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How do you give your children more independence whilst keeping them safe? Share with Vodafone - £200 voucher to be won

146 replies

GraceEMumsnet · 07/06/2021 15:27

From an early age our children are learning how to be independent, and as a parent, it’s important to nurture and encourage this behaviour. However, striking a balance between your child's desire for independence with their need for safety and restrictions can be tricky. With this in mind, Vodafone would like to hear your experiences of encouraging independence in your children whilst keeping them safe.

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How do you encourage your children to be more independent? Do you have tips on keeping them safe when out and about for the first time? Perhaps you gave them small responsibilities early on and built up from there? Maybe it was all just a lot simpler with your second child?

Post your experiences on the thread below to be entered into a prize draw where one lucky MNer will win a £200 voucher for a store of their choice (from a list).

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How do you give your children more independence whilst keeping them safe? Share with Vodafone - £200 voucher to be won
OP posts:
Hopezibah · 08/06/2021 17:32

I think small steps of responsibility is the way to go for my own reassurance too. So when on an outing, maybe setting slightly further parameters for them to explore but to keep coming back to you to show they are ok. Then when at a suitable age maybe walking to school with a friend.

For my own peace of mind I always go through emergency plans too with them so they know clearly what to do if there is a problem.

I'm going to look into this product as I love the location feature as that is one of my big worries.

BristolMum96 · 08/06/2021 17:38

Teach emergency plans from a young age. Allow freedom whilst setting clear boundaries. Keep good communication and trust

MadamElderfield · 09/06/2021 09:40

I think it all starts at a young age. Let them use a knife to help you chop stuff, or go up a ladder to help you paint. It helps them understand risk and dangers for themselves. It also builds up their trust in your judgement.

ladymodjo · 09/06/2021 09:40

I've always been very open and honest with my kids about the possible dangers of the world. They all have mobiles that don't connect to the internet, so they can let me know where they are but they don't spend all their time on social media.

BigLlamaLady · 09/06/2021 09:46

I think trust is key here - trust that they're ready to be a bit more independent, but make sure you set clear limits (i.e curfews) - that's worked for me!

BrieAndChilli · 09/06/2021 12:46

Mine go to Cubs/Scouts which helps give them some independance but within certain boundaries eg they go up the woods for a scavenger hunt, not always in sight but there are adults around.

Once they have phones its a little easier to give some more freedom as mine have find my iphone so i can check that they have walked home from school ok when i am at work.

Covid has delayed alot of the little steps for independance I think, no sleepovers/playdates, no days out where you might let them go a bit further without you, no popping to the shop, I think its going to have an effect on how independant children are for the foreseeable future/

voyager50 · 09/06/2021 12:51

I let him walk to school from the age of 9 but only with a friend - the first few times I followed them to make sure they were being safe and sensible!

Duvetflower · 09/06/2021 13:25

Get them to tell you if it's safe to cross the road whilst out with them to build up confidence and check they're safe.

Asuwere · 09/06/2021 14:44

I think it starts young and it just develops. I'm open with my DC about possible dangers of the real world, I taught them to cross the road safely, taught them to tell the time. They started off being allowed to play in the street and had to come home to check in at a certain time. Gradually they were allowed to go further and for longer.

Gazelda · 09/06/2021 14:48

Small steps.
Acknowledge achievements in independence (ie, "thanks for walking home from school on your own and getting back promptly - it helped me get some work finished off")
Encourage friendships with children who have similar family boundaries.
Let them know you're still keeping an eye on them eg checking their phone use etc.

MargosKaftan · 09/06/2021 14:57

Walking home from school alone from year 6 was a start for us, mainly because new covid rules at school meant year 6 were walking home 10 minutes later than younger dc, so easier to let them catch up/over take.

Going to the park to meet a friend for a walk without us when the lockdown rules meant you could meet one person outside for exercise, but taking a phone so we could get them back when needed!

LubaLuca · 09/06/2021 17:16

I think being allowed to make bad decisions plays a big part in learning to be independent. Not just from a safety point of view, but financially, morally... I so often see children who have never been able to make a decision they might regret, they're so protected from negativity. I've let my kids blow money on crap I know they'll be disappointed with just so they get that sense of feeling ripped off and learn from it. Obviously I wouldn't let them buy things like full price Pringles, there are limits to my vicarious spendthriftery Hmm

Organisations like Scouts and Cadets really promote independent thinking and looking after your own safety too, so I've always encouraged those sorts of activities.

TheLovelinessOfDemons · 09/06/2021 17:44

It's difficult with a DS with ADHD, school don't know him as well as I do, so are over cautious about him doing what DD did at the same age. HmmHonestly, he's more likely to be at risk at home, because he's lost his temper at me. No one tells him what to do if he's walking home on his own, so he's calm and sensible.

fishnships · 09/06/2021 18:03

Agree with pp, Beavers/Rainbows then Brownies or Cubs. Brilliant way to give them confidence. Progressively building their confidence with loads of interesting activities until they go off to camp (which they absolutely love) and thet even get the chance to camp abroad with Explorer Scouts (pre-covid). Highly recommended.

sharond101 · 09/06/2021 19:50

Liasing with other parents we chat and let each other know where the kids are. Trust and boundaries too.

NormanSicily · 09/06/2021 21:03

A building up of experiences and confidence from a young age. I've taught my children to pay at tills and on buses when with me so they are able to communicate with people and are confident to seek assistance when needed. Now they are getting older it is small gradual steps to independence, trips to a local shop to get milk for the house etc, next a solo trip to town. Always having contact details for family on them, and letting them know what to do if a problem arises. And, importantly, teaching them that even if they make a mistake it is better to admit it and seek adult assistance than trying to fix it and getting into a bigger problem.

Downriver · 09/06/2021 22:23

We always talked to them about the realities of the world, made more hopeful but not sugarcoated. We hoped to build strong resilient people who understood the world and its dangers and possibilities. We taught them to respect themselves and others and not to follow the cried. They had no choice but to be different with parents as weird as us. But I think that contributes to their independence, their sense of self, their ethical beliefs and convictions. We give them lots of experiences, and hope that develops their sense of the world and what place they want to take up in it.

paralysedbyinertia · 09/06/2021 22:45

I think it's definitely important to build up their independence over time, gradually increasing it as they get older. DD is 16 now, and obviously does most things independently, but we have an agreement that she'll text me regularly to let me know that she's safe, and so that I know where she is, who she's with etc.

We've talked about what to do in an emergency, who to trust, who not to trust etc. And what to do if she ever feels threatened or at risk in any way. DH reminds her a lot about being aware of what's going on around her. She actually carries a personal alarm with her,, even though she's never out on her own at night.

She knows that she could call me any time of day or night and I would come and get her if she needed it. And she knows how to do a reverse charge telephone call in case she ever lost her mobile.

We do talk about different scenarios and how she might handle them. I used to do the same thing when she was younger, but just on a different level.

It's tough as a parent giving them more freedom, but it's important to let them branch out on their own with appropriate guidance and boundaries in place. Sometimes, you just have to grit your teeth and let them get on with it, while hoping that you've taught them enough to get themselves through!

WineAndMassage · 10/06/2021 00:24

I agree with the majority that independence and good decision making skills take time to build. I discussed with my child what he has to do in emergency, who to trust and tricks kidnappers use to lure children. He travels by himself to school and back ( Y6) and checks in with me on arrival/ departure over the phone.

Natsku · 10/06/2021 10:12

Starting early with small steps, for example letting my daughter play at the park across the road - I would walk her across, and leave her to play and check back every 5-10 minutes, slowly increasing the time between checks.

Teaching them road safety - let them take the lead in crossing the road, deciding where and when is safe, while you are still with them to correct instantly if they make the wrong decision, so they learn safely and have the knowledge for when they go by themselves.

When my daughter was walking to school alone I used a GPS tracker that she could call me on if there was an issue - came in useful almost immediately when she took a wrong turning and got lost and I was able to direct her.

Regular conversations about what to do in emergencies and other situations that might occur e.g. what do you do if someone tells you that mum sent them to get you.

And one that I didn't teach my daughter, but she figured out herself - how to get out of an uncomfortable situation if she doesn't feel able to say no - get mum to say no! She texts me asking me to say she's not allowed to do X that her friend wants to do, or that she has to come straight home, and I call her and say those things.

KeyboardWorriers · 10/06/2021 11:20

My dad (a judge who works on family and criminal cases) always advised me that the most important way to keep my child safe was to ensure that they would always know that they could tell me anything and they wouldn't get into trouble. So lots of non judgemental support for slip ups and no overreacting or excessive punishment etc. The key is that if something untoward starts happening that they know they can reach out.

I am not foolish enough to think that will definitely keep them safe though.

In practical situations I am trying to just gradually increase their independence at an appropriate place.

But I do worry about the internet and getting the balance right

hannahbjm · 10/06/2021 12:14

Mine is 10 so just coming into this age. As a parent I try to be very open and hope that he will talk to me about anything. We have talked about online safety and I do check his phone which he is comfortable with. I will start small steps and meet him half way walking home etc and build trust together

lovemyflipflops · 10/06/2021 12:42

I let my 11 year old go to the park with his friends (as long as they stayed together) and gave a time to be home, he has a phone with an alarm set, for the time he must set off home. If this proves that I can trust him , this will be extended to going into town - with friend to the cinema etc.

MumC2141 · 10/06/2021 18:09

Supervising while doing activities initially and trying to step back a little as they get older.

Cotswoldmama · 10/06/2021 19:13

We talk about stranger danger and I try to give my boys some responsibility when crossing roads. I think it's good to start young and gradually give more freedom and responsibility.

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