the overprotected kid.

[photo via]
Maybe most of us parents can remember practicing handstands on the sidewalk as children? Playing double dutch with the neighborhood friends on our neighborhood street? Hanging and swinging from the monkey bars? Sliding down muddy hills on collapsed boxes and riding bikes in the cul-de-sac for hours while dinner was being made? We biked to 7-11 for Slurpees, collected lizards, climbed trees, traded Halloween candy and walked home from school with our siblings, parents afar (or unsupervised altogether). We explored, adventured, got dirty, took risks. We made phone calls once we arrived safely and knew family passwords.

"When [children] are left alone and can take full responsibility for their actions, and the consequences of their decisions, it’s a thrilling experience."" [The Overprotected Kid]

But times have changed. While I love my boys to play creatively with each other and their friends, I do try so hard as a parent to keep my kids safe. I'm both cautious and love time together with them which rarely leaves them without a watchful parent. After reminiscing of my own childhood, and reading this fascinating article (The Overprotected Kid), I miss that kind of exploration and freedom for my boys. The outdoor forts and the secret shortcut to school, as starters.


The article explores the risks and benefits of children getting to explore and learn independently, "inventing their own activities and building up a kind of community of their own that they knew much more about than their parents.” just like we did as children. Author Hanna Rosin illustrates that kids can overcome fears (which can eventually become phobias) by being exposed to those things that they find a little scary. They master confidence and independence and self-reliance and courage. They develop motor skills and combat obesity. "They're too busy and engaged to want to cause trouble." And ironically, kids are not having fewer accidents even with our generation's close attention to safety.


I want to encourage this kind of freedom and have thought all day about how! What do you think? Would you (do you?) let yours live out childhood a little less supervised?