keeping your child safe vs being a cotton wool parent

Your greatest concern when considering letting your child start to cycle on their own bike is of course going to be their safety. The world seems such a dangerous place, and the greatest, unthinkable, fear is that anything happens to our children.

As parents, when we think of cycling, the following spring to mind – traffic accidents, stranger danger, injury through falling off the bike. You may have other concerns to add to the list. There is also the fear that we can’t control (and therefore protect) our children once they are on a bike.  Often it can be easier to stay at home, rather than venture outside. But is this actually safer? And is it the way you want to be bringing up your child?

cotton wool parenting

Cotton WoolThe term “cotton wool parenting” is now widely used to refer to the risk adverse nature in which we are bringing up our children – and it’s impact is being felt far beyond whether we let our kids ride bikes.

When Sir Digby Jones,  former Director-General of The Confederation of British Industry (CBI), writes a paper entitled:

“Cotton Wool Kids – Releasing the potential for children to take risks and innovate, you know this is serious!

In the words of Sir Digby:

“Our society and economy have developed through people who were not afraid to take a risk. But something has happened to dampen our enthusiasm for risk taking and children are becoming the victims of our risk aversion.

Overprotecting our children – swaddling them in cotton wool – is bad for society, the economy and young people’s preparation for adulthood in a world full of uncertainties.

It is natural to want to protect our children, but in attempting to factor out every trace of risk from our children’s lives we are opening up potentially far more sinister outlets for their natural sense of adventure and curiosity.”

Interestingly, part of Sir Digby’s paper focuses mainly on the impact parents and teachers are having on the job prospects of our children – candidates entering the job market are increasingly seen as both risk adverse and unable to innovate.  We’re not saying “let your child cycle – it will help them land a good job” but it is certainly food for thought.

responsible parenting, or how to avoid being a cotton wool parent

Much has been written about the benefits of letting go of your fears and allowing your kids the freedom to explore. One of our favourite summaries, written by parents rather than organisations, is at The Family Adventure Project – 10 reasons to stop being a cotton wool parent.

However, it’s all well and good saying stop being over protective, but our original fears about out letting our children cycle haven’t gone away – traffic accidents, stranger danger, injury through falling off the bike. What can we do to limit the risks without spending a fortune in the chemist on cotton wool?

We’ve got a range of articles for you, which we hope will tackle your concerns:

preparing your child to cycle on the road
helmets – to wear or not to wear?
stranger danger

 

 

 

 

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