In the tidbits section of this blog, I’ll be sharing some common parenting issues we can all relate to. You may agree, disagree and share your own versions of these thoughts in the comments section.
Today’s topic is about a growing trend in society known as helicopter parenting, and since we moms are in most cases the primary and direct care giver, I will be talking about us mums. Are we smothering our kids? Are we practicing helicopter parenting? Well let us see what it actually means: when we tend to over-protect and over-participate in our children’s life to a suffocating degree, when your kids feel like they have no breathing space, and like you are constantly breathing down their necks, we deem it as helicopter parenting.
But who is to make that assumption? The best person is yourself.
Becoming a new mother is an overwhelming experience, and every cell in your body is out to protect your offspring. As our kids grow, and their needs become more diverse, so does their need to have some measure of independence. In fact, many a rebellious child will lash out to get this from you. Here are a few pointers to consider when thinking if you are not hindering your child’s progress by being too protective:
1. Age: A new born needs you 24/7, so there is literally no chance of being guilty there, but you begin to notice as they grow and start exploring their world that they just want to be everywhere. It’s a part of the developmental process. Being a helicopter parent would entail just locking them down in their crib so they don’t get into any trouble. The other extreme is to just let them wander off, and risk injury. Just as the latter is dangerous, so can the former restrict the cognitive growth of your child. Establishing a balance is best. So liberties should be age appropriate. You can’t very well have a 10 year old wandering the great outdoors without proper supervision and time sets.
2. Consequence: Even very young children understand the meaning of consequences….if they are indeed allowed to experience them. How would you, for instance, let food cravings, desire and hunger for food to develop if you are forcing a meal down your child’s throat every couple of hours. Then these children get older and have a whole new eating issue and our complaint is that our kids never eat anything. How would a child even know not to run with untied shoelaces, or down a slippery slope if they haven’t stumbled once or twice. I’m not saying to throw them into the dragon’s mouth, but give children a little lee way.
3. Decision Making: Mum is always right is mostly true, there is no arguing that. But sometimes kids just need that little stumble so that in the future they A. trust you and B. make a better decision. See where you can let the kids have a say in the decision making process. This gives them a sense of achievement and this tends to lead to better adjusted kids.
4. Commanding tone all the time: With more hectic schedules, sometimes we revert to a tone that is more like a sergeant in the army shouting out orders, just so that we can do the daily mundane tasks we need to get done. Guilty here! A more effective way would be to just teach them to get it done themselves, set consequences and follow through on them. If something is not done, then make sure they face the penalty that you should discuss and agree on before assigning that task. And then stick to your guns, this avoids the ugly words.
I know our protective instincts are always in overdrive. But if you sit back and consider exactly how much stress you can elevate by simple relaxing your grip…a little. Aspire to make your parenting style more fun, forgiving and relaxed.