Why a Dose Of Danger May Actually Keep Kids Safe
Let your kids run free, I say, at least to some extent. Their growing bodies desperately need it. Of course, this is easy for me to say, because my own children seem hardwired to be careful. In my house, throwing caution to the wind means running around the backyard with minimal supervision, but knowing full well that my kids won't scale a 10-foot fence or go scavenging through the backyard brush with a kitchen knife. But even if you have a child who is destined to compete in the X Games, even if you have the kid who finds himself in precarious situations at every turn and has to Houdini himself out of them, sometimes stopping at the doctor's office for a handful of stitches along the way, restricting play is often the greater evil. If you try too hard to limit risk, then that often translates into limiting play, and this can have dire repercussions on the developing body.
There are emotional consequences of being too risk-averse, as well. If you don't encourage your child's free play and exploration, then the brain will develop differently. We know that children whose parents swoop in to save them grow up to be people who continuously need their parents to swoop. The millennial generation—kids born after 1980—are notorious for having limited social skills, not just in their ability to pick up the phone instead of text, but also in their coping mechanisms. If our children don't learn to fly (or, more aptly, if they don't learn that they can't fly the same way we all learned it: by trying to jump off a chair and getting nowhere), then they cannot be expected to take emotional leaps in life.