Cotton Wool vs. Let 'em Rip!

Cotton wool vs. let ’em rip – is there a healthy balance?

Tip number one: Let children be bored!

So often we hear children say “I’m bored” and we leap in with a load of suggestions and options to try and solve the problem for them but WAIT! there are major benefits to children from being bored!

They learn resilience and resourcefulness. They become creative and inventive. They learn things about themselves – what they like and don’t like. They learn problem solving skills. They learn to negotiate and participate with others without adult intervention.

Being bored grows their curiosity, their resourcefulness and their perseverance… so let them be bored!

Tip number two: encourage free range play

This doesn’t mean let them scale cliffs unattended, but it does mean let them create their own play. They learn self-responsibility, self-regulation and free range play grows their pro-social brain.

It is important for children to learn to take risks and to assess and manage those risks. Play is actually how children learn to take control of their lives. As a nervous parent watching on, you may think it is more dangerous than the actual risk involved. If you’re not sure, look at your child’s face – are they smiling?

Tip number three: free range parenting doesn’t mean hands-off parenting

  • Be involved
  • Get away from screens and out in nature
  • Go bush or beach!
  • Make tools and art supplies available
  • Rough and tumble play with your kids
  • Make amazing childhood memories

Tip number four: play is children’s work

We need to understand that for children play IS their work. Play is how they grow and develop. Children need time and space to play – to explore their world, to create meaning, to make connections and to grow their brain. Play means active, engaged play – not being stuck in front of a device! The best play is child-initiated, child-led, child-managed and child-fun. As the adult, look for the learning they are doing in their play – step back and watch and you will be amazed!

Tip number five: all children are waterproof – they won’t shrink in the rain

Get your child a pair of gumboots and get them outside! There is so much fun (and learning and development) to be had in the outdoors. Even on a cloudy rainy day, get children outside:

  • jumping in puddles
  • making mud pies
  • climbing trees
  • taking risks
  • developing motor skills
  • building muscle strength

Anxious parents = anxious children

This tip speaks for itself!