I love listening to my daughter play. She has an, “Andy from Toy Story” kind of imagination. Her little characters have adventures and conversations I couldn’t imagine in my wildest dreams. For Marin it’s normal for her dolls to play Star Wars in a Lalaloopsy Land made of Legos. What would happen if I told her she was playing wrong? “Star Wars toys don’t put on makeup or have tea Marin!” or “Lalaloopsies don’t drive Army Jeeps.” I would never want to squelch her imagination like that. I want her to be free to play and imagine and learn and even make mistakes on her own. Sometimes it gets messy. Sometimes water gets all over the bathroom floor when she tries to fill up her microscopic toy tea cups with tea from the bathroom sink. It happens. Hypothetically of course. Part of growing up is learning to clean up messes. To learn to clean up, she has to be free to make a mess from time-to-time. Right?
Kids need FREEDOM. They need FREEDOM to try new things. They need FREEDOM to succeed and fail. Sometimes the best thing we can do for our kids is give them room to roam and just let them be. Step in at times if you HAVE to. Or better yet, join with them and let your kids remind YOU how to be free.
Ask yourself, “Where do I need to let go of control?” “Where is it ok for my kids to be free to explore on their own?”
Have you heard the term “Helicopter Parent?” This describes parents who over-exert attention to their children’s experiences and problems. Like helicopters, they hover over their kids whenever, wherever and whatever. Helicopter parents have good intentions. But studies show instead of helping our kids, hovering can result in:
- Decreased confidence and self-esteem
- Undeveloped coping skills
- Increased anxiety
- Sense of entitlement
- Undeveloped life skills
I don’t assume you are a helicopter parent. Michelle and I aren’t either, but there are places where we, “hover” too close. Unless you’ve gone the opposite extreme (IE: Free Range Parenting) there are likely areas you hover too.
For example: I have zero tolerance for hitting. I just believe there are better ways to work out our differences than through physical confrontation. I want my kids to learn and believe this too.
Here’s my problem: Sometimes when the kids argue I over-exert and hover. I feel my body getting tense. My ears perk up. I run and intervene before there is any real reason because I assume the worst. I assume things will escalate and someone will hit or kick or bite or tackle. If you are a parent you know what I’m talking about!
Why do I assume the worst of my kids?
I want them to learn not to hit and I also want them to learn how to work through conflict on their own. I want to think well of them and expect good things. My hovering doesn’t do any of that. Instead it teaches them that Dad is going to flip out if they even think about hitting. That’s not what I want.
I’m not implying we should never step in. I’m not saying we should leave our kids to resolve everything themselves. But again, kids need FREEDOM. They need FREEDOM to try new things. They need FREEDOM to succeed and fail. Our kids need our help, not our hovering.
WHERE DO YOU NEED TO LET GO OF CONTROL?
- Think about your own parenting. Are there areas you tend to “hover?”
- If so, what are you trying to teach where you hover?
- What do you think they are actually learning?
- How could you teach what you want them to learn without hovering?