| Posted by My Super Nanny
Gone are the days where allowing your child to walk to/from school alone was considered the norm.
Nowadays, with concerns of stranger danger and reckless drivers more and more prevalent, parents are anxious to let their children venture outside into the busy streets alone.
According to Professor Karen Malone, Australians are ‘caught between two competing societal expectations – to constantly supervise their children; and to provide enough freedom so that they can grow into independent, self-reliant, confident adults.’
It’s a tricky situation, and a dichotomy parents face daily.
Allowing your kids to develop independence by making their own way to school will no doubt set them up for adulthood.
Dr Justen O’Connor, from Monash University, advises that in order for our children ‘to be capable, confident, healthy, risk aware and environmentally conscious’, allowing them to ‘travel to school is a great place to start.’
What follows is the debate as to whether, since the child is walking home, she/he should have a phone in case of emergency. It then brings into question at what age you should be giving your kid a phone. A whole other kettle of fish.
And where do you draw the line?
Is getting a drone to follow them taking things too far? Quite literally, helicopter-parenting.
If you feel comfortable in letting your child walk alone, then by all means, it is your decision alone, and is beneficial long term for the individual development of your child.
So how can you best prepare your child to walk alone?
1. Walk the route together first
This is a no-brainer, but must be said.
You should walk the way to school with your children multiple times before letting them do it on their own. Point out spots where they should be extra cautious e.g. a busy intersection.
2. Remind them of stranger danger
Stranger danger is one of the biggest concerns for parents letting their kids walk alone.
But what if a family friend/neighbour offers to pick them up on the way, but they're unsure as to whether they can trust him/her?
A useful trick is to give your friend/neighbout a code word, that only your family and friends know, that they can tell your child if you have asked them to pick him/her up.
Make sure it's one they can easily remember - a good one would be the first name initials of everyone in your family e.g. Daniel, Amy, Lucy, Emily - DALE.
3. Stop. Look. Listen. Think.
There's no such thing as overdoing road safety. At each intersection, when walking the route with your child, remind them to look left, right, then left and right again before crossing.
4. Be alert.
Ensure your kids are alert while they are walking, but not alarmed.
Make certain they are aware of the obvious dangers such as cars, but also bikes.