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At What Age Should Children Be Allowed Out Alone

At What Age Should Children Be Allowed Out Alone

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It’s a dilemma faced by all parents – what age should your kids be when you let them go out and about on their own?


Many parents are quite relaxed about allowing their children to go out and play with friends from a relatively young age. Presuming someone responsible is keeping an eye on them at least now and again and the children know their boundaries this is obviously completely fine. However, here we’re talking about leaving the area around the house. Running errands, going to meet friends who live a bit further afield or using public transport is different to having a kick-about near your house and as such many parents are unsure of when to afford their children more independence.


A survey commissioned earlier this year by Co-Operative Food found that youngsters in 2015 are a whole 19 months later in being allowed to go the local shop without an adult than their grandparents were. Children from the earlier generation were running errands to the shops from the age of seven years and nine months, while 21st century kids have to wait until they reach nine years and four months to go to the shops on their own. It may be that parents are affording their kids less freedom at an early age but this could also be down to the fact that there are now fewer local shops around and people now have to travel further for their shopping.

Public Transport

The research also found a two-and-a-half year difference concerning public transport. Grandparents were first allowed to board trains and buses on their own when they were 10 years and two months, while these days kids are over 12 before being given the same freedom. Again, changed days mean more parents have cars and are able to offer their children lifts rather than relying on public transport.

Is your child ready to go out alone?

As kids get older it’s natural for them to want more independence. Rather than give it to them all at once, which may be overwhelming for parent and child, it’s a good idea to introduce freedoms gradually so you both get a chance to adjust. Check that your child is happy with the level of independence you’re offering. It may be that they would rather be accompanied for a while yet, at least for certain activities. If your child isn’t comfortable heading out alone yet then don’t force it.


At What Age Should Children Be Allowed Out AloneParents are aware of the risks that may be involved when going out into the big wide world alone but often kids can be oblivious. Make sure your child knows all the risks and what do if they find themselves in certain situations. Be sure they know things like how to cross the road safely, what to do if a stranger approaches them and who to turn to if they need help.

Set boundaries

Setting boundaries can help both parents and children get used to greater freedom. From curfews to places they are not allowed to go, boundaries are designed to keep kids safe and reassure parents. Explain the reasons behind your boundaries to your child and let them know they’ll face consequences if they don’t stick to them. On the other hand, keeping curfews and earning your trust will lead towards you giving them even more freedom.

Just like staying home alone, there is no legal age when a child is deemed able to go out alone. This means parents have to use their own judgment. Take into account the distance your child will be travelling, how they are getting there, what time they’re likely to be home, who they’ll be with, the activity they’ll be doing and the maturity level of your child. Only you and your child can decide when they’re ready but when the time comes take things slowly and try not to worry too much!




About Maria Brett

About Maria Brett

Maria is a freelance writer with over 10 years' experience producing content for a variety of publications and websites. When not working or looking after her two gorgeous sons, she can usually be found playing flugelhorn in a brass band, helping out at her local hospital radio station, shouting at the television while watching Formula 1, at the cinema or plonked on the couch with a cold glass of wine.

Website: Maria Brett

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