Anna’s preschool theme last week was Safety, and I picked up three books from Watch Out series – this one, and the ones about safety at home and on the road. Anna really enjoyed them, and read them many times on her own. They are talking about serious matters, but stay positive overall. It’s not that we really needed to reinforce safety rules with her. We call Anna jokingly our “safety girl”, because she is always so concerned about being safe. Of course, her safety concerns didn’t prevent her the other day from stacking two chairs on top of each other trying to reach a high shelf in her room. It didn’t go over well and resulted in a couple of new bruises. This incident really reminded me that despite all her maturity and knowing the rules, following the rules can suddenly slip when she is tired, excited or very determined to reach her goal (three of those together is really dangerous). And that’s why we still supervise her quite a bit and will continue to do so for years to come.
At the same time, I do think that older children are supervised a bit too much here in US. Both my husband and I grew up in big cities of Europe with well developed public transportation system. We both visited friends in the neighborhood, traveled to school, shopped in local stores before we were 10. Both my parents were working, and I would come home from school and be on my own for a few hours every day. We definitely want Anna to experience this kind of independence too. I cringed when my best friend (who by the way had exactly same childhood as I did) wouldn’t let her 13 year old daughter to walk 10 minutes to the library in her upscale town of Northern New Jersey. Her explanation was, What if something happens – I would never been able to forgive myself. I hope that Anna’s life will not be shaped by our parental fears that are fanned by TV and other media. I want her to grow up an independent and responsible child, not someone who goes to college without ever making a step on her own before.
What is your take on encouraging independence and letting your children go “free range”. Are you having “don’t talk to strangers” talks to your kids? By the way, we believe that talking to strangers is completely fine, but following strangers’ direction and going somewhere with them is not OK.