I trust my son. I realize he’s not yet aware of every danger he might face, but there are plenty of places in this world where it is safe enough to let him go free. One of those places is a playground in a public park.
As Theo is only 2½, he still likes to have me nearby, and I like to keep him in view. However, I’m silent when I’m tempted to warn him to be careful. I offer guidance instead, and I’ll spot him if he’s doing something a little riskier than usual. Rather than hold him steady while he climbs—or worse, tell him he’s not big enough for that—I stand nearby ready to catch him on the very off-chance he loses his grip.
So I get annoyed with some parents, I’m afraid. The ones who constantly tell their little ones what to do and not to do. The ones who are too risk-averse for their children’s good. They constantly remind them to be careful, as if that’s helpful. They tell junior not yet, you’re too little for that.
The “other provider” quoted in the article below says things I hear at the park all the time. I bite my tongue then too, but I on occasion I have been known to comment to some other parents, “I think it’s great how he can just do his own thing with you!” I can’t help it. I get excited when I find moms and dads who trust their child’s ability to learn and assess risk. I love it when I see kids enjoying the freedom I had as a child.
I hope in time that the tide of helicopter parenting will subside, and we as parents will see sanity again. We will respect our kids, release the leash, and let them grown into the competent individuals they need to be.
I like the specific suggestions for getting there that are offered in Emily Plank’s post “The High Cost of ‘Accident Free.'”
When children don’t get lots of practice learning to trust their physical bodies, they are actually at greater risk of injury! The more they learn when they are small, the safer they will be in the long run, because they learn to negotiate situations that carry risk. Read more…