5 Things Parents Can Finally Stop Worrying About, According to Science

Let them climb trees!

boy-hanging-in-tree
Photo by ZenShui/Sigrid Olsson/Getty Images

Parents have plenty to be concerned about these days. And while it’s important to be involved in your child’s life and mindful of their activities and habits, too much hovering can do more harm than good. According to a study from Brigham Young University, the “helicopter” parenting style—which includes solving problems, resolving conflict, and making decisions for the child—can lead to low self-esteem and risky behaviors later on. Ready to ease up on the house rules? Here, five things you no longer need to worry (too much) about.



1. Climbing that tall tree in the backyard.
New research from the University of North Florida suggested that climbing a tree could improve working memory—which is in turn linked to better performance in school and sports. Earlier this year, the University of British Columbia found something similar: “risky outdoor play,” like climbing trees (safely), had positive effects on health and social development in children. According to researchers, such activities allowed them to “learn about risk and learn their own limits.” Not that you should encourage your child to take dangerous risks in the name of their health, but a little adventurous play in the backyard might benefit them in the long run.

2. Their fidgety nature.
If your child has ADD or ADHD, let them squirm. A study from the University of California showed that a little extra movement helps children focus better and improves cognitive performance. No need to worry if they can’t seem to sit still.

3. Watching too much TV.
Caveat: It has to be an educational program. A study from University of Maryland found that time spent watching Sesame Street was as educational as time spent in a preschool classroom, and preschool-age children performed better in school if they were exposed to the television show. According to previous studies, if the shows are moral and filled with positive role models, a little time in front of the TV won’t hurt them.

4. Fighting with siblings.
While it would be ideal to live in a conflict-free household, a study from the University of Illinois showed that bickering between siblings can have benefits for children and parents. For children, resolving a fight can help them learn to negotiate and compromise. For mothers, researchers found that if they coached children through conflict resolution, they were better able to manage their own emotions during stressful situations.

5. Constant defiance.
Yes, you should coach your child to follow the rules and respect adults. But, on the plus side, if your little one can’t seem to behave, a recent study published in Developmental Psychology found that defiant children seem to be more likely to have higher incomes later in life. So they may disobey you, but one day, they could take care of you.