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The Little Lilypad is a lifestyle blog mostly written by a mum to two beautiful, cheeky and entertaining daughters. It is sometimes written by the Man on the Pad or by one of our baby bloggers. Occasionally we accept guest posts too. There is frequently talk of shoes and clothing (we love fashion and savvy shopping), chocolate (who doesn't love chocolate) education and swimming (we love this too). It is hopefully helpful, sometimes funny and always honest.

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What is the right age to let your child out to play?

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What is the right age to let your child out to play on their own?

If I am honest, I am not sure that there is a "one size fits all" policy as it is difficult to set an exact age when it is safe for children to be out alone and getting the balance between independence and safety can be difficult.

When researching for this post, I found that the NSPCC say “We agree that children need to have time outside to play, but children under the age of eight are too young to be out unsupervised. We know that children under eight can’t judge speed and distance of moving vehicles. They still need help when crossing roads"

So I have a tween and a toddler, one who thinks they know better and one who wants to do everything her big sister does. The little one loves to be outside and is happy playing teaparties in the garden (with or without the cat!) but this doesn't have enough excitement for the tween.

Country Kids 170715 1

The toddler plays under the kitchen window (usually shouting orders for drinks and snacks) but her big sister wants to be out playing. When the weather is good she wants to be out on her scooter, bike or skates (which always scares me) but the tween always has the toddler snapping at her heels.

Country Kids 170715

We are lucky to live in a small development which is pretty much in the middle of no where and unless someone is purposefully coming to visit, then there is very little traffic, so it is quite safe for the children to play outside. So much to the chagrin of the tween, the solution to allowing the toddler to play outside is playing with her big sister, while I watch on from kitchen window.

Country Kids 170715 3

I know that when the tween goes to her friends for "playdates" or "hang out" (or whatever the cool thing is to do) that they are slowly now starting to play outside but I have no control over the traffic at her friends houses so I need to make sure that she remember the three Ws! Even as they get older and think they are independent it is important to make sure that they always tell you:

Who they are going out with,

Where they are going and

When they will be back. 

I was never allowed out to play as a child and whilst I want to protect my girls fiercely, I also understand that they need to learn independence and responsbility but in my mind, they will never be old enough for me not to watch over them.

Do you allow your children to play out?

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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  1. A really good post, playing outside was such a big step for my daughter and myself. We're very lucky to live on a very quiet street and there are lots of children of older ages who all look out for the younger ones which is so lovely. The independance my daughter gained by playing outside was huge and she was able to gain trust from us by coming in on time and not going past a certain point. I do believe its a hard decision and has to suit the child and the family.

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  2. I use to play outside by myself since I can remember. I was lucky enough to grow up in a place where my relatives lives so they are outside too playing with me. In here I just dont know. We live near the town and when you go out of out house its a busy street even at night. Especially at night. But I would eventually let him of course. Probably 8 or 9. =) #countrykids

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  3. I lived on a farm when i was younger and so was always outside playing. I knew to be careful and where not to go. I also want M to know about independence and know that I trust her, but there is that fine line of when she is old enough. I will only know that answer by how she acts in the next 5 years or so! :-) Great post 3countrykids

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  4. It is hard to decide isn't it. I wrapped all my 4 up in cotton wool protecting them which don't make them streetwise, lol. Some are more grown up than others, I think it is best to go with your instinct :)~ Lovely pictures..

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  5. I think this is one where every parent has to make their own judgement for their children depending on their own child's maturity and the environment around them. Water safety was always my key criteria with the lakes and the river here rather than road safety. when they could swim competently they could play outside the garden on the farm. Outdoor play and independence are both things I feel strongly about for my children but there is no right answers on this one. A great discussion though and I hope you find your balance. thank you for sharing with me on Country Kids.

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  6. my kids are 7 and 10 (by 5 days) and I let them play in the fields and up a footpath behind our house on the condition they stay together. We started letting them do this about a year ago when they specifically came to us together and put forward a valid argument on why we should let them. We are working towards them being allowed out on the lanes around us on their bikes alone (older one has just had bikability at school). We are lucky to live in a rural area, I agree with your opening comments that everyone's child and situation is different.

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  7. It's hard isn't it? We live in a fairly quiet street and my 9 and 7 year old play out happily. But that means the 2 year old wants to go out too, and gets cross when he can't! #countrykids

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