Every parent wants protect their kids in every way possible, but you also want them to be confident, take risks, and — eventually — learn to navigate the world without you. If you’re ready to let go a little, here are 15 “dangerous” things you should let your kids do. Please note, the activities below help teach children of all ages basic motor skills, develop confidence, and get kids acquainted with the use of tools. Outside any educational justification, they’re just plain fun.
Common sense and your own parenting sensibility will guide you to what your child is ready for and when and how much supervision, if any, is necessary.
14 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Kids Do:
1. Hammer a Nail
What better way to teach your kids coordination? True, there is the fear of them smashing their fingers. But the only way they’ll ever become more coordinated is if they gain hands-on experience in using tools — such as hammers, saws, etc.
Climb trees. Climb rocks. Climb on furniture. Climb on stuff that’s sturdy and stuff that’s not. Few activities feel more liberating than climbing. It’s thrilling to climb, climb, climb. And if your kid gets stuck and is too afraid to descend, coach them through the process rather than rescuing them.
3. Jump Off a Cliff
Jumping off cliffs into a body of water is certainly doable, even for small kids, as long as you take precautions and teach them proper technique. Make sure the water is deep enough, ensure the landing spot is free from underwater obstacles like rocks, and teach your child to jump in a pencil dive with their body straight, arms overhead and back slightly arched to avoid rotating forward.
4. Drive A Car (Or Something Like It)
Not by themselves or on public streets, of course, which would be illegal. But in a large parking lot or field, free of obstacles, positioned on your lap. From here, a kid can experience the thrill of learning how to steer a 2-ton hunk of metal in relative safety.
5. Shoot A Gun
Guns and kids is an understandably sensitive topic, but we’d make the case that proactively teaching your kids how to safely use firearms is the best way to teach a healthy respect for them.
6. Cook A Meal
Teaching a child to cook and letting them help you in the kitchen is more about fun and education than it is about potential dangers. Despite such hazards as sharp knives, stove fires, and hot pots and pans, cooking teaches your kids a valuable skill towards grown-up self-sufficiency.
7. Use a Pocket Knife
Fear doesn’t teach us anything. It keeps us small and trapped. Giving a child a knife and letting them explore its uses won’t only teach them how to be careful with sharp objects, they’ll also gain vital knowledge about safety and their surroundings.
8. Play With Fire
It’s important for kids to nurture that primal imprint between man and fire. When they’re young, let them play with matches and light candles at home (with your supervision, of course). They’ll learn the basics that fire indeed burns but won’t hurt too much if a few small sparks glance their skin. When they become a little older, let them build a fire by themselves (still with your supervision).
9. Sleep Outside
It’s a shame that most adults are so out of touch with nature and the wild. The more kids can be outdoors and be allowed to explore, the better. If they decide one day that they want to sleep outside, let it happen.
10. Take an Electronic Appliance Apart
How do you learn how things go together? Take them apart of course.
11. Go Barefoot
Kids should be barefoot 99 percent of the time. Whatever risks there are to being barefoot pale in comparison to the destruction shoes do to developing feet (and all of the side effects that come with that). With that said, common sense is still a great thing
12. Sword Fight with Sticks
Parents are wary of anything involving sharp objects, sticks included. But letting your kid engage in some improvised cavaliering is too fun an opportunity to pass up.
Research has shown that good old fashioned roughhousing develops kids’ intelligence, resilience, and even empathy — it teaches them how to negotiate the dynamics of fair play with cooperation and aggression.
14. Get Lost in the Woods
And how do you learn how to find your way back? By getting lost.