As a parent, it’s my job to protect my kiddos. But it’s also my job to let them experience life. Mistakes, skinned knees and other various childhood experiences allow kids to bekids and let them grow up into the well-rounded adults they will hopefully become.
I read an article recently about “helicopter parents” who are constantly hovering in the lives of their kids. All of the technology has made it easier than ever for kids and parents to connect daily, and often many times a day. I don’t see anything wrong with having a strong connection to your parents; it’s a rare day that goes by that I don’t talk, email or text my mom. But there’s a fine line between connection and meddling. The goal as a parent is to be a guide, rather than a control force for your kids, according to Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC. She says hanging on too tightly can hinder confidence, make your child fearful and anxious. No one wants that!
So how can you protect your child without overparenting? Rapini suggests thinking about empowering your child, rather than protecting. Read on for her tips for doing just that!
3 Tips to Empower Your Kids
1. Freedom to fly. When your child is small you can allow them more freedom to explore, climb and be independent if you provide a safe environment. Look over the playground or park in advance, and find the park that provides security from traffic, while still offering a fun atmosphere for your child to experience.
2. Let them goof. Make mistakes a good thing to experience. Kids who grow up anticipating mistakes take more risks, are less fearful and feel more confident about themselves. We all make mistakes; children have so much to learn in a relatively short period of time. Make sure they can experience their mistakes while being protected in their family. The outside world will never be as forgiving as your own family.
3. Don’t pass down your fears. If you have a lot of fears from the way you were raised in your family, make sure you deal with those with professional help. Fears are given/taught to children. This is demonstrated by children being terrified of people, things or events with which they have no experience. The parents often instill leftover unresolved fears of their past. Being afraid of life and all it has to offer is something you do not want to pass on to future generations.
Thanks to Mary Jo for the reminder! How do you balance protecting your kids and empowering them? —Erin
Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC, is a licensed psychotherapist and co-author with Janine J. Sherman, of Start Talking: A Girl’s Guide for You and Your Mom About Health, Sex or Whatever. Read more about the book at www.StartTalkingBook.com and more about Rapini at www.maryjorapini.com.