Welcome to part two of a series about encouraging independence in school-aged children. Parents know they should, but in an age of overprotective parenting, it’s just easier, quicker, safer- insert your word here too if we control it all. I hope we can take a fresh perspective to our ideas about independence during the school years. I’d welcome your feedback. Check out part one here.
Low-risk independence is a state of activities and situations where parents and carers actively support children to become independent. The activities and situations are low risk almost practice sessions that help prepare the parent and the child to take on the responsibility of independence that fits them.
Less, ” You should be able to do this by now!” speak and more,” Let me show you how to do this.” It is these cumulative ideas that help everyone feel confident.
Less, “Tell me answers to these 5+ questions about who is going to be there and the supervision etc.” and more, ” When you want to go out with your mates these are the types of questions I’m probably going to ask.” Give them the tools to know what’s required for a yes.
It is these low-risk activities and situations that help pave the way for more independence. There’s more collaboration and conversation between children and parents in this stage as we explain our whys and children learn to value back and forth of learning how to navigate new situations.
Teaching them about the Internet in an age-appropriate way without only instilling fear of predators but teaching them how to be kind online and your family way of using the Internet.
Teaching them how to safely get to school because you know it is safe to do this alone instead of just taking them in the car because it is easier for you.
When you don’t start Low-risk independence
College professors report more parents email and call them about their children’s grades now than ever before. Adult children at college unable to confidently speak to their tutors. We find as parents we keep doing things and these children look more to us for their solutions because they’re scared of failing.
We need to supervise more than they need because they don’t have the skills or the knowledge to try for themselves.
Children feel less confident and competent to do new things because we all need to fall down, bump our heads, make mistakes and know, in general, it is not the end of the world. Life carries on.
Time for Low-risk independence
This middle stage of parenting is a special time for low-risk independence. There’s time to gradually teach, show and learn how to become competent and confident in your risk taking as a child if we as parents take the time to show them.
Children still need us but they are stretching for independence. They are not driving heavy expensive cars yet but they are handling expensive electronic equipment back and forth to school, perhaps.
They want to go to their friend’s house around the corner by themselves, walk into town or to the movies with a group of friends without us. While we exercise our best judgment about how age-appropriate it is for our particular child we need to teach them how to get to the point when we would let them do these things.
No isn’t good enough.
What low-risk independent activities do you do or would you like to try?