I was recently in a department store and I saw a toddler running about 30 paces in front of her mother. The mom shouted to the child to come back, but she kept running. As the mother quickened her pace, the child thought this was great fun and began to run faster. A few minutes later, I see a mother walking down the sidewalk holding the hand of a 9 or 10 year old boy.
Grown-ups often hold hands when they’re on a date. In Europe, you see adults arm in arm as they walk together. When I visit my son in New York, he often takes my arm as we navigate the congested streets. I must admit I like it and find it quite helpful.
This really got me thinking. Is there a right age to stop holding hands with your child?
Things to consider:
- How old is your child? Kids under the age of six should hold your hand.
- Is your child a flight risk?
- Does your child understand danger?
- Can your child safely cross a street alone?
- Has your child specifically asked you not to hold his hand?
Most parents surveyed have said their children let them know when they wanted them to stop holding their hands. This is a decision that should be made on an individual basis. Children develop at different rates. Just make sure both parents, grandparents, and caregivers are all on the same page with the decision. Then, be consistent.
Practice makes perfect. When standing at a street corner, talk to your child about safety. This can be a wonderful teachable moment. Discuss concepts such as traffic lights; looking both ways before crossing; waiting for the traffic to stop; etc. Once your child understands the concepts, let her tell you when she thinks it is safe to cross the street. Give your kids opportunities to make decisions about their own safety. Once they have mastered these skills, you will feel more secure and they will feel more confident to walk by your side instead of holding hands.
How old was your child when you stopped holding hands?