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Encouraging freedom and independence for 9 and 10 year olds....any tips?

(10 Posts)
Podrick Sun 02-Aug-09 19:32:30

My nearly 10 year old dd has far less independence and freedom than I did at that age.

We live in a town with busy roads. She does not walk herself to school although I did this from age 6. I also went to play with friends or roamed the fields with them all day from about age 6 (quiet village roads though).

I am about to give dd a watch and then she can play at the nearby park and be back by an agreed time - some of my friends are horrified by this so I know some people will think she is too young, but I know she is much older than I was for this responsibility already.

How have you helped your child towards independence and do you have any good tips for me?

pombear Sun 02-Aug-09 19:53:21

Oh I wish that our inner instincts would outweigh our guilt...I remember roaming fields too, and want to give my own child same freedom. But it's the fear of others' reprobration that makes most of us not help our children to freedom. Good for you for even considering it, as many will keep theirs locked up till 16 for fear of..a), b) or c) happening.

I'm giving mine (8) gradual introduction into independence, with several things that I know would make some of my friends pale with horror. Nothing shocking, though.

I think the best thing for your child is giving them the knowledge of what to do in an emergency. It's about 'walking through' scenarios in which they may need to know what to do in - who to call, what to say, what feels right. Not to scare them, but to give them the confidence to know when a situation needs attention and them to do something different.

Your 10 year old, given a small amount of freedom, will grow into a 15 year old with more nouse (sp!) than the next 15 year old who was never let further than the front door.

Tee2072 Sun 02-Aug-09 20:30:52

Start reading this blog: Free Range Kids and share it with everyone you know.

Especially the ones who disapprove of your actions.

sobeda Sun 02-Aug-09 20:31:26

Have you read 'Free Range Kids' ? It's by a New York mother who let her 9 year old have some limited freedom, blogged about it, and was then called ' America's Worst Mother'.I found it extremely liberating .(I am someone who walked to school aged 6, was left alone,aged 8 , with a cold in the house while my mother worked for a few hours and yet hardly let my 3 (aged 3 to 8) out of my sight...).

Podrick Sun 02-Aug-09 20:40:52

Oh pombear you speak the truth! It is exactly the kind of awareness you put into words so well that I am concerned to let my child develop...the confidence to listen to your instincts about situations.

I am more scared about not giving my dd the freedom to develop these instincts gradually and then having her fend for herself at 16 or 18 with no experience whatsoever. I know some parents will think I am asking for trouble, but I want dd to build up gradually from little freedoms.

Tee2072 Sun 02-Aug-09 20:52:39

Cross Post sobeda! That's her blog I just put the link to.

My DS is only 7.5 weeks, but he will be raised Free Range.

pombear Sun 02-Aug-09 21:27:56

Hey podrick, she'll get there. And the more you and her talk about things, and her independence and what it means, she'll grow into a great, sassy, and independent but savvy girl.

Me and mine had a discussion only yesterday about why it would be OK to leave her for twenty minutes whilst I went to the supermarket, because she knows every single emergency routine, including what to do in event of a fire (as she said, unlikey mum, as I'm going to read my book!), (and to those risk-averse mums and dads/guardians I know fires start in any occasions)...what to do if someone knocked on door/rang phone etc.....who to go to upstairs/downstairs/across the road in case of problems,......but hey, everyone, I took my extremely mature and 'head-together' girl to the shop, just in case...just in case anyone else thought I was being 'extreme'.

But noone questions me when I strap her into the car and drive her about - statistically, she has a much higher chance of injury/death from that activity!

Podrick Mon 03-Aug-09 08:46:27

I have left my dd for 15 or 20 mins a couple of times whilst I cycled to the local shop so I am starting to feel more comfortable with leaving her alone in the house for very occaisional short periods. I think you are right that in terms of leaving them at home it is safety drills that are important.

I let her sit on her own in the car last week for 10 or 15 mins as she didn't want to come into a shop and she burnt her finger on the cigarette lighter which seemingly works without the car keys in sad. No serious harm done I guess.

My biggest fear is road safety as the roads around us are busy and hard to cross (not enough pedestrian crossings) and I think children might not develop the judgement to cross difficult roads until reasonably old? Anyway I am not comfortable yet with letting dd cross any difficult roads.

All in all dd has far less independence and freedom than I did at that age and I still worry about letting go a bit! And yet I am sure that there are many who would say that I am irresponsible for doing the things above with my 9 year old.

weegiemum Mon 03-Aug-09 09:04:16

My kids are 9y6m, 7y6m and 5y9m.

We are lucky to live on a quiet housing estate where there are areas in between the houses with no roads etc, which means all 3 of mine play out a lot, ride bikes, play football over the (very) quiet road.

BUT I have also tried to make it possible for them to do more. The older 2 have learned to ride their bikes on the road properly. They have an area they can roam which is out of my vision some of the time.

DD1 (9) goes to the shops for me. We have a small Morrisons supermarket at the end of our road, with a pedestrian crossing to get to it. I send her there relatively often, for bread or milk or sweeties or the newspaper ... probably more often than I have to, but she loves going. When I was her age I wasn't just going to the shop but taking my 1 yo brother with me in the pushchair!

Just this holiday I have allowed ds (7) to go - as long as he is with his sister or our neighbour of the same age. He's so proud of himself. It helps that almost all of the folk in Morrisons know the kids and chat to them when they are there. I don't rely on that, obviously, but it is nice to know.

If we had a park within walking/cycling distance that didn't have a very busy road in the way, I would let dd1 go, but tbh I am far more afraid of traffic than anything else! At the same age as me littlest one I was walking to school on my own. But due to the school they go to (specialist language provision) mine all get the school bus from the end of the road.

Am off to look at the Free Range Kids blog - sounds good!

weegiemum Mon 03-Aug-09 09:11:53

Meant to say I have also left dd1 in the house while I went shopping once. She had a sprained ankle and so I let the next door neighbour know (we have several great neighbours) and left her for 20 mins. Again, the achievement for her was a great thing.

I think they need to know about emergencies anyway. What if I was ill when they got in from school? One of my friends recently had a miscarriage and bled very badly. Luckily her 12 yo knew to call 999, because she was semi-conscious when he got home. So ours know to go to neighbours in a particular order (3 of them) and then call an ambulance, for example, if Mum or Dad can't wake up ....

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