“We need to let 3-year-olds climb trees and 5-year-olds use knives”

Not sure she needed to go around the world to come to these conclusions, but Christine Gross-Loh is exactly right when she says that raising self-reliant, resilient and independent kids actually means letting them take risks.

As Gross-Loh explains, “[a] relaxed approach to risk-taking and safety actually keeps our children safer by honing their judgment about what they’re capable of. Children are drawn to the things we parents fear: high places, water, wandering far away, dangerous sharp tools. Our instinct is to keep them safe by childproofing their lives.” But that’s wrong because if we do the kids never develop their own sense of judgment.

My question is how difficult might it be to make these good choices as a parent in a society that frowns on risk-taking among children? It isn’t just parents “child-proofing” their kids’ lives. Teachers, police officers, other parents discourage and even prevent kids from developing their own independence.

Just look at all the examples of parents who have gotten into trouble allowing their kids to walk alone to soccer practice or to the local pizza shop.

How about school and local playgrounds that are designed so that no one gets hurt, ever?

Or how about the school principal who berates a parent for allowing her daughter to ride the city bus to school instead of being driven?

All these cases are recent and they represent a small sampling of what happens to parents who might want to follow Gross-Low’s advice.

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