Informed Families Catalyst

Why Granting Kids More Freedom is Good

Posted by Informed Families on December 3, 2021 at 10:00 AM

The debate over free-range parenting began a few decades ago, with the rise of news reports about increases in a kidnapping. Suddenly, kids who for generations had roamed the neighborhood on their own, playing with their friends after dark, and walking alone to school, were under 24-hour lockdown.

Driven to and from school, to play dates, and to supervised sporting events, kids may have been safer, but they also lost the sense of freedom to explore, to develop autonomy, and the ability to learn to navigate their place in the world.

Free-range benefits

The idea of granting kids more freedom may seem to go against everything Informed Families has been discussing for years. We strongly encourage parents to be more involved in their children’s lives, especially to help prevent drug and alcohol abuse.

But the concept of free-range parenting—that is, allowing children more freedom to roam and function independently—also involves judicious parental supervision, Dr. Kyle Pruett, M.D., Clinical Professor of Child Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, told Good Housekeeping magazine.

“Free-range parenting supporters say that it encourages problem-solving skills, promotes creativity, strengthens personality formation, and builds confidence,” he said. It’s the opposite of permissive parenting, where kids are allowed to do anything they want without oversight or guidance.

Small steps

Of course, you need to be aware of the laws in various states regarding unsupervised children, and provides a handy reference by state. 

But if you want to give your child more room to roam, introduce their freedoms gradually, depending on their age and their individual maturity level.

“Don’t just give your child free access to the neighborhood their first time out,” psychotherapist Amy Rollo told

“First allow them to bicycle on the driveway while you are inside. Maybe the next step is 10 minutes on the sidewalk on [your] street. With each success, your child is learning independence, building confidence, and proving they are ready.”

Once they leave the neighborhood, you can follow them at a distance the first few times to ensure they’re ready.

And thanks to today’s technology, you can keep in regular touch with them while they are out of your sight by, say, having them text you when they get where they’re going.

Also, be sure to teach them about stranger danger and anything else you might be concerned about.

Topics: childhood, safety

About Us

We teach people how to say no to drugs and how to make healthy choices. To reduce the demand for drugs, Informed Families has focused its efforts on educating and mobilizing the community, parents and young people in order to change attitudes. In this way we counteract the pressures in society that condone and promote drug and alcohol use and abuse. The organization educates thousands of families annually about how to stay drug and alcohol free through networking and a variety of programs and services .

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