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Should you know where your 11 year old is at all times? £2 charity donation for every answer

(265 Posts)
AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Sat 03-Aug-13 09:26:47

We've been working with the charity Railway Children with the help of Aviva and they would like to know how you tackle the difficult balance of keeping your children safe and giving them enough freedom.

In particular they'd like to know:

Our ability to keep in touch with where our children are and what they are doing is greater than ever because of mobiles, but as we relax our hold on them and allow them to have greater independence how can we ensure that they stay safe and make the right decisions?

At what age do you allow your children more freedom and independence and what parameters do you set them?

What discussions do you have with your children about safe behaviour, safe people and safe places to encourage them to keep safe when they are away from the home?

Aviva have kindly agreed that they will donate £2 to Railway Children for every valid comment posted on this thread (up to a maximum of 3 times per user). Railway Children work with UK children who have run away from home and end up living on the streets. Part of their work focuses on preventative education, encouraging children to think and talk about safe people and safe places to help them to make the correct decisions when they are away from the home. You can find out more about the charity and more ways to get involved here

thanks MNHQ

PS please note your comments may be used on the Railway Children pages on MN as well as elsewhere.

CheekyChimpsMummy Fri 11-Oct-13 09:45:38

Yes. I would trust my child to make the right choices when he's out by himself, but I don't trust other people. When ds is old enough to be out on his own, I will ensure that I know where he is at all times

Rockinhippy Thu 10-Oct-13 00:28:58

Mine is 11 btw

Rockinhippy Thu 10-Oct-13 00:28:17

Yes within reason, to know she is in the care of other sensible adults or safe with a sensible group of her friends is enough. she's very sensible, I trust her, so I don't need the finer details, but she has a mobile phone & keeps in touch anyway smile

I do think its sad though, I was totally free as a kid from a young age, but grew up in the country at a time when roads just weren't anything like so dangerous - we live in a city centre, busy roads, dodgy people, so sadly it's very different for her sad

ataraxia Sat 05-Oct-13 12:27:11

Would be wary of relying on mobile phone contact - kids aren't necessarily where they say they are!

ataraxia Sat 05-Oct-13 12:25:56

I don't have an 11 year old but at that age for me my parents didn't need to know exactly where I was at all times, but generally so - i.e. school, a friend's house (which one), riding bikes etc

shannon1 Wed 25-Sep-13 14:44:21

I have 3 boys between 7 and 12 yrs . We have a house rule that they must always tell me where they are. This is to keep them safe , and also allows them some freedom . It is important to teach them self responsibility , at the same time as giving them boundaries. It has worked so far.

Mojavewonderer Mon 23-Sep-13 21:57:00

Yes as I have just downloaded an app so I know where she is at all times.

whattodoo Sun 22-Sep-13 20:38:44

My DD isn't 11, but I hope that she will be responsible enough to make sure we are aware where she is at all times. I hope I have the discipline to ground her if she goes 'off radar'. And I hope the threat of grounding will deter her from doing it in the first place.
I make a point of knowing all her friends and their families, I suppose this might be unrealistic at 11, but the better I know her social circle, the more confident I will feel.

PoopMaster Sun 22-Sep-13 16:43:40

I have 2 DDs (aged 2 yo and 12 wo), but have been a Guide leader for several years, the Guides being mostly between 10 and 12 years old. I have found a massive difference in innocence/maturity between the 10 and say 14 year olds who eventually leave us. So many changes seem to take place in those few critical years in terms of independence, peer pressure etc. Based on what I've observed with these girls I would certainly want to encourage a lot of discussion during that age bracket with my own daughters in order to keep the lines of communication open. My own experiences with my mother have taught me that once those lines are damaged it can be very hard to repair them.

In terms of the OP, based on the girls I know of that age I would certainly want to know where an 11 yr old was at all times. All our Guides at this age have mobile phones for this purpose, so that seems to be the norm.

TwoStepsBeyond Sun 22-Sep-13 16:16:21

Mine is 13 now but has been going out with friends for 2 or 3 years. He would ask if he could go as far as the football field, I'd agree then he'd text and ask if he could cross the bridge and go to the nearby shops. Sometimes I would drop him off at the skate park and he'd call to be collected from a shop a mile away.

Now he'll go into town on the bus/bike and be out all day, I trust him to be sensible and I'd rather have him out and about being independent than cooped up playing xbox all day.

febel Sun 22-Sep-13 16:06:41

I agree with first answer, though mine are older than that now, would like to know where they are, my reasoning being when they said why was that until they are of age I am responsible for them, and if an emergency occurred I would like to know where they were...and a mobile phone can be OUT of charge or signal or they don't hear it. I don't know if mine did always tell me exactly were they were truthfully but I think they did and they didn't have form, as it were, so I trusted them. They also had to be back at a certain time, and if over half an hour late, were grounded/phone taken off them etc Mobiles are useful but are no replacement for actually knowing where kids are, and also cannot be used as a safety aid, as I always said to my kids, someone attacking you (worst scenario!) isn't going to stop whilst you phone for help!

edam Sat 21-Sep-13 22:57:48

if we had a corner shop, I'd have let him walk to the shops a while back, btw.

edam Sat 21-Sep-13 22:54:40

We started letting ds play out when he was four or five - in a group of children in our street (quiet cul de sac). At that age, I was keeping an eye on them, as were the other parents. As he/they got older, I hovered less and less - if there had been an emergency, I'd have heard the yells...

Once or twice I had to walk round the street to find him, knock on a few doors until I found the right one (the kids go in and out of the houses, so he might be playing at Callum's house, or Richard's, for instance).

Last summer he turned 10 and we startd letting him walk up to school alone after half-term (he volunteered to go up early to sort out the school fruit) . Gave him a (simple, non-smart) mobile and he calls or texts us to let us know he's got to school safely.

Now he's in Year 6 we are allowing him to walk to the shop alone - only when arranged (as in, he can't just decide he's going down there, he needs to ask us first).

I have always, always always drummed road safety into him since he was a toddler, though, reminding him/showing him how to cross the road properly. In the hope that constant repetition will mean stopping, looking and listening both ways before/while you cross becomes second nature, something he does automatically.

passedgo Sat 21-Sep-13 22:37:57

My older daughter never played out because there were no other children around who were allowed to. Now at 15 she is far less confident than her sister, she also has less physical confidence . I worry about her slightly more.

passedgo Sat 21-Sep-13 22:29:35

We live in a fairly rough part of London but my dd has been playing on the street since she was 8. There is a group of them but they stay close by. Now she is 13 Iet her go where she wants to as long as she has her phone, knows where she is going and is meeting friends. She has a good sense of danger but isn't scared to try new things.

chrismse Sat 21-Sep-13 22:20:13

No not for short times.

shewhowines Sat 21-Sep-13 18:40:00

At 11 (year 6) the dc were allowed around the estate and to the park 15 mins walk away. The rule is they must be with someone and should call me with their phone, to pick them up if they ever have to walk home alone.

I need to be confident that I can contact them at any time or if they dont have their phone, i must know where exactly they are.

I started off going into town with them and their friends and letting them go off on their own but with me in town too. We progressed to dropping them there and picking them up later, also with the cinema, by the time they started secondary school.

We do live in a safe area and would be far more careful if it was a bit "rough"

steppemum Sat 21-Sep-13 15:46:04

It really depends what you mean by ''know where they are''

So, ds (aged 10) goes out to play with friends on the estate next to our road. I know he is out and about with friends. He has parameters, so he can go to local park and shop, but if they go off to the skate park, (a bit further away) he needs to pop back home and let me know.

He has a return time, and this summer we have let him go off for about 2-3 hours in an afternoon doing that.

So i always know which area he is in, but not exactly where he is, he could be in any of 3 or 4 houses. But I am at home, so there is a responsible adult in the background. If I need to go out, eg to take dd to swimming lessons, he has to be based somewhere eg at friends house, and that parent needs to know that I am out.

He has to tell me if he wants to go round to a friends or to the library after school

We have also begun to allow him to be at home for about an hour if we are out. Again strict guidelines, no cooking/kettle, no friends round, no answering the door.

He doesn't have a mobile, but he will for secondary as he will take the train and it is the easiest way for him to let us know if he is late.

We talk a lot about safety in all sorts of areas, and talk through strategies and role play about what to do 'if...'

I actually assume that sometimes he will break boundaries and do things he is not supposed to. I think that is part of growing up. The trick is to give them the skills to make decisions and trust them enough to know that they won't stray too far or do anything too stupid!

NotAFeminist Sat 21-Sep-13 11:41:50

I don't have an 11 year old just yet and have no idea what sort of world we'll be living in in 10 years time or what technology we'll have or what people will be like! But, if I had an 11 year old now, I would definitely want to know where they are always! I don't even think I'd let them out to 'play out' on the streets with friends, either. I would much prefer them to be at our home, friends' houses whom I've met or at clubs etc. We have a green outside our home that they could play on and our own big garden (if we're still living here then, of course!) If they wanted to go with friends to a park, or something, I would probably want to go along and sit on a bench and keep an eye on things. If their plans were to change, I'd want to know that, too.

It might sound too over-protective or that I'd be a molly coddler, but due to things that have happened in both my and my DH's life, we are that way and both feel that it is better to be over-vigilante, than end up heart broken because something terrible has happened to your child because you relaxed a little bit and gave them freedom before they were properly ready. I don't want to wrap my kids in bubble wrap and keep them with me forever, I just want them to be safe and happy. 16 years old is the age when the children will have more freedom and responsibility. And all through their life, we will teach the kids the importance of being safe and 'stranger danger' etc and hope we do a good enough job with that! I feel it is better to over-protect (but not in an over bearing, suffocating way) than to regret.

Art Sat 21-Sep-13 08:59:39

Yes essentially I do know where my son is all the time. He walks to school by himself, which is about 10 minutes away. He comes home and lets himself in at the end of the day.
He is allowed to go out and about, but doesnt randomly wander. We live in a smallish town and he can go into town to the sweet shop, to several parks and round the streets where we live on his scooter/skates etc, but he tells me first roughly where he is going and he has a mobile. The traffic worries me and I worry that if he is hanging around he will be introduced to drink/drugs etc. by older children.

We have talked about 'stranger danger' and have talked extensively about being safe online (I am much fussier than all Ds s friends' parents about online activity).

I feel I will be more anxious about my daughter (8yo) being out on her own. I worry more about her being abducted as she is a girl and physically she is quite small. (although I know the statistics actually show this to be very rare!)

popsocks Fri 20-Sep-13 18:59:00

My 10yr old dd (11 in a few weeks), is allowed to the park, to her friends etc. She has been allowed to go to the corner shop since she was 9, to get milk etc for me. During the summer hols, i have allowed her to go to the supermarket 15 mins away to buy some icecream. My dh and i argued a bit about this as he feels it is too far and you have to cross a main road. I allowed her to as i think she is sensible enough and we have talked through the route she was to take, not to talk to anyone she didnt know and to ring me if she got worries at any point. She can walk the while way there on one side of the road and use the pedestrian crossing to cross the main road. She was fine and i actually rang her after 25 mins to check all ok. She had shopped and had just left the supermarket. My dh and i have had a better discussion about where she is allowed as he is more uncomfortable with the idea of dd going out and about. I think that she needs to be more independant and to learn different routes home as she will be in high school next year and having to walk to and fro on her own and with friends. She has been walking herself to primary school and back since the middle of yr 4, although that is a 5min walk from our house

katiewalters Fri 20-Sep-13 16:30:23

My son is only 4 but when he is 11 I will want to know where he is at all times. He will be given a mobile phone once at secondary school so he can ring us if there's an emergency or problem. I wouldn't be comfortable him being out on the streets on his own with friends at 11 with the society we live on, 11 is too young. I wouldn't mind him doing things with friends if an adult is present.

MILLYMOLLYMANDYMAX Fri 20-Sep-13 16:24:20

My eldest has been commuting in and out of central London on her own since she was 10. I drop her at the station in the morning and she gets the train in and back and I collect her in the evening. However I would not let her walk outside our front gate with out me ever despite us living in an ultra quiet hamlet. To my mind she has no chance of being taken in the centre of London with police and CCTV and other people around However in our quiet road anyone could snatch her and we would be none the wiser. I cannot recall any child being snatched from Oxford Street but plenty walking down some suburban / village road.

Littlecherublegs Fri 20-Sep-13 15:41:03

I don't have an 11 year old yet but the ones I know of makes me think that yes, I would want to know where they are all the time.
11 is not that old - just because they have started high school doesnt mean they are grown up, mature, savvy, street wise, etc.
I agree it might be difficult to know exact whereabouts 100% of the time but I would definitely want to know roughly where they are going to be, who with, and when they will return.

magichamster Fri 20-Sep-13 07:08:14

Ds is 11 and has just started high school. We live in a big village.

He walks to school on his own with a friend (about 25 mins) and after school he goes out with mates. He generally has a phone with him, and he knows he can go anywhere within a certain boundary, but if he wants to go elsewhere he needs to give me a quick call so I know where he is.

Like some other posters on here I worry more about cars than anything else as he can be a bit vague at times

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