Giving kids the space to learn and grow is perhaps one of the scariest things you can do as a parent. Stepping back to let them test their own limits is unimaginable when everything inside you wants to protect them from any and all possible harm. But it’s what they need to step from your loving care into the great, big world.
How do you shift parenting gears from guarding every shaky step as they learn how to walk, from catching them two seconds before they tumble off the playground, to stopping them before poking a pin into the electrical outlet to sending them out into the world to explore WITHOUT YOU?
How do you turn off the instinct to stop them from running with scissors, jumping out of trees, wildly swinging sticks, or any of the other countless dangers before they end in a trip to emergency? How do you stop the ongoing safety commentary of “this and that potential danger”?
If you step back from your fear, you will realize that all along you’ve given them the exact right amount of freedom for their stage. When it was learning to walk, the right amount was inches; at the playground, the right amount soon grew to feet. Slowly, step-by-step, their freedom stretched as they grew enough to handle it.
And you were always there in the background, ready with Band-Aids and important life lessons when those inches resulted in scrapes and bruises just as you will when the bigger life lessons end up in heartbreak and tears. That’s what giving your kids freedom is all about.
So how do you keep them safe while slowing letting go?
Give them the skills they need to be their own safety net – Talk about possible scenarios and what to do and why before you send them out into the world.
Play the What-If game – Ask them to tell you how they would handle different sticky situations to confirm all the years of safety speeches have sunk in.
Practice watching from a distance without interfering – Give them the sense of freedom by observing from a distance or around the corner to get a sense of their decision-making abilities.
Start small and see how they handle themselves – Let go slowly, starting with small freedoms and gauge how they handled themselves.
Enlist the help of technology – Give them the ability to call you by setting them up with a safety cell phone to help ease both of your minds that you can be there for the rescue, if and when the need arises.
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Disclosure: This post was brought to you by WIND Mobile via Glam Media Canada. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of WIND Mobile.