Why do I let my children climb high and run barefoot? Because they know how. They’ve been taught to trust their own instincts and to take the path that intrigues them most. I encourage my children to test their strengths both physically and emotionally every. single. day. I expect them to be bored and figure it out. I refuse to tend to every scrape and bump. I know they can handle themselves, therefore they know they can handle themselves.
I’ve had quite a few people tell me that they want to allow their children to be more self-directed, but they feel unsure of themselves around other parents. For example, letting their child walk up the slide on the playground. My thing is this, if my kids aren’t hurting anyone else either physically or emotionally, then I do what is right for my kids. Yes, I let them walk up the slide. I might start a conversation about what could happen if you are walking up the slide on a crowded climber. Usually, my kids will deduce that a crowded playground isn't an ideal place to walk up the slide.
I let my kids play barefoot ALL. THE. TIME. Do I get raised eyebrows or tsk tsks from others at the playground? I do, but I know what is best for my own tribe. I know that my barefoot kids are developing an important relationship between body and ground. Yup, they might step on something sharp. They might get a splinter. But we can deal with it and grow from it if they do.
When we practice relying on our own judgment, we learn to care less what others think. I want my kids to know that so I must know it and practice it. I need them to be able to listen to their own judgement without the noise of others around them, so I need to do it too.
I often use the phrase, “Different families have different rules.” It’s kind of my mantra. It works both ways. Sometimes, my littles are allowed to do stuff that their friends are absolutely not allowed to do. My kids are allowed to use a sharp knife and climb a very tall tree. BUT, there is a flip side. My kids have earlier bedtimes than most of their friends. My kids don’t own a gaming system like most of their friends…. “Different family. Different rules.” See how that works? Try it.
Do you parent out of the box? How do you deal with the funny looks from others? Do you allow for risky play among your children? Tell me about it…