How Safe is too Safe?
Which parent are you at the playground? The one hovering over your kids, the one chatting with friends or the one playing on your iPhone? I’m a bit of all three these days. My youngest is 2.7 so I’m just coming out of the ‘watch them every moment’ stage.
But how safe is too safe? Are we hindering them by being uber-paranoid? As parents and especially in the early years, we spend so much time and energy just keeping our kids safe. The hazards change as they grow through different ages and stages and I suppose, so must our expectations. I’m so accustomed to knowing where they are at all times but I do believe it’s a balance between teaching them skills and then giving them the opportunity to put them into practice by making decisions.
For my four year old, skills like crossing the street by knowing when it’s safe rather than solely holding my handing and waiting for me to say it’s ok.
Perhaps we tend to romanticise or simplify our own childhoods. When I was little, we played ‘kick the can’ in the street (literally) until we called home for dinner. Or we’d play ‘penny toss’ until it was too dark to see anymore, then we’d go home. I’d like to recreate some of that wholesome play with my kids. I’ve always been a big fan of knowing your neighbours and having people you can offer help to or call upon in a time of need.
There’s also a fine line between letting kids ‘be kids’ and being overly ‘responsible’. Yep, I’m the kind of mum who lets her kids bounce on the trampoline with the sprinkler underneath in their clothes on a sunny day in winter. Just because it’s fun! Then they run inside and have a hot bath (all together) followed by hot chocolate.
I’m still very safety conscious in public places but I’m slowly giving them more independence at home and in the neighbourhood. I’ve recently started letting Miss 6 check the letter-box by herself (it’s 80 metres away up our long drive).
Here’s what some other parents said about the question have we become too ‘safe’?
It’s all about safety vs challenge! If we never give our children the opportunity to challenge themselves because its too high to climb that tree, they will grow up not wanting to do ANYTHING! I’m all for supervised playing. If your child wants to climb a tree-let them!
Yes! Kids need to be able to test their limits, succeed, fail, fall and get up again!
I personally think parents have become so afraid of being judged by other parents who will think it’s unsafe that they won’t let their kids be kids. I have hard and fast kids and it freaks me out regularly! I have had many trips to a&e and my son has worn a helmet since he was about 2 because he has no fear but I personally would prefer he learnt that speed is dangerous and can cause injury or harm while he is 2 and on his runner bike then when he’s 18 and can test it out in a car!
Absolutely! I will encourage my children to climb trees, explore, and be silly! The world is a dangerous place, and I think we can get carried away with our worries of safety – when really if we micro analysed everything we would find out eeeeeverything is unsafe. I think as long as you use common sense regarding safety (ie stranger danger etc) then you’re doing your job. Your kids need to learn about the world around them – I want to foster my children’s love for adventure, not destroy it.
What do you think? Have we as a society become too safe?
Authored by Natalie Cutler-Welsh, owner of blog If Only They Told Me.