At What Age Should Your Child Be Able to Do Things Alone?

July 14, 2011  |  

He had begged his parents for a while to allow him to walk from his day camp in the afternoon by himself. So after a practice walk and firm instructions on where to meet his mother, they finally let him do it. And though he had been walked through his route by his parents and was only seven blocks from meeting his mother, somehow, Leiby got lost, and ran into a parent’s worst nightmare. Just like that, this young boy’s first walk alone was his last.

So when is a good time to let your child go it alone? Let’s talk about “alone” in the sense of just walking by yourself to start. If you ask a number of parents, it sounds like it depends on the kid. Some say right around the teenage years (12-13) would be an ideal age, and that wherever they are walking to should be a short distance. In an article by NBC New York, Wendy Levey, the owner of 74th Street Magic Day Camp in New York City, she said whenever kids are allowed to walk alone, they should know that if they get lost, seeking a mother for help is the best way to go:

“It’s something you have to talk about over and over. We tell our kids, if they get lost in the park or on the street, look for a Mommy with kids.”

She also encourages doing test walks with your child and also if possible, talking on the phone with them during their first big go at it alone.

I was one of the lucky kids who had a sibling just a few years above me, and we did most of the same programs, so I rarely had to walk all by myself anywhere until late junior high (when my sister entered high school). And you would think your junior high years are the perfect time to set out on foot by yourself. But no matter the age, a very young eight to a more matured 16, there are predators out there looking to take advantage of anyone they think they can. If you look vulnerable, and you’re alone, then you’re what they’re looking for. Even if you are older and are used to doing a number of things alone. Case in point, Phylicia Barnes.

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