It is often said that children seem to be growing up quicker than ever before. In light of this phenomenon, parents can feel both confused and conflicted when it comes to their child’s independence. They wonder at what ages certain events should be permissible, and how much freedom is appropriate. We have prepared some useful information below as well as a video from one of Kimberley’s appearances on the Today Show

When Should my Child be Able to:

  • Sleep at a Friends House (7+): Sleepovers should only be encouraged if children are in a good night time routine at home. It’s also important for both sets of parents to meet and establish certain ground rules before a sleepover, so that you can be sure that your child is going to be both comfortable and safe in these new surroundings. There is often at least a six-month build up to a sleep over both for the child and the parents. While going to a birthday could be at the start of a friendship, a sleep over is often a step up from that.
  • Go out Unchaperoned (14+): That first trip to the movies without Mum or Dad is now almost a rite of passage for children.  On average, children between the ages of 13 to 16 are allowed to go out to a public place, only if they are being dropped off and then picked up. After that, daytime trips to the shops or movies where they make their own way there by themselves, is often determined on the basis of whether it feels safe and reasonable for all family members.
  • Get their own Mobile (16+): Parents are not encouraged to purchase a mobile phone for their child under the age of 16. It is important that children are made aware that phones are expensive, and it is recommended that they have a part time job to contribute to the cost of their mobile. This way, children are able to learn the value of money and develop a sense of responsibility.
  • Have their own Email (16+): There can be a lot of pressure for parents to give in and allow their children to have their own email account. However, all the media attention that has been given to internet predators isn’t just hype. Experts recommend that children be carefully monitored on the internet up until the age of 16. A good idea is for you to have a shared family account that your children can email their friends from. That way, parents can control the situation and know exactly who their child is communicating with. Installing a ‘Net Nanny’ type device (that blocks certain websites) is also essential if your children are going to be surfing the net.
  • Wear Make-up (depends on the occasion): While most parents would agree that wearing a dusting of sparkly eye shadow to a fairy-themed birthday party is perfectly acceptable, plastering on a full face of make-up is an entirely different matter. Also, while make-up may be okay for special celebrations, wearing make-up everyday shouldn’t be allowed while children are still at school.

In general:

Although children need not be given full independence, despite their clear desire at times, it is recommended that children are consulted on major issues that effect their lives. While it is ultimately the parents’ decision, asking your children to give their opinion, helps them feel that their views are valued. This often helps make children feel more comfortable in novel situations. For example, kids may feel less apprehensive about starting a new school if they help choose which school they would be attending.

Parents should become familiar with the Convention on the Rights of the Child available at:  http://www.unicef.org/crc/

If you would like some assistance in establishing independence with your child, please contact us. Some of our resources are very useful for establishing good communication with your child. You can purchase them at our online shop

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Information for this fact sheet was sourced from Kimberley O’Brien, Child Psychologist, and the Raising Children Network

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Posted On: Tuesday, 5 January, 2010 by Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff)

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One Response to “Childhood Independence”

  1. 1. Sand in the Gears » Blog Archive » When is it legal for them to mix me a drink?
    January 6th, 2010 @ 04:18

    […] suppose it’s helpful to hear some expert advice on when my children can have sleepovers and get their own mobile phones, but there’s some […]

  2. 2. Leonardo Rocker
    January 6th, 2010 @ 15:32

    Those are really interesting questions and we would love to reply. I will forward this to Kimberley and perhaps she can email you to develop a “not answered by experts questions”

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