We forget how much our kids are capable of because we've been fed the lie that our kids are in constant danger, can only learn when we didactically teach them and they can't handle anything. -Lenore Skenazy

111: Why Sharp Knives in the Hands of Children are a Beneficial Risk to Raise Confident Children

Our interview guest today has been a journalist and writer for many years and earned herself the title of “Worst Mom in America.” I’m so proud to interview her because she earned that title when she let her 9-year-old ride the subway alone and wasn’t afraid to write about it in a major publication. 🙂

Growing wings from the firestorm that ensued, she published a book called Free-Range Kids and has been an advocate for letting kids grow ever since. She encourages legislation to protect parents when they are making wise choices for their children’s independence and even has a nonprofit offering curriculum to schools and families with the sole purpose of encouraging adults to step back so that children can step up.

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Lenore shares:

  • How we got to this point and what the real crime statistics are
  • What future-proofing is and how we can incorporate it into parenting
  • The role of fear dosing in raising competent human beings
  • Why Lenore and I think that using sharp knives isn’t even a risk but should be a requirement for childhood
  • The root cause behind increasing depression and anxiety in our children’s generation
  • How doggone easy it is to raise children a bit more like our own childhood went down

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Can’t see the video? See how to raise confident children here on YouTube!

No time to watch the whole video? Here are the notes!

Raise a Confident Child Video Time Stamps

  • 0:15: Today we’re talking about letting go and letting grow with Lenore Skenazy.
  • 1:46: Lenore shares some of her background in journalism with us. She wrote a piece about her 9-year-old riding the subway alone that really stirred people up and started a free-range movement!
  • 3:03: In the intervening years, Lenore has seen two predominant views at war. People condemning parents for things like letting their kids play alone in the yard and people speaking out against helicopter parenting. Which is winning?

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  • 6:36: In the food world we talk a lot about root causes. What’s the root cause of our culture’s paranoia over something bad happening to kids if they aren’t supervised at all moments?

All you parents out there are experts and it’s just the “experts” who have convinced you that you need someone else to help you. -Lenore Skenazy

  • 10:38: We go on a little rabbit trail about kid-safe knives and Lenore shares a knife story a mother told her.
  • 12:45: We’ve all heard that crime rates are down from when we were kids, but many parents are skeptical. While it’s true that rates are lower, we live in a society that thrives on fear-based messages making it harder to feel safe.
  • 15:12: Lenore teaches 3 Rs rather than “stranger danger.” Recognize, resist, and report are three steps to keep kids safe. She teaches kids that they can talk to anyone, but they shouldn’t go off with anyone.
  • 18:02: Even if you fully support the idea of giving your kids more independence, it’s hard to deflect the naysayers. Lenore gives us some helpful talking points.

The world is theirs and we keep locking kids in as if they don't need adventure and to learn how to cross the street. -Lenore Skenazy

  • 20:24: There’s been a steady uptick in the number of kids with anxiety and depression in our kids’ generation and no wonder! I’d be anxious if I was constantly told that things were too dangerous for me! Everyone needs to feel some internal control over their life including kids.

If you’re not there, your kids will figure it out. -Lenore Skenazy

  • 22:53: Lenore has an organization called “Let Grow” and they have programs that schools can use to work with parents to grow independence in their kids. Lenore shares some stories of kids doing new independent things and how their perception changes.
  • 26:36: Some of the things we’ve defined as “hard things” are very simple. You need to let your kids learn how to do them so they can see how conquerable these tasks are.
  • 27:00: We define the term future-proofing. It is looking to the future as a parent and seeing the different life skills your child will need to develop to be a functioning and thriving adult. There are so many things kids need to learn through play and experience that they don’t learn sitting at a desk.

We have to get outside the mindset that only academics matter when it comes to learning. -Lenore Skenazy

  • 29:08: Playing with other children without an adult organizing the activity is a crucial part of future-proofing. This teaches so many interpersonal skills.
  • 31:06: Lenore shares one of the big takeaways she heard from a principal who did the “Let Grow” program at their school. It seems so small but made a notable impression.
  • 32:08: Whenever I do presentations the knives definitely freak parents out! How can we view knives as a beneficial risk? How must a middle schooler feel to be told that they’re so inept that they can’t use one of the most basic tools of our civilization?

To be treated like a baby when you’re not is very demoralizing. -Lenore Skenazy

  • 34:28: We hear all kinds of scary stories about child snatchers, but Lenore has some scary stories of parents running into trouble while trying to raise free-range kids. Her goal is to change society so that this isn’t an issue anymore, but in the meantime get the law to define neglect more clearly and narrowly. Free-range parenting laws would protect parents and be good for CPS.
  • 37:02: Every time your child does something that scares them a bit like climbing a tree or walking through the neighborhood alone, they dose themselves with a tiny bit of fear and it empowers them and builds up their tolerance for doing hard things.
  • 37:58:  We end on a note of encouragement to empower you as parents.

Resources We Mention to Raise a Confident Child

Lenore SkenazyLenore Skenazy is co-founder and president of Let Grow, a non-profit promoting childhood independence and resilience. Ever since her column “Why I Let My 9-Year-Old Ride the Subway Alone” created a media firestorm, Lenore has been declaring that our kids are smarter and stronger than our culture gives them credit for. She is the author of Free-Range Kids, the book-turned-movement that got her the nickname, “America’s Worst Mom.” You may have seen her on The Today Show, The Daily Show, Dr. Phil, or her own Discovery TV reality show, World’s Worst Mom.

At Let Grow, Lenore oversees school programs, an online community, legislative efforts, and myth-busting, all promoting the idea that when adults step back, kids step up.

Plus, for the record, she used to write for Mad Magazine! A point of pride.

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About Katie Kimball

Katie Kimball, CSME, creator of Kids Cook Real Food and CEO of Kitchen Stewardship, LLC, is passionate about connecting families around healthy food. As a trusted educator and author of 8 real food cookbooks, she’s been featured on media outlets like ABC, NBC and First for Women magazine and contributes periodically on the FOX Network.

Since 2009, busy moms have looked to Katie as a trusted authority and advocate for children’s health, and she often partners with health experts and medical practitioners to stay on the cutting edge. In 2016 she created the Wall Street Journal recommended best online kids cooking course, Kids Cook Real Food, helping thousands of families around the world learn to cook. She is actively masterminding the Kids’ Meal Revolution, with a goal of every child learning to cook.

A mom of 4 kids from Michigan, she is also a Certified Stress Mastery Educator, member of the American Institute of Stress and trained speaker through Bo Eason’s Personal Story Power.

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