Hitting the Brakes: Rethinking Being A ‘Parent Taxi’

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From Screens to Streets: Unplugging and Unleashing Independence

Stepping back from the role of always being a parent taxi and gradually allowing kids more independence to play out, walk to school, and bike to local shops requires a thoughtful approach that balances safety, communication, and gradual autonomy.

But it’s an important part of getting them off a ‘phone based childhood’ to a more ‘play based independent childhood’

Parents worry about many safety concerns that impact the time their children spend outside, such as traffic, crime, strangers, injury, and nature itself (e.g. skin cancer due to sun exposure, insect bites, and harmful animals.)

Children spend more and more time focused on screens instead of nature & outside. According to a 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation study, daily media use among children and teens has risen dramatically. Today, 8- to 18-year-olds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes to using entertainment media across a typical day (more than 53 hours a week!). Common Sense Media reports a huge increase in the use of mobile media by young children in the past couple of years.

Here are some steps to help you make this transition:

🤔 Assess the Environment:

Evaluate the safety and accessibility of your neighbourhood for walking, biking, and outdoor play. Identify pedestrian-friendly routes, safe crossings, and areas where children can play safely.

🤔Start Small:

Begin by gradually introducing opportunities for independent activities close to home. Allow children to play in the front garden or explore the neighbourhood under your supervision to build familiarity & confidence with the area.

🤔Establish Ground Rules:

Set clear guidelines and safety rules for outdoor activities, including walking to school, biking to local shops, and playing outside.

Discuss these rules with your children and ensure they understand and follow them.

🤔 Talk Stranger Danger & What to Do In An Emergency 

Prepare your kids for possible mishaps or things that could go wrong & how to handle them.

🤔 Practice Together:

Accompany your children on practice walks or bike rides to familiarise them with the routes and reinforce safety practices.

Use these outings as teaching moments to discuss road safety, pedestrian etiquette, and how to handle unexpected situations.

🤔Build Confidence:

Encourage your children to take on small responsibilities and gradually increase their independence.

Praise their efforts and celebrate their achievements as they demonstrate confidence and competence in navigating their surroundings.

🤔Stay Connected:

Maintain open communication with your children about their experiences, concerns, and feelings of independence. Encourage them to share any challenges they encounter and offer guidance and support as needed.

🤔Monitor Progress:

Regularly assess your children’s readiness for increased independence and adjust your approach accordingly.

Gradually extend boundaries and allow more freedom as they demonstrate responsibility and maturity.

🤔Lead by Example:

Serve as a positive role model by practicing safe pedestrian and biking behaviour yourself. Demonstrate the importance of prioritising safety while also enjoying the freedom and benefits of outdoor activities.

🤔Support Community Engagement:

Encourage participation in community events, neighbourhood gatherings, and activities that promote outdoor play and social interaction. Foster connections with neighbours and other families to create a supportive environment for independent exploration.

🤔Celebrate Milestones:

Acknowledge and celebrate your children’s milestones and accomplishments as they embrace greater independence and responsibility.

Recognise their efforts and reassure them of your confidence in their abilities.

By taking a gradual and supportive approach, you can empower your children to enjoy the benefits of outdoor play, independence, and being active through walking to school or a friend’s house while instilling important life skills and fostering a sense of confidence and self-reliance in them that also nurtures their self esteem.

This week as part of their education, let’s try to give them a few more opportunities to spread their wings.

Then we can watch them fly!

Is It Time To Park Your Parent Taxi?

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