Encouraging Independence

Living Magazines Young Teens and Independence

It can be scary when your young teen starts going out with their friends, but these tips will help them stay safe and help you calm your nerves!

You may be nervous when your teen starts going out without you (Covid regulations permitting), but provide them with the right tools to stay safe and you won’t worry quite so much!

Tanith Carey, author of What’s My Teenager Thinking? Practical Child Psychology for Modern Parents* explains: ‘As your child hits adolescence they want more control over their social life. This is part of the necessary and expected separation away from adults, to find their own tribe. Be warned that the age of 14 is when the Fear of Missing Out on social activities peaks. Rather than thwart social plans – or trying to wrap your child in cotton wool – it’s better to work with our teens on ways they can learn to stay safe.’

Tanith’s stay safe tips

  • Get them used to making short easy trips with friends to the park or running errands.
  • Young teens are not aware of how difficult it is for drivers to see them if they cross the road without looking. When you are in the car with them, help them see the driver’s point of view on pedestrians.
  • Teens can feel invincible. This means they can take dangerous risks when crossing roads. Be a good role model by crossing roads at designated safe crossing points. Also explain why they must always take their earbuds out when they cross the road – accidents among this age group have soared sharply in recent years for this reason.
  • Children are now more likely to be targeted by muggers because they carry more electronics and phones. Talk about prevention, staying aware of people around them, keeping electronics out of sight and how pickpockets often use drama and distractions. Talk about why it’s more important to give up their phones or purse than risk serious injury, and assure them you will not be angry with them.
  • Talk to your teen about the importance of sticking together when they are out, and acting as lookouts for one another.
  • If they are coming home later for some reason, such as an after-school activity, they should sit in a carriage with other people or behind the driver if they travel by bus.
  • Update your chats about stranger danger. Adolescent girls can often be targets. Tell her no one has the right to make her feel uncomfortable or be treated as a sex object to be stared at. Tell her how to stay safe by avoiding empty carriages or platforms and tell her if she is being followed that she is not causing a fuss or being impolite if she asks transport staff for help.
  • If your teen thinks they are being followed, tell them to cross the road, abruptly change direction, or go into a shop or ring the doorbell of a house until the threat passes. If your teen is being followed in a car, or is asked to get inside, tell them to create as much distance as possible, as quickly as possible and not to be afraid to shout for help.
  • Explain that a condition of your adolescent having a phone is that they leave the house with it charged and keep it on when they are out so you can get hold of them if needs be.

* What’s My Teenager Thinking? Practical Child Psychology for Modern Parents – Tanith Carey with Dr Angharad Rudkin, published by DK.

We asked local parents for their advice

‘We have a code word/code question. So if she’s out with friends and isn’t comfortable (wants to leave) she texts us this. The plan is we then ring and say she’s got to come home – which gives her an excuse – and/or we meet her.’

‘Use the app what3words which has a share location option and can pinpoint with great accuracy your whereabouts.’

‘I use an App called Life360. I can always see where my daughter is and how to find her.’

‘Always go out with a power bank to charge their phone.’

‘Let them go out a bit hungry, teenagers and food go hand in hand so it means they’re never too long or too far away!’

‘Always take a bank card so parents can transfer money if needed.’