9-12 year olds: What exactly should our children be allowed to do?

Published date23 March 2023
Welcome to the pre-teen years of 9-12, where the hormones may not have kicked in yet, but the striving for independence is likely to begin

But how much freedom should we be giving to our 9- to 12-year-olds?

Is being over-cautious as problematic as throwing caution to the wind?

Pharmacist and mother-of-three Sheena Mitchell doesn't allow her 7-, 9- and 11-year-olds huge amounts of freedom. "We live rurally, and they would have to walk 3km down a canal path to school, and there are times I don't feel safe there myself," she explains. "I wouldn't feel confident that they would not come across someone acting in a way which might frighten them."

Mitchell doesn't allow her 11-year-old to stay home alone yet either. "I don't think it would be fair to expect her to be responsible for the younger two. I fear they would fall out, and everyone would be in tears by the time I got back. Also, no idea what they would do if one of them got injured accidentally."

I grew up with a fair bit of freedom and I would love that for my children, but ultimately the world has changed

Mother-of-three Sheena Mitchell

Sleepovers are "causing a huge issue at the moment in our house," Mitchell says. "I don't allow them. Ultimately, I have been terrified about child abuse from so many scandals that have broken from so many unexpected parts of communities that I just feel that I cannot guarantee their safety 100 per cent.

"They could sleep over at a family member's, or I have a couple of my close friends who I would trust, but it is a complete 'no' to their friends. As, whilst their friends and families are all so lovely, can you ever know for sure that there is no issue in the house unless you yourself know the people, rather than just being acquainted to them from the school gates?"

Mitchell admits she "hates and resents" her reluctance to give her children much freedom. "I do believe I am right to be hesitant though. I grew up with a fair bit of freedom and I would love that for my children, but ultimately the world has changed. There's a lot of social and drug issues which just weren't as prevalent in the 80s when I was growing up."

What age would you allow a child to use a swimming pool dressingroom on their own?

Strict digital controls and access are in place for Mitchell's children. "No phones until 6th class had been established as a fair compromise in our house," she explains. The children are allowed to have Roblox, but "they don't have any other online access other than the...

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