Experts reveal how to 'let go' and let your child be independent
Parents believe kids should be able to play in the garden unsupervised from the age of eight, get pocket money at nine and pick out their own snacks once they turn 10.
A poll of 1,300 parents of six to 16-year-olds found they typically consider children to be old enough to pack their own lunch box from 11 and use the internet unsupervised at 12
Mobile phones are considered appropriate after their 11th birthday, while social media accounts should wait until 13.
Six in 10 (59 percent) have struggled to give their child more freedom due to worries about their health and safety and whether they are too young.
Others are concerned they won’t make sensible choices (39 percent), they’ll grow up too quickly (34 percent) or that their health, nutrition and wellbeing will suffer (28 percent).
But parenting expert Olivia Edwards, who is working with vitamin supplement company Vitabiotics Wellkid, which commissioned the research, claims it’s important for parents to recognise that their role is to support and guide their child to help them navigate life successfully – and that they won’t always be there to tackle challenges for them.
While giving children independence can help them to adapt and build their resilience through personal experience.
Oliva Edwards, from www.thepositiveparentcoach.co.uk, said: “Getting the balance right between wanting to protect your child as well as preparing them for the world can be hard.
“We all want our children to grow up to be confident, independent and resilient adults and this starts in childhood by giving them opportunities to learn, make mistakes and grow. But it’s a lot easier said than done.
“Allowing children to do things for themselves can make parents feel they aren’t needed anymore and remind them of how much their child has grown and how quickly time is passing by.
“It can be helpful for parents to reframe this as what a great job they are doing in fostering important life skills in their children and knowing that their child can always come back to them for help if they need it.”
The study also found 53 percent of parents weren’t prepared for the emotional wrench of giving their children more independence.
And while 30 percent want their child to be independent when it comes to their food, 54 percent worry about the health and nutritional impacts of this.
Parents found some of the hardest decisions for giving independence to children aged six to 11 are letting them go out with friends unsupervised (41 percent), when to walk to school with friends (36 percent) and having access to electronic devices and the internet (36 per cent).
For older children aged 12-16, letting the child stay home while the parents were out (38 percent) and letting them have a social media account (37 percent) were the most difficult choices.
Despite this, almost every parent polled (99 percent), via OnePoll, thinks it’s important to give their child more independence, with 63 percent believing it helps them develop their decision-making skills.
More than half (55 percent) think it helps with their social development and interpersonal skills while the same percentage also think it allows them to discover who they are.
A spokesperson for Vitabiotics Wellkid said: “Parents always want the best for their youngster, but part of this is knowing when to start to let them go. Although we know this is not easy.
“Some areas are easier to give independence than others, but when it comes to something as important as health and nutrition, it can be difficult to sit back and let your child make their own mistakes.
“Educating your child on the importance of a good, balanced, nutrient rich diet, is a great starting point, as well as getting them into some good habits early on.”
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