Any parent will tell you that the safety of their children is always a top priority—hence the collection of knee pads, shin guards, and helmets littering closet and garage floors. But is there such a thing as too much safety? There is and, contradictory as it sounds, it can even be dangerous.
Child psychologist Lawrence Cohen, Ph.D., author of The Opposite of Worry ($11, amazon.com), explains that kids learn to navigate danger little by little by taking smart, calculated risks. Your seven-year-old can’t decide alone which risks are reasonable and which are perilous; that’s where parents come in. If you don’t let your child take any risks at all, he or she will be unprepared to navigate hazards as they arise—and could end up taking a trip to the ER.
Another important distinction: Risk and risky aren’t the same thing, according to Lenore Skenazy, author of Free-Range Kids: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children Without Going Nuts With Worry, ($12, amazon.com). All of the knee pads and helmets in the world won’t completely eliminate the risk that your child could fall while roller-skating, but safety measures go a long way towards preventing serious repercussions.
Need another reason to stop helicopter parenting? Real Simple editor Kristin van Ogtrop explains why she considers herself to be an “amateur parent“—and why she wouldn’t have it any other way.