As the seasons change, so do your kids. They grow older and crave more independence, whether that means going to a school football game (without you) or staying out late with friends. Keeping kids safe is important, but so is giving them some independence.
Even though you’re letting kids explore more on their own, they still need boundaries and rules. Setting expectations and making sure they know how to react in various situations will set them up for success later on — and you’ll worry less, too. Here are six ways to look out for your kids while cutting them some slack.
Although some kids may not want to follow your rules, they’ll secretly find them useful. Things like curfews, for example, give them an out if the group wants to do something or go somewhere that doesn’t interest them. Your son or daughter can also use these rules as an excuse to get out of doing something that seems dangerous or uncomfortable. And of course, setting some ground rules helps your child know what’s expected of them.
Keep in Contact
Set expectations that your child should check in with you throughout the night. The old-fashioned phone call is a good way to know where your kids are when they are going somewhere else. For some parents, it’s helpful to let children know that if they don’t stay in touch with you while they’re out, they lose the privilege of leaving the house without their folks.
When your child starts going out more on his or her own, talk through the situations he or she may encounter and come up with a game plan for how to approach them. What if someone they don’t know wants to give them a ride? What happens if they don’t want to do what the group is doing? Role playing potentially difficult situations will help your child know what to do before a problem happens.
Give Them a Code Word
Part of keeping kids safe is making sure they’re comfortable contacting you for help when in a difficult situation. You won’t argue with or judge them — and they should know that — but you will pick them up immediately if they need help. Decide on a code word or phrase they can use if they don’t want to ask you to pick them up in front of their friends.
By setting some guidelines for what’s expected when your kids leave the house, you’ll set a pattern that keeps them safe each time they’re out with friends. They’ll appreciate the trust, and you’ll like knowing that they’re making good decisions.