Imagine someone shadowing you, following you one centimeter away at all times. Constantly talking to you, breathing down your neck, commenting on your every move, offering you advice when you don’t even need it...annoying? Annoying is an understatement! This is what we do to our children all the time! The ultimate micromanagement...is it really helpful though?
Sure, we want to encourage our children, save them from making mistakes, make sure they are being safe, stop them before they do something dangerous however there is a fine line between this and hovering! Helicopter parenting says to a child that you don’t trust them, you may not feel they are capable to make decisions or competent human beings.
It is really important to allow our children to be independent where possible so they feel a sense of autonomy. This boosts their self-confidence and makes them feel like they are contributing members of our society. It also builds resilience, they learn how to take considered risks and learn strategies on how to manage their body physically, mentally and emotionally.
How do we let go so our children have the breathing space (within reason) to be the best versions of themselves rather than the version we are telling them to be? Next time you catch yourself too close try the following:
Observe - just take a step back and observe your child, if you have to place your hands behind your back for a moment to help than do so. This will let you observe and see where your child is at and what they may need without jumping to assumptions.
Allow them to struggle - A child that struggles is a child that is engaging in problem solving, they are figuring out a solution. Try not to jump in too quick and you can always let them know you are there if they need you but allow them the opportunity to struggle - this is where the learning takes place. It is okay if they make a mistake.
Let them be bored - it is okay for your children to be bored they will learn to be creative and use their imagination in the most weird and wonderful ways! They don’t ALWAYS have to be doing something or going somewhere. Slow their schedules down.
Describe what you see - if you feel there is danger i.e. a trip hazard just gives the child information for eg “I can see there is a large ledge coming up”. This will then allow the child to make a decision about what to do rather than you telling them to watch out! This can be very empowering for your child.
Follow the child - Allowing children to take the lead will give you insight into the child, will open the doors for capability and confidence to blossom within them. If they are showing interest in an activity or game, allow them to show you how they use it or would like to explore it without you telling them how to do it. Stay silent, ask them questions and allow them to take the lead.
As long as children are safe, within the right parameters and a prepared environment it is essential to give them some space to allow them to grow as people. We often forget how capable and confident children can be. We need to give children a chance, let them prove themselves and you will be surprised at the outcome.
Believe in the child and know that not everything has to be perfect, or a certain way, or more importantly your way...children will teach us the most valuable and important life lessons if only we tune in and listen.