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At what age did you become more 'hands off' with your DC?

(36 Posts)
chosenone Fri 29-May-09 16:15:41

I find this a hard one especially as my two are so different! DS nearly 4 will bound all over parks ect with wild abandon and is difficult to reign in. He has spent a lot of time in soft play centres where he is used to lots of freedom so struggles with boundaries in parks, walks, beer gardens etc. DD is nearly 2 and would happily sit in my shadow if I didn't urge her to play. I see some parents in parks set up camp and let 4 and 5 year old run off but Im worried about DS and although its rare what about abduction? We've talked to him about strangers but surely he's too young to get it? My best friend lets her DS (same age) play in the garden whilst she's upstairs drying her hair and things. I will do jobs in the kitchen where he's in sight but won't stray too far from the window. How do you do it?

Runoutofideas Fri 29-May-09 16:23:10

I don't know how they do it - I feel the same as you and wonder if i'm being overly anxious. DD1 is 4.2 and I don't like her to be out of my sight. DD2 is nearly 2 and I like them both to be pretty close by at all times. I'm more concerned about them hurting themselves or each other and nobody seeing to be able to help, or climbing up something dangerous, or wandering off etc etc. WOuld love tips on how to relax a bit too....

Overmydeadbody Fri 29-May-09 16:31:08

Well, I do it because I'm not an overly anxious person and also because I have a very able very sensible DS who I trust to know his own limits, and I believe in letting children take certain amounts of risk in life.

I guess gradually, as he got older, I loosened the apron strings, giving him more and more freedom as I felt he was ready to handle it.

If he had a different personality I would be different with him though, I think a lot depends on the actual child.

Overmydeadbody Fri 29-May-09 16:34:27

I tend to assess the environment first, decide how safe it is, tell DS what the boundaries are, and then chill out and leave him to it, checking up on him as and when.

When we go to our local parks I leave him to it while I read a book. He says within the area and tends to stay where he can see me easily.

If we're in shops and supermarkets we know I don't worry about keeping him in my sight the whole time, so for example he likes to look at the fish at the fish counter, so he does that while I get the cheese in the next isle.

If we're at the checkout and I've forgotten something I'll leave him at the till while I pop to get it, or send him to get it if he knows where it is.

I sometimes leave him outside a shop while I nip in, if it's a familiar shop and I know I won't be longer than 5 minutes.

Perhaps I should worry more.

Overmydeadbody Fri 29-May-09 16:35:32

I don't hover around climbing frames telling him to "be careful" or worrying about him falling. I assume he knows his limits and if he falls he'll heal grin

BonsoirAnna Fri 29-May-09 16:40:39

I think this is so dependent on the personality of the child. I have never been a hovering parent - I childproofed our home and she has always had the run of it; and I certainly don't watch her every minute on the climbing frame and in the park. And I leave her at home for 10-15 minutes while I run errands. She's very sensible, though (4.6) and isn't the kind of child who talks to every last stranger or who would open the window.

Runoutofideas Fri 29-May-09 16:53:56

Overmydeadbody - I completely agree with you in theory, however I don't seem to be able to put it into practice. I don't think I'm passing my anxiety on to my girls as I don't think I "hover", I'm just not that far away and always watching. It's not the actual hurting themselves I'm concerned about - more the knocking themselves unconscious and no-one realising. DD1 did fall in a pond when she was 2 though and quite possibly would have drowned if I hadn't been loitering around in my own way, as no-one else would have heard....maybe that's still causing some of this.... sorry chosenone, my gibberish seems to be taking over your post - I'll be quiet now!

Othersideofthechannel Fri 29-May-09 16:58:43

DCs are 4 and 6.
I keep them in sight but do not follow them closely in public places (beach, park, supermarket etc) unless the road is nearby.

They play in the garden (which is very long) while I am out of sight and earshot of all but the most anguished cries .

Lizzylou Fri 29-May-09 17:02:23

I am very over-protective, mine are 5 and 3 and I have only just let them go in the garden whilst I am in the kitchen (would never go out of sight). That said I do let them run around on small parks whilst I sit and read a book or whatever, but DS2 sounds a little like OPs DD and nearly always wants me with him.
They have only just started playing upstairs by themselves.

notnowbernard Fri 29-May-09 17:10:09

Mine are 5 and nearly 3

They play unsupervised indoors and in the garden (owing to our compact living arrangements and their big gobs I can hear them at all times, unfortunately grin)

At the park I am happy to let them roam a bit, as long as they are within the boundary of the playground for example

I do fret in shops and supermarkets because they are both a bit naughty sometimes and run off and it freaks me out, so I insist they stay with me

Both will talk to anyone. This in turn freaks me out and delights me... I love their confidence and think of it as quite a protective factor but do worry that at their young ages atm it could be exploited sad... am starting to introduce the concept of 'strangers' to dd1 and all that comes with that

MIAonline Fri 29-May-09 17:14:05

BonsoirAnna, you leave a 4 and half year old alone at home while you are out doing errands? hmm

I am a mix, depending on the circumstances. at home I am more relaxed, in a public place I keep DS (2) in my sights.

ThePellyandMe Fri 29-May-09 17:21:31

Mine are 4 and 6 and I will happily leave them to go off and play and have done for some time. DS2 tends to play with DS1 which is often my only stipulation in big play areas and I park myself by the exit. I also dress them in the same colour t-shirt or sweater so they are easier to spot when we are going somewhere big. It's always is a bit anxiety provoking when you can't see them but you do get used to it. I'm learning to trust them more and more.

At home they will play upstairs or in the garden alone with me in the house somewhere. I've always been one to try and let them have their freedom, they are quite sensible I think.

katedan Fri 29-May-09 17:27:42

15 mins home alone at 4 is far too young!! Is that what you meant Bonsoiranna?

DS is 6 and very trustworthy in terms of being at park and doing what he is told, however I hate him being out of my site and worry about him all the time!!

Dt's are 2.5 and run off all the time so don't trust them at all!!!!

SummatAnNowt Fri 29-May-09 17:55:45

I let ds play out in our cul-de-sac and the one that branches off when he was 4.4. All the other kids play out there. He was allowed to play in our large garden alone at 3.

Marne Fri 29-May-09 18:10:02

My dd's (5 and 3) play in the front garden, the gate is always shut if dd2 is out as she has ASD and would run off, i leave the front door open so i can hear them and i can see them from the kitchen window, dd1 knows not to go out of the gate. I don't let them out of my sight when we are out, dd1 can run around as long as i can see her, dd2 stays with me as she's not safe to go off on her own as she has no sense of danger.

bohemianbint Fri 29-May-09 18:17:17

I'm hovery, but that's because DS1 appears to be training to be a stuntman. He will climb over stairgates, up bookcases...He's even been known to pull his drawers out and use them as ladders. And he will run and run fearlessly and not look back, let alone respond to us shouting to stop.

He's 3 in August. Makes for a hovery parent. grin He is very well co-ordinated if you can channel it somewhere safe though.

Lizzylou Fri 29-May-09 18:50:38

"Hovery", that is a great description of my parenting bohemianbint smile

acebaby Fri 29-May-09 19:08:33

I encourage DS1 (3.10) to play in the park while I look after DS2 (12mo) or, if DS2 is asleep, read.

I think he behaves far better and has more fun if I'm not hovering. The park is enclosed and I don't think that having me right behind him reduces his risk of being hurt. In fact, he is more careful if I am not too close. If he gets into a spat with another child (which happens rarely), I try to let him sort it out himself.

Love the word hovery btw smile

EachPeachPearMum Fri 29-May-09 19:09:47

Anna? You leave dd home alone... really? Or home with her brothers or nounou?

DD has just got to the stage where she will go in the garden by herself- she is 3.3... but it doesn't last long as there's no-one to talk to! wink

Karam Fri 29-May-09 20:08:15

My DD is 5.6 and she is allowed considerable freedom, but within strict guidelines.

When out and about at parks /shops/public places I tend to specifically state the area that she is allowed to roam off in, so she will go out of my sight - but she knows her limits and that if she breaks my trust she will not be allowed away from my side for the rest of the trip (although she has not done that for almost two years now).

In terms of strangers, my DD will happily talk to anyone - but she knows that some strangers are nice and others are not nice (she also knows all about the madeline mcann case and knows that some children do go off with strangers and are never seen again), but she also knows that even if she talks to someone she is not allowed outside her designated area and she will not go outside that (I know this because I have witnessed her refusing to go off with a well meaning adult who was trying to help her once).

In and around the house, she is allowed to ride the bike in front of the house and up and down the pavement (but is not allowed on the road) and again within a strict designated area. I do not stand outside and watch her, but observe occassionally and again know that she does not break her boundaries. In the house, again she is given a lot of freedom. She gets up of a weekend morning and makes her own breakfast (cereal, laid out on the table) and happily looks after herself. She also runs errands to neighbouring houses and to the postbox, but there are no major roads to cross.

So yes, I do give her lots of freedom, but it is also set within quite strict guidelines and she knows if she breaks them then she loses that trust. She is also a very sensible little girl so I can trust her. But I do also test her to see if I can trust her and the answer is usually yes. I think I would be less trusting of her little sister as she is more of a free spirit and less responsible in her character.

Karam Fri 29-May-09 20:13:30

P.S. I also find the more I trust her, the more responsible she is. Because she wants to be grown up and have more freedom, she knows that she only gets that if I trust her, so she acts more responsibly so she gets that freedom. In return, I find if I give her more freedom she is better behaved and responds more positively (for example, if she is not sure if she is allowed to do something, she will come back and ask). She does tend to have a bit more freedom than a lot of her friends, but I think she responds positively to it and it encourages her to be better behaved and more responsible.

BonsoirAnna Sat 30-May-09 09:43:21

EachPeach - we don't have a nounou and yes, I mean alone (no other person in the flat). I doubt I'd leave her alone in a house at her age, but she's just fine alone while I pop out to the boulangerie or butcher or dry cleaner. It's her choice and her suggestion - she asked me, the first time, to stay home rather than come with me. Now I just ask her whether she wants to stay or come along.

Monkeyandbooba Sat 30-May-09 10:07:20

I agree with the more trust and responsibility you give them (slowly) the more they respect that. DD (3) plays outside by herself and will run around the playground on her own. I slowly give her more and more freedom whilst slowly talking to her about dangers (but not harping on about it). Every since she has been walking around i.e. not in pushchair we have discussed road safety, crossing at designated points, waiting for the green man, only walking on the pavement etc to the point that if she sees someone running across the road before the man turns green she gets very cross and moral about it grin

EachPeachPearMum Sat 30-May-09 18:17:10

I am surprised Anna- what if there were a fire? Can she reach to get out of the appartement?

BonsoirAnna Sat 30-May-09 18:20:17

She can get out easily, of course - she knows where the front door is!

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