Your child needs kid adventures! This month, on purpose, look for ways to help your kids grow in independence.
Experiment: Let the Kids Lead
Make a plan several times this spring and summer to stretch your kids’ wings outside — and put them in charge. Encourage them to pick out a walking stick during a walk or hike together, and encourage them to walk out in front, with you a distance behind. In case you want or need your kids to stop or slow down, implement a “Red Light, Green Light” system which they’ll enjoy. Want them to stop? Shout “Red light!”
Explore: Go Creeking
Encourage your kids to play outside, and if there’s a nearby creek, all the better. There’s nothing like exploring, flipping rocks in search of crawfish and other creatures, stepping over rocks, feeling the coolness of the water. Sit back in a lawn chair and just enjoy watching them do this.
Experience: Bike Course
In your driveway, encourage your kids to mark out an obstacle course for bikes and scooters. Ask them to wear helmets, but keep your distance. Don’t hover. Just let them go.
Engage: Independent Thinker
Give your kids the opportunity to make decisions for themselves. Teach them to think matters through and how to make decisions in any given situation. Let them know that they can talk to you about anything and that you can help them figure things out if they want you too.
• Have your kids lead the way when they play.
• If your kids are 8 or older and reasonably mature, let them walk a few blocks to the park with friends. Try short durations at first. Fifteen minutes will lead to half an hour, then to an hour.
• As you ease into free parenting, have kids check in periodically by cell phone.
• Teach your kids how to interact with people they meet and when to say “No.”
• Don’t try to “fill in the blank” if you hear kids say, “There is nothing to do outside.” They will find something to do. Just give it time. Boredom is the mother of invention.
• Abandon the organized playdate. Just go outside and play.
Things You Don’t Want KIDS to do … but They Should do
• Stick an arm out of the car window while you drive • Roughhouse • Burn something with a magnifying glass • Whittle a stick • Walk or ride a bike to school • Climb a tree • Shoot a slingshot • Explore a construction site • Build a fire • Explore a cave or tunnel