As parents, Ron and I struggle with the balance between giving our children freedom to become self-sufficient adults and keeping them safe from harm. How much freedom should we give? When does parenting go over into the “helicopter” range? In today’s show we discuss the difference between “free range kids” and “helicopter parenting.”
Are there benefits to allowing our kids more freedom?
Here are 6 Benefits
1. It gives kids the opportunity to learn through exploration
2. Kids have the opportunity to be more creative in play, expression, and problem solving.
3. Kids learn more about themselves and how they relate to others when they have less supervised play.
4. Independent activities require kids to use their problem solving skills and learn to how to adapt to changing circumstances
5. Freedom and problem solving builds independence and an “I can” attitude.
6. Improved self-esteem.
With all these benefits why are more parents not doing this style of parenting?
What if something goes wrong? How will I feel if “it” happens to my child?
If you want more information on real crime statistics, go here http://www.freerangekids.com/crime-statistics/
Another reason parents don’t feel comfortable with giving more freedom is because we don’t believe that our neighbors have a back. There is a “gotcha” mentality where people want to find parents doing wrong and turn them into authorities. What if instead we acted like we are a “village” raising our kids?
Knowing our neighbors is key to supporting a free range parenting lifestyle. How do we foster this?
· We can invite a next-door neighbor over for dinner.
· We can make a point of attending neighborhood events
· We can make an effort to chat with other parents when we pick up our kids from daycare or school.
· We can teach our children not to fear all strangers. Teach them what safe people can look like. A woman with children is more likely to be safe.
· We can ask a parent who’s juggling too much stuff: “Please let me carry that for you.”
· We can accept offers of help.
Remember that you are not going to just wake one day and decide to give all this freedom. Freedom is earned and learned. Take small steps to help your child to gradually learn how to be independent. Know your child and start at their level of preparedness and gradually raise the bar of expectations for them.