Are kids too coddled these days? Too often, stories emerge of helicopter parents going to extreme measures to shield their child from failure or of schools banning games in fear of injuries. While the urge to protect little ones from harm is a natural instinct, some experts worry that too much sheltering can actually have a negative effect. If we eliminate every danger for our kids, how will they learn the right way to handle risks?
In the TED Talk, "5 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Kids Do," Gever Tulley addresses this idea. He's the founder of The Tinkering School, a summer program that helps young kids build amazing projects — and yes, they use power tools to do it.
"When we round every corner and eliminate every sharp object, every poky bit in the world, then the first time that kids come in contact with anything sharp or not made of round plastic, they'll hurt themselves with it," Tulley said.
Instead, he suggests letting your kids play with fire or use a pocketknife in a safe environment. They'll gain real-world experience and learn how to control risks from a young age.
Of course, this doesn't mean kids should run wild with a drill or a lighter. Rather, parents must show the child how to handle the tool or situation. For example, teach her to always cut away from the body with a knife, and emphasize never to force the cut if the blade is stuck. That way, when she comes across something sharp on her own, she'll be aware of the risks and she'll know how to behave.
If you're hesitant, one easy way to get started is to let your kid deconstruct an old appliance. You can join in the fun too, and see if the two of you can figure out what each piece does.
Tulley also suggests letting your child drive in an abandoned parking lot. Some of my fondest childhood memories involve sitting in my dad's lap while he let me steer around our driveway. He was right there to grab the wheel if anything went wrong, and I got to feel so grown-up. There were quite a few more years to go before I had to worry about passing my driver's test, but the experience with a powerful machine only helped me feel more confident in my abilities — and my dad could rest easy knowing I'd learned some early safety lessons too.
As a bonus, easing up might help you be a happier parent. Our story about why we need to lean back from our kids explains why stepping back a little can help rid moms and dads of guilt and stress.
What do you think: should kids be allowed to experience danger, or is this theory too risky? Let us know what you think in the comments!
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