Raising An Independent Child
When you are a parent one of the scariest things in the world is when your child gets to an age where they no longer want their mom or dad to walk them everywhere. You have to know when the time is right for them to be able to go out on their own and that is very, very scary. Here are a few of the ways that I managed to “cut the cord” and let my children have a bit of independence.
Walking To School
With my eldest, I walked them to school until they were 9! Some might say this was far too old, but I was scared of them walking across the road on their own. It was more, I did not trust other drivers than not trusting my child. But my son asked repeatedly if he could walk to school with his friend at the end of the street instead of going with me. I came up with every excuse in the book, but I realized that he was ready for this kind of independence so I let him go. His school is not that far from where we live, but I tell you I was a wreck waiting for him to come home that day and I did not have a fingernail left on my hands, guess what? He did and it was no big deal at all. This was the first step into letting him have that little bit of independence.
Walking To Their Friends
Of course, once you let them walk to school on their own, they feel that they can then walk all over the town by themselves! I would not go this far, but I did start to loosen up the leash a little bit and let him walk to his buddies after school and on weekends. His friend's mom would also allow her son to walk to our house and this was the start of them wanting to “explore” a little bit more.
Going To The Park On Their Own
Of course, you can only keep kids contained in the house and the backyard for so long until they want to go further and the next step for us was a park that was fairly close to our house. We would let him and his friends walk there by themselves and they did and everyone was fine. Plus he felt like we had a lot of trust in him which was nice to see. Look, we have no doubt that despite the fact, we told him “just to the park” he probably went and explored a little further. I do think that giving him this kind of independence made him want to make sure he was being safe while he was out.
Keeping Them Safe
My main worry was crossing the road. My eldest had zero (maybe less than zero actually) road sense. He would just waltz out from the sidewalk onto the road without a care in the world. So leading up to him walking to school, I made sure he was ready. The way I did this was I would put him in charge of walking me and him to school. So he was in charge of stopping at the edge of the sidewalk, looking for cars and making the decision on when it was safe to cross the road. He soon learned the whole stop, look and listen aspect of crossing the road.
For his tenth birthday, his stepdad and I have decided that we are going to get him a phone. Nothing fancy, but just something so that when we do let him go a bit further, we can get in touch with him and he can g