about a baby
Over-protective parenting a sign of the times
IT started as a playground trip like many others we have experienced together.
But when my toddlers climbed all the way to the top of the playground equipment, I caught myself partaking in a parenting act that rattled me.
As Gemma and Sophia happily climbed the play equipment, totally lacking in fear, I f ound myself hovering underneath, armsout - stretched issuing warnings about falling.
‘‘ Please don’t climb all the way to the top girls you may fall and hurt yourselves,’’ I fretfully warned Sophia and Gem.
Seconds after I spoke the words, with the sounds of my toddlers’ unadulterated laughter filling my ears, I had an epiphany of sorts.
It was at that moment I realised what I had become what I had spent the past three years unwittingly cultivating.
I’m helicopter parent or at the very least an over-protective parent.
You know the type of parent I mean. A parent who doesn’t let her young children do many things without hovering ‘‘ just in case’’ something bad happens and regularly squealing warnings about the dangers of the big bad world.
Well I have to confess, that’s me.
I fear that if I don’t stop being so over-protective of my young children they’ll end up growing up afraid to take risks and afraid to push the limits.
This is not how I intended my parenting style to be at all.
As watched my girls gleefully dangle at the top of the play equipment I had flashbacks to things I’ve done and said that confirmed my helicopter and over -protective parenting status.
‘‘ No girls don’t play in the mud,’’ as they stomped in a puddle; ‘‘ Slow down please’’ as Gemma sped along the driveway on her scooter; and ‘‘ Not too high Sophia’’ as my just turned two-year-old swung herself on the swing.
The surprising thing about all these comments is that I’m pretty certain my mother never relayed such warnings to me and my siblings when we were similar ages to my girls.
I was raised a free-range child, with parents who believed in safety but let me workout my own age-appropriate limits.
I was allowed to play in the mud, ride my scooter as fast as I wanted and swing myself as high as dared. I was also given the freedom to climb any tree as high as I fancied from an extremely early age.
I didn’t break a bone once, although photos of me as a young child rarely showed me without grazed knees and elbows.
I loved my childhood and look back fondly to the afternoons ‘‘ free-playing’’ on the family property without my mother hovering in the background shrieking out ‘‘ Bette don’t climb too high, ride too far, swing too high’’ etc.
As my mother always told me when I’d try to help Gem and Sophia find their walking legs: ‘‘ Babies learn to walk by falling over’’.
As a teacher, my mother is very aware of the need to build resilience in young children.
She is a big believer in allowing young children ageappropriate freedoms, independence and responsibilities.
With the intention of trying to ensure their safety, I’ve unintentionally ended up discouraging them from taking the slightest physical risk.
Along the way to ensure no harm ( not even a knee graze!) befalls my young children, I fear I’ve failed to live up to my parenting ideals.
So my challenge is: how do I teach my much-longed-for children caution and courage, at the same time?
I figure, for me, it’s an important lesson to learn.
So last weekend, I le t Gemma and Sophia test their boundaries.
I made a commitment to stopt he need t o micromanage even the slightest adventure that my young children choose to undertake.
I watched Gemma leap into the deep end of the pool into her father’s arms without shrieking a safety warning ( to both of them) and watched Sophia speed along the concrete driveway on her toddler scooter.
I almost fainted from holding my breath as I pretending to be cool as I watched my toddlers challenge their fearlessness.
Climbing out of the pool, Gemma beamed as she ran to me yelling, ‘‘ Did you see me? I jumped in the grown up pool!"
As I hugged my toddler I wondered when I forgot grazed knees and playgroundclimbing related injuries are the stuff of childhood.