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Mothering or Smothering?

Mothering or Smothering?

One Saturday last summer my husband and I were at a local park with my daughter. It was a playground I took her to often during the week but my husband had never joined us there before. After just a few minutes of playing, he made a comment that stuck with me, “you’ve got to let her breath. You’re hanging over her like she’s made of glass. She’ll be fine.”

My baby was about 26 months at the time but my husband was right. Despite being a few months older than other children in her playgroup, she had trouble keeping up with them on the playground and it was, at least in part, because I never let her do anything on her own. So the next time we went to that park, I stepped back, sat on a bench, and just watched. Fifteen minutes later she was screaming and bloody at the top of the slide and I was furious with myself and then with my husband.

She lived. She bit her lip and it turns out, that bleeds a lot. But the next time we went to that park, she climbed up there like a pro and she hasn’t asked for my help since. Keeping children safe is an important part of being a mom. Letting them get into a little bit of danger, teaching them to take some risks, that’s just as crucial.

5 Ways to Avoid Becoming a Helicopter Mom

1. Understand that no environment is 100% safe.

Children will find a way to get in trouble in even the emptiest environments and they are more likely to when they are bored.

2. Take reasonable precautions.

Bike helmets might look lame (be honest, they kind of do) but wearing them yourself and insisting that your child wears them (or whatever other safety equipment is required) is important. It’s also important to check the environment, if it’s not one you are familiar with, and make sure there aren’t hazards.

3. Expect that bruises and bumps are going to happen.

As my doctor once said, if your toddler’s legs aren’t a little bruised, you are doing something wrong.

4. Give them some space.

Children need to learn to walk on ice, climb up and down a steep hill, run in the woods, etc. Let them live a little while they’re little or your child will be a catastrophe when they’re big.

5. Give them options.

When you see little Johnny swinging that stick around wildly and just barely missing Susie’s head, instead of just yelling “stop”, take a minute to teach them how to identify a dangerous situation for themselves and how they can avoid it in the future.


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