Allow them to explore: When do the kids stop being kids?

As a mother of two, I don't have the time to be a 'helicopter' parent at all times, and that's something I'm quite happy about.

We, as adults, have somehow stopped our children from acting like normal children. Climbing trees, walking up slides, drinking water from puddles, playing in muck, or collecting sticks, these things are not so normal anymore.

I want them to explore their environment however they choose.

"Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity." - Kay Redfield Jamison.

Today we went out for a walk and spotted a tree with a lot of fallen leaves. Brilliant I thought, we'll go there and play with the leaves. Kick them, throw them, make leaf angels. Pretty standard, right? 

I allow the toddler to take risks (within reason obviously). Eye-rolls welcome from other parents, but please pass no judgement.

“The more risks you allow your children to make, the better they learn to look after themselves."- Roald Dahl

I often say my toddler is a very 'spirited' boy, but I'm glad. It’s much easier to direct passion than to try and inspire it.

I adore watching him run off with his little bag of confidence, play and make risk assessments. Surely a child that is able to make calculated risks, as toddlers, will surely benefit from this skill later in life?


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Watching them play in nature as opposed to playing indoors, watching them use their imagination with natural elements, that makes my heart warm.

Children more than ever, need opportunities to be in their bodies in the world – jumping rope, cycling, stream hopping, puddle jumping and fort building. It’s this engagement between limbs of the body and bones of the earth where true balances emerge.

Free play is something that should be treasured. It allows them to explore who they are and express themselves. I'm going to encourage it for as long as possible.

Kids have to make mistakes, and us as parents have to allow it. Yes, we should be there to give them a safe place to fall.

I want my children to have the confidence and skills to explore their world as they please before the Internet, technology and society takes over their lives.

Everyone knows their child and their capabilities. What one child can do with confidence another can’t. This is all normal and each child develops at their own pace. The pressure on parents to have their children reaching certain milestones is insane. I wish that society would stop labelling and categorising parents and children. However in saying this I also wish that parents weren’t so pressured into worrying about everything their child does (or doesn’t do) and just enjoy their imagination and allow them to explore the world before they have no real control over it.

Jessica O’Neill, 26 year old Mama to two under two and author of My Moo and Roo Blog. Currently on maternity leave, winging motherhood everyday.

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