Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Are you a Helicopter Parent?

You know what’s really hard for me? Not fighting all of my son’s battles. Albeit, he is 3, yes, but I want to tell every kid that’s mean to him or doesn’t share or whatever that I’ll meet them in a dark alleyway and punch them in their dumb faces. I don’t, but I do think about it. It’s so hard for me to explain to my 3 year old that sometimes kids are cruel but that doesn’t mean we’re cruel back. It’s a hard lesson, and one that I’m sure is never really taught. We grow up and realize that grown ups are just as mean, and yet, we still have to play nice. I don’t know about you, but it still stings. I’m always shocked when I have to encounter a situation where someone is rude and I have to still be civil.

I read an interesting article about helicopter parenting. I think we’re all guilty of it at one point or another (and some more than others), but the idea is that as parents, we come running to our child’s aid for every little thing. We're basically hovering over them ready to help at all times, sometimes it's for playground scuffles, sometimes it's battling a teacher over whether a grade given is fair. Maybe a bad example, but I felt like hovering over Wyatt yesterday at the pool. We always bring lots of pool toys to share with the neighbor kids, but today 2 particular kids hogged all the toys and wouldn’t let Wyatt play with any. It was an awkward situation because the toys were actually his, but I wanted to teach him that sharing is important and what it feels like when someone doesn’t share with you. I kept re-directing his attention to other things so maybe he’d get over the fact that these two girls were being jerks, but it wasn’t working. I suggested to the other kids that we all share the toys, but they pretty much ignored me. Now I was at this point that unless I physically got involved (which hell no- not my kids), then these toys weren’t going to be shared. But you know what? It’s not a big deal.

When I was growing up some kids were just mean, didn’t share, or were cruel, and I made the mental note that I might not want to be friends with them. Of course things could change from one day to the next and there are different variables to this equation, but I think it’s important that Wyatt learns this too. Those two girls weren’t being friendly, and so the result is that maybe other kids won’t want to play with them. Interestingly enough, the kids usually always play well together, so I know that everyday is a new day. 

When it comes to sharing I usually keep it pretty clear for Wyatt. He understands that the best way to make friends is to share with them. Easy as that. Since my kid is a social butterfly, this resonates with him. He thinks it’s important to share because he wants to have lots of friends. When kids do not share with him, I have made the decision to not get involved (as much) even though it’s awkward and painful to see my kid feeling left out. I explain to him that right now those kids are not sharing with him and I’m sorry, but to find a new game and play that instead. I want to fight my kid’s battles and help him get through social situations, but I also want him to be able to handle uncomfortable social situations on his own. Raising a well-rounded human is hard work.

How do you deal with your kid’s weird social situations with other kids? And do you think you’re a helicopter parent?

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