Have you been accused of Helicopter parenting? Or do you find it difficult to let your child do simple things in life without you? Well, Gary Karton, host of Parent Pep Talk – a podcast providing advice though experts, kids, and parents – speaks on Free Range Parenting and how to effectively give more freedom safely.
As children grow older, their freedoms should build simultaneously. And as parents, our fear and inability to provide freedom, can actually create fear in our children, making them more dependent rather than vice versa.
A dad told a story about his son where the son continually asked to walk to school or to the nearby gas station. The parents continually refused, so then one day the teacher called the parents saying that their child was too scared to go outside for recess and that he was not interacting with the other students. That is when the dad realized they were clinging onto their son, therefore, preventing his growth. From there, they let him ride his bike to school, walk to the local store, and encouraged him to take school trips where his parents would not be present. After some time, they started seeing results, and their son was more of himself again.
As you can see, the parents did not mean to harm their child, but keep them safe. However, children are constantly desiring freedom, and saying no all the time only takes away their motivation and charisma.
Lynne Ticknor is an Education Director in Maryland and has experience in educating since 2006. She introduced a newly popular term called Free Range Parenting. FRP was introduced by Alfred Adler and is based around the idea that parents should give kids room to make mistakes. What does this mean? Well, when it gets cold outside like it has been recently, we as parents want to make sure our kids have a coat on if they are going outside to play. We can encourage them to put on a coat, but if they choose not to wear one, we will be tempted to go put the coat on them right then. However, under FRP, if they choose not to wear a coat, we should let them go and deal with the consequences (which includes them being cold and maybe some sniffles).
Still unsure? Let’s break that concept down then. There are consequences to every decision made, whether those be real consequences or natural consequences. Real consequences are health and safety-related like a kid running into the middle of the road. If that happens, we as parents should swoop them up and let them know how dangerous that it. They don’t need a bad experience to know how deadly that is. But in natural consequences, kids are able to learn without their livelihood being ruined, like forgetting to do their homework or not wearing a coat.
Kids desire freedom; we desire their safety. We must be willing to work with them so they can have both. Gary spoke with 3 different kids that had positive experiences because they were trusted with freedom and how their friends who did not have the freedom were less welcoming to other students. One girl said that she gained more respect and closeness with her parents after they let her go out one time. Another mentioned that she learned how to talk with other adults and find her way when she got lost taking the public bus with a friend.
Therefore, as great as safety can be, life is much more fulfilling when safety is accompanied by freedom. As a law firm, we know how important safety is, but we don’t want your kids to miss out on a great childhood or for you to miss out on a great relationship with your children. Do something crazy and give your kid(s) some more freedom today.
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Karton, Gary. “Free Range Parenting: Finding the Balance between Freedom and Safety.” YouTube, Safe Kids Worldwide, 28 Feb. 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcFyJlQrcl0&t=1584s.
“The Parent Pep Talk Podcast.” Safe Kids Worldwide, https://www.safekids.org/parent-pep-talk-podcast-0.