Pre-School

4 yrs old- do you let your kids play in the yard if you can't always see them?

I'm just curious... we have neighborhood friends who regularly allow kids around 4 yrs old (a couple even younger) to play out in the yard/driveway alone and go up & down the sidewalk on scooters or trikes, etc (usually in pairs/twins or if an older sibling is around though the older sibling is not always super close by & often wanders off elsewhere w/ friends) and I have always been uncomfortable with that & didn't think that I would be able to let my kids do that before they're school aged...then w/ all the cleveland stuff I was looking at some links about talking to kids more about strangers/'tricky' people and one tip was like- never let your younger kids out of your sight even for a second...

my kids are now at a point where i trust them not to randomly bolt into the street, they will often play in the mulch beds w/ a digger or with a truck in the driveway for quite some time, etc... I am generally out there but w/ almost 4 yr old twins, if one needs me to get something from the garage or a water from the kitchen or has to run into the bathroom & needs slight assistance, it just is impossible to drag both or the other one along....  but at the same time, just the other day DS needed to go in & I thought DD was following us &I turned around  and she wasn't there & I ran to the front yard and didn't see her and started yelling for her and it was probably all of 20 seconds or so and finally she yells (all annoyed) WHAT?! and was in the mulch and I just didn't see her...

Anyway, we all know what a terrible feeling that is since most ppl have lost sight of a child  at some point but I am trying to figure out how to balance going nuts keeping 2 kids in my sight all the time and being smart/safe.

What do you do when near the house/yard or a place that your child knows well?

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Re: 4 yrs old- do you let your kids play in the yard if you can't always see them?

  • rab2006rab2006
    Eighth Anniversary 500 Comments 25 Love Its
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    Nope - I watch her like a hawk. If she can't stay where I can see her from inside, I'm outside with her. If we had a fully fenced in back yard, I'd prob let her play in the yard by herself, but we don't.
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  • I will run into the house to get something and tell DS to stay where he is.  By nature, he's a cautious kid so I don't worry about him running off.  I am a pretty laid back parent... and I don't worry for a second about my kid getting abducted out of my yard.  Maybe I should, but I don't.  

    I'm glad you made the distinction of "tricky" people.  I think "stranger danger" is not a good way to teach kids about avoiding abduction.  Children should feel safe to talk to "strangers" if they are in trouble/lost/etc.  It is the people that try to give them a ride, candy, etc that are the danger.  

     

  • DD is only 3.5, but no, I wouldn't let her play in the front yard by herself.  We live on a super quiet cul-de-sac in a very family friendly neighborhood, but I'm still not ok with it.  I'm more comfortable letting her play in the backyard alone for a few minutes since I can see the entire yard from the kitchen/family room.
  • I don't leave my DD unattended. I think she is too young.




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  • My FIL watches DD when shes not in school.  he lives in a very nice town on an extremely quiet street full of kids rom ages 5-10 years old.  they often all will play together outside, a group of 8 or so of them.  he will let her play outside with her friends while he is in the house.  he checks on her everyone 10 minutes or so.  She is 5.  Im ok with this considering all of the parameters.
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  • I think the idea that you can NEVER lose sight of small children even for a second is ridiculous. Kidnappings are way down from when we grew up. I'm not saying to let your kids run wild without supervision, but what you're doing when you run in to get water or whatever for a minute is FINE. In fact, it's healthy for the kids.

    I let my kiddo play "unsupervised" in our fenced yard before she turned 3. She has to stay in the fence, and I keep the screen door closed but glass door open so I can hear her. I also look through the window every couple minutes. She loves the independence and I think it's healthy for her.

    We live on a cul de sac that branches off a cul de sac and there are only other cul de sacs in the area. The only street in or out has a very steep hill that LO has been told never ever to climb without me. When she rides her bike, I go with her. I don't run next to her to stay within arm's length though. I watch from a central area and yell when cars come. If she goes down another street, I follow. Occasionally she wants to trade her bike for a scooter or go get a ball from the garage to play with some kids. I stand on the corner at the bottom of the hill and watch. I don't go with her.

    There are often kids out playing in our neighborhood. I stay with LO for now for the most part. I expect to stop totally by around 7 or 8, as long as there's a buddy system, other me than being home and periodic check ins. Except that I love to play with her and hope she'll involve me.

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  • IdaniIdani
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    DS is going to be 4 in September if my husband or myself is not outside, neither is he. When he is outside our rule is if you can't see me I can't see you and that is not ok.  We live on a side street, so he does ride his bike on the sidewalk and driveway but we are always right with him or right on the front porch and see him.  Even if I run inside to grab something he goes too. I'm too afraid to leave him alone, he's to young and could easily still run out in the street out of curiosity and it just takes 2 seconds for something to happen.


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  • *LrCg**LrCg*
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    I allow my 3 & 4 year old yes but obviously through the years they have proven to me that I can trust them and that they listen.  However, we live in the country and my house is over an acre away from the road and we have a gravel driveway so I would hear anyone coming down the driveway (because of a very deep ditch, no one can access our property without going over our bridge).  Now in our backyard we also have a pond about 700 ft from our house but our kids also know how far they can walk out and they do listen to that (we've always set visual boundaries on how far in the front and back yard they can go).  Generally when they are outside and I'm not out, its because I'm working on lunch/dinner and I can glance in the window and they are generally at their sandbox or on their swingset (they are not allowed to do the monkey bars without an adult- they know and honor this).  If I'm rocking the baby, I make them bring their toys onto our porch/deck and they have to play there until I'm done.
  • I'm not ready to let my 3yo out alone for more than the minute or two it takes to grab the phone in the house or go in the garage to grab a toy. Our yard is fully fenced, so they have the run of the yard/fenced area of the driveway and I don't hover right next to them, but I do stay within sight as much as possible and always always withing ear shot. I suppose the fact that we live near train tracks and a corner people are prone to taking at least 15 mph too fast skew my feelings a bit.

    Mama to two sweet girls
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  • Leap08Leap08
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    I've let my daughter (3.5) play by herself in the backyard for a long time. I'll even let DD2 (1.5) play back there with her while I make dinner inside. The yard is fully fenced, I can see them from the window, and I leave the backdoor open so I can hear them. They love to play outside and they like that little bit of freedom. I am not comfortable with them playing in front of the house without me there. Maybe in a year or two I'd be okay with  DD1 being out there by herself. We live on a quiet, very family friendly street, but I'm just not comfortable with it yet. I can't see the front yard from the kitchen, and that may be one of the reasons I don't like it. I also don't see any reason for them to play in front. All of the fun toys are in back.   
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  • I have let my kids play outside without constant direct supervision since my older son was about 4.  But, we don't live on a 'street' per se; our driveway is far, far away from the road.  I have no fear of traffic or a snatching.  I am more concerned about them wandering into the bush than some random human snatching them.

    They are now 4 and nearly 6 and I let them play outside within earshot but not necessarily eyeshot all the time. 

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  • Thanks all.. I think a fence definitely changes the dynamic but so does having more than one child to watch, it is one thing to keep an eye on one kid and take that child in if you have to go in but two kids makes it a lot harder which I think is why I am struggling not to be all over them but still be safe.
    On the tricky ppl note, I saw a great reference post on special needs yesterday I can't link from my phone but the post title was something about stranger danger and someone posted a blog link w really good ideas and references, I even went online and bought a kids book related to it.
  • Alex26Alex26
    Eighth Anniversary 1000 Comments
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    No, because I dont have an enclosed gate in the front yard. He is allowed to play in the back yard which is enlcosed with no access to the front of the house where the street is. But I still leave all the doors open leading to the backyard open so I can keep an eye on him.
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  • rsd12rsd12
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    I do! My kids are three and a half, five, and seven. We also live on a main road with no fence. But our house is set back and we are on an acre. My dog would freak out if anyone pulled in front of our house too! They have earned my trust, but I still check on them.
    Boy 1 2/06 - Boy 2 12/07 - Boy 3 9/09
  • KL777KL777
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    No way.  Our backyard is fenced in all the way around and I still don't let my 5 year old play back there unsupervised.

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  • My son is 3 (4 in June) and starting last summer, I would allow him to play in the backyard if I had to go in for a few minutes.  We have a solid 6 foot privacy fence with gates that are always locked.  There wasn't/isnt things that are inherently risky.  I would either be running in to change DD/check and see if she was up/etc or working in the kitchen (i can see the swingset and water table from there - and his little garden area he would dig in forever is in view of the lower level windows.  I do NOT allow them to play out front alone.  I am not comfortable with it.  We live on an elderly end  of our steet and there are not a lot of people out, we live very close to a major road so if they  decided to walk down to the cul de sac alone they would be just a few feet from cars/trucks going 50 MPH.  We also live near a wooded bike path.  Just too many places for them to wander/get distracted/lost/etc.  However, our house does not have a garage enterance (even thoug te garage is attached) so I have learned that sometimes I have to run in to get something or need to unload, whatever.  They are allowed to sit/play on the front stoop where I can see/hear them because only our next door neighbor could see they are out there.  And my dogs would go crazy if they hear doors close/someone approach.  And it is literally when I can see/hear them and less than 2 min. In & out.  It will be a long while til I am comfortable leaving them outside in the front, which is hard, especially with #3 on the way, but at least we have the back.

     

     

     

     

     

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  • kpips20kpips20
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    There are a few families in our neighborhood who let their very small children play outside alone and it drives me nuts. One mom even lets her 2 small girls (5 & 6) play all over the neighborhood while she's in their basement on the treadmill. And on more than 1 occassion I've had to help a 3 year old who fell off his bike b/c his parents were nowhere to be found.

    I leave my kids in the backyard if I need to go in and start making lunch or dinner but I check on them frequently and they know to stay where I can see them from the kitchen window. If our yard was fenced I'd probably be more relaxed about it. I absolutely do not let them play in the front yard without me. I'm not sure at what age I'll be comfortable with it.

     
  • DS will be 5 in June. And no


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  • image iumegan716:

    I will run into the house to get something and tell DS to stay where he is.  By nature, he's a cautious kid so I don't worry about him running off.  I am a pretty laid back parent... and I don't worry for a second about my kid getting abducted out of my yard.  Maybe I should, but I don't.  

    I'm glad you made the distinction of "tricky" people.  I think "stranger danger" is not a good way to teach kids about avoiding abduction.  Children should feel safe to talk to "strangers" if they are in trouble/lost/etc.  It is the people that try to give them a ride, candy, etc that are the danger.  

     

    This. We live in a subdivision. Very little traffic and we know everyone. It's not really something I worry about. I don't let her go more than 10ish minutes without me peeking on her, but I do let her out of my sight. So far, she has been very responsible with the freedom I have given to her. 

    DD 3.13.09
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  • This summer is the first time I allow them to go out in the back by themselves.  We don't have a fence, but the rule is they have to stay on our lawn or on our neighbor's swing set (we have permission) or they have to come in.

    Ds is 4 1/2 and obeys completely.  Dd is 2 1/2 and does pretty good and gets led back to our yard by her brother.  For the most part, I am in the living room watching them, but I feel comfortable now doing chores briefly around the house. 

    Formerly Known as Echowysp (or Recipe of the Day Lady)
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  • image kpips20:

    There are a few families in our neighborhood who let their very small children play outside alone and it drives me nuts. One mom even lets her 2 small girls (5 & 6) play all over the neighborhood while she's in their basement on the treadmill. And on more than 1 occassion I've had to help a 3 year old who fell off his bike b/c his parents were nowhere to be found.


    I was all up and down my block at those ages.  I walked to school alone at 6.  I plan on doing the same (the playing) with my kids.  It's normal in my neighborhood.

    Formerly Known as Echowysp (or Recipe of the Day Lady)
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  • I do no let my 6 or 4yo out front without me ever. My only exception is I will walk into the garage but even then I am cautious. Our street is a busy neighborhood street but I don't think I would do it regardless.
    Jen - Mom to two December 12 babies Nathaniel 12/12/06 and Addison 12/12/08
  • image groovygrl:
    Thanks all.. I think a fence definitely changes the dynamic but so does having more than one child to watch, it is one thing to keep an eye on one kid and take that child in if you have to go in but two kids makes it a lot harder which I think is why I am struggling not to be all over them but still be safe.
    On the tricky ppl note, I saw a great reference post on special needs yesterday I can't link from my phone but the post title was something about stranger danger and someone posted a blog link w really good ideas and references, I even went online and bought a kids book related to it.


    I don't get this at all. Why is it hard to have both kids go inside when you need to? Mommy needs to go inside for one minute and you need to come in too but can stand by the door with your shoes on period. What is so hard about that?
    Jen - Mom to two December 12 babies Nathaniel 12/12/06 and Addison 12/12/08
  • image Littlejen22:
    image groovygrl:
    Thanks all.. I think a fence definitely changes the dynamic but so does having more than one child to watch, it is one thing to keep an eye on one kid and take that child in if you have to go in but two kids makes it a lot harder which I think is why I am struggling not to be all over them but still be safe. On the tricky ppl note, I saw a great reference post on special needs yesterday I can't link from my phone but the post title was something about stranger danger and someone posted a blog link w really good ideas and references, I even went online and bought a kids book related to it.
    I don't get this at all. Why is it hard to have both kids go inside when you need to? Mommy needs to go inside for one minute and you need to come in too but can stand by the door with your shoes on period. What is so hard about that?

    Because I clearly don't have your fabulous parenting skills that my not yet 4 yr old kids just do whatever I say whenever I say it? Because 2 kids who  are very happily playing in the dirt or on their bikes on the sidewalk (esp the boy) don't just say oh, OK mommy! when I say, stop what you're doing, walk back inside the garage/house and stand in the doorway while your sister washes her hands or I go get a bandaid or a bottle of water for you?  It is hard, in my house, with my kids, who have always been a handful &  are not those kids who just stand next to me and listen, and I guess I'm doing something very wrong since it clearly is quite easy to accomplish. Oh well.

  • image groovygrl:

    image Littlejen22:
    image groovygrl:
    Thanks all.. I think a fence definitely changes the dynamic but so does having more than one child to watch, it is one thing to keep an eye on one kid and take that child in if you have to go in but two kids makes it a lot harder which I think is why I am struggling not to be all over them but still be safe. On the tricky ppl note, I saw a great reference post on special needs yesterday I can't link from my phone but the post title was something about stranger danger and someone posted a blog link w really good ideas and references, I even went online and bought a kids book related to it.
    I don't get this at all. Why is it hard to have both kids go inside when you need to? Mommy needs to go inside for one minute and you need to come in too but can stand by the door with your shoes on period. What is so hard about that?

    Because I clearly don't have your fabulous parenting skills that my not yet 4 yr old kids just do whatever I say whenever I say it? Because 2 kids who  are very happily playing in the dirt or on their bikes on the sidewalk (esp the boy) don't just say oh, OK mommy! when I say, stop what you're doing, walk back inside the garage/house and stand in the doorway while your sister washes her hands or I go get a bandaid or a bottle of water for you?  It is hard, in my house, with my kids, who have always been a handful &  are not those kids who just stand next to me and listen, and I guess I'm doing something very wrong since it clearly is quite easy to accomplish. Oh well.

    well I must suck at parenting too bc I agree it's a PITA to get both kids in the house sometimes.

    I do let my 4 yo play in my backyard alone. I have a sliding glass door that opens to my backyard from the family room, she has to stay in front of that. I don't see any reason why sh should have to be stuck in the house while I clean And dd2 is napping when the weather is nice. I've also stepped inside to grab something when both girls are on my patio off the family room. I personally view the backyard as an extension of my house. Maybe I'm crazy.   

    DD#1 12/30/08 DD#2 5/3/11
  • Look, the bottom line is there are a million factors at play: Your kids' temperaments, your neighborhood, traffic patterns, the size and visibility of your yard, how easily you can hear trouble from inside, fences, pets, etc. The only thing that matters is that you feel good about it.

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  • Spin313Spin313
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    DS is five and he is allowed to play outdoors without "direct" supervision, ie I am indoors but can see him through the window at all times. He knows the rules about staying where I can see him, and we live in a safe area where we know our neighbors. We also have tons of kids near his age on our street, so it's usually a "buddy system."
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  • I let the boys play outside at 3.5. We have no fence, but a really long driveway and I give them boundaries they can't go past (alongside the house, where I can see them from the window when I check on them).


    Owen (March 2007), Caleb (July 2009), Eliza (July 2011) and August (September 2013)




  • My kids play in our yard together often.... usually in the back yard which is fenced in so I keep the windows open so I hear if they unlatch the fence.  I can see most of the yard and yell out to them if I can't hear them.  I would not let them go down the street, but we live on a really busy street.  

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  • image fredalina:
    Look, the bottom line is there are a million factors at play: Your kids' temperaments, your neighborhood, traffic patterns, the size and visibility of your yard, how easily you can hear trouble from inside, fences, pets, etc. The only thing that matters is that you feel good about it.

    Of course it is about many factors-  I did feel fine about it until I read the 'don't let young children out of your sight even for a moment'. The truth of the matter is, if someone were watching a kid, they could get them pretty easily if they were playing in the yard & no one was out in a neighboring yard, even with a parent watching from nearby or in the house or even with a large yard or long driveway, you only have to take advantage of about 10 seconds of a turned back.... I also realize this happens probably a small fraction of a percent of all kidnappings, etc.  and so I don't want to go crazy thinking about it but was just curious what others did since some of my neighbors seem quite laid back (including a 2 yr old who walks across the street from his house to the park & back regularly?!)- I guess not surprisingly, it seems to be a mixed bag on here, which is probably reflective of the whole.

    It makes me think of the whole- don't put your kid's name on their stuff that someone could see it...well, hang out near me pretty much anywhere I am with them & you'll hear me say their names (esp his) a kajillion times trying to get him to stop walking away, messing w/ stuff at the store, almost getting hurt, etc. Seems like just as easy a way to learn a kid's name if that's your MO. But I still probably won't put their names on their bags, etc as they are older & would be going to school w/ the bags, as a precaution.... kwim?


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