Should Children Be Supervised When Playing Outside?

It’s a question that has stirred up quite the bit of controversy where I live, and it has to do with the safety of our kids. Kids love to play outside, run and frolic, explore and learn who they are, test boundaries and yes even fall and get hurt so they can get back up again. But how close should parents be while this exploration is taking place?  Should children under the age of seven be supervised by parents while playing outside?  Or should they just be allowed to kiss you goodbye and go off and explore on their own?

In the co-op where I live I am lucky enough to live right next to a park. I watch all day as after school rolls around and kids come out of their daily funk to begin their adventures right before me. I sit outside, watching and smiling as my son who is eight years old, plays with his friends.  It’s awesome as a parent. Yet, even though he is now eight, my fears of “stranger danger” or him being hurt still looms in the back of my mind.

There is a child where we live who is only 4 years old. He has severe Autism and is allowed to run around without supervision from his parents. He’s been seen on the road by himself with his bike or walking, and the only person watching him is an older sibling by four years —

I can’t begin to tell you how this burns me up inside. Not because the child has Autism. My own son has special needs. But because this little boy is only four years old.  He is still learning right from wrong, but is so very trusting and has no concept of danger or how to be wary from outside influences, mix his age with the fact he does indeed have Autism.  And the idea of him running around and playing where I live — without supervision.  Well– that just floors me.

What Does “Supervised” Mean?

Supervised means that the caregiver can see the child and is close enough to protect the child from harm.

Children 0 to Four Years Old

Children in this age group must be supervised at all times!

It truly appalled me to know this little person is running around without the care of his mother nearby. I mean everyone gets busy, I understand that. We can’t always go to the park for hours on end and watch our kids play, not with other responsibilities going on. But watching your child should be your first and foremost priority when your child is under the age of seven.

According to Child Wareware kids 5 – 7 can be allowed to play outside unsupervised for a 1/2 before parents should get them  Kids 8 – 11 can play outside unsupervised for 1 hours before parents should check on them. You should always teach your children road safety and stranger danger.

It bothers me that this mother doesn’t seem to think it’s important that her four year old was on the road several times unattended without anybody watching him. I do not like judging parents. Heck, none of us are perfect. And I’m not saying a parent has to be all over their kids every minute of everyday.  That’s not healthy either. I just keep thinking what if something happens to this kid?  And I wonder what more should I do?  If anything at all. 

What do you think? Should Kids under the age of seven have parental supervision while playing outside?



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