This weekend one of my favorite authors sent an email out about things we should worry less about. One of the things he mentioned was creating a perfect life for our children. He referenced quite a few studies and discussed how American states are now making new laws to allow parents to be less micromanaging of our children’s lives. Studies are finding that children who are not allowed time to try things on their own, and to be able to make their own decisions are struggling as teenagers and adults.
I’m not linking the author I read because his writing has cuss words in it, but his name is Mark Manson. Instead, I found a link to an article for Psychology Today- https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/when-your-adult-child-breaks-your-heart/201701/the-effects-helicopter-parenting.
This article, as well as others that I read this weekend talk about children experiencing difficulties in their teens. This focus is primarily because this way of parenting is new in the US (new as in it wasn’t this way in the 1970s). But, the examples and ways to help both can refer to toddlers as well.
The reason I am talking about this is that signs of anxiety and stress show up in toddlers just as they show in teens. Toddlers crave autonomy and boundaries at the same time. Our goal as adults is to give them both, safely. If we can’t do that, it might affect them later in life. How do we give them boundaries and independence? Allow them to try things! For a while, until they ask for help. AND, allow them to do things they can already do, even if imperfectly.
For instance, our students feed themselves, brush their own teeth, pick up messes, plan ways to play with toys, create art, open and close doors, “ride” bicycles, and climb. Food might be everywhere, their teeth might not be cleaned to perfection, and toys might be oddly scattered about… but they did it by themselves! What a way to build confidence! They might struggle with a few doors, or not ride correctly, but they learned through the trial and error. The brain grows through struggles. Confidence grows through struggles. A good attitude and patience grows through struggles. Without struggles, without feeling frustration, without feeling “negative” emotions, children can’t cope in the real world. Adulthood will be impossible for them.
The article lists a few specifics on how to let children experience life. I’d just like to add for toddlers that adults learn waiting time. Let them have time to try to open the lid, or feed themselves, or put on shoes. If they fall, let them decide if they are hurt and need reassurance. If they want something, teach them to ask for it nicely so they can learn waiting time too. Our toddlers are strong and smart. They can do so many things. We just need to foster this as well as foster emotional health.