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How much freedom shall I give my child?

I had an auntie Ray who was terribly protective of us. She visited one day and asked where my brothers were. When told they’d gone canoeing she replied ‘not in the water I hope?!’ It is so important to encourage our children to be independent. Sometimes I think we do too much in order to validate our role as a parent or to feel that we are doing a good job. Research shows that the opposite is actually true, that children who are independent are less likely to be bullied, are more likely to volunteer for things (and increase their esteem by doing so) and are more likely to speak up if they witness something that is unjust. It is so hard to let go. I remember letting my son go and pay for a coffee for me. He was so small that he couldn’t be seen from the other side of the counter and I was itching to go and rescue him but I waited and watched. A waitress came up to the counter and he tapped her leg and asked her if he could pay. When he came back he was so proud of himself and couldn’t wait to tell daddy. Do it in small steps - from pouring the milk for their cereal right up to making a journey alone. You’ll be amazed to see the difference it makes to their confidence.

What freedom could you give your child? Could you allow him to walk along a wall without holding your hand or you saying repeatedly 'be careful'? Could you allow her to cut up some carrots with a reasonably sharp knife? What about letting them run naked in the garden and spray the hose around? Or let them climb a tree?

It is really worth taking some risks with our children. Even if it means incurring a tumble, a graze, a slip.. it gives them an experience to learn from. We learn best from making or own mistakes.