I am trying out something new for the blog. I am going to write a series called Simply Parenting , stripping away the buzz words and labels around modern parenting such as ‘helicopter’ and ‘free range’ parenting and try and highlight the basics of what I think we should be doing for our children to give them the very best chances in life.
Please note that these are purely my own personal opinions developed over my years in childcare and as a Mum. Feel free to ignore or take from them as you please!
We know that what children need to thrive and grow into happy independent adults is love and space. However how we deliver this can sometimes do more harm than good – which brings me neatly onto my first topic.
Arguably the strongest feeling that surges through our bodies when we first become parents is the urge to protect our children. We genuinely don’t even want the wind to blow on their faces, never mind the thought of them coming to any real harm or (one I find myself worrying about) being abducted.
So it is completely natural and necessary to keep our babies within earshot (if not sight) as newborns. However, knowing when to let go and when to give our children some leeway can be difficult. As much as we want to ensure that we keep our children within sight at all times it is just not a practical reality and it is not a healthy environment for children to develop and grow in.
What we need to do is promote our children’s independence by allowing them out of sight, giving them a sense of freedom by letting them climb the rock, wander to the other side of the beach, or walk to the shop when they are old enough.
To reach the independence needed to do those few simple things, you need to start as you mean to go on.
- If you are always with your child then they cannot learn to play alone and become self-sufficient.
- If you always invent games for them, they do not have the chance to develop their imagination.
- If you are always on hand to play with them, this could inadvertently stunt their social development which in turn could make it difficult for them to socialise with their peers.
So, in my view –
- Let your children play by themselves, be it rolling around on a play mat, playing in the back garden or in their room.
- Let them invent their own games, and allow them to figure out the jigsaw puzzle at their own pace and in their own time.
- Give them the space to choose their own activity, be it picking up a book or sitting down to an art project.
In stepping back, you are giving them the independence to develop their own set of social skills and to develop into individuals who learn how to handle themselves in this big bad world.
So in a nutshell – step back, give them space, trust their instincts and watch their imagination and independence grow.
Thanks for reading,
Next topic in this series will be addressing our children’s sleep patterns.