Creating Empowered Kids

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Protecting Childhood Independence

March 16th 2020

Giving our children the liberty to build strong socialization skills for life.

Our number one concern as parents is our children’s safety. At school we fear things like kidnapping, and bullying, and our children’s social safety of not making friends. When I think of these concerns regarding my children, several items come to mind that are in the table below.Protecting Childhood IndependenceGreat news, I can make a table that transitions from the negative to the positive! Where do we take this to have an impact at school, on the playground, or at the park? Often the lessons are within us; when I was growing up, I was TERRIFIED of leaving my parents during the formative early elementary years. Was this due to some trauma, or something that happened to me, I don’t know. Was it because of undiagnosed learning disabilities? Probably.

I have dyslexia, and that obstacle as a child has become one of the gifts in my life – it taught me perseverance, it transformed hatred of reading to love of reading, and in turn, a competitive advantage at work, and to this day, I see the world differently than others. But, being behind in school as a seven year old, not having the highest coordination in the world, it was a tough time for me. And, may God forgive me for putting my parents through that hardship – Only once we are a parent do we realize that our children’s sorrows are also carried by mom & dad.

Where did I emerge from this elementary school chrysalis? Or, more importantly who supported me and changed my life at Millridge Elementary School? It was many people, but two people remain in my heart to this day, a great teacher, Mrs. Wegart who believed in me, spent the time after school working on my reading, and was demanding that I reach my potential. Thank you great lady for keeping the faith! The second person was my friend Chuck.

He taught me how to play and showed me the ropes of my playground favorites: Tetherball, Four Square, and sliding down “The Hill” during the winter snows.

My social development was done in a safe but independent playground environment. My confidence came from playing four square and holding one of the court squares, or losing it, but realizing there was only a short line until I got a rematch. By the way, thank you Chuck, and all the “Chuck’s” out there.

We all know the power of having freedom and independence in a protected environment, but sometimes as parents, we can overvalue safety and not consider how to build a protected independent environment for activities. Children being left free to build friendships while being protected from the outside world is one of the true safe spaces, and may be a cornerstone of our life development. Think back to your social development and the creation of your early social network. Didn’t the independent time with your teammates prior to warm-ups create some of the best and most memorable moments? Weren’t the games in the backyard where you made lasting friendships? Wasn’t it hanging out in the dorm where you developed your own voice?

Spend a few minutes and recall some of the best activities & stories that relate to your playground years, or your practice, or those days in the backyard. Ask your kids about their favorite activities and experiences. Tell a few of those childhood memories to your kids, and then reflect about your children’s play experiences, how can we make them better? Make this one priority of your parent organization