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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.

YoniBottsBumgina Sat 03-Aug-13 09:29:15

I don't have an 11yo, but I think yes at that age I would want to know where they are but would probably trust them to get there themselves (unless they had form). I would want a text/phone call if they were going to move locations (say, going from a friend's house to the park)

superbagpuss Sat 03-Aug-13 09:33:17

yes, my sister knows where her 13 year old son is at all times
he has a mobile phone

Mopswerver Sat 03-Aug-13 09:33:55

Depends where you live. We live in a very safe (in terms of traffic) village where we know most people and my DCs have been lucky enough to have the sort of childhood I remember (well, not quite).

They go off around the village with their friends and we agree a time that they are to be back but no, I don't need to know exactly where they are at all times.

I think by age 11 they ought to be beginning to learn the reciprocal rules of trust, how it is earned and built upon.

Ragwort Sat 03-Aug-13 09:34:36

My child is 12 now and yes, I do expect to know where he is. Obviously not down to the exact location but if, for example, he is going into town (he can walk there and has done for the last year) I would not expect him to leave the town, and he would need to back by a specific time. If he goes to a friend's house after school he has to phone me to confirm where he is (and that the other parent has agreed to him being there, I double check this with the parent by text grin). He has had a mobile phone for the last seven months.

I have left him home alone for short periods - starting with half an hour - since he was 9; now I would leave him for about two hours at home alone. He knows not to say he is alone if anyone phones (ie: 'mum is in the shower and will ring you back grin). We talks specifically about stranger danger, kidnapping and worse (suitably phrased). He does a few activities that also develop independence (eg: Scouts/adventure activity holidays etc).

VivaLeBeaver Sat 03-Aug-13 09:35:34

At age 11 I didn't and at age 12 I still don't.

We live in a fairly big village and from the age of 11 dd has been off and about meeting friends, etc. going to their houses, meeting up at the park.

She doesn't take a phone with her as she worries about losing it/doesn't want to carry it.

I think she has a lot of freedom. I have been out round the village looking for her before now as its started to get dark.

I know one of the other mums in the village thinks I'm very irresponsible and says her dd (same age) will never be allowed to do this. She's warned me someone may call social services on me. hmm. I bite my tongue but I feel sorry for her dd.

HeySoulSister Sat 03-Aug-13 09:41:27

I'm struggling to get it right with my almost 11 year old. He went missing yesterday and I called the police. No phone with him as he's locked himself out and we need yet another puk code!!

However, his teen sister has an iPhone snd she sent me a message on fb to say she was having fun at the beach but her 'location' came up on google maps as not being anywhere near the beach but at a place she is not supposed to be hmm

Yesterday I was considering fitting my dc with GPS devices as I had 2 out of 5 gone AWOL and I was in a bit of a mess about it all!

daisychicken Sat 03-Aug-13 09:46:12

My 11 year old has a lot of freedom (with a mobile at all times) but I have to know where he is - so if he's going to the park that's fine & he phones or comes home at a certain pre-agreed time. If he wants to go to a friends house from the park, that's fine but he has to speak to me first - a phone call will do. I feel at 11, he's not totally aware of risks but if he doesn't have freedom, he'll never learn - this is the compromise we have come up with. If he's out with friends, I'm in the area - he can walk to me if I'm out (nipping to the shops for example) or I'm at home, I don't go any further.

Some of his friends this holiday have been left on their own all day & not able to get in their house nor can they walk to a responsible adult. That makes me uncomfortable. That said, I also have friends trying to give their 11 year old more freedom & facing opposition from family members...

HeySoulSister Sat 03-Aug-13 09:49:59

My ds was actually in someone's house all day.. Turned out parents were at work and teens and ten year old all home alone.... So no responsible adult to say to ds 'does mum know you are here' he was there 8 hours, so lunch and dinner came and went.... I'd say to any kid visiting my home ' let your mum know you are here'

xalyssx Sat 03-Aug-13 09:51:37

At the age of 11 I had a key and a cheap mobile phone and I was allowed to walk home through town twice a week, but if I took longer than 45 minutes my mum called me and called me and called me until I got home! I was also allowed to go to the library by myself but that was it.

noisytoys Sat 03-Aug-13 09:58:39

My DDs are only little but where I live after school and holiday clubs all end age 8 so from age 9 DDs will be home alone after school until I finish work, and from 11 they will be home alone all day.

EmpressOfTheSevenOceans Sat 03-Aug-13 09:59:30

When DD was 11 she took herself to and from school (about 40 mins away). She texted us on getting to school and one of us would be there when she got in. She was allowed out with her friends, providing we knew where they were going and she kept her phone on.

She knows about not speaking to strangers and since she was at nursery she's known that if she's lost she should ask someone with children for help (or a staff member if she's in a shop, soft play etc).

LadyLech Sat 03-Aug-13 10:03:59

My DD (9) is allowed out to play.

If she's out for a short time (up to an hour say), i wont know exactly where she is. She has a time to come back. I know roughly where she is, but not always. However, she has boundaries that she is not allowed to go past, and a time to come home. In the mean time she'll be at the park / at a friends house / playing on the estate somewhere.

If she goes out for a Long time (over an hour) she'll take her phone and let me know where she moves on to.

IThinkOfHappyWhenIThinkOfYou Sat 03-Aug-13 10:07:30

I don't know where my 9yo is at all times. He is allowed to play in the street or park (in our street) or go to one of a few specific friends houses. No phone but if I need him I just go and find him. He isn't allowed off the estate, which is small and clearly defined. The streets here are teeming with kids from about 5 upwards which is partly why we moved here.

ProphetOfDoom Sat 03-Aug-13 10:13:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MyNameIsInigoMontoya Sat 03-Aug-13 10:15:49

Mine aren't yet anywhere near that age, but I think by 11 I would not want to insist on knowing exactly where they were at all times, though would want to know approximately (e.g. wandering round the shops at place X, or out and about in place Y with friends a, b and c).

I think it's vitally important that children learn to cope on their own, and smothering them too much puts that at risk. If they can't start to gradually learn skills like using public transport, finding their way to places, and even (as they get older) dealing with other people, including odd behaviour, they aren't going to become fully adult - not to mention encouraging them to be scared of ordinary life situations.

meditrina Sat 03-Aug-13 10:27:04

At 11, they start going to secondary and many (including mine) had to travel by themselves.

So in year 6, they started making simple journeys alone so that first experience of being adult-free was on a familiar route (and from my pov, so there were lots of parents around).

From that point on, you have to take their whereabouts on trust at least to an extent. The talking about staying safe starts much, much younger than 11 (as does drill about crossing roads),

I can remember drilling home messages about "most people are kind and good and would never hurt a child, but some sometimes do (nephews stories and fairy tales good as a start point) and you can't tell which is which just by looking ". They are told never to go through a doorway with someone I don't know they're meeting (simple, and covers vehicles, leaving places, going into places) and they must always ring if a parents friend offers them a lift.

If in difficulty, and no police around, then they must find a way to ring me: try a big shop with uniformed staff (and stay in main boby of shop), somewhere like a library or a leisure centre; or if you must ask a passer-by, choose a parent with smallish children in tow.

feelingdizzy Sat 03-Aug-13 10:38:52

My 11yr old has a lot of freedom we live a very quiet spot. Where everyone knows everyone, so I would be told if she was doing something she shouldn't be.

However our rule is she has to let me know when she changes location . Not every move but if she is at the beach then she goes to a friends house she has to let me know.

We have talked about staying safe and making your own choices and not following the crowd kinda stuff. She is aware she has a lot of freedom and if she doesn't follow the rules then she won't have it. She also knows she can always ring me if she really gets stuck.

whattooooodo Sat 03-Aug-13 10:49:09

I know where my 10yo is roughly when she's not with me. If she's playing outside with friends she knows the boundaries and if she's going to the park I know she'll be in the area.
She has a phone to text me if something comes up and to check the time for coming home.
I remember having so much more freedom than my dc have or will do. I say to them that I trust them, just not others around them.
It's hard getting the balance right, you want them to have freedom and independence but worry about them all the time.

JuliaScurr Sat 03-Aug-13 10:51:16

for frequent journeys eg school. corner shop, friend's house; from about age 8 we practiced going with her, supervising where/how to cross roads, catch bus etc, walking further & further behind. Also she had mobile for back up

JuliaScurr Sat 03-Aug-13 10:53:27

and pretty much same as meditrina

SilverViking Sat 03-Aug-13 11:13:39

At 11,I don't want to know where they are exactly... In town, with friend X is enough rather than being really specific, but would want to know what time they were due back. out children didn't have mobile phones until they started uy8 . More important that they understand the boundaries, and how to keep themselves safe.

trice Sat 03-Aug-13 11:28:20

I have an 11 year old and I always like to know where he is. If he is going to a friends house or the shop or the park I will tell him when to be home. He doesn't have a mobile and he doesn't play in the street.

Creosote Sat 03-Aug-13 11:48:45

11 year olds - walk to school with friends (20 mins) no phone necessary, to shops (5 mins on own) no phone necessary, to park (5 mins) no phone required, into town (but dropped and picked up) for 2/3 hrs unsupervised - phone required, at friend's house for half a day+ - phone required.
I don't need to know exact whereabouts, but we are clear about expected time to return home, and child will be in trouble if phone not answered.

Phones do not equate to safety in myu book, but they are useful in emergencies/changing arrangements. What is best it to talk children through the plan, check they are clear, and run through scenarios with them beforehand so they and I feel confident they can handle any unexpected events (like banging their head, their friend not turning up, someone asking them for help or offering to help them etc etc).

onedev Sat 03-Aug-13 12:30:28

I don't have an 11 year old yet but think that once they start going to senior school, it would be almost impossible to know where they are at all times. I do also think mobile phones provide a false sense of security to a certain extent though.

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