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How Safe is too Safe?

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!
Jacqui Toloa

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!
Jacinta Laulau

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.
Sacha Barrack

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.

11 Member comments Post a reply

Avatar Huggies Editor



Which parent are you at the playground?

Read the full blog post: How Safe is too Safe?

Posted 16 September 2013 - 04:55 PM

Avatar Rebecca_Wilson302

I am none of them! lol I play with my kids on the park. im little enough so its great.

Posted 16 September 2013 - 05:20 PM

Avatar daylily

What a great article! How safe is too safe?! My hubby & I are not the hovering sort, but I have family members who are & theyre always hovering & trying to micro-manage how we watch our son. An example is my brother lamenting over how "dangerous" it is to climb a smallish tree! Going out for coffee is stressful since he'se always saying "are you watching him?" Cant a kid spill a drink & just learn from it? Its only spilt milk!! Seriously im gonna print this article off to show them.

Posted 21 September 2013 - 08:56 PM

Avatar Tezpin

I prefer to try and teach my toddler how to be safe rather than hover over her every second. So I'm the parent standing to one side of the playground watching my daughter clamber all over the climbing equipment and calling stuff like, "Hold on tight with two hands! Make sure your feet are steady before looking for another hand-hold! Check your landing zone is clear before you jump!"

On the whole, I try to teach her what I want her to do ("Hold on with both hands") rather than teach her fear what she is doing ("Don't fall!).

She is such a confident climber now, but the down side is that my youngest bub, who can barely walk, is desperately trying to climb on things like her sister!

Posted 24 September 2013 - 04:37 PM

Avatar Jas_Rox_Rehm

In the space of a month my 19month old has fallen 2 metres off a top bunk, fallen off a chair onto his face at the food court at just today tumbled down a flight of 14 stairs onto a concrete floor. So thats one trip to A & E, 2 trips to ED and one trip to the doctor or 3 ACC forms. The doctor at A & E told me he probably had a tummy bug, I trusted my instinct and took him straight up to ED. Turned out he had a concussion! Done by falling off the chair. His more serious falls have done nothing more then scare him and bruise him. I have become very paranoid but the falls have made him more aware of the danger now so hes a more cautious climber and runner.

What surprised me is this thought process I had: that even though I know falls are normal, I did get very paranoid that I'd be done for child abuse because hes had these bad falls. But as my doctor explained some children need to learn limits the hard way thats why they bounce easier. Talk about heart attack moments though

Posted 01 October 2013 - 05:18 PM

Avatar Morganh_Nz

I used to watch like a hawke, but now i have two im much more relaxed, i taught them to be careful and i realised there just being kids.
Daylily my mum is super cautious it gets anoying sometimes ay.
Tezpin thats what i did to teach them aswel
Rebecca im the same, its great fun being a kid again lol
Jas its so scary when they have a fall, im lucky my two havent...yet

Posted 24 October 2013 - 08:15 PM

Avatar Kellikirby1

hi!! im loving reading the blogs...My boy is only 14 months, but I don't want to hover over him every second when he at park ect! but want to keep,him safe too....bit of a tough one at times.

Posted 11 November 2013 - 08:36 AM

Avatar mummypride

Everyone always asks me " is he ok up there?" (my DS is nearly 4 and a dare devil) my reply " he can only fall". How can they learn their limits if they dont fall and challange themselves

Posted 21 November 2013 - 03:34 AM

Avatar ErinB2011

Jas_Rox_Rehm wrote:
In the space of a month my 19month old has fallen 2 metres off a top bunk, fallen off a chair onto his face at the food court at just today tumbled down a flight of 14 stairs onto a concrete floor. So thats one trip to A & E, 2 trips to ED and one trip to the doctor or 3 ACC forms. The doctor at A & E told me he probably had a tummy bug, I trusted my instinct and took him straight up to ED. Turned out he had a concussion! Done by falling off the chair. His more serious falls have done nothing more then scare him and bruise him. I have become very paranoid but the falls have made him more aware of the danger now so hes a more cautious climber and runner.

What surprised me is this thought process I had: that even though I know falls are normal, I did get very paranoid that I'd be done for child abuse because hes had these bad falls. But as my doctor explained some children need to learn limits the hard way thats why they bounce easier. Talk about heart attack moments though


This worries me too! I want my child to explore the world, which will inevitably lead to some bumps and bruises along the way, but I worry a bit about it looking like child abuse. I want my daughter to learn about cause and effect (of course in an age appropriate way; I'm not going to let her cross the street by herself or give her a knife in the kitchen at age two, or anything like that...common sense goes a long way!). Does anyone have any advice on this? I really want to do my best with her!

Posted 19 February 2014 - 09:03 AM

Avatar mummy of 2 prince and 1 princess

just let my kids go play on ground n now i am getting worried coz they wanna push up safety height to 3 meters on all playground platfrorm but i know my 5 year is fine with it but my 2 year is scare as it is at 2.5 meters

Posted 03 April 2014 - 11:00 PM

Avatar Kidselc070

I do agree with this Post. Every One should take proper steps towards children's growth.


Posted 07 October 2016 - 04:11 PM

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