Free Range Kids

I was a free range kid. My parents kept an eye on me more than I wanted, but I was still allowed to explore neighborhood parks and bicycle all over without supervision. While I see a lot of kids doing the same thing these days, some parents have become so over-protective that the kids barely get outdoors. This seems to be driven by the relentless stories of child abductions, and worse, that are repeated over and over on the nightly news. You might begin to think that such stories are common when in fact they are extremely rare – that’s what makes them newsworthy.

Even Sesame Street has devolved from showing kids having a great time exploring a vacant lot and playing follow-the-leader while laughing and having a great time in what some might say is a crime infested neighborhood. Today it’s pretty rare to see the Sesame Street kids outdoors. Could those kids be suffering from nature deficit disorder?

Lenore Skenazy, characterized by the media as the “America’s Worst Mom” for allowing her nine-year-old to have a childhood, says: “I’m a safety geek! But I also believe our kids do not need a security detail every time they leave the house. Our kids are safer than we think, and more competent, too. They deserve a chance to stretch and grow and do what we did — stay out till the street lights come on.”

The trailer for Skenazy’s new reality TV show “World’s Worst Mom” (she says she got a promotion) has her showing a kid how to slice cheese and a tomato with a knife while the horrified mom looks on. He was thrilled to be able to do that small task and he kept all his fingers. Next Skenazy taught the boy how to ride a bike, something his mother would simply not allow – she didn’t want him to get hurt. But then, mom noticed how his self confidence was rising and joy was re-entering his life. For more on Skenazy’s methods you can check out her website or her section of the Discover Life TV Channel’s website.

What do you think about the free range kid movement? Were you a free range kid? Are you a free range parent?  How free can you go – where are your boundaries?

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