them, but I am good friends with this neighbor! we used to be really close, but we have drifted this last year because I dont agree with how she raises her kids, and I dont want mine around it. and also her and my mom got into a huge fight at MY SON'S birthday party cuz her daughter was being a brat and my mom scolded her. I admit my mom was partially to blame here....but this friend can be a HUGE B!TCH! so now i jsut talk to her now and then, and we rarely do playdates, if we do I am always there. I caught the 6 yr old spanking my son a couple weeks ago! Too bad he loves them and wants to play with them all the time!! Thank you all for you advice! I was starting to feel like i was jsut being judgemental, now I know that Im not the only one who feels this way!

    Answer by Anonymous at 12:48 AM on Apr. 15, 2009

  • Yeah, I'd talk to the parents about it directly. Especially if you can think of a specific moment where one - or both - of the kids was in danger of being hurt and no one (except for you and your husand) was around to help. They definitely shouldn't have kids if they don't know how to take care of them, but...maybe they need a reminder that letting children that young play alone isn't cool. Sounds like they're easy targets for kidnapping!

    Answer by MommyDumDum at 12:48 AM on Apr. 15, 2009

  • we have a fenced in backyard and my daughter plays out there by herself whenever she wants..and she has since she was around 2...the dog goes out there with her tho, and if even the neighbors get to close to the fence he will bark non stop..or if someone pulls into the driveway or walks up it he barks non i hear barking i go outside..but whenever she is outside my door is always open so i can hear her!! plus i check on her every few minutes!! but shes lways screaming or yelling or talking loudly anyways, everyone can hear

    Answer by alexis_06 at 2:08 AM on Apr. 15, 2009

  • We have a fenced in yard and its small so I let them run amuck out there now. We let our oldest do that around age 3 cuz it was fenced in and small(area wise).
    So although I dont go back there and stare at them Im very nearby and check on them every few mins unless I hear something or sense something that needs to be checked right then.

    Answer by BonesDragonDew at 7:54 AM on Apr. 15, 2009

  • My kids are 8 & 5, and I will leave them outside to answer the phone, use the bathroom, start dinner, but I don't generally let them play out there alone. Our yard is fenced, and we have a dog, but my boys are climbers, and I'm just too afraid they will climb the fence.

    In your situation, I'd tell the girls that unless mommy or daddy is willing to come with them to play, they need to stay home. My nieghbor doesn't watch her kids, either, and that's what I had to do. Her son (also 5, in my youngest son's class) would cross the street in front of vehicles, and I just couldn't stand being the ONLY one to tell him he shouldn't do that. So, I told him if mom or dad wanted to come with him, he could come play, otherwise I told him I couldn't watch him. As for the spanking, I'd confront the mom. No one, especially a child, ever spanks my kid. I would not sit by and allow that to happen. That alone would end the kids coming over.

    Answer by tropicalmama at 8:08 AM on Apr. 15, 2009

  • I think that it all depends on a variety of factors. Not just a fence, but the area you live in, how well you know all your neighbors, even the terrain of the yard, other dangers such as pools nearby, access to garages, etc. I know we decided against buying a house that the backyard was backed up by the city park. The fence even had a gate to get to the park, but I didn't feel like that was a good idea. Who knows whose hanging around the park? Thirty years ago, that would have been fantastic.

    Answer by Lesli at 8:12 AM on Apr. 15, 2009

  • My DD is going to be 4 on the 29 she has been playing out in the backyard by herself since last summer, but that is because it is fenced in and we have a dog and the dog goes out back with her he is like my babysitter lol. He will stay in the backyard if she is back there, but as soon as she comes inside he will get out of the fence if you don't wantch him. I am always checking on her though and if the dog barks i am running to the door lol. I am usually down in the living roomm though I will not go upstairs if she is outside by herself.

    Answer by mommy5409 at 8:17 AM on Apr. 15, 2009