10 Tips For Letting Your Child Play Out Independently

Girls playing outside

Something has happened in my son’s world over the course of the last year.  As a doting mother, it’s a milestone I wasn’t looking forward to.

My boy has started playing out independently with his friends.  Without me!  Can you imagine?

It’s such a strange feeling.

The first time it happened, I was on tenterhooks waiting for his return.  He’d only gone to call for his friend up the road.  I’d made sure he had taken his phone which was fully charged and also linked to mine through FindMyiPhone but……I was still wracked with worry!

When the front door finally opened about an hour later, he walked in with a huge smile on his face.  I recognized that smile…..it was the first sweet taste of independence.  Is there anything greater when it comes along?

I remember playing out as a child from about the age 10.  I’d set off on my bike to go and call for my best friend and we’d gather together our little gang.   We’d play outside all day long, only popping into each other’s homes for drinks and sandwiches.

However I was dreading the day it came along for my own child, because I knew I wouldn’t be there to keep him safe.  I also think the world seems a much scarier place these days.  Maybe it’s because I’m an adult now and I know the sort of awful people that live within our towns.

Luckily…..it’s not been as worrying as I imagined.

Obviously there’s been the odd incident here and there.  However, I suppose that is part of the process of becoming streetwise; to be aware of the dangers and temptations and to learn how to handle them appropriately?

With each trip out, he is learning something; where to cross the roads, how to manage money, which places or people to avoid and how to negotiate his way around the area where he lives.

I know this is important because he only has one more year of primary school and then he’ll be catching a bus to high school every day on his own…eek!

Read also: Parents, Can We Set Some Ground Rules About Birthday Parties?

It will seem a huge jump to us both if we don’t put in some early groundwork.

10 Tips For Letting Your Child Play On Its Own

If you’re about to take the plunge with your kids it really can seem terrifying so here are my top tips:

  1. Firstly, ensure you feel they are responsible and sensible enough to make the step first. Children don’t mature at the same speed and no one knows a child like their own mother.If you think they aren’t quite ready then don’t be forced into agreeing just because everyone else is allowed out.  When your child is ready, you’ll know.

    Also, if they behave irresponsibly or break your trust don’t be afraid to reign them back in.  My son has been grounded twice since he began to play out, which helped to remind him that the responsibility to behave appropriately lies with him.

  2. Establish the rules; where can they go, where can’t they go, who can they play with? – what are their boundaries?  Be very clear that these rules are there to keep them safe and that they must not be broken.  Trust has to be earned.I started off allowing my son to go to the parks near our house until I was made aware that some teens were seen regularly drinking and using substances!  Now there are certain no-go areas so be prepared to alter the rules accordingly.
  3. Make it an absolute MUST that they take their phone with them and that it has plenty of battery power so you can keep in contact at all times.
  4. If you both have iphones, I would definitely use ‘Find My iphone’ so you can keep an eye on where they are going.  I think it’s the main reason I felt confident letting Seb out, because I could see where he was and that gave me peace of mind.
  5. If they change their plans, make sure they know to text or call to let you know/ask permission i.e. “Callum wasn’t in so I’m calling for Jack now, is that ok?”
  6. Let them know how long they have to play out. Time can be difficult to judge as a child, so you could even set an alarm on their phone before they go out which signals the time they need to come home.
  7. Make sure you have their friends numbers too so you can call them if they aren’t answering their phone (which happens a lot) plus the numbers of their friend’s parents.
  8. Ensure they understand road safety and you both feel confident that that they can cross roads safely. If there are any roads they are not allowed to cross, make this very clear.
  9. Have the conversation again about never going off with strangers or adults they might already know.  Stress the importance of this again and again.  We also have a password that we use in case an adult tries to trick Seb into believing I have sent them.  It’s best to be prepared for every eventuality!
  10. Resist the urge to check up on them ‘all the time’ but of course check in with them if you feel anxious or concerned.  If I’m a little worried I check my app so I can see where Seb is, then I can relax.  If I don’t feel comfortable with his location I’m straight on the phone to make sure he’s ok.

Do you have any tips to share? 


I’m a writer, new mom and foodie. I love sharing what I know while making others feel beautiful. On this blog, I share my healthy lifestyle, simple meals, fitness tips and experiences.

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