A Problem Shared… Should I Let My Child Play Out Alone?

A Problem Shared Parenting & Family Advice | by | 5th Aug 2016


Leanne’s seven-year-old wants to play outside with her friends. We explore if she might be old enough in this week’s A Problem Shared…

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My daughter is seven years old, nearly eight, and is constantly harassing me to be allowed to go to the park on her own with her friends. We live in a quiet little village but she has to cross a main road and a smaller road to get to the park. She’s a sensible girl and has quite a mature head on her shoulders but I can’t help but worry if she’s out of my sight. She’s too young for a mobile phone (which is another battle), so I wouldn’t be able to get a hold of her if anything happened. I know as a child, I was allowed to go to the park and play, but you hear all kinds of things in the news these days. The problem is that some of her friends are allowed to go, some who are younger than her even, so she doesn’t understand why I won’t give her the same freedom. I know I should be allowing her to have a bit of independence but I’m not comfortable with it at all. What should I do?

Our FamilyPoint advice to Leanne

Making the decision of when to let your child ‘play out’ is a difficult one and also a very individual one. Everyone’s circumstances are different and, as such, no one age will suit all.

People live in lots of different environments and this will undoubtedly play a big part of the decision they make. Someone who lives in a quiet little village may feel more comfortable choosing to let their child ‘play out’ than someone who lives in the inner city.

If you live in an area where there are lots of children of a similar age playing out, it might make you feel more comfortable. However, if you live in an area where there are a lot of older children playing out, you might be less comfortable.

Also, of course, all children are different. Age is often not the most important factor. For example, a seven-year-old could be far more mature, responsible and self-confident than a 12-year-old. You know your child and your circumstances best, so only you can decide when the time is right for you and her. Don’t feel pressurised to do something that you’re really not comfortable with. If you decide to not let your daughter ‘play out ‘ at this age, explain your reasons to her. Quite naturally, she probably won’t agree with your decision, but being told why is so much better for children than to be told ‘because I said so’.

If you do decide to take the plunge and let her play out, you could of course take some steps to make the transition easier for both of you. Perhaps you could speak to the parents of the other children she is playing out with about your concerns. They will have probably been through what you’re going through, so they could possibly put your mind at rest.

Maybe you could put some conditions in place with your daughter. You could cross her over the road to the park. You could walk through where you are happy for her to go. You could build up the time she is allowed out alone. You could even buy her a set of good-quality walkie talkies that you could use to keep in touch. I’ve seen it done and it made a huge difference to how both the child and the parent felt during this difficult time.

Helpline Graphic for Play out alone problem

If you would like further information on national or local support services, then you can contact us at FamilyPoint Cymru via phone 0300 222 57 57, text 07860 052 905, or IM/Chat. We are open Monday – Thursday 6pm – 10pm and Friday & Saturday 10am – 2pm.


The FamilyPoint Cymru Team

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