Thursday, November 13, 2014

The anti-helicopter parents

We are pretty much the opposite of the "helicopter parents" who hover and never let their kids fall and are constantly warning their kids to be careful.  As much as we can we are near enough to prevent catastrophe, but honestly, even if we wanted to, I think it's virtually impossible to helicopter parent triplet toddlers because you are simply outnumbered and inevitably they go in opposite directions.  But letting them go and explore the limits of their physical capabilities is not simply a matter of us being outnumbered or being lazy, it is a very conscious parenting decision on our part.  It's important to me that they be allowed to explore their physical capabilities and limits as independently as possible with us there to scaffold and support them as needed.

Shortly after the kiddos really became mobile and started experimenting with pulling up and cruising I was really conscious about how often one of us was saying "be careful" and as I reflected on that I realized that not only do I not want to be a helicopter parent, I don't really want to raise "careful kids,"  So I talked it over with Michelle and we agreed that we want to raise kids who are willing to take reasonable risks and decided that we wanted our language to support that value.  What we do want is for our kids to be aware of the danger and to make informed decisions about their actions.  So if you hang out with us at a park you will probably hear us say "pay attention" and "make safe/smart choices" a lot, but you will rarely, if ever, hear a "be careful" our of our mouths.  And believe me, it is a lot harder than you might think to not just whip out a thousand "be carefuls" at the park with triplets! Here are a zillion pics of the kiddos exploring their physical capabilities both at home...

Ellie following in Avery's footsteps climbing up on the side table
and over the arm of the couch (albeit not as gracefully!)
This japanese hibachi has become a favorite climbing spot
it works nicely to look out the window
and apparently for climbing on the window sill
(we did step in on this one because she couldn't get down!)
Ellie pushing the limits of "safe choices" again
toddler picnic table, AKA climbing toy
and at the park....
Avery was gung ho about trying the "big kid" giant climbing tower
and everyone else wanted to follow suit
three babies on the bridge
Yes, I am THAT mom that lets her kids climb up the slide (or at least try to!)
Of course in the course of exploring their abilities, they discover their limits and take some tumbles.  For a while Avery was the only one climbing but now with all three trying to climb the number of tumbles has gone up recently.  The other day at the park Isaiah was playing around with standing on a step and missed the step with one foot and took a little tumble.  I was right there spotting him and honestly the "mommy fail" in that moment was that I instinctively tried to catch him!  If I'd just let him fall he'd have landed on his back on the mulch.  Instead I reached out for him, grabbed the back of hi pants which succeeded in stopping his fall but also in catupulting his top half forward and knocking his head into the metal step. =(  Poor guy.  Check out the little bruise and mini goose egg smack in the middle of his forehead.
don't worry..he was fine & you couldn't even tell the next day

Then yesterday they were all playing in the screen porch and watching me throw a ball for Humphrey while climbing on the toddler picnic table and at some point Ellie sat off the edge enough to tumble to the seat and then to the floor.  (note the little red area on her forehead...this sounds bad, but was really in the category of a minor booboo)

you have to look pretty hard to even see the red spot
But all in all, I feel confident that our strategy is working.  I have seen the learning in action and it's pretty cool to see.  We got a little tykes slide for a quarter at a yard sale this summer and we brought that in the other day for them to play with.  Avery is quite adept at climbing up and sitting down, but the slide is really quite steep & fast and she got pretty nervous when she tried it by herself with me just spotting.  So the next time I showed her how she could lay on her belly to slide down, walking her through the motions.  Now she just slides down on her belly or will look at me and sign "help" if she wants to go down her bottom.

And seriously, check out this girl at the park...she can basically do the "slide circuit" independently at 13 months! I know that my view on typical development can get a little skewed at times because I work with kiddos who are delayed, but I'm still impressed every time I see her do this!

Sure sure, all of this is great for gross motor development, but really, the gross motor skills themselves aren't the real reason we let our kids explore like this.  What matters the most is that they learn to take calculated risks, to see life as being full of new challenges, to learn to persist when they don't immediately succeed, and to know how to ask for help when they need it.  Of course as a PT I want my kids to have all these great motor skills, but much more than that I want them to learn skills that will help them throughout this crazy journey we call life, which is chock full of seemingly insurmountable challenges as well as incredible opportunities and experiences.  Oh, yeah, and I want them to have fun along the way!

1 comment:

  1. I love, love, love this! Had life been different for us, I believe I would've wanted to be the same way. I think as a kid I was given a lot of freedom to explore and play and be free, and it was good that way! You girls are super!


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