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I just finished listening to Naomi Aldort's CD series "Trusting our Children, Trusting Ourselves", and it has really inspired me to change how I treat my 3yo. The kind of trust and freedom she talks about is exactly what I want for my family.<br><br>
We've never spanked or done time-outs, and have been trying hard to avoid praise and punishments. When it comes to freedom, I have been able to "let go" in many areas lately. I can deal with messes, letting him pour his own drink from a heavy pitcher even if I know it will spill, I have made huge efforts to say "yes" as much as possible, let him make his own choices about food, where we go, etc... these types of changes I am making pretty easily, and I am glad for this.<br><br>
However, the part I'm really struggling with is how to give him freedom while also keeping him safe. I have always had high anxiety, and sometimes I find it hard to know if my worry is an instinct I need to listen to, or an unreasonable worry I need to let go of.<br><br>
The first example that comes to mind is playing outside. He is 3 1/2, and wants to be outside all the time. I try to give him as much outside time as possible, but it is never enough for him. On occasion, I have let him continue to play while I go in to make lunch. I have told him "stay in the driveway" and he did do that, so that makes me think that I can trust him (of course I peeked out the window every minute or so to check him). However, he is still THREE and although we live in a quiet neighborhood, I do not trust that he would stay safe if there was a dog or a kid in the street he wanted to go to. He is a very social child, and if he hears a neighbor outside, he will run across the yards to go say hi. I am glad he is so friendly, and do not want to instill fear in him. I want him to be free, yes, and I do not like dragging him inside, but what do I do?? This is just an example, there are several situations like this where I am conflicted between the picture Naomi Aldort paints of such freedom, and my own reservations - and they all have to do with fear for his safety. But I really am at a loss of how to fix this. I've tried explaining why we need to go in, telling him when we can come back outside (after I make dinner, etc.), asking him to come in and pick a snack or another fun thing to do, etc. But most of the time it ends up in me just getting so stressed out (I have a baby too) that I just take him by the hand and walk him inside, as he protests or cries.<br>
He has also recently began putting on his shoes and going outside on his own, sometimes without telling me. Our house is small and I hear him, then go outside and talk to him about why he needs to tell me first. He just goes out and runs around, so in itself is not unsafe... but I just don't know what to do. I don't want to lock him in.<br>
I really wish NA in her talks would have specified the differences, if any, in freedom for older children and very young ones. And how to find the line between safety and unnecessary control.<br><br>
Sorry this turned out to be so long. If anyone has any advice, I'd love to hear it. Thanks!
 

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I can understand not wanting to lock him in but 3.5 y/o do not worry too much about safety. I put a hook and eye at the top of our screen doors to make sure my son did not get out at that age without me. I also would not let him play outside alone at that age, again b/c of the impulsivity. perhaps some of the things he enjoys doing outside could be replicated inside?
 

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I'd say, follow your instincts about how much freedom your child is old enough to handle. Keep him as safe as you need to (it sounds like you are inclined to give him plenty of freedom when you can, so it's not like he's going to live a life of confinement).<br><br>
Every child is different; their personalities and development can vary so widely. You know him better than anyone and will know when the time is right to leave him outside unattended.<br><br>
I, too, have fallen prey to that tendency to second-guess myself after reading a parenting book that had ideas I liked. It's painful to harbor that kind of self-doubt.
 
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