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Helping Your Teen to Experience Independence

Having kids is a rollercoaster of a journey. As soon as you decide to bring a child into this world, you decide to be responsible for this individual until they hit adulthood. You also commit to being there for them into adulthood and beyond. Of course, when our children are little, we have to do everything for them and we also won’t allow a moment where they are unsupervised or without adult attention and guidance. However, as your kids grow older, you’ll begin to find that they slowly reach for more and more independence. This is an important part of their growth and progression. Young children may choose to start spending time in separate rooms for you, perhaps their own room or a playroom. Teens will eventually want to go out alone without adult guidance. One day, your kids will fly the nest and fully fend for themselves. Perhaps the most difficult part of this journey to manage is your kid’s teen years. This is because they will still rely on you for everything from shelter to food and clothing, but will begin to yearn for their own space and time out and about with their friends. 

Here are some tips that can help you through this.

Staying Home Alone

Leaving your teen home alone for the first time can be really daunting. Many parents feel nervous and begin to image the host of issues that could arise. Of course, you need to make sure that you know your own child well in order to make this decision. Put simply, your kid should be able to confidently and - relatively calmly - manage an emergency situation if they are to be left home alone. It is extremely rare that any child under 12 will be genuinely capable of this. Children over 12 should be figured out on a case by case basis. Is your area safe? Is your child mature? Do they know the basic safety protocol to use in various emergency situations? When you do feel confident that your teen is ready to spend time home alone, you should try this out in phases. Try leaving them while you head out to the corner shop to get some bread and milk. Then maybe for a slightly longer period - maybe while you do the weekly grocery shopping. Then, a few hours. Then a full day. Of course, ideally, your child should not be left home alone longer than that. You should also make sure that your home is fitted with fully safety gear, ranging from CCTV cameras to home security systems to add an extra level of safety to proceedings.

Going Out

Your teen will also likely begin to ask to go out with friends without adult supervision. This can feel daunting. We’re used to our teens going out with their friends accompanied by us or their friend’s parents. It’s advisable that you drop your kids to and from their plans to start out. This will allow them to spend time somewhere without the extra added danger or hill of public transport. You should ensure that they are spending time in safer areas and that you do proper monitoring, such as through shared locations on smartphones. You should ensure your kid has a spare phone battery or portable charger on them so that their battery lasts and they can be contacted at all times. You should also make sure that they have money in case they need to get home quickly in a taxi.

Set Rules, Be Fair

A lot of parents find themselves being overly harsh or strict with their kids during this period. This only results in kids rebelling and heading out without permission or other problematic behaviour. Instead, you need to make sure that clear rules are set out from the start. This will make it clear what is expected, what is acceptable and what isn’t. For example, rules could include sharing locations, being home by a certain time or only spending time in specific places. If the rules are followed, everything will be fine. If not, they may experience grounding or other punishments that can encourage the rules to be followed in the future. Be fair with all rules and make sure that they are age appropriate.

Navigating teen independence can be rough territory, but hopefully, some of the tips and tricks outlined above will help you to keep your teen happy and allow them to grow up in a controlled and safe way.