Recently I joined two fellow blogging teacher-mamas, Christie from Childhood 101 and Kate from Picklebums, to discuss the topic of helicopter parenting. According to Wikipedia, Helicopter parents are so named because, like helicopters, they hover closely overhead, rarely out of reach, whether their children need them or not…
You can read the full transcript at Childhood 101, but here are a few snippets from the conversation.
(I’m Cath – just in case you’ve forgotten my first name isn’t Squiggle…)
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Cath: Most first time mums (me included) helicopter a little more than we ever thought we would!
Kate: As an early childhood teacher you are forced to look at risk constantly. Child care centres are regulated so that no child is ever unsupervised and so that as much risk as possible is eliminated, it probably has to be that way in a children’s service setting.
Christie: I do too, Cath, and I cannot understand how we are so adverse to letting our children do what we did as children? I walked to school, I climbed (and fell out of) trees, I rode my bike in the street.
Cath: I have relaxed more with my second child but I find it hard to find a balance between my teacher training (eagle eyes on playground duty) and my desire to let my kids learn by exploring, falling, and getting up again.
Kate: I am a worrier so I am prone to over thinking the risks but I try really hard to realise that and step back from it. I often say, ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’
Cath: Yes, I have to make that conscious decision too, Kate.
Kate: I think it’s natural that parents are fearful for their children… if your biggest fear as a parent wasn’t the loss of your child you’d wouldn’t be a good parent …but not letting that get the better of you is important.
Kate: I usually hover at playgrounds for social reasons rather than physical risk reasons.
Cath: I’m not quite sure why I hover… a mix of reasons I think.
Kate: I feel confident that my kids all know their physical limits better than I do, even the small one who tries to follow his big sisters will stop when he realises he is high enough.
Cath: LOL Kate… mine is more likely to climb to the moon and not realise how high she is!
Kate: My small one climbs like a monkey but he’s very good at it.. and so far only one set of stitches and that was from falling off a low chair!
Cath: I encourage my own child to respond with, “Please don’t do x… I don’t like it.”
Kate: I do the same, Cath, if my children need me to, I’ll give them the words to use to make sure their feelings are known.
Christie: As a teacher of 2-5 year olds I always taught the children to say “Stop” in a loud voice, to empower them and the loud voice helps to attract adult attention (so the adult can come and help the children resolve the situation). Most two year olds can say “Stop.”
Kate: We use the same phrase, ‘Stop – I don’t like that’
Christie: And then obviously older children can say, “Stop, I don’t like it when you …” and give more of an explanation.
Cath: I think right there we are preparing ourselves, and our kids, to move away from us little by little.
Christie: It is about equipping them so that we feel we can step away.
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What about you? Do you struggle with letting go of your kids? Are you more guilty of hovering than you expected you’d be? Feel free to share your thoughts on helicopter parenting here or on Christie or Kate’s blogs.