As parents, we love our children with all our hearts. It is our natural instinct to want to protect them and keep them safe from every possible negative experience. As a result, we sometimes become overprotective. This in turn leads to stifling and can stunt our child’s development and sense of self-worth.
How does a parent protect their child but still give them wings to fly? There is a balance we must find in order to do that. Free-range parenting does not mean leaving your child to raise themselves. Rather, it is giving your child the tools to succeed and then stepping back and watching your child use them. Here are a few of the reasons that you should consider parenting in the “free-range” style.
It Builds Confidence
Growing up is hard to do, whether you lived in the 1970s or in modern times. There are so many things to learn, and so many things that can shake a child’s confidence. When you hover over your child, attempting to protect them from all harm, this can actually destroy their confidence.
Although we mean simply to protect the children we love, this way of parenting can be taken by a child that we feel they are not capable of protecting themselves. To them, it can feel like we don’t believe they have the skills, strength, and intelligence to navigate life.
It Builds Capability
Not only does free-range parenting give a child a sense that they are capable, it actually causes them to become more that way! A child who is never required to think for themself, often won’t. On the other hand, a child who has had to problem solve without their mom or dad always saving the day, will have the necessary skills to work their way through challenges. They will be better equipped to face the many curveballs that life is sure to throw their way.
It Encourages Friendship between Parent and Child
It’s hard for a child to enjoy being with an adult who is always lurking around the corner with disinfectant and a bandage, or a parent who is ready to spew vicious words at anyone who disagrees with their child. By a certain age, children do not appreciate being “babied”, and they want to earn the respect of their peers and everyone else in their life.
Next time your child has an argument with another child at the park, wait and give them time to solve the disagreement on their own before jumping in to help them win their battle.
It Rids Children of the Fear of Failure
Most people will never grow to love failure. It is natural to want to succeed. But when a child is constantly kept in a bubble of protection and safety, they never learn how to fail gracefully, if at all. Give your child the gift of failure through allowing them to make decisions and try new things. It will bring them the sense that even though they may fall, they can dust themselves off and get back up. They will be less likely to be crippled by the “what ifs” and instead, will more likely just go ahead and try.
Free-range parenting is not what many people assume to be a neglectful kind of hands-off parenting. Rather it is a style of parenting that will encourage and leave your child equipped to face the world that awaits them.