Independence and safety is a constant battleground for parents. We want to let our children have some freedom as they grow up. We want them to able to go and play with their friends, to stay for after-school clubs on their own, and even to go to events with friends and on their own. We know that to grow up to be responsible, careful and streetwise adults, this freedom in their younger years is essential. But, we worry. When they first start playing out alone, we sit trying to watch them through the window. Those first few weeks of them walking home from school alone, we’re constantly checking the time and fighting the temptation to call them.
We want to give them freedom. We want to show them that we trust them, and we want them to be able to grow up, exploring their own personality and character in their own space. We want them to be sensible, independent and responsible. Yet above all, we want them to be safe. It’s a delicate balance between protecting them and letting them go a little bit. Here are some tips to help you to get it right as your kids get older.
The very best way to keep your children safe as you start letting them out into the world alone is with education. Teach them about stranger danger and who to call in an emergency. Tell them what to do if they need help and make sure they know your name, address, and phone number. But also teach them things like local public transport information, take them out walking so that they know the local area on foot and teach them anything at all that you think that they need to know.
In today’s world, online safety and independence is another concern. The Family Orbit iPhone App can help you to keep them safe but teaching them as much as you can about keeping themselves safe online can also be a massive help.
Set Some Ground Rules
Rules are often the key to safety. Give them times to be in. If there’s somewhere you don’t want to go, make it a rule. You might want to say that they can only go out alone on weekends or once homework is complete. It’s also ok to tell them that they need to check in with you with a text or phone call at regular intervals. Rules keep them safe and help everyone to feel more at ease.
Encourage Honesty (Without Hounding Them)
It’s crucial that your kids feel happy talking to you about what they do, who they see and how they feel. Ask them questions about their friends and what they’ve been up to, without it seeming like you are grilling them. Talk about your own day, ask natural questions and encourage an open and honest relationship between you. This will mean that they are much more likely to come to you if they need help.
It’s Ok to Worry
All parents worry when their children start to become more independent. It’s normal and natural, but you shouldn’t let your worries hold your children back.