Do you remember the good old days when you could bike to your friends house and all you had to do was tell your parents? What about when you were 11 years old and your parents let you bike to the local Tom Thumb to get a treat? Those were the good old days. At Least we thought they were. Or were our parents just unaware of the dangers because we didn't live in a world full of technology. We were just starting to branch out with the everyday things we now take for granted like email or the internet.
Being a mother of a seven year old, I see children ranging from the ages of 7 to 13 years of age out riding by themselves or with just a few friends. And even though, when I was twelve or thirteen years old at the time and was able to ride within a small radius of my home, I am not sure if in this day and age I would let me daughter ride her bike alone anywhere.
Some may say that I am being overprotective. Infact my daughter would call me a helicopter parent. I feel that as a parent depending on our childs age and level of emotional intelligence we need to keep an eye on them when they are out in the world. For example, if my daughter wants to ride her bike she can ride it up and down the street as long as I can see her from my office window. If she wants to go any further than that then she will need to have an adult with her.
Which arises the big questions. When does a parent feel comfortable enough to let their child ride to a close destination without parent supervision? And how do you decide if your child is responsible enough to handle riding alone?
Let's start off by looking at the easiest detail. Age. If your child is 6 years or younger you should always be with your child if they know how to ride a bike. I don't know any 6 year old that is responsible enough or emotionally ready to go somewhere on their own.
Here are a few questions I believe that you should ask yourself before you allow your child to bike to a destination of your knowing. In this example we will say their friends house around the block.
- Are they at least 7 years or older?
- Do they follow direction well? Such as calling as soon as they arrive.
- Do they know how to handle strangers? Have you had this talk?
- Are they emotionally mature enough to know what to do if they fall and get hurt.
- Do they have a cell phone or way to contact you incase of emergency.
Whatever your parenting style, be sure to talk with your child about being safe.