When you have kids you worry. A lot. It comes with the job and there is no way of avoiding it. Unfortunately these days I think we may have gone too far in many ways. We don’t let kids play dodge ball at school anymore…too dangerous. Today’s children will never experience the wind through their hair while they go full speed down a hill on their bikes. Helmets. And I understand why we’ve come up with all of these safety measures. (I agree with the helmets by the way) What parent wants to expose their children to hazards? It’s just that we risk limiting our kid’s ability to explore a wider range of experience by raising them in an overly cautious manner due to our fear that they might get hurt.
Last summer while Tracy and her family visited, my husband decided to let her eleven year old son chop wood…with a real axe. I was horrified and started to do the song and dance about safety. They ignored me however, and as I listened to John give instructions and saw the way this smart young boy listened carefully I relaxed some. And so, while I paced nervously, a good pile of wood was chopped by a young boy who seemed to grow into a young man before my eyes. He literally puffed out with pride at the good work he had done. And later that evening he was taught how to start a proper camp fire with the very wood he had chopped. He was thrilled. I was a bit of a wreck but I got over it and now that the axe has been put away I’m glad that he had the experience.
“We seem to think that any item sharper than a golf ball is too sharp for children under the age of 10,” says Gever Tulley.
So, Tulley, founder of something called the Tinkering School, a place where kids build things with power tools, has written a new book called, 50 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Children Do. (Number 46 is “Super Glue Your Fingers Together – Experience life without a thumb!)
When we round every corner and eliminate every sharp object, every pokey bit in the world, then the first time that kids come in contact with anything sharp or not made out of round plastic, they’ll hurt themselves with it. So, as the boundaries of what we determine as the safety zone grow ever smaller, we cut off our children from valuable opportunities to learn how to interact with the world around them.
The inspiration for his book began when he wrote a blog post listing six hazards and why kids should be encouraged to dive in:
1. Play with fire
2. Own a pocket knife
3. Throw a spear
4. Deconstruct appliances
5. Break the Digital Millennium Copyright Act
6. Drive a car
Here is some of his discussion on TED: