How Free do You Let Your Kids Be
Guest Blogger: Sarah of Crazy House Reviews
As a mother of four children it’s important for me to make sure that I am giving them plenty of opportunities to explore the world and let them experience life and all it has to offer. At the same time, I often find myself being a little too fearful to let them just explore on their own and find their own adventures. I can remember exploring the outdoors for hours on end as a child, climbing trees and getting myself into all kinds of things but the world is different today and I find myself constantly hovering over my own children, watching every move they make so that I can protect them from any harm that might come their way. So can we still raise adventurous children in today’s society? I believe we can, following these guidelines!
1. Set boundaries. Make sure your children know where they are allowed to go and what they are allowed to do. As they grow you can widen the boundaries and give them a little more room to explore. Our 2 year old is a wanderer…you know, the kind that if you blink your eyes or turn your head and he’s gone? We have to really keep an eye on him at all times but that doesn’t mean that we have to stand right next to him holding his hand every step he takes. We let him go off ahead of us to explore on his own but we are always a step behind in case he should get into something he shouldn’t because he just isn’t old enough to know better yet. With older children you can give curfews and definitive directions on the who, what, when and where but you can give them a little more room for independence as well.
2. Give them opportunities to find adventures. If you have children who like to hang around the inside of the house all day, get them outside. Take them to a park. Encourage them to climb trees. Visit local outdoor attractions. There is so much the world has to offer beyond the walls of your home……show your children some of those things!
3. Give ‘em a little push. Sometimes if you have a child who is very cautious and a little hesitant to try new things, you might have to push them a little bit. Our oldest son has always been on the shy side. We never had to worry about him wondering off like we do our younger two boys and even now as he enters his “tween” years, we know that he has great judgement and we don’t really worry much about him making reckless or poor decisions. He doesn’t like to try new things so sometimes we really have to push him to get him to step outside of his comfort zone and do things he really has reservations about. Back in kindergarten I can remember when he didn’t want to play soccer. We continued to push and encourage him to play and now as a 5th grader, he plays on two different travel teams and would rather do nothing else than be on that soccer field.
4. Appreciate cell phones. If you have older children, make sure you know where they are at and be able to communicate with them at all times. I was always against children having cell phones until my older two children wanted to start going places with their friends. We purchased inexpensive cell phones for both of them and gave them basic calling and texting plans.They know when they are away from the house, they are expected to have their phones on at all times and if we call or text them, they are expected to answer. This has allowed us as parents to give our older children a lot more freedom because we now have the peace of mind that we can get a hold of them whenever we need to check in. Our son insisted on riding with the rest of the boys on his team to a game not long ago. It was a good distance away and shortly after they left I saw they had some pretty severe storms headed their way. I know that he hates storms so it made us both feel better that we were able to be in contact with each other until the storms passed over and he made it safely home!
5. Take a deep breath. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t the worrying type. I worry myself sick over my kids sometimes but I have always said that I never want to hold my children back. I want to encourage them to take on new adventures and try new things and accept all life has to offer. I would have missed out on so many great experiences in my life if my parents wouldn’t have given me the opportunities that I had. They allowed me to travel and to go places with my friends. They set boundaries and I suffered consequences when I broke those boundaries. But I appreciate them giving me room to explore the world on my own, from the time I was very small. I am sure I gave my parents a lot of sleepless nights but I really do appreciate them allowing me the freedoms that they did because now I want to give those same freedoms to my children so they can experience life like I had the chance to.