Phones are destroying our teens…
…except that it turns out the negative connection between tech and teens’ mental health is fairly minor, according to research.
Children are being abducted on their way to school or from distracted parents…
…except that “children taken by strangers or slight acquaintances represent only one-hundredth of 1 percent of all missing children.”
The world is becoming an increasingly dangerous place to live…
…except that the opposite is true. See below:
Where are his/her parents? a passer-by might wonder…
…except that unsupervised play is critical for children to develop properly.
(sidebar: isn’t it funny how despite essentially every child in human history spent their days getting dirty, it’s only now that showers are ubiquitous that we have grown uncomfortable with the idea?)
Parents are bombarded with worst-case scenarios every day. Even casual Facebook posts from a concerned friend or relative often contain terrifying videos or messages that end with “Keep your babies close.” I shared one such example with my daughter in our conversation about how strange it is that these videos go viral when they really don’t represent the actual dangers kids face today. Far more threatening to our kids are dangers of childhood diabetes, obesity, heart problems, and mental health issues that seem inextricably tied to the modern lack of childhood independence.
For those in the U.S. observing Independence Day tomorrow, celebrate by saying no. Push back against those viral videos. Question the frightening headlines (see this excellent piece on zooming out for context). And above all, allow your children to experience some of the same freedoms you yourself probably had as a child. Perhaps start by asking some of these questions:
- Does my elementary-aged child know how to navigate our neighborhood independently? Does she know where her friends and family live within a mile radius? Could she get herself home from school?
- How might learning to ride a bicycle help further my child’s independence?
- Has my child ever tried to earn money independently? Lemonade stands, bake sales, yard work, etc?
- Can my child handle something risky by the same age I was permitted to as a child (starting a fire, using a pocket knife, etc)?
- Does my child know how to go inside a store to handle purchasing something independently? How might allowing my child to help with groceries help foster their sense of competence?
What better ways to celebrate independence are there than fostering it in our children?
featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto