As a parent, watching your children grow up is one of the hardest things you will ever have to do. Growing up is a natural part of life’s process, but it can be difficult to let go of those most precious to you. Instinctively, you may want to hold onto your children tighter, but this will hurt them in the long run.

It’s important to help introduce your child to newfound freedoms, to prepare them for adolescence and adulthood beyond. But that doesn’t mean you have to forcefully shove them out of the nest. Here are a few ways you can help encourage your child to explore the world without totally sacrificing their safety.

Incorporate Healthy Technologies

Ever-increasingly, technology is not just something you use, but something woven into the fabric of your very life. This trend will only continue into the future. And it is likely your child will use technologies in their adult life that you can’t even conceive of now.

A particular technology that offers great freedom and exposes children to great risk is the smartphone. Unfettered access to the internet is a responsibility that most adolescents simply aren’t prepared for. Thankfully, there are many companies these days that want to help kids ease into smart tech ownership.

Buying your children a smartphone or smart watch for kids is a gesture of respect, as it showcases a level of trust. It says to them that you trust their ability to handle such technology maturely. Or, at least, as maturely as one can at their age. Smart tech designed for kids is great, because it limits their access to the internet, games, and social media. You can still keep in touch with them while also granting them a feeling of ownership and responsibility.

Sign Up For Activities

Another great way to encourage your child to explore their freedom safely is by signing them up for various activities. Doing so will open up the doorways for them to explore different aspects of the world and themselves.

Get your kids started by seeing what is already available at their school. Sports are excellent for supporting your child’s growth in both body and mind. Team sports also ask your children to participate effectively in a group. This is a skill that will serve them their whole life.

Your child’s school also likely has clubs. These are usually social activities in the form of various games or projects. Their school may offer anything from chess, to knitting, to journalism, to robotics. Each organization can help your child make friends and learn new skills.

If, for whatever reason, the school’s offerings are insufficient, take a look at your town’s organizations. Many towns and cities have teams and clubs of their own. And thanks to the way people use the internet since the onset of the pandemic, many groups meet online. There could be a Discord server dedicated to the exact interest your child may have or be curious about exploring.

Keep An Eye On Friendships

Now, it’s likely that your children already have friends. But as they join and experiment with their clubs and activities, they’ll undoubtedly begin to make more. Social activity has a way of encouraging even deeper bonding between people.

At the same time, your children will gravitate toward seeking their friends’ approval over yours. This is a natural part of entering adolescence and their teenage years. Think back to when you were a teenager. How much did you value the approval of your peers?

What friends your children make can affect the trajectory of their life. Yes, it’s important to experiment and try new things. But some kids can get trapped in a negative cycle that prevents them from maturing overall.

So while they might not always like it, it’s important for you to regulate who your child spends time with. This will be difficult during school hours, but after school is entirely within your domain. But instead of just limiting interactions, encourage your kids to foster relationships with positive influences. Set up playdates with friends and families that you think will generate healthy growth.

Have Important Conversations

As time rolls on, it’s easy for the days and weeks to slip by as they become months and years. Your children seem to grow up faster than ever, and it just doesn’t slow down. As they gain access to tech and additional freedoms, you need to have important conversations with your children. Two of the most important conversations to have with young ones are about peer pressure and internet safety.

Talk to them about the changes they are likely to go through as they continue to age. They are growing up and with that growth will come a greater amount of freedom and risk. There are dangers on the internet, and children need to be aware of potential predators or scammers. Talk to them about what dangerous messages look like and teach them how to block people they don’t know.

As your children grow up in a digital world, they will likely be exposed to peer pressure and cyber bullying. Talk to your children about what’s right and wrong. Teach them to come to you or another adult if something is wrong. There are many difficult conversations that parents want to avoid altogether, but having them demonstrates to your child you respect them.

These conversations will punctuate that particular moment of their lives as a gesture of respect. This, in turn, will serve to help establish a solid foundation upon which they can continuously develop their character. Foster this growth from an early age and, hopefully, they will make decisions you can be proud of.

Demonstrate Trust

Through every step you take to help your child, it’s important to trust your children and show them that you do. It can encourage them to behave and make decisions in a responsible way. Likewise, whether it be through tech, activities, or their social life, create opportunities to help foster their growth.

There will undoubtedly be challenging times in their adolescence. But encouraging your children to explore their newfound freedoms in a safe way will help them toward independence. And isn’t that what being a parent is all about?