“ With all the media reports of abductions and other horrors, is it still wise to let our children play outside? On the other hand, there are so many problems these days with child obesity and other weight-related problems, is it encumbent on parents to get their kids playing outdoors? What about if you work and don't have time to supervise them at the park? Tell us what you think. „
"7 year old snatched from local play area"
"Paedophile ring in North West is caught by police"
"2 children are missing in London..."
We are all far too used to these headlines on the news and in our papers, and I for one am terrified for my daughter growing up in this world. It may explain why there are so many children with Vitamin D deficiencies in the UK because they aren't playing out as we used to as kids, and instead are sitting in on games consoles or watching TV...and it knocks me sick.
When I was growing up...and I am not an old or even middle aged person, I'm 22...I would leave the house in the morning and my mum and dad probably wouldn't see me again until 8pm that night, we had no mobile phones to keep in touch, but my mum and dad didn't sit and worry about where I was or who I was with, they knew I'd be home when I was tired and by my "home time", definitely before it was dark. Now, I don't think any of my nieces and nephews are allowed out of the house without their mum or dad with them and it is sad that childhood has been taken away from these poor children because of a handful of horrible people in the world.
So what ARE we scared of?
Paedophiles...well there have ALWAYS been paedophiles around to be fair, they are not a new phenomenon of the 21st century as you may be lead to think.
Murderers...again, there have been murderers around since the beginning of time, and sadly it does happen to children as well as adults. But again it's not something new.
Kidnapp maybe? Well kidnapp usually occurs by somebody either for a ransom (so not really a worry if you aren't a rich or important person), or by somebody mentally ill, maybe a mother who has lost their own child...and once again...kidnapp has always been around too!!!
So really, are we scared of new things which weren't around when we were growing up? No, we're scared of things which have ALWAYS been there. Ok so WHY are we scared then?
NEWS. Thats the one answer, the news is to blame for us being so terrified to let our children out of our sight for more than 10 seconds, even though there aren't necessarily more paedophiles/murderers/kidnappers around now, we are told more about those events which DO take place, whereas back in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and even early 90s, the news just wasn't as up to date and "right now" as it is today. Now we have 24 hour news channels, we have bulletins coming in every few minutes, the second something bad happens, the entire country is told about it by our news reporters. And we have it thrust in our faces everyday that a child is missing, that a paedophile has been caught, and its ruining our childrens lives.
So do I think children should be able to play outside?
Of course I do! I would much rather my little girl come home tired and dirty faced after a play with her friends in the park, than sitting in all day on the Wii or on the internet or watching mindless tv. Even if she only goes and plays in the back garden for a couple of hours.
I am not saying let your kids go off on their own for 8 hours a day without knowing where they are, but there is a line between letting them out of your sight for a couple of hours a day, playing with their friends and getting some excercise and keeping them on a tight leash and not letting them have fun outside of the house without you trailing 5 feet behind.
Teaching your child of the dangers will help them to know what not to do when they are out on their own.
So the old classics of stranger danger...don't talk to strangers, no matter how nice they seem (I would rather my child be rude and not talk to somebody who says hello to them when I am with them than being too confident with people they do not know and speaking to anybody.
Never accept sweets/drinks/money from anybody you do not know, and if they invite you into their house/car, do not go.
Never go out alone...if your friends are going home and you are going to be left to walk a long way on your own, go back to your friends house and ask them to phone your parents who will come and collect you.
Give them a simple phone (just a £10 top up phone which isnt going to be a big target for bullies or stolen), and top it up with £5 of credit, and make them aware of the emergency services, but ensure they understand they are NEVER to call unless it is a real emergency like someone is hurt badly or you are lost. It means you always have a life line between you and your child, you can phone them and vice versa, it means that if you are starting to get worried, you can find out where they are and when they will be home.
Make sure you always know where they are going to be, and teach them that if they are going to be going to somebodies house, to tell you about it before they go. And never to assume you will just "know".
You cannot wrap your children in cotton wool all their lives, if they don't go out and play they are at a whole host of risks, obesity, lack of vitamin D. Playing outside is important for children of all ages from being a baby a child should get good "air time", of course until they are old enough to understand the dangers of being out alone, they will be with a parent at the play ground for example. Of course there are risks all around us, but these risks aren't only at the play ground or when the child is alone...
there have been numerous stories about nursery workers in the news over the last 2 years...James Buldger was taken from a shopping centre where he was out with his mother...there are risks everywhere, but you cannot let these worries ruin your childs life, you have to let them be children while you have the chance, you never get their childhood back, and yes those worries are in every parents mind constantly, I know they play on my mind everyday, and if anything ever happened to my little girl, well it doesn't even bare thinking about, but we could all be burned alive tomorrow by the sun exploding, we could be taken over by aliens...ok well maybe not, but you never know what is around the corner, you just have to live yours and your childrens life day by day, and let them enjoy being a child while they have the chance to make memories. I have brilliant childhood memories of playing with my friends in the park or on the field behind my house, playing silly ball games and "catch" and hide and seek, and i want that for my daughter, I don't want her childhood memories to be of sitting in front of a TV watching CBeebies...!
I am really glad this has review is up, because its something I am giving alot of thought to at the moment. i've been feeling like the worlds most over protective Mom in some ways so I am glad others feel the same. My boys ( ages 21 months and 5 years) spend hours and hours in the front garden or the green in front. Of course I watch them but it doesnt guarantee safety. My oldest was hurt last year when he was stuck by a golf ball launched with a duck caddy, and both have been victims of attempted assault by older children and grown men, but its because we live on an interface.
I imagine many people would just keep them in, and some will find me less then responsible, but I cant imagine children growing up locked away indoors, its like raising them in a zoo to me. So my children will continue to play outdoors although I do supervise them. I cant see the risk of injury as being as awful as the loss of their whole childhood.
But my son is the only child his age whose Mother goes to the park with him and I do know he needs sometime away from adults. We've let him play in the bonfire field behind the houses ( which is well protected and cant be reached with bricks or stones) for short times with the other boys but I walk the dog around the estate and walk past every 10 minutes or so. I also know a very good friends business is just where they play so there are adults close by and i'm only a two minute walk.
Of course other children his age being unsupervised does create problems as well. I do know some who engage in a good bit of anti social behavoiur, such as theft and vandalism, and are quite frankly a danger to smaller children. Many children here go out and roam the estate from 3 or even younger. Children as young as 6 or 7 might be out past midnight alone, so I know my son is looked on as over protected, for this area, but where do you strike a balance?
Roaming the fields, making huts, playing wargames and hide and seek were among the ebst parts of my childhood. Kids today dont even know how to play many of the old games. Children need to experience nature, sunshine and freedom.
All comments welcome including those disagreeing with mine, but if you do comment would you mind posting a minimum age you think children should be able to play alone for short periods? Just wondering what everyone thinks. Also a brief description of where you live such as, rural, village, large city, etc... Just wondering what everyone else thinks.
Should we let our children play outside? The answer is yes, I have always taken my children to the park and played with them in the garden.
I think the real question is when do we let them play out without us parents being there with them.
This is a difficult one for me as I am over protective, I know it and don't care it's the way I am; I love my daughters more than anything and want to protect them always. On the other hand I also know that I have to let them grow up, I have to give a little.
What am I so scared of? Obviously something happening but I played out as a child from about 5, ok it was on the front but I still did it, when my daughter was 5 the only way she played on the front is if I was there. So why have things changed why are we so scared of allowing our children to play out without us being there.
We understand that children need friends and it's good for them to spend time with friends but we keep them close to us.
My husband used to take his sister to school when he was 8 as well as himself - there is no way our daughter would be allowed to do this so what's changed?
Do we think there are more child abductors out there now a days or are we scared because there is more traffic about? What is it?
I have discussed this with my husband many times over the years, 10 years ago we decided that percentage wise there probably wasn't more children abducted or murdered it was just that we are made more aware about it through media etc.
Now before writing this I had a quick chat to my husband and he thinks there are definitely more weirdos about. I think there are more people we have to be aware of as there are more people taking drugs etc but would this make them more likely to take your child - we aren't really going to chance that so I think this plays a part in it and of course where you live. If you live near a main road you are not going to let your child play out or if you live where you know there is a certain kind of person or persons you may choose not to let your child play out.
My eldest is 10 she will be 11 in less than 2 weeks and we have started allowing her to go to and from school on her bike but never alone there tends to be at least 3 but up to 6 of them, they only have to go along one road, a long one but it takes about 10 minutes if you were walking. 2 or 3 days a week my youngest goes to nursery at the school so I can see if my eldest is in the playground the other days I make her take her mobile and ring mine when she either gets to school or they get to spar which is just across the road from school (a quiet road). Why do I do this our parents couldn't have done this mobile phones didn't exist I walked to school from 9. I think I do it because there is more traffic so I panic more. Then again I don't know I just want to know she is safe all the time. I am trying to relax a bit, she also plays out now but I want to know where she is playing - is it control or worry? If they are round our street then ok if she is going round her friends street she has to come and tell me the same goes for her friend but not the boy who lives across the road from us (I don't believe it should be different for a boy).
As an over protective mother who didn't allow her daughter to go to a restaurant with friends alone I can say we should let our children play out but there has to be ground rules, you have to know where they will be and they have to come back when you say or they don't go out the next time. I have always said if i can trust you and you go only where I say is ok and come back when I say then you will get more freedom. Even the youngest has to go by these rules when we go on the front she can go up to next doors wall (I am there of course). We have to let children be children, there are too many of them growing up too quickly. But we also have to teach them to be aware of people to cross the road to check if someone is following them etc and I never let my daughter go out alone at least one friend has to be there, and they are never out without an adult when it is getting dark. A parent always picks them up or drops them off and us parents talk to the friends parents and check things are ok to be done and this will never change as I know what I was like as a child.
Yes. A lot of the problems these days is the meda attention to the society that we live in. We have alway had these problems and they have always been as bad as they are now but we never knew about them. It is only now that they are finding out what has happend to children 60 to 80 years ago because modern technology has come so far in that time.
Your children need to be outside it is healthy for them and they need to be active. Children when they go to a park learn to interact with other children and learn how to team build it is a main part of their development.
What we have to realise is that no child is safe not just from the people that are around them but they are inquisitive and tend to wonder off to find something more interested to do. You must keep an eye on them at all times.
Your child needs the freedem to play which you can still give them by watching them. I have always taken my children to the park and on outings but I have always ensured that they know the rules of play.
1) Not to wonder off
2) If there is a problem shout my name not mom (due to there will be alot of moms)
3) Do not talk to strangers
4) Do not accept any food from anyone
5) If a stranger approaches run towards us
6) If a child starts pushing them around walk away back to us (children can be worse than adults lately)
Some parents I see as irisponsable. I have seen children no older than 7 walking to the shop on their own to fetch the electric or milk, this I do not approve of in anyway at all. I was 12 before I was alowed off the front garden to play and was 10 before I was allowed to play on the front garden. I will say that I will be the same with my children boy or girl.
The world has never been a safe place but it is more publicly known now. I wont say that it hasn't got worse because it has there are children killing children which is dispicable but that plays part and parcel in the upbringing of those children in most cases. I appreciate all the hard work that has gone into solving cases of missing children and abuse and I still believe more can be done in the care of children and the families need to be looked at more closely to stop this happening but it has always happened but we have just been oblivious to this until the media get hold of the information.
In conclusion I do think that our children are quite safe to play outside under the appropriate supervision of a responsable adult and that it is a certain necessity to ensure they know of the dangers and how they are to react to them.
Kids need the freedom, fresh air, experiences, exercise, etc, etc.
Think back to your childhood and I bet that the majority of your happiest memories are filled with tree climbing, hopscotch, jump rope, creative play, hide and seek, playgrounds, exploring new areas and learning about nature.
None of these things are fun or effective when done inside, you cannot learn about the world from a computer screen. Children need to experience things for themselves, just like we did.
Yes there are 'bad people' around, but then there always have been and always will be. There are no more now then there were 50 years ago, it's just that there wasn't the excessive media hype highlighting every single case back then.
Think about it, how many abductions can you remember reading about in the news in the past 2 years? A few, maybe? Ok, now consider how many children there are in the UK, times this by 730 (the number of days in 2 years), then just think about how many opportunities there have been to abduct children, yet it has only happened a handful of times.
See, the world seems a little less scary now doesn't it! lol!
Yes there is that tiny little chance, but every thing we do has a tiny little chance of something. You just need to know how to minimise the risk. No talking to strangers, staying in large groups, etc.
It does depend on the area or neighbourhood, If you live on a busy main road then it is just not safe and isn't an option until they are old enough to walk to the park.
I am very lucky with where I live that my son has a safe place to play. Our houses are surrounded by small grassy areas and it is in an off road location. I have allowed my son to play outside since he was 3. Irresponsible you may call me but he was always with a group of other children and was constantly watched by one or more of us parents.
Now they don't need constant attention, although I can always see them from one of my windows depending where they are. We just check on them every so often and are satisfied that they are fine. we also know every one of our neighbours, they are usually in the gardens and love to chat to the kids so that is extra security.
It is very handy to know your neighbours, especially if they have children of the same age, as you can share responsibilities.
The thing is that kids are not as naive as they used to be. They pick up on things and are more aware of the dangers.
My son knows all of the 'play rules' and wouldn't dare disobey as he knows that he wouldn't be allowed to play outside anymore. He knows that strangers are dangerous and would never speak to one, other than to say hello, as it's rude not to!
My mum always used to let us play outside but we could never go past the lamp posts (which were evenly spaced either side of our house). This was quite an effective technique as it gave us freedom and responsibility yet still set clear boundaries and kept us within watching distance.
The bottom line is that kids need the freedom to run around and play, it teaches them valuable skills and keeps them fit - which is quite an important issue with obesity levels as they are today.
Growing up I now realise that I had a fair bit of freedom. As a child I did not know of such things such as child abduction & the other horrific things that take place today...
But for this, I feel that I benefited. I used to love running around with all the other children, not having a care in the world, just doing what children do.
Of course, I had my restrictions, which was to ensure that I let my mother know where I was at all times.
As I child I was always running around, I was never an overweight children , which has become a problem today with the rate of childhood obesity raising alarmingly. I feel that this fear that parents have, which is due to the media is having an impact on children today. Many parents I know, actually prefer their children to sit in and watch television or play on their "nintendo Ds" or other games consoles. This allows them to know where their children are at all times.
I feel that children should be allowed to behave like children and have some fun playing with other children. Obviously in order to keep them safe there needs to be limitations. So for example, a parent could supervise a younger child. Or parents of other children could take it in turns to watch each others children playing.
I think that it's so important for children to be able to go out and play, and to have an element of freedom. Putting aside the obvious benefits later in life of having learnt independence from a young age what about children just enjoying childhood? So many people argue that children should go out to play because it will make them better adults and you don't want adults who are too scared to do everything and these things are true but I say let children out to play because it's enjoyable and it promotes good health. Let them have their childhoods.
However, children need a safe environment to play in.
I don't think that letting children out on the streets is a good idea. Roads are for cars to drive on and there are so many reckless drivers out there that if I had children I wouldn't want them playing on the road. We hear all too often about children dying in car accidents.
The fact is that the UK is not a child friendly country.
We need more play area's and fields in my opinion.
I work in child protection so I perhaps see things from a very biased point of view but there are a lot of paedophiles out there. Of course they're not everywhere but they are out there and it's a reality that we can't afford to ignore. We need to strike a balance somehow so that children don't miss out on their childhood and can still play outside but are safe and right now I honestly don't know how we can do that because although I think that playing outside is very important I know that if I had a child there's no way that I would let them out without supervision.
Should we let our children play outside??
When i was a child growing up i used to live in a small village, and all the kids used to know each other, everyday after school we all used to 'call' on each other to play.All the parents knew each other and used to keep a look out, depending on where we were in the village, we didn't have a park, so used to keep ourselves amused by playing ball games, climbing trees, and playing tag.
Nowadays letting kids play outside brings a whole lot of new prospective into the meaning with many arguments for and against the idea. In a ideal world yes we should be encouraging kids to play outside, for the exercise, fresh air and for the need to be able to be more confident in them selves and make friends, instead of sitting at home playing on computer games until their eyes go square. But in the world we live in now, riddled with violence, abductions, bullying, and even murder, is it safe to let out kids play outside unsupervised? In my opinion which i'm sad to say no. I wouldn't feel right as a parent letting my child go out alone for two reasons, A- He/She might become victim to one of these attacks/shootings that you hear about everyday, or B- For fear that they may be lead astray by gangs and then start to manipulate other people themselves. I haven't got to come across that worry for a very long time, but still have strong thoughts. Letting my children play in the garden i still sit and watch constantly in case anything happens.
With regards to obesity rates rising everyday, it's up to parents, to make sure they don't let their children slip up, there are other ways of tackling obesity problems, other than saying children need to play outside more,what about children playing more sports and activities, in a secure environment. Sports centers offer a wide range of different things your child can do and it may even kick start a hobby? Going for bike rides, walks with your child gives them the exercise and you the peace of mind that they are in your company.
We as parents have a right to worry but the government should crack down harder on issues that stop our children being able to play outside unsupervised.
I think all children need to play outside and all children need a bit of unsupervised play in order to develop.
The two don't necessarily need to be combined, although it's lovely for them if they can. It all depends on your area and your situation. If you have a garden then maybe it's enough for your children to play there. If not then perhaps you prefer to take them to the park and let them play at a distance so that they feel like they're on their own.
Some people prefer their children to play in the street or allow them to go off on their own. I have mixed feeling on this. It doesn't do to make children scared of the world, but they must be aware too.
My parents are divorced and as a child they had quite different attitudes. My mum was quite protective and i was only really allowed out alone when she was watching me. i didn't realise at the time but she would follow my friends and i to the sweet shop and made sure the area of the street i played in was visible from our or my friends house. I think this worked quite well as i honestly had no idea at the time! But I must say i i had a lot more fun at my dads house, where things were more relaxed.
At my dads i was allowed to go roaming in the fields (As we lived in the countryside) for hours and nobody worried. and nothing bad ever happened to me. I got lots of exercise and fresh air and made some brilliant dens to play in. All very good for a child. But once a few years later we had a reality check when my little brother nearly drowned out playing alone - he and his friends had decided to wear their coats back to front so that their arms were stuck inside, then he fell over into a stream and couldn't get himself up. Luckily a walker spotted him and got him out but my brother was so upset he couldn't tell the walker where he lived or his phone number, and ended up out looking for him for hours. That just goes to show it's not just paedophiles and murderers we have to worry about, accidents do happen and they are much more likely to happen when your child is alone.
There was also a very sad case just down the road from me of a toddler who was playing in a very small garden unsupervised. Devistatingly he got his head stuck in the gate and strangled himself.
I think this is a struggle for every parent - choosing where to draw the line between your childs development and your childs safety. Luckily it is possible to combine the two of them! So don't dispair.
I guess it all depends on the age of the child and how sensible you think they are. Do they know not to talk to strangers? Do they know how to cross the road safely? And so on. I
When I was a much younger girl me and my pals, boys and girls would spend most of our summers playing in the local woods, which lucky for us were across the road from where we lived. Our parents didn't mind providing we stayed at the front where they could keep an eye on us still.
We had so much fun climbing trees and making dens, oh and don't forget the tarzan swings over ditches! I hated being indoors as it was so boring! we did have a computer, an Atari ST, but I never much cared for it.
I remember the year my mum and dad bought me a BMX bike for christmas, I was thrilled even though I couldn't ride! I then spent all my time outside teaching myself how to ride my new bike. I stayed on the back yard to begin with and as i got more confident I started whizzing up and down the street, I remember feeling so free!
Now we fast forward 20 years to the present day, I still live opposite those woods from my childhood and I now have 2 boys of my own, the oldest being just 2.
So would I let my boys play in those same woods when they are a little older? No way!! Its now more of a drugs den and a place to dump and burn stolen cars.
We are fortunate to have quite a big garden that is fully enclosed and we have got a sand pit and 2 slides among many other outdoor toys. Our eldest loves being outside and hates it when i say no because of the weather.
I feel sad that he probably wont experience the same amount of freedom that I had but I will do my best to ensure that he isn't going to be part of the generation of console addicts.
We often take him to parks and an indoor soft play centre. He loves the indoor centre as he can run around and do pretty much whatever he wants and we can relax because there is no way he can get out anywhere and no chance of any weirdo taking him.
Just because we feel that children can't or shouldn't play out on there own in the street, we as parents do not need to keep our children locked up indoors. There are so many things we can do with them, some as simple as just going for a walk or going to the park all of which are free to do.
Thankfully I don't have to worry too much about this at present as my son is only 3 but it is something I do think about and discuss with other parents. We are lucky in the one sense that we live on a quiet cul-de-sac where the people have been for a long time so we know each other quite well, on the other hand you just do not know who is around. It worries me to hear about all of the stories in newspapers and on tv but lets face it, nowhere is safe anymore and that is sad.
Whilst I was growing up we didn't really play out due to living a mile away from our friends, it doesn't sound like much but the walk there was very creepy, whenever we did play out it was fun because it was different,
The families I feel most sorry for are the ones stuck in flats with no gardens, I feel lucky that we do have a garden that our children can play in and have friends round but it isn't as fun as playing out in the street.
I personally wouldn't feel safe allowing my little boy below say 10 playing out on his own, I would rather I take him to the park or take the dogs for a run to get out of the house, unfortunately there is just too many weirdos out there.
When the time comes for him to play outside alone he will have a watch with him, strict instructions on where he can go and a time to come back. I think to a certain extent we need to allow our children to become independant but that doesn't mean we have to sacrifice their safety.
My childhood evenings and holidays were always spent playing outside with my siblings and friends. We would be gone for the entire day, and as long as we were home by sunset (or 8pm if it was long summer days) there was no problem.
I didnt live in a peaceful rural village, i lived on a main road in the centre of London, however i was always taught responsibility and safety by my parents and knew all about stranger danger and road crossing etc. However, this wasnt that long ago, only 10 years.
Nowadays my younger family members are unable to go out to play just on the street outside their own houses for fear of abduction and abuse. Instead they are forced to stay inside and play on playstations, wii's and xboxs all day long.
I never really saw a problem with this, until i was babysitting my 10 year old nephew and discovered that he couldnt actually entertain himself in any other way than games consoles or a game of football. This concerned me so greatly that i offered to take him and some friends to the local woods to build a gang house or play imaginatively. All of the kids parents thought it was great so off we went, however when we got there none of them knew what to do, so it was left to me to "organise" activities.
There is also now the epidemic of obesity. A problem that was definately around when i was a kid but not nearly to the extent it is now. Even the chubby kids would spend the whole day running and playing without complaining etc.
I cannot imagine never letting a child outside to play. How on earth are they supposed to learn to entertain themselves, learn about the world around them and learn individuality and responsibility if they are never allowed away from their parents?
Letting our children play outside is the cure to obesity, I always ran about as a young thing and was in bed for 9 pm, knackered, but as fit as a fiddle, but unlike "the good old days", you never really see kids out playing now, instead they are sat in front of "Playstations, X-box's or TV", you have to take your hat off to Ninetendo for having a stab at keeping kids fit in the house, with the new "Wii". But it isn't the same thing, outside building gang huts, making rope swings and playing football.
A lot of parents are scared to death to let their kids out their sight for more than a millisecond, as that is the time it takes them to go missing, but we can't let fear dictate how we live our lives, children are missing out on learning some very important and key social skills as well as keeping fit and healthy.
For many parents, and especially mothers (and some fathers) who have been out working all day and come home to make dinners etc; placing young Josh in front off the Playstation, is his/her solace for a couple of hours, this black box, keeps there sanity intact.
Some parks have things like "Climbing walls, basketball courts, 5 a side astro-turf parks and other bits and bobs", if I was 8 yrs old and had the choice of sitting in on the Playstation on a sunny day, or having a game of 5's, I'd definitely choose the latter.
When I was young I had the privilege of owning an "Atari 800XL", quite a machine back then, my friends had "Commodores and Spectrum's", but we never played them, we would love to be kids nowadays, we climbed trees, not fancy walls and our jumpers were the goal posts at football, not a custom built 5 a side park.
Of course we read every day about the disappearances of young children almost weekly in our Papers and on TV, OK, you are a little vigilant about letting your kids out, but the chances of this happening are in the millions, a whole generation of kids are lounged in the house with a steady supply of crisps and chocolate playing these Games, but a happy child is a healthy one (as seen on Supernanny).
I can say, with my hand on heart, I can only remember ONE guy at school who was overweight,- out of hundreds-"One"!, now I see a steady stream of parents waiting at school gates for their chubby kids, they won't even let them walk home alone from school....*(That's another topic for another day).
We are so paranoid of letting our children out to find their pecking order in society that we might as well rip down these parks and build houses on them, yet when that "Does" happen, it's an all out travesty, "Not in my name!", "shock horror", the old park that no-one plays on anymore is being turned into a housing scheme.
The sooner we start encouraging our kids to go out and enjoy themselves and stop convincing ourselves the world is full of nasty evil people, the better it will be for everyone, and especially those who are on diets, a diet was not a word in my vocabulary until I was about 15-16 yrs old, and the only people I associated the word with was Supermodels.
I see kids that do go out to play, but, with mobile phones, so their parents can keep in touch with them, remember the old adage "you can't watch them 24 hrs a day"?, I think it has become a thing of the past, it's somewhat fashionable to know "Exactly" where your child is at any given time.
Because of this fear of letting our kids have their own space with their own friends, we are depriving them of their childhoods, if this was deprivation in any other way, we'd get jailed for it.
I have my daughter out every day, she's 2 and a 1/2 yrs old, we went chasing "Dinosaurs" the other day, played hide and seek in a woodland park and walked round a fisherie with her, her week consists of a physical and fun regimen- Mondays; organized days out to the zoo etc, Tuesdays; 2-1/2 hrs Messy Monkeys kids club, Wednesdays; 1 hrs swimming and 1 hrs soft play, Thursdays; a day at maternal grans, Fridays, weather pending, Saturdays; 2 hrs of Soft play and shopping, Sundays; stays with my parents.
The rest of the time is spent being taking to various parks and ponds to feed the ducks and swans, making her a well rounded wee thing, she has a decked back garden for her and her wee pal to play on, and a swing and trampoline on the remaining grass.
Political Correctness has turned us into over protective vultures, we daren't let them have a few hours of R&R to themselves as they know it.
Put the X-box away for winter and ban sitting in front of TV for hours on end, let them go out and enjoy their lives, they're only young once.
Weather permitting children should grow up outside - of course logistics need to be considered anywhere in the world, young or old the more vitamin D they can get the better. I am a mother of three and yes I live in sunny South Africa where the sun never sets in summer which is a bonus and we do have a lot of wide open spaces yet I have family and friends who live in smaller confines with small gardens but compensate by taking kids to the beach and parks etc..
I find that children have a better perception of the world the more they spend time outdoors, climbing trees smelling the bark, leaves and grass, seeing ants carrying food for the winter on their little backs beckons questions that only mommy and daddy can answer hence bonding your child to you as a source of wisdom.
Time you say "who has time" - we all do we just need to manage it better, I am a fulltime working mom who spends 1 hour in the afternoon playing outside with all three kids that differ in age with wild abandon for my own age, we jump on the trampoline play a little swing ball, collect leaves and stones and flowers after bath make a collage with what we found and voila happy mom - happy kids great imagination and wow all without the aid of the television or computer.
In my house we have two rules NO T.V in the week NO COMPUTER in the week, we play, make food together get the bath thing done, read stories and off to bed without a hitch or moan, routine-routine-routine and we are all so tired we sleep like bears.
After reading my fav. reviewer Wendybull, there is a major problem in England and well a lot of European countries and well the best thing there would be if someone in the neighbourhood had a garden and would not object to the children playing in it, provided there was supervision, however my own mother grew up playing cricket in the streets and had a glorious time doing so and therefore Wendybull's age appropriate would apply. However, even if you have the smallest piece of garden in the world you could turn it into a wonderful fairy garden full of miniture toys and flowers to create a "secret garden" if you will anything you could do to allow the child to develop their imagination is of benefit not only to them but to you as well. You may say that is fine for the younger kids but what about the teenagers, well to me that is simple you can negotiate better with an older child hence instruction is also better understood, my oldest has simple chores that need to be completed in particular order on a daily basis (this will ensure responsibility being taught). Too often parents let their children do nothing because they are so precious and they are children and it is our responsibility to tend to their every need - well I think that is utter nonsense, children today are so much more advanced than what we were as children and their stimuli is received via technology and not through the human element anymore, so sad yet the great outdoors which is ever changing and yet ever constant can teach them things that technology can't - touch, smell, vastness, confinement and so the list goes on, Cops and Robbers will forever be a part of our lives and for generations to come the only difference potentially is where it is played on the lawn out back and on the street below with all the kids next door or will it be in front of the plasma via wireless remote whilst ordering their supper to be served to them on the floor.
Keep your kids near the nest, letting them loose in the big wide worlds open gates can be overstimulating for them, they will always be wanting more, whick will inevitably cost you more, keep it simple give them responsibility they will respect you more in the long run - feed their minds not their worldly appetites. Give them rope when they have earned it and you will see a mutual respect develop between you and your kids that will carry you for the rest of your lives, keep in touch with mobile or pager technology if they are out without you or someone you know, teach them clear reaction actions to situations and make a games night of it. i.e teaching your kids how to react if something were to happen on the playground or even at school - for example cellphones are a no-no in our school and my daughter has to take it with her to school as we make contact at the same time everyday after school and then again when sport practice is over and yet again when I leave the office to fetch her from aftercare, she knows to avoid having her phone taken from her she keeps it off and on her person concealed as I have taught her should any situation arise at a school or on the field etc that she could access her phone without having to create a scene all kids can text today faster than I can copy type anything (tested by myself and my daughter) she is way faster.
The best reward that I have received from raising my kids with the outdoor mentality is that they have great imaginations, I get asked inteligent questions that I can answer about the world around us and not what I term jargon from PSP, XBox etc which is a language most mothers in our generation don't understand anyway, my kids make tents and climb trees, they make decisions for themselves, love going for picnic's, taking long walks, riding bikes all the things that I did, my parents, grandparents and great grandparents did before me.
Children today seem to be way to technologically developed and less socially developed which is very sad I see this a lot with some of the kids in our community, they have all the modcons that the world has to offer and they are all experts at it, my little brother included and yet engage then in social banter, they are not only useless at it they clamp up and shrug their shoulders avoiding the whole situation altogether. I don't mean that we are doomed and that this will only be solved by outdoor play but I do believe a healthy balance is all you need make indoors due to the fact that it is shared living space a place where pride is taken by all to keep it clean and tidy and homely and the outdoors a place of exploration and experiment they may even develop green fingers and landscape your garden for you.
Should we let our kids play outside? Where I live all my children play outside and I really think that location is what it boils down to and age of course.
Having four children of varying ages means that I have covered most aspects of the child spectrum up to the age of 15 year olds. We have only lived in two different houses over those 15 years and both have been suitable for my children to play outside.
I think it is best to start by splitting the children in question into age groups. I can only do this based on my own children and so any views, opinions and experience are based on my own findings.
My youngest child is three and a half and she has just received her first bike. Consequently she wants to ride it every waking minute and I do not have every waking minute to spend at the park with her, so the compromise is to let her ride up and down on the pavement outside our house. I think it is best to mention here, that we live in a cul-de-sac, right in the corner, so the only traffic that comes along the road is the cars that also live in this corner, which is very few and as there is no exit they are not travelling at speed. I leave the front door open and go out and check on her every few minutes.
I mentioned that I thought the question also depended upon where you live. I am confident that my neighbourhood is as safe as it can be in terms of the people I know who live along my road. They are all very friendly and we are all aware of each other, for instance which houses have children and which are elderly people etc. This means that anyone looking out of their window and seeing my children will know who they are and vice versa for me with their children.
My second youngest is six and is always out the front of our house either on his bike or scooter, or playing with his friends from the close on the grassy areas in front of the houses. I feel confident that he is safe out here but I do still check on him every so often, as do his friends parents. Obviously no child is 100% safe outside on their own but there are limitations to your concern if you feel comfortable about the environment they are in whilst alone. A good road sense instilled in the child from a very early age will also help to keep them safe from possible traffic incidents.
Both of my youngest children are therefore allowed to go out the front on their own for shortish periods of time with me checking on them periodically, however, even though the local park is only five minutes away and there are no roads to cross as it is reached by a pathway, I would never let them go up there alone. It is just incomprehensible to me that any parent could let their six year old to the park on their own, based on the limits I know my child has. I have been to the park with them and friends from my sons class have arrived on their own and I am frankly disgusted their parents would let them out like that.
It is not just the element of abduction or assault from bad people, although this is the worst end of the equation, but little things like if they were to fall from a swing or other piece of park equipment and break an arm for instance. Would anyone else stop and help and how would they know how to contact me if my son was taken away in an ambulance. He doesnt have a mobile and wouldnt remember our address yet, especially in a state of pain like that. But even down to simply feeling scared if bigger kids came to the playground and began to rough it up. How would my child react? Would he be sensible enough to leave the park quietly and come home, would he watch them encouraging direct contact with them, or would he simply fade into a corner, scared of what to do next? I dont know how he would react to be honest and it is not something I am willing to test out at his young age.
On the other hand my two eldest sons are nearly 15 and 13 and they frequently go out on their own. I am confident and happy that they are safe and mature enough to deal with most situations that could be thrown at them and indeed they have proved their responsibility to me over various situations that have occurred with other kids. The police were even called on one such situation and I was the only parent to be there within minutes at the scene and my boys were praised for being sensible and mature about the whole situation. They are no goody goodys but I am happy enough to have them out in public on their own without imagining the worst for them or other people.
On the whole kids need freedom and independence to grow into confident and capable young adults. I am happy with the level of freedom I give my children and feel safe in the knowledge that through experience they are becoming valuable members of the community and not X-Box freaks who hang out in their bedrooms morning noon and night. They are all active and enjoy various sports which leads them into a healthy lifestyle and this is something we should all encourage. They enjoy their video games and the TV is always on in our house but they make decisions for themselves and most of the time it is a good balance between in and out.
Children are naturally creative in my opinion and if you give them the room to expand their imagination they will quite happily play outside in the fresh air and have fun. Through the summer holidays, although the weather has not been the best, I have tried to get the children to play outside as much as possible. Luckily the older boys have taken it upon themselves to try and help me keep the younger ones entertained and they have taken them to the park on a few occasions. Again I am more than happy for this to happen as I see my oldest boy as responsible enough and capable enough to cope with any small problems or large emergencies as well as I could, even if he hasnt quite got mums kisses off to pat yet to calm down a scraped knee!
Overall, I think we should encourage children to play outside if the area and age mean it is acceptable and as safe as it could be. Believe me; my daughter would not be riding her bike up and down if we lived on a main road or in the middle of an estate with less than desirable people hanging about. I am lucky and where I live is not like that so I can indulge my childrens love of the outside. It is a real shame not every one can be like this due to circumstances and so on, but if this is the case, those children should be allowed lots of supervised trips to the park etc. Take your lunch with you and eat in the playground, let your children enjoy the outside and develop a love for fresh air. Give them the head start they need in competition with coach potato lifestyles.