I read this blog post a while ago, and even had someone post it to my “Wall” because it made them think of me: Please Don’t Help My Kids
I read this blog post today: Please Help My Kids
I happen to agree with both.
Can you be encouraging a child to find his/her own limits and then exceed them while helping, encouraging, and supporting? I don’t see why not.
Here’s the reality. I’m more likely to NOT be sitting on the bench. Instead, I’m probably nearby, supporting and encouraging, helping when asked, but not jumping in to rescue. I might be taking pictures with my phone, or even checking Facebook (let’s face it, I’m an addict), but I’m still physically close, and paying more attention to my kid than to my virtual life on a tiny screen.
I don’t mind if others help my kid out too. I have found that I need to do a little community parenting at the park too.
When I took Tazio to the park when he was tiny, just crawling over the equipment, I always tried to start out with the relationship I was going to need with the bigger children playing. As soon as they slowed down or noticed the baby, I noticed them doing it. Saying something like, “You are really paying attention and being careful around the baby. Thank you.” set the stage for them to remember that they needed to slow down a little and watch where they were going so that no one got hurt. I wasn’t waiting for their parent to do this, since it was my child’s safety in question. If they were not responsive to this, we generally moved on to a different part of the playground. Most kids were awesome at being careful and gentle, especially once they were noticed and appreciated doing it. Some parents might think that I was in their business, but most saw this as good preventative practice.
As for as helping my child, I think that supporting your child as he explores his world and abilities is natural and wonderful. This doesn’t mean lifting them to the top of the ladder when they stood there looking up. This means letting them attempt the skills, give it a few tries in different ways, assess the options, of which asking for help is one, and making a decision.
I have no problem helping my child, usually with modeling, a little boost, or spotting to make sure he doesn’t fall. These do not rescue my child from the situation. These are options, just like going over to the stairs are an option. Sometimes I lift him up, if there is no way he can get there on his own. He utters his little, “ank oo” and grins gleefully as he slides down.
I think the kind of help the person in the first article is talking about is more the parents who over-protect, hover, and look for opportunities to judge. The parent who helps your child while shooting you dirty looks, and who steps in to help before the child has indicated a need.
As a teacher, I see these parents delivering the lunch box to school before the child even notices is is missing. I also see children who EXPECT to be rescued from everything that is difficult, rather than guided, encouraged, and supported. Can you guess what happens with these children when there is one teacher and 24 kids, and the work is difficult? They haven’t learned that they can try different solutions while waiting for help. They have a tendency to give up before they even begin!
I want to raise my son to trust that people are good and kind and helpful. I want him to believe that others will be watching out for him and be ready and willing to help him when needed. I want him to think that he can figure many things out. I want him to try before he asks for help, and I want him to mostly receive help that empowering and contributes to his learning of the skills he’s attempting. I want him to be determined (like that’s an issue!) and enthusiastic, and willing to try and fail many times until he succeeds. I want the people in his life to see and notice his achievements, and celebrate them with him so that he feels proud of himself, as he should.
I just don’t see these two articles as mutually exclusive.
Also, as a general rule, all parents who are at the park when it’s pouring rain and awesome people, and they can help my kid out any time.