As a mother of four I don’t particularly have the time or the hands to be all over my children at all times. Yet in all honesty I don’t want to be either.
I have wondered for a long time as to why children aren’t allowed to be children? Why aren’t they allowed to climb trees, play with sticks, walk up slides, drink puddle water, play in mud, chose who they play with and just be allowed to explore their environment how they see fit? Why cant they chose their own clothing, wear no shoes or be allowed to make choices? Or even be out of arms reach?
“Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity.” – Kay Redfield Jamison
I am the mother who allows my children to take risks (obviously within reason. I’m not a complete moron) however without fail I will have someone coming up to me at playgrounds expressing concern that one of my children is up the top of a tree swinging, climbing the ladder etc. Whilst I genuinely appreciate that someone is looking out for my child I have also found it rather intriguing. If i saw a child that i perceived was at risk I would as the child first rather than asking the parent (however i do understand that everyone is different). Whilst the majority of parents are kind and engage in a mutual eye roll some others are condescending and openly judgmental. This however is a whole other kettle of fish.
I love watching my kids run off and have the confidence within themselves to initiate their own play and make their own risk assessment. I truly believe that a child that is able to make calculated risks, as toddlers, will surely benefit from this skill later in life? #againaguess #aslightlyeductatedguess. Additionally I love watching my kids use their imagination with natural elements rather than plastic toys. Surely this is good for their development? #ihopesoorimscrewed. My biggest fear with society reducing our children’s free play is that we are reducing their childhood. With people living longer than ever surely allowing children to experience uninhibited freedom in play should be encouraged for as long as possible?
Furthermore I encourage my children to be bored (this can be a painful experience at times). I feel that learning how to cope with boredom is a life skill that will help for their rest of their lives. They wont have someone entertaining them or keeping them focussed for their entire lives. Again this for me has been taught through circumstance rather than choice. Having 4 children within 4.5years hasn’t allowed me to have the time that I would like with each child on an individual basis and therefore they have had to initiate their own fun.
I also think allowing your children to make mistakes and learn from these at a young age will ensure resilience in later life. I honestly believe that mistakes are lifes greatest teacher. If we can allow our children to make mistakes whilst they are young and give them a safe place to fall then surely this is the greatest gift we can give our children. Whilst to us a simple mistake in the playground does not seem like much it is to a child. We all have to start somewhere and why not allow them to experience failure and disappointed whilst they can be easily rectified and then we can give and guide them through with the tools to cope. Again I am no expert however I truly believe the more we practice our coping strategies the better we become at dealing with situations which surely leads to greater happiness and resilience in the future?
“The more we shelter children from every disappointment, the more devastating future disappointments will be” – Fred G. Gosman
In a lot of ways I feel that Daniel and I parent in an ‘old school’ way that reminds me of how I was raised. Yet whilst it is easy to say these things I have to remember that I am not raising my children in a small country town like where Daniel and I were raised. We are raising them in a city. This alone has its complications especially once they reach adolescence. However for now I want for my children to have the confidence and skills to explore their world as they please before the Internet, technology and society takes over their lives.
In writing this though everyone knows their child and their capabilities. What one child can do with confidence another can’t. This is all normal and each child develops at their own pace. The pressure on parents to have their children reaching certain milestones is insane. I wish that society would stop labelling and categorising parents and children. However in saying this I also wish that parents weren’t so pressured into worrying about everything their child does (or doesn’t do) and just enjoy their imagination and allow them to explore the world before they have no real control over it.