Google+ Authentic Parenting: Guidance through fear

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Guidance through fear

When we are assessing our children's safety, it is important not to be guided by fear. It is easy to see danger all around, but your child will not benefit from being constantly restricted. It is important for a child to have a decent amount of free roam, adapted to its age, of course, in order to make choices and mistakes of its own.

Continuously watching over your child does not create independant adults. Children must learn to rely on themselves and must discover the world on their own. A big part of parenting is letting go.
When we guide our children through fear, all we are teaching them is to be fearful themselves. If we are constantly screaming 'No' in a fear-installing way, they will be conditioned to look to us before they attempt anything. This is not what we as parents should want to obtain.
We want to raise strong, opinionated and independant individuals, yet by installing fear, we can do no such thing. Fear is probably the most dangerous, sickening and paralysing emotion we can transmit to our children, so it is best to be very watchful of it.

If you have difficulties assessing a situation, ask yourself: is my child in immediate danger? Is there an imminent risk to my child's health or sanity? If not, allow your child to be well, a child.
Reach into yourself to discover why you are reacting so restrictive? Is it out of your own deep-seeded fears? Where do they come from? Is there something you can do to deal with those fears?



  1. My hubby and I have frequent discussions about this. It's not so much fear (at this point since our toddler is only 2.5), but an overabundance of caution. Ok - fear. ;)
    Hubby is cautious to a fault, his battle cry is "be careful!" I try to give Kieran a little more room to breathe, to explore, to test his own limits. I don't want him to be scared of every potential bruise or scrape! I want him to see what he can do! If we continuously "be careful" them to death, they won't ever try anything.
    Of course my son is not a daredevil by nature, (he takes after his papa), so my feelings on the subject might be different if my child were always running into potentially dangerous situations without pausing to think.

  2. We try and stay away from things like 'be careful' or watch out' or 'you are going to hurt yourself'. There are things that our daughter knows she must not touch or fiddle with and I will say don't, and then try and explain to her simply why not(if that breaks mommy will be sad / that is electricity and playing with it will hurt you / etc). even at 16 months I believe she always needs to know the reason. The rest of the time she is let free to explore. It's the only way she will ever learn about her own body and the way it moves.

    And then we go and visit other people (sister-in-law most particularly) and every few minutes they tell her to watch out or be careful or not go there or, worse, they grab her and bring her to me. And I look at them like they are mad and they look at me like I am a bad mother, but I don't care.

    I don't want my daughter to grow up with the restrictions in believe and trust that I did. I never once broke a bone, but then I also never climbed a tree, or jumped of the diving board, or crossed a swaying bridge... I want her to live. Be cautious and aware, but not fearful.

  3. Here, here. I recall as a child the joy of climbing something, being truly in the moment and enjoying it, only to have my mother tell me to get down, it was dangerous, etc. I strongly recall feeling very safe and secure in my body and wondering why she was so concerned. That memory has stayed with me and now I am very good at letting my children climb things, etc. I trust that they will know when they are feeling unsafe and we have many conversations about feeling safe in your body. As you said, if it's not going to kill them or seriously injure them I think the value of the learning experience far outweighs the potential risks.


I love comments! Drop me a line