Allowing your child to get public transport on their own is a great way for them to become more independent.
Being the parent of a toddler or a baby is tough – it’s exhausting, both mentally and physically, and can take a lot out of you. Parenting an older child, however, is not much easier.
Now you have to factor in the fact that they are a little more independent and don’t need you around as much, and are likely to start going places without you.
With the summer holidays fast approaching, now is the time when many children will be hopping on a bus or a train to meet their friends or to go to a camp.
And while it is a great way for them to become more independent, it is important that you, as their parent, are sure they will be safe getting to and from their destination.
If this is the first time your little one will be getting public transport on their own, it is important you keep the following in mind:
Try to arrange for them to always have a friend to go with – This way you’re safe in the knowledge that they won’t be alone if something happens.
Go with them for the first few times -Before allowing your little one get public transport on their own, it is important you make sure they are comfortable and know exactly what they are doing in terms of paying and which stop to get on and off. Even if they protest, go with them a few times.
Don’t let them use cash -A travel card or Leap card, for instance, is better than having your child carry cash around with them.
Talk to them about stranger danger - This one is important whether they are getting the bus or train or not. Making sure your child knows what to do in an emergency is paramount to ensuring they are safe while travelling alone. Stranger danger can never be taught too early or too often. So even if you have spoken to them about it, there is no harm in going over it with them again.
Wait with them at the bus stop - If possible, wait with them at the bus stop or tram stop until they get on the transport. This is probably only going to work with younger children but it is a nice habit to get into.
Give them a phone - Whether you want your child to have a phone or not, if they are frequently travelling on their own it is important they have some way of getting in touch with you. It doesn't have to be a smartphone or anything that connects to WiFi though. A simple phone that you can call them on and vice versa is all you really need so you will always have some way of contacting them.
Written by Mary Byrne, Content Executive at Family Friendly HQ. Follow her on Twitter: @marybyrne321