You’re so laidback! It’s something I hear fairly regularly. Sometimes it’s a comment made with envy, sometimes with reproach (as they stand in a dirty and chaotic house) and occasionally with praise. Why do people think I’m laid back? It’s because I believe in letting children ‘be’, I try to leave alone in short I’m trying to raise free range kids.
Compared your childhood to your children’s I bet you had more freedom? Were you able to go out on your bike to the local shop and buy sweets? (now there’s another topic buying sweets). Were you allowed to roam your local area? Did you climb trees- pinch apples and build dens? Well I did all those things and I want my children to do the same.
In reality that’s difficult, as we live in different times, so we need to think things a bit more. Did you hear about the parents arrested for letting their children walk home on their own? Have a peak here to read their story- get ready for a sharp intake of breath.
It’s so important to let kids have the space to be kids, in short you need to be looking to raise free range kids not battery ones!
To raise free range kids follow our free range kids charter
- Allow them to make mistakes. How easy is it to constantly monitor and ‘save’ kids from a situation? If they are constantly saved, they are not going to learn how to make good decisions and sort things out for themselves.
- Allow them to be bored. It’s a tricky one but kids have got to sort this one themselves. You’re really not doing them any favours by being their constant mistress of fun. Kids really will start entertaining themselves if left to it.
- Allow their imagination to run riot. When you interfere less their imaginations flourish. Have a dressing up box and give free access. You’ll get some amazing shows.
- Allow them to build dens. Inside and outside of the house. Yes you might be high stepping over mattresses in the corridor or tripping over huge branches but it’ll be worth it and everything can be tidied away.
- Allow them to take on some responsibilities Give kids chores around the house, even though it might be quicker to do it yourself. It helps with feeling part of the team and gives them the idea that finishing tasks is important- a key life skill.
- Allow them to take risks-a no brainer really, if they never take any risks how can they properly access danger. Let them climb trees, swing on homemade rope swings etc.
- Allow them to boil the kettle. Or something similar dependent on ability and age of your kids. Kids love to be helpful and to make a significant contribution to family life. My son’s tea is the best in the world.
You might think at the end of this that I’m laid back- well I’m not it’s a work in progress! Like all parents I worry all the time about my kids and whether or not I’m doing the right thing. I really try to foster feelings of freedom and independence whilst I chew my nails from a distance.
PS My take on children was crystallized when I read the book The Idle Parent by Tom Hodgkinson, check out the fab website here, it’s called The Idler.