Your Child’s Freedom, According to Their Age
Discover how to wisely manage your child's freedom according to each stage of their development and their personal maturity process.
Many parents have many doubts regarding their child’s freedom. Is it okay for my child to go out alone even though they’re still very young? When can they walk to school without having to be accompanied by an adult? Is it okay for me to send them on simple errands or ask them to buy things at the store?
It’s perfectly normal to have doubts. Nowadays, many parents are over-informed. This phenomenon causes them to be afraid of letting their children leave the house without adult supervision.
But you can’t allow bad news to prevent your child from enjoying adequate freedom depending on the developmental stage they’re in.
The stages of human development
To establish the stages of child development, we can resort to Jean Piaget, a famous psychologist who studied this phenomenon by observing his own children.
When children are in the first three stages of development, ranging approximately from 0 to 2 years, from 3 to 7 years, and from 8 to 12 years, they should never go out alone.
However, from ages 11 or 12, when they’re approaching puberty and adolescence, they demonstrate their own criteria and share their desire for freedom, respect, and free personal choice.
From this age, the child will demand more autonomy and freedom of movement and thought. During puberty, and later in adolescence, they’re already an autonomous person with their own decision-making capacity. However, they still depend on their family.
Your child’s freedom, according to different factors
It’s obvious that one of the main factors to consider when it comes to giving your child freedom is their age. In other words, depending on the stage of development they’re in, you can supervise them more or less.
However, this isn’t the only factor to consider. This is what psychologist Ana Asensio, creator of Vidas en Positivo, explains.
Obviously, when a child is under the age of 11 or 12, they won’t go out alone nor will they go to school without being accompanied by an adult. We’ve already seen the factors involved and the key moment in their transition from childhood to adolescence.
From the age of 12 to 13, depending on the child’s maturity level, they can go to school alone, for example. At the age of 13 or 14, they can meet their friends, go to the movies, or go out to eat. From the age of 16, the teen will demand to travel without adult supervision, go out at night, etc. It’s important to agree on curfews and schedules.
Other factors to consider regarding the child’s freedom
You need to consider other elements when it comes to giving your child freedom. Here are the ones that are the most important to keep in mind:
- Geography. Obviously, in a small town, suburb, or residential area, where there are fewer traffic risks, for example, your child may have more freedom than in the heart of a big city.
- Maturity. Not all children mature at the same speed. Thus, parents should observe their children and decide when they’re ready to be more or less autonomous. This is especially important from ages 14 or 15, when they handle money, take public transportation, can drive mopeds, etc.
- Gradual process. It’s convenient for the freedom process to go hand in hand with your child’s maturation and development. You shouldn’t go straight from not allowing your child to leave the house to letting them spend the entire day out. They must show that they’re responsible and earn their own autonomy every day.
- Confidence. From age 10 to 11, children are confident. You must accompany them during their maturation process, giving them confidence little by little, allowing and facilitating the learning of tools for them to develop by themselves.
- Communication. It’s necessary to create an environment of communicative trust with your child. If you care about their problems without imposing your opinions, you’ll be able to accompany them in their transition.
- Parental coordination. Parents generally know each other. For this reason, when your child goes out with their friends, it’s a good idea to talk with other guardians and adults to agree on measures with the children without invading their privacy.
- Lead by example. It’s important to set an example. You’re your child’s role model.
Your child’s freedom begins from childhood. Since they’re born and develop, they’ll ask for greater autonomy. It’s important to accompany your child on this trip and enjoy each stage and each step they take.