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Safety: Tweens Need to Learn by Doing

by Lori Sciame | October 9th, 2014 | Safety, Tweens

file000134815443The world we live in can seem  largely unsafe, especially for children.  There are just so many things that can go wrong.  Parents worry.  They wonder if they are doing enough to protect their tween from every possible hazard; however, in an effort to keep a child safe, many parents go too far.  They do not let their child experience life in such a way as to learn how to fend for himself or herself.

Ponder these two examples.

One 11-year-old is not allowed to spend the night away from home, even for a school function. Her mother refuses to allow her child to learn to cook, as the kitchen is too hazardous.  The girl can’t join dance class or a soccer league, as her father wants to save her from any possibility of injury.  And that’s just the beginning of the restrictions placed on her every move. Sometimes the girl goes home sick from school, because she doesn’t know what mom or dad would want her to do in a particular situation.

Another 11-year-old has the freedom to experience life — in a manner appropriate for her age.  She can spend the night at a friend’s house, as dad knows her friend’s parents well, and he has verified they will be present.  He also lets his daughter assist in meal preparation, as he has taught her to respect knives, as well as the stove.  She excels at dance and at soccer, and even though she has had a few minor bumps and bruises, she been fine.  Her mother and father agree: their tween daughter is growing into a confident young woman.

These two girls are equally bright; however, one of them has not been able to learn by doing.  In an effort to protect their child from the world’s hazards, the overprotected girl’s parents have effectively rendered her helpless.  What they have done is make her afraid of her own shadow.  She doesn’t even know the difference between real and imagined fears.

In contrast, the confident girl has been allowed to try new things, but in a safe way.  Her parents care for her, but in order to prepare her for her teen years and beyond, these parents know that children need to become confident and capable in their own actions.  They need to be allowed to develop life skills.

It’s hard to let a child grow up. It takes courage to let a tween go bike riding with his friends, or to go skateboarding, or to set off legal fireworks.  Yet, in each of these instances, if a tween knows the rules for doing each activity, he will be OK. And if he does experience a scraped knee or a bruised elbow in the process, he learns about consequences.

So, in order to keep a child safe in the long run, vow to let your tween experience life now.  Let him or her learn about the concept safety by doing.  I guarantee he WILL look before he leaps!

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