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It's Ok For Kids to Get Hurt

It's Ok For Kids to Get Hurt
As some of you have heard, I get a considerable amount of flack for "coddling" my kids. Some people say that I am too sensitive when parenting my children. I address this issue a little bit in my other blog Stop the Mommy Shaming. Now.  but if you saw my parenting in action you would see very clearly that I am not afraid to let my boys get hurt. I am a huge advocate of letting kids learn lessons on their own, even it means I have to patch a few scrapes and bruises. There are so many differing parenting styles out there and a lot of controversy surrounding each one like which one is best, which one will shape your child into a "contributing member of society" (because that is our ultimate goal right?), or which one will be the best for your child? Honestly all of us just want to do what's best for our kids, but we also need to find a style that fits us as much as our children! Two very different parenting styles that I want to talk a little about today are "helicopter parenting" and "free-range parenting." Helicopter parents are those that tend to hover over their children (hence the name - helicopter) and hardly let them experience life on their own. An extreme of this would be a child never learning to ride a bike because the parent was too afraid that the child would fall! Free-range parents are the complete opposite of this. They operate on a fundamental principle that children must figure things out on their own if they are to learn to be an adult. They need to learn how to solve problems, interact with people, and manage themselves. You may have heard of these types of parents in the news recently, with stations reporting on 5 year olds riding the NYC subway all alone, or a 8 and 6 year old walking eight blocks to the city park by themselves. Both of these parenting types represent parents who care about their children deeply, but one seems to almost protect them too much and the other to give them a little too much freedom.  I am a firm believer that we all have one life on this earth and we are here to learn and grow. I may be responsible for my kids while they are young, but that does not mean I should control their lives or even dictate what are to learn and experience. My job as a parent is to simply make sure they are not putting themselves in harms way and to help them learn from difficult experiences. My 7 year old son loves going to his friend's house about 4 blocks away. For a long time I wouldn't let him go because I wanted to make sure he was safe (helicopter parenting). After some time I decided I needed to let him play - and live, so to speak. I now allow him the freedom of walking to his friend's houses on his own, but I always make sure it's only when he has his "phone" (its a gadget called a Gizmo that allows him to call me in an emergency). These type of practices give him the freedom he needs to make decisions on his own but within safe limits! Its often much harder to let kids learn lessons on their own when they are smaller, like when they are toddlers. Just the other day I watched as my niece repeatedly climbed up on the couch and carefully balanced before she flopped her body on the couch. After evaluating the situation to make sure she couldn't get seriously hurt, I sat back and watched as she figured this new skill of hers out. After climbing up the couch a few times she fell, cried and learned. These experiences may seem small and insignificant, but in the long run they teach little ones that they are in control and that they are capable of doing things on their own. Plus, they get to learn natural consequences to their actions. Look at this event through a different parenting style like "helicopter parenting." As soon as my niece climbed up on the couch I could have pulled her down and the immediate result would be an extra-safe toddler. But in the long run what would that do for her? First of all, where did all of the fun go? For toddlers, climbing up on couches is pretty much a right of passage. As well, my niece did not learn anything about her abilities or consequences to her behavior. And even longer down the road, if this parenting became a pattern, she could grow to doubt her abilities all together! Studies have even demonstrated that children with "helicopter parents" can develop low self worth and long-term negative behaviors like binge drinking. I hope that this is not misleading you to think that I am saying if you pull your toddler out of a potentially dangerous situation then they will grow to be a binge drinker. But rather, if a child experiences a lifetime of never being allowed to make decisions on their own and protected from making any "bad" decisions, those limitations can be detrimental to their development in irreversible ways. Now, one more fun exercise. What if I were a "free-range" type of parent? This scenario may look a little like my niece playing on a table top and jumping off to a tile floor...wearing socks. Ok - maybe that is a little extreme - but maybe not. Typically, "free-range" parents won't give a lot of thought to the type of playing their toddlers do and the dangers that are involved. The spirit of this kind of parenting is to let kids be kids on learn their life lessons naturally. Basically it's hands free in the hopes that their children will be better problem solvers as they grow older. So, for a "free-range" parent a child jumping off of a table top to a tile floor with socks on would learn that when they do that they slip! And what makes them slip? Their socks! Hopefully in the future the child would simply remove their socks. I can definitely appreciate the fundamental beliefs of parents who utilize "free-range" style, but I think for most of us it would just be too much. As I hope you can see, I definitely have a parenting style that is more of a happy medium. In all things parenting you should try to be flexible and find your own happy medium. I know for me there are times that I "hover" over my kids - like when we are hiking on a narrow path with a steep cliff. And there are also times that I give them more free-reign and let them learn some life lessons on their own. This is why we are blessed with mother's intuition! We are perfect parents for our children because we know when it is best to step in and "coddle" and when to let go a little bit. Listen to your intuition and follow your instincts when it comes to parenting, and don't stress. After all we are just raising our future leaders! No pressure, right? These awesome bodies and minds of ours were meant to play, grow, experience and above all, LEARN! We as parents have a lot of responsibilities when it comes to our kids, but keeping them from living is not one of them! So take a deep breathe and remember: it's ok for kids to get hurt. I may not be the perfect mom, but my kids sure think I am, Katie What type of parent are you? Do you "hover" or let them "be free"? Or are you like me and just take it as it comes? Comment below or tag us @thebabycubby on IG with your insights!
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"All Good Things Are Wild and Free" - Structured vs. Unstructured Parenting - November 26, 2020

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