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Imperfect Parenting

Does your child play in dirt and puddles (this is different from playing in germs!) As long as they’re in play clothes, evidence suggests such play increases creativity and immunity to germs.

Can your child safely build a campfire for roasting marshmallows (this is different from playing with fire!) Taught properly, they gain respect for flames and matches.

Does your child cross a street safely when not holding your hand (this is different from playing in traffic!) Trial runs help increase their judgment for the inevitable day when you won’t be at their side.

If not, are you trying to be a perfect parent by protecting your child? Research shows that this can backfire because a) children who are too isolated from dangers may not learn to monitor risks on their own and b) we often over- or underestimate risks. Sometimes we wondered if we were the only parents in the world letting our children climb trees and splash down streets after a rainstorm. They survived—and are now both camp counselors, encouraging children to have fun in the great outdoors!

Consider your views on playground equipment. Children who take little falls from toddler-sized slides and swings learn to hold on and pay attention to where their bodies are. Children who don’t get chances to explore their physical limits are more likely to either become overly cautious or take undue risks later because they haven’t learned
important lessons from little bumps and falls.

As far as risks themselves, remember that news stories play up the sensational—turning us into paranoid parents who are trying to be perfect! Check out Free Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy to learn the truth about things such as poisoned Halloween candy (it’s never happened in the USA), kidnappings and other fears that sometimes keep us from
letting our children develop the independent judgment they need to succeed.

You can’t protect your child from everything, but you can do everything in your power to help them learn to think, be aware of their surroundings, and be wise.

By Jane Kise, Ed.D. – Educational Advisor and Consultant, 
Jane  writes an insightful post every Tuesday for Kidtelligent. Jane is an educational consultant, specializing in teambuilding, coaching, and school staff development. She is also the coauthor of more than 20 books. Jane’s website  is