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when did you start allowing your kids to do stuff on their own?

(22 Posts)
sparkybint Sun 23-Aug-09 11:10:41

I'm wondering when's the right time to start allowing them to do such things as walk to school (with us it's just a 10 minute walk with only one major road and that has a safe crossing), go to the park with their friends for a short time, walk to friends' houses etc. She'd dearly love to be let loose in town too, which is only a 5 minute walk away but when I see the hordes of dissaffected yoof hanging around I shudder!

My DD is 9 and begging to be allowed to do stuff on her own. She wants a mobile too but not sure about that - it would make sense because me and her dad aren't together and it would mean she could communicate with each of us direct when she's with the other parent, but my ex thinks she's too young.

She's quite sensible but precocious too (I posted about this recently!) and I just want to get the balance right.

mumonthenet Sun 23-Aug-09 11:29:16

Definately start now.

Give her small jobs to do....when out shopping - send her to buy something for you and to meet you back here in 5/10/15 mins. Start small and build up (that way builds her confidence - not to mention yours!)

My dd's got a mobile when theymoved to senior school at 10 yo.

Sorry about typing keboard all weird and slow today.

brummiemummie Sun 23-Aug-09 13:47:06

DS (Year 6) and DD (Year 5) walked to school alone together this year. It is a journey similar to your DD's - about a 15 minute walk with the only "busy" road being the one outside the school itself where there is a crossing. They've been doing this for the last two years, so since DS was 9 and DD was 8. I wouldn't have allowed it if it had just been one of them at that age though, but in September DD (10) will walk by herself most mornings as DS is going into senior school.

If she is sensible I would maybe start letting her go into town but not just to "hang around", only if there is something specific she/you need to buy. Getting to the big town near us involves a train or bus ride so I haven't let DD or DS go in by themselves yet, although if there was a big group of sensible friends going I probably would. Again, with meeting up with friends at the park, it would depend on how many of them were there, how many I'd met etc. If there were only three or four, or I didn't know who any of them were, I wouldn't allow it.

I think if you are going to let her out by herself/with friends she should have a mobile phone so she can contact you for example in an emergency or if she is going to be later home than she said.

We got DD a phone for her 10th birthday. It's a fairly cheap one, I think the handset cost about £30 but it's pink so she LOVES it wink. She's on Tesco Mobile, on the Value tarrif. We chose this because it was cheap for texting which is mainly what we thought DD would want to do (most of her friends have phones), and also because on that tarrif you can't go on the internet or send picture messages, so she can't waste all her credit.

We have agreed to top up her phone £10 every 2 months, so she has to learn to budget; if she has used up all her credit after 6 weeks she doesn't get any more until the 2 months is up. I think it's important to have limits like this, to teach her that she can't just use up all her credit and then demand more whenever she likes.

I would ask your DD why she wants a mobile. If it's so she can keep in touch with you/her dad when she's with the other parent then fair enough, but if it's just because "All my friends have got one" then that's not a good enough reason imo.

BM x

sparkybint Sun 23-Aug-09 16:02:42

Thanks for your sound practical advice. DD is 10 in January so will think about the walk to school early next year. I sent her off to meet her dad in town earlier but he was 20 minutes late and a mobile might have come in useful then! It definitely wouldn't be so she could chat to her mates - in fact only one of them has a phone and that's because her parents are separated too.

mathanxiety Sun 23-Aug-09 19:59:54

The mobile is essential if she goes places on her own. It also teaches children to keep track of time, not waste units, and can be taken away if behaviour takes a nosedive, which it sometimes does. Treat it like a privilege. Treat the whole subject of going places on her own as extending a privilege and make clear to her there are expectations about calling you at certain times, getting home at the time you've agreed, any other conditions you may have. Walking to school is fine, or staying somewhere like the library or the park, but hanging out where there are older teenagers I would say no. I would also say it's ok to send her on errands if the shop is closeby, (teaches money care skills) or go get something from the other side of the supermarket.

Takver Sun 23-Aug-09 20:30:35

We're just starting this one with dd (age 7). We used to live on a farm, so she's used to having a lot of freedom, & she's finding it hard being in town & seeing it as her 'world' ending at the garden gate, so we're trying to find good places for her to go out & about on her own. So far she's been to the library (less than 5 mins walk) plus round to see friends on the estate behind our house (ideal, but only if she's getting on with them!).
The mobile issue is interesting. I used to be horrified at primary school children with phones - but now I'm imagining dd going off to play down by the river etc I'm rapidly warming to the idea

sparkybint Sun 23-Aug-09 21:05:30

Also wanted to ask, what about leaving them on their own in the house for short periods (half an hour or so) during the day?

logi Mon 24-Aug-09 00:04:23

Hi sparky i think your dd is too young to be going out alone,its not about trusting her it the type of people she may come across that would worry me,but thats my opinion.

themoon66 Mon 24-Aug-09 00:07:05

I think DD was about 8 when she used to cycle down to her friend's house about quarter of a mile away - single track road, very rural, no other houses or people around.

Clary Mon 24-Aug-09 00:09:48

Yes I think now too.

Would you let her walk to post box for you? that kind of thing.

DD does that and she is 8. DS1 is 10 and this hol walked up to a pal's house and thence (2 of them) to the park. Where they met another friend by chance so it was really nice for DS. smile

I also leave DS1 in the house on his own for a set period (eg when pickign up from Beavers, 10 mins walk away).

He doesn't have a mobile btw. I always know where he is so why does he need one?

pluto Mon 24-Aug-09 00:22:17

OP - my DS1 is 9 and 9 months. In the last 6 months or so I have started to allow him to walk home from school unaccompanied a few times a week- it's a suburban area with just a couple of roads to cross and takes just over 15 mins. He also goes to the nearby Tesco express to buy milk or a paper - a round trip of 15 mins and is allowed to walk to a friend's house who lives 5 mins away, I also leave him in the house alone - but never for more than about 20 mins and only in the daytime. He knows what to do if he needs to contact me. I don't like the idea of him having a mobile - I'm a teacher and I know how they are used by students to send unkind and bullying texts etc. I wouldn't let him walk with other children as I don't think he would concentrate as well on the traffic. I also think he is too young to go unaccompanied to town. I disagree with logi - I think the threat from weirdos is no worse than it ever was but the traffic danger is considerable and I wouldn't contemplate DS doing any of these things unless I was sure he had total road sense. DS loves these small steps to independence and has asked for them - they aren't pushed on him at all.

logi Mon 24-Aug-09 00:50:23

hi pluto,i do think there are greater threats these days (definately in my area) a,i wasnt allowed out at a young age and i have brought my dc up similar to how i was raised.

tickfeckingtock Mon 24-Aug-09 01:31:34

When I was 9 I got a bus then a train to school with my brother, then at 10 I made the journey myself. Scary as my daughter is now 10 and the thought of her getting just 1 bus into town is a bit much for me grin.

We live in a small village so DD has been walking to school herself for years now and goes out to play with her pals, in the nearby park of gardens, if going further in the village she will usually come and tell me first. If I lived in a busier place I wouldn't be so keen. My fears are older kids and traffic mostly (although wierdos worry me too IYKWIM). Where we live the older kids are Ok, cause a bit of trouble sometimes but not too bad. I am pretty sure if DD fell of her bike or something they would actually help, that reassures me a bit.

I am going to experiment with them getting the bus into town and me meeting them there, just in case I get a job that finishes a bit later so they can go to their after school activities.

tickfeckingtock Mon 24-Aug-09 01:34:05

Oh and DD has a phone well 2 actually as her dad bought her one too hmm, she uses them more as toys really (looks after them though), takes pictures, plays the games on them etc. Don't even know if they have credit.

Once she goes to the big school or is getting bus into town it will be topped up and show her how to use properly.

BlueKangerooWonders Mon 24-Aug-09 02:30:21

My dd is almost 9. I think it's all about starting gradually and building up. I first left dd at home when she just turned 8. I was terrified for all of the 5 mins it took me to walk dd2 around the block to get her to sleep. DD was completely unfazed by the experience! I leave her at home for up to 20 mins at a time now.

I also have started v gradually with things like paying in a shop, ordering in coffee shop, where I am further away etc. Will be getting her to go and post letters on her own v soon.

But definitely no mobile phone for a quite a long while yet!

ben5 Mon 24-Aug-09 02:40:32

i now someone who used to send his 8 year old daughter down to the shop and get a paper. he was able to watch her all the way and she was allowed to keep the change ( about 10p a time). she saved that 10p every day and by christmas had loads to spend on her friends and herself. it also let her have some freedom.

roisin Mon 24-Aug-09 04:07:37

I think it depends on your area a bit, as to what is safe and acceptable, and what you're comfortable with.

My boys started doing small errands - post a letter or fetch a newspaper from the corner shop - from that age of about 5.

From the age of around 8 they could walk to school or back, or go to a shop or the library further away (both included crossing roads with and without pelican crossings).

This kind of independence means they are confident handling themselves when out and about. IMO it makes secondary transition easier if children have been used to walking to school themselves, handling money and buying a meal, etc.

simplesusan Mon 24-Aug-09 10:34:12

I think having a mobile is a good idea.
I would let her play out at the park too.

With regards going into town, I may be a bit overprotective but I wouldn't let her do that yet. It also depends on where you live. We live in a village amongst other families so I allow my kids to play out nearby, but because town is 10 miles away, albeit only 1 train ride I don;t yet let my 12 year old go without me.
Perhaps she could walk to school, could she walk with a friend?

BonsoirAnna Mon 24-Aug-09 10:36:10

If she is asking for independence, give it to her, but remember that with independence comes responsibility. So let her go shopping (for example) but make sure she does an errand for you/the family at the same time.

GooseyLoosey Mon 24-Aug-09 10:41:59

Ds is 6 now and will be 7 at the start of the school year in Sep 2010. I plan on letting him walk to school alone from then.

He has a mobile phone (dad has lots as conected with work). It does not have a SIM in but has load of music and stories on and can access the internet when he is in the house. He loves it. It is his favourite posession by a mile. His contacts book is full of the mobile numbers of all of his and dd's toys!

bargainhuntingbetty Mon 24-Aug-09 10:54:28

My dd gets to go to the shop for me to get milk etc ( about 2 minutes from the house) she is 8 and LOVES it when I ask her to go for me. I recently (last week) let her go to her BF childminders to see if she could come and play it is in the next street to mine but I cant see her IYSWIM so it was a big thing to send her there. She had to walk through a whole other street lol. She loved it and was acting all grown up when she came back. I know kids her age who are allowed a lot more freedom than this but I also know kids her age who have less freedom than this, I think it depends on the child and how responsible they are.

mumeeee Tue 25-Aug-09 16:03:47

I don't agree with a 9 year old having a mobile. My childen started walking to school on thier own in year 6 so were about 10.5. I used to stand outside a shop and let them go in and buy stuff from about the age of 7. They didn't go to towncompletly on thier own until they were 13. But I sometimes used to take DD2 and 3 into town at the age of 12 and 10 and let them go into a few shops and then meet me. I also so did this with DD1 at the same age.

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