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Positive Risks And Tweens: Granting Freedom In Middle School

How much freedom should a teenager have? Once your child hits those middle school years, the question becomes obvious. Young teens start to want more independence and take more risks, which can be worrisome for parents.

But studies show that middle schoolers who are given the freedom to engage in “positive” risks—such as walking to a friend’s house or going to the movies—are much less likely to engage in negative risks, explains Michelle Icard, author of Middle School Makeover. By allowing our teens the opportunity to be independent, we are demonstrating that we trust them.

So what does it really mean to allow tweens to engage in positive risky behavior? How can parents allow risk-taking? Learn more in this one-minute video.

Should Parents Give Their Kids Freedom in Middle School?


There are no steadfast rules unfortunately on how much freedom to give your kid. I will tell you this: there are studies that show that kids who are given more freedom in middle school, as long as it’s freedom to engage in positive risks, in other words, trying out for a play, riding your bike somewhere that you know has safe roads, doing things independently, going to the movies with friends, kids who engage in those kinds of positive risks are much less likely to engage in negative risks.

So we can’t say let your kids do X, Y, and Z and don’t let them do the rest of the alphabet, but I can say evaluate risk carefully, and if it looks like your child is taking a risk and doing something that makes them nervous, might make you nervous too, but doesn’t have any real immediate threats to their safety, let them do it, because if they check the risk box on positive risks, they are less likely to get involved in dangerous activities.

Michelle Icard is the author of Middle School Makeover: Improving the Way You and Your Child Experience the Middle School Years. Learn more about her work with middle schoolers and their parents at

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