Thursday, October 31, 2013

Letting Kids Spread Their Mobile Independence

We live in a society that demands we keep our kids under our watchful eyes for their safety; and, unfortunately we are becoming aware that we have taken our kid's independence away from them. What has happened to our kids? They have gotten involved in computer games and other technology "things". Kids have learned that it is safer to be at home; being by themselves in their room alone. There may be ways of changing this and provide a way to get our kids out in the fresh air more often.You have to know each of your kids to know when it is appropriate to let them spread their wings in the outside environment. It still seems that boys earn their mobile independence before the girls do. It is not acceptable to let the older kids take care of the younger kills when playing outside. The younger kids are still the sole responsibility of their parents for their care and safety.How much independence do you, as parents, give your kids daily? Because of our fear that something or someone may hurt our kids we have restricted our kids from finding some independence.
We are talking about kids when they reach the age of 10 years old or so. Do your kids ever walk to school (within reason distance); ride their bicycle around the neighborhood or how about walking to a friend's house to play without adult supervision? 
Parents are scared and reluctant to let their kids outside on their own because of traffic dangers, kidnapping and/or being molested. At times the parents just want to spend extra time with their kids and not let them out on their own.Kids who have experienced independent mobility interact more with other children and their environments.  Kids who are dependent upon adult supervision/protection could "negatively influence children's emotional, social and cognitive development," and may lead to more sedentary behaviors, putting them at risk of obesity and diabetes.
Parents are more likely to drive their kids to where they have to go. It is faster and it is safer. Many kids are scared to go outside of their house without an adult being with them. The kids are uncomfortable with outside forces that "could" happen to them if they are alone.If parents do not feel as if they can turn their kid loose outside by themselves, then do something together as a family. However, let the kids run ahead of you to develop their independence or stay behind you as you walk or play outside. Teach your kids about traffic; approaching strangers and what to do and not do; loan your kids your cell phone when they are outside so they can call you if an emergency comes up and give them a watch and deadline on when to come back home. Try some drills in 15 minute intervals and then you can extend the minutes outside when the kids understand the rules. If they disobey the rules, then take minutes away from them until they obey the rules. 
Our kids have to have fresh air; develop their mobile independency; parent's rules to follow and an affirmation that you are here at home waiting for them to come home or if they need help in anyway they can call you. I encourage all parents to do the responsible thing when your kid reaches the appropriate age to trust. I want to make it perfectly clear I am NOT talking about small children who are incapable of following rules nor do they have the knowledge of keeping themselves safe. Be smart parents - know your kid - and when appropriate - let them spread their wings safely.