I Let My Son Run
I let my son run because it is good for him. He needs to explore, to have adventure, and to get lost every once in a while. Why? Because explores find things, adventures breed courage, and the lost learn how to find their way back. Consider how you let your kids run; it could be good for you both. Check out this photo of my son running. We were watching the seals at the Seattle Aquarium last weekend. I grabbed my phone and said the code phrase for "run away." What is that code phrase? It's this: "let me take a picture." With those five words my two year old instantly goes into escape mode. Bria and I usually chase him, correct his behavior, and proceed with photographia. But this time I let him run.
This time I let him run.
He turned a corner and I calmly walked after him. He doubled back to scout a ferry, escaped again past the otters, climbed the stairs, and found a bronze eagle that blew his mind. I have no doubt that this was the greatest part of his trip to the aquarium that day. His little escape proved to be a memorable moment in his life.
Adventures breed courage.
Oliver needed to explore. He had to discover what was around the corner for himself. This is so big in the life of a child. Allowing children to boldly go into unknown territory is a huge confidence builder and allows them to discover things on their own. When we discover stuff we own it. Oliver's exploration led him to a boat, a tank full of otters, a obstacle, and a cool statue. Those were his things, his discovery! The whole adventure helps install a courageous heart into the boy. Our world wants not for cowards. We need more brave men and women who are not afraid, who are bold, and who can face down the unknown. This little escapade was an expression of that. And Oliver knew how to find his way home. The truth is that he kept peeking over his shoulder to make sure that I was with him. Our children never have a chance to look back if we don't let them lead every once in a while. You want to raise a courageous leader who takes ownership of their own path? Let them run.
But running is not disobedience, it is not reckless, and it is not abandonment. Oliver never disobeyed me. I was letting him run and he knew it. If I told him to stop, and he disobeyed, this would be a different post. Don't confuse exploration with disobedience. His adventure wasn't reckless. I knew what was around the corner, I knew he couldn't get that far away. There was no danger ahead, I didn't risk serious harm for a rush. And I never abandoned him. Oliver knew I was always a few steps behind. it would be foolish for me to let him flee and not pursue. The kid is only two and a half!
The point is this: find an environment where you kid can run a little and help him or her develop self confidence, boldness, and discover something new about the world. You and your kid will get a lot out of it.