Having an older tween (11-12 years old) at secondary school means they want more independence. It’s that awkward time when maybe we as parents aren’t quite ready to let them out totally alone. So what are some of the activities that help increase independence for tweens.
I think if we lived in town or in a big village, it would be easier to increase the independence. There are more options for sending them to the shops, or going to meet friends. But being in the sticks, and outside a small village, it’s usually a drive everywhere. Not helped by lack of rural paths, and speed of vehicles.
But secondary school means more independence is needed.
To give them confidence.
To give parents confidence that their children will do the right thing and make the right choices to keep themselves safe.
To gradually up the frequency and length of activities they’re able to do without parents around.
As parents we know it’s time to extend the ‘leash’ but it’s when is right for our own children. It might be different to that of their friends. And that’s always the concern. That you’re too strict or letting them loose too early.
I was probably around 13 when I was allowed to go out into town with my friends. That was before mobile phones so there was no way of contacting anyone if there was an issue. But we were allowed to roam off our edge of village estate into the village around 11 years old. We were with friends who lived by us, but our parents knew there was probably someone who lived at any point in the village who we knew and could go to if there was an issue.
Tips to start increasing tween independence
1. Start small and work up to bigger things or longer time away
2. Talk to your tween about trust and expectations so they know what is or isn’t acceptable. With behaviour, language and location boundaries.
3. Agree check in times and make sure they have the method to call you if needed.
4. Think about lone activities vs those they can do with a friend. And choose the friends carefully when they’re starting out. You want to know they’re sensible friends that don’t get into trouble, aren’t too adventurous, and will also follow the rules or boundaries. If they have totally different rules their parents allow them, then your child is going to be in an awkward position.
5. Teach them safety advice. Where to go for help. Who to call or ask for help. What to do in an emergency. I worried that mine would have no idea if he was in certain worrying situations. But when I asked, he had no issue with telling me totally sensible things he would do or say. Phew. They obviously absorb information somehow, but schools also teach them a lot.
What sort of activities are those suitable for letting older tweens experience independence
Here’s some that we’ll be starting with and then building on.
- Head out leaving them at home alone. Start just nipping to your neighbours for a coffee, or to the shop, but build up over time for longer.
- Camping out with friend in the garden.
- Meal plan and cooking meals at home.
- Take on their jobs around the house or homework without being nagged.
- Feeding and looking after pets. They could even look after neighbours’
- Walking the dog.
Out and about:
- Bike rides – build up the distance they’re able to go further away from home
- Send them to do shopping – local shop or to the supermarket, or to pick up a takeaway
- Going to local parks or sports areas.
- Use public transport on their own. Most will likely get on a school bus, but maybe trains are more common around your area.
- Cinema visit
- Visit a local music festival – give them time to do their own thing with friends away from you, arranging to meet at a certain place and time.
- Go shopping with friends – start with somewhere local so they don’t have to worry about not knowing where they are heading.
- Roller disco – great for meeting up with friends, although they might want to have parents the first wetime so they know what they’re doing.
We’ll be discussing options, giving advice and guidance, and making sure we check in so N is positive about gaining some more independence when he’s ready.
What activities did you or will you start with for your tweens?
Large boy is just 11 and does a few of these already. He walks the 1.5miles home from school twice a week, goes to the chippie or the shop on his own and I’m fine leaving him at home for up to an hour. He’s not done going out with friends yet though. Thanks for sharing some good tips on the next steps for us.
That’s great he’s had the chance. N’s not gone out with friends yet. Aside from meeting them in the village for sledging. I might see if his friend is around this half term to do something together, then might let them loose for a bit in town if the other mum agrees. It’s so much harder when nothing’s in walking distance.