Healthy Risk Taking and Free Range Parenting

middle-years
ask-dr-jean

(Arti Freeman) #1

One of the questions asked of Dr. Jean Clinton on free range parenting inspired me to do a bit more research on the topic of healthy risk taking and free range parenting.

Not all risks are bad for children. Much of the research out there indicates that healthy risk taking is beneficial for the social and emotional development of children and youth.

This article highlights 5 benefits of healthy risk taking:

  • Practice independent thinking and self reflection
  • Improve strength and safety awareness
  • Develop social skills
  • Cultivate confidence
  • Avoid other risky behaviours

What exactly does healthy risk taking involve? Healthy risk taking is about providing safe ways for kids to take risks. According to the Parent Toolkit (see below) healthy risk taking activities in the middle years could include walking home from school unsupervised, climbing trees, trying new activities, making new friends. It allows children to test their own boundaries and strengths through some of these activities:

Parenting toolkit for healthy risk taking in 8 - 11 years old

Parent toolkit for healthy risk taking in 5-8 year olds

As I was exploring more about healthy risk taking, the concept of free range parenting popped up. I must admit, I first heard this concept at a presentation about risky play. I hadn’t thought about it too much until I was doing more research on healthy risk taking and its benefits.

Care.com has this information on their website that explains free range parenting and its benefits. This article based in Australia, provides insight on free range parenting and the case for exposing kids to risk and danger. While there are pros and cons documented on free range parenting, I’m curious about the movement and whether free range parenting programs are beginning to bubble up in the sector to support the development of social emotional skills?

Thinking 20 years into the future, do we see the development of evidenced based programs on ‘‘free range parenting’, similar to what Triple P and others are today?