In these times of pandemic, kids are cooped up indoors more than ever. How can they develop their social skills and confidence if they stay locked up? Almost two years of lockdowns with closed schools and playgrounds, kids got the message that the outside world is dangerous and that they are safest at home, away from other people. It may be the right time to rethink what children need the most.

Lenore Skenazy is a famous writer and activist who advocates what she calls the "free-range parenting" method. In 2008, she was qualified as "the world's worst mom" after she wrote a paper about letting her nine-year-old son find his own way home alone on the subway. Puzzled by the public outcry, she started to look at why parents have become so risk-averse about their children, and wrote a book titled "Free-Range Kids".

“I was concerned that it’s becoming weird to let your kids outside without either an adult, a cell phone or a GPS of some sort. Kids spend four to seven minutes outside in unstructured, unsupervised time a day here in America,” says Skenazy. While she declares she loves safety tools such as helmets, car seats and safety belts, Skenazy thinks kids should be trusted, given larger freedom, and make their own decisions, in order to better build their self-confidence and independence. A strategy that may seem scary for many parents nowadays.

Skenazy points to a British research that found today's parents were allowed to play outside unsupervised from the age of nine. This figure rose to 11 years, a 22% increase in a very short period of time. “That’s such a giant leap, or step backwards, in one generation. So you’re not letting kids out until they’re hitting puberty?". A very good question asked by the inventor of free-range parenting.

Picture: Are we restricting our children more than is good for them? (Nick Robinson, w/Effects)