I was walking past a parent the other day that was saying to their children, "walk sensibly or you will fall over". This made me think about my childhood of adventure, cuts and scrapes and exploration. I also had the problem of having very poor balance due to a hearing impediment.
My parents could have kept me indoors for fear of some terrible accident but thankfully they did not and as a result I have many good memories and certainly gained many valuable skills because I was able to take risks. Would it be the end of the world if a child fell over and hurt themselves?
There always should be a limit to the freedom a child should have, it would be unwise to let a 5 year old go wandering unaccompanied but a 10 year old is certainly capable of following instructions of where not to go and stranger danger etc. I think it is more limiting to restrict your child, they will grow into adulthood having never taken any risks, how scary that must be.
It is a matter of only giving them the trust you know they are capable of handling, it is very satifying to see your children becoming increasingly sensible, accomplished and reliable individuals. I have 3 children aged 18y, 13y and 7 months, I began by giving each of the older ones tasks and responsibilities that would encourage independence such as letting them venture out, tidying up after themselves and making decisions. it's the simple things that work best. Other things worth trying is letting your child wander around the playground without being glued to them, of course you will need to let them know about the dangers (swing in face, slippery floor etc.) or you could encourage them to use equipment that they find slightly scary, like jumping off the fireman's pole or climbing a large climbing frame, you could join in instead of watching!
You may recall the game British Bulldog, it has been banned after the government told schools to stop the game due to fears of compensation claims. check out this BBC article and the comments below it, what do you think about our risk adverse society?
Other interesting articles:
Fair play for children.
Are you allowed to play out?