Other Articles from Christopher Madison
Can doing your very best be too much? As a father of two children under the age of two, I had a sense that there is a healthier and saner way to raise our children than playing with them constantly.
However, the fear of raising depressed and angry children forced me to crawl across multi-colour foam alphabet floor mats in hope of being a good parent. Ah, the entertainment trap. It is such an easy one for adoring fathers to fall into, especially with their first born baby. But, we often forget that the more we do for our children the less confident, capable and fulfilled they will feel. Yes, of course, tenderness, praise, care and positive reinforcement between father and offspring is critical. But, like most well-intended parents there is a real risk of over parenting children.
Here are four tips for avoiding the over-parenting trap:
1) Allow your children to be alone
Children are trying to discover who they are and more importantly, what they can do. Obviously, there is a real and present danger of property damage and emergency room visits. But we must remember that the trade-off is your child’s development, confidence and sense of independence. We all need to trust our children to be capable self-learning explorers.
2) Avoid the entertainment trap
Here is where you can call me an awful person – I pretty much can’t stand playing with my two children. I didn’t own coloured blocks before I had children, so why pretend? Don’t get me wrong, I spend lots of quality time with my children, search for those teachable moments and enjoy doing educational activities with them. I just don’t feel it’s a parent’s job to entertain kids. In fact, I think most kids today don’t know how to entertain themselves. First, it is draining acting like a kid when I am actually a 40-year-old man. Second, and more importantly, when you teach your children they should be entertained all the time they start to think life is all about them.
3)Let them lead
When my daughter was 18 months old I noticed that when I sit with her quietly and passively while we were together her personality really starts to shine. It’s then that I decided that we should let her lead our morning family yoga exercises and she instantly displayed leadership qualities and a new level of confidence. My wife was completely shocked and enthralled.
An even more interesting outcome was that she became better at listening to instructions after taking on the role of leading us. This has made our morning routine anything but routine!
4) Don’t Just Do It
It’s natural to help your little ones. After all, isn’t that the role of a parent? Who has time to waste letting your child clean up spilled milk in what always feels like slow motion? I think we should be cautious of doing something for our kid that he or she is capable of doing for herself. We might be robbing them of the valuable opportunity to build important life skills and confidence in their abilities. It isn’t what we do for our kids but what we teach our kids to do for themselves.