AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) –Middle school aged children are in a weird space where they’re too old for some things, and too young for others.
So they’re wanting more independence, but how can parents know when to let their child take positive risks and when to say no?
· Tweens and the middle school years, the in between state we all experienced growing up. Too old for one thing but not quite ready for the next is where these group of kids can call. The question that is asked often is how much freedom should kids this age receive?
· Kids in this age category begin wanting more independence, desiring to take more risk which can be worrisome for parents.
· Studies show that middle schoolers who are given freedom to engage in “positive” risk are much less likely to engage in negative risk.
o Positive risk are going to the movies unaccompanied by a parent, walking/riding bike to a friend’s house, etc.
o By allowing tweens the opportunity to be appropriately independent whose we trust them.
· How can parents allow for positive risk?
o Evaluate the risk carefully. First and foremost is it safe for your child and do they have the maturity/ judgement/ emotional health to engage in the activity.
o Allowing the activity can be anxiety producing. Be sure and put non-negotiables around the activity (curfew, where can and can’t go, who can be involved, expectations you have).
· If the activity your child wants to do has a lot of red flags and you feel uncomfortable with it, listen to your gut. Explain your reluctance. There may be a way to negotiate and compromise however if there isn’t do what you feel is right. Remember, you are the parent and the safety/ well being of your child is most important.
· There are no steadfast rules for how much freedom you give your child. Freedom to engage in those positive risk behaviors have multiple benefits. It provides them with paths to increase self-esteem, develop key skills for beginning the path to independence and maybe most important helps strengthen the relationship between kids and their parents (trust, competence, dialogue).
This is a right of passage for all involved, kids and parents. Being able to allow for positive risk is important for your kid’s growth but also for us as parents to move
to that next stage of parenting which is helping our kids developing independence and becoming self-sufficient adults.