Making decisions about parenting is probably the most difficult thing I have had to do. There’s so much conflicting advice and there never seems to be any right answers. Some areas seem to have more support for a particular method than others, but some topics are just an absolute minefield. Most parents just want their children to be happy and healthy. With that comes being safe.
Should Children Play out Alone?
I have a dilemma at the moment it’s about whether children should be allowed to play out on their own. I made the decision to let my (almost) 7 year old go out all by himself. He is set rules (he has a boundary that involves crossing one small road, he comes in before it gets dark, if it rains or if his friends say they are going in for dinner). He is a very sensible mature lad and I trust him. But what about child predators? Really I decided that I cannot stop my son from enjoying his childhood because of a lot of “what ifs.”
I do not think things have changed since I was a child, and I was allowed a lot further, despite the fact that my brother was hit and killed by a car aged only 6. I believe that children need to be able to develop their independence. That as long as you have set the groundwork (eg taught them their road safety) they should then learn by themselves (obviously I am not talking about crossing extremely busy roads early on, or before they actually are mature enough to cross a road alone).
I want to nurture a child that wants to go out, and let’s be honest I haven’t always got the time to take him. Apart from that he is growing up and wants time with just his friends. It isn’t good for children to be cooped up indoors all the time. They need the exercise, to burn off the energy. To climb trees and get dirty. Even to take risks – that if I were there would not let him take. He needs to learn to make his own (small I hope) mistakes.
However, I think it depends on the child, and the location. My youngest son has special needs and there’s no way he’s going out on his own. He just isn’t mature enough. I worry that he would wet himself or hurt himself – or come across other people who he may upset, or they may upset him. It is not safe for him. But when the time comes I am sure he can go out too.
I sometimes let my son go out with his older brother – and let them go further afield than if the younger one was alone. We all think differently on parenting and know that my friend would not do this as she feels that it is too much responsibility for the older sibling.