Monday, August 23, 2010

Freedom and Children

Freedom, I have recently come to realize, is very important to a child's developement. I'm not talking about freedom for a two-year-old to wander the neighborhood unsupervised, or freedom for an eight-year-old to eat as many cookies as he wants. But age-appropriate freedom in a controlled, fairly safe environment is really priceless. Of course we have all seen the damage done by parents who never supervise their children, but just as damaging can be well-meaning parents who constantly hover over their children, watching and commenting on the child's every action. How can a child learn self-confidence and good decision making skills if they are never allowed to make those desicions by themselves? Sure, they will encounter tough situations and probably take part in a good deal of fairly dangerous play (climbing high trees, oh my!), but if they are never allowed these opportunities then how will they learn to think for themselves? To make too many free-play opportunities off-limits is to tell the child that they cannot be trusted to make good decisions. To supervise their every move is to teach them to be dependent upon the attention of others. To correct every minor mistake prevents the child from learning from their own errors, and more importantly, constant corrections send the message that the child is inherently bad. Again, I am not talking about shirking our parental responsibilities, or denying them our assistance when it is needed. Rather, I am talking about refraining from assistance when it is NOT asked for, and trusting our children more. Our most important job as parents is to nurture a sense of compassion, self-worth, and independence in our beloved children. Obvoiusly they will need much guidance, but they will also need enough freedom to develop their individual souls in their own time and in their own way. My guess is that this sort of growth best occurs in an environment free of overbearing parents.

June Bug climbing a tree without shoes OR prying eyes! (except to come out and take the picture of course)

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