Should Children be Allowed to Play With Fire?

Would you ever consider allowing your children to sleep in the wild, cook something in the dishwasher, or melt glass? Author Gever Tulley believes you should.

Should Children be Allowed to Play With Fire?

In his new book, 50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do), Tulley encourages parents to lighten the restrictions they place on their children’s play. His book promotes safe exploration and the virtues of learning through experience.

“The framework for starting the book was the idea that kids would be safer if they had some experience in managing danger for themselves, and if we never give them an opportunity, they’ll never develop those skills,” Tully said.

This book is the most recent reaction to the modern phenomenon called hyper-parenting. Hyper-parenting is the tendency for parents to hover over their children in an attempt to protect them from every danger, frustration, and negative interaction.

Tully and others like him argue that this degree of vigilance is excessive and may actually be detrimental to children’s development.

Previous books like The Dangerous Book for Boys and the Daring Book for Girls, teaching children how to build a snow fort or use a bow and arrow, started the movement away from hyper-parenting. The recession has also played a role, as parents have had less money to pay for organized activities. This is fostering a return to the kind of childhood in which children simply play.

“We create a false impression in our minds that children are in peril all the time and everywhere, when in fact, according to the most recent studies, this is the safest time in history for children,” Tully said. “There couldn’t be a better time to be running around outside playing.”

Tully insists that his book is more about safety than risk-taking. He has included a ‘Why’ section for parents, explaining the lessons children will learn through the activities. He also gives a heads-up about potential property damage, frustration, and the possibility of minor injury i.e. cuts and scrapes.

Tully explains the book, “really started as a snowball of observations that my friends’ children were not having the kind of childhood that I did or even they did. It got me thinking about how we become competent and where in the last 30 years we changed our definition of what kids are capable of.”

Tully’s book gives instructions on: damming a creek, safely playing with fire, how to throw a spear, and how to make a rope swing, among other things.

50 Dangerous Things (Your Should Let Your Children Do) is published by Tinkering Unlimited and is available in paperback. – Jen R, Staff Writer

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About the author

Jen R

Jen R should have been a spy; she would have been really great at it. Instead, she has found limitless happiness raising a future international man of mystery. She is a writer, a maker of suppers, a kisser of boo boos and a finder of lost things. She would always prefer to watch politics than sports and will never watch a soap opera...ever.

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