As your kids get older, many of them will start to ask questions like whether they can go to their friend’s house on their own or if they can meet their friends at the park. As a parent, it is hard deciding when is the right time to give them that extra bit of independence. You worry about the worse case scenarios and it is tempting to say no, to ensure that they come to no harm.
When you do say no, your child may be angry with you, especially if other parents have already allowed their children of the same age move to this next stage of independence. There is no right or wrong answer in terms of when is the right time but over-protecting them can cause other issues, from affecting your relationship to them struggling with being independent when they get older.
There are some concepts that you can work on with your kids to try and prepare them as much as you can for making the right decisions. Being open with them and having adult-to-adult style conversations may work a lot better than trying to dictate what they should and shouldn’t do. Be open about the dangerous situations that people can get themselves into by making the wrong choices, without scaring them too much.
Explain the importance of trust and that if you trust them to come home at a certain time and they stick to it, they will be more likely to be trusted the next time. Talk to them about being able to ask you questions if they are worried about things. Sometimes it can be hard not to fly off the handle when they tell you something you’re not happy about but they are less likely to tell you next time if they know you will react badly. That’s not to say you should let them get away with things, just that having a relationship where open discussions take place will make it more likely for them to confide in you with concerns.
When they get to the age where they can start traveling on their own, you might want to do some dummy runs with them of using the transport systems if they are new to it. On a day out, you can ask them to be in charge of transport arrangements to get them used to process of planning journeys and how to purchase tickets, etc.
Soon they will want to learn to drive and once they pass that milestone they will have huge amounts of new independence. Help them to prepare for this stage by teaching them about how cars work from an early age and how to check for things like flat tires. You can help them to prepare for the theory test by using free online tests on sites like Toptests.
Giving your kids their next level of independence is always hard but it is a step that you can better prepare them for if you put in some forward planning.
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