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Hovering parents sweat it out

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May 18, 2018 by admin

Scaffolding: Allowing your child to ride their bike a short distance unsupervised is one way you can help them become more independent.IT IS one of the great parenting debates: should we let our children run free, take risks, make their own choices — be it good or bad?
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Or do we protect them at all costs and make all decisions for them, be it what they eat, what they wear and who they are friends with?

The topic or free-range parenting versus “helicopter parenting” was debated recently when US columnist Lenore Skenazy visited Australia.

The self-professed free-range parenting advocate was labelled a bad mother after she allowed her son, 9, to catch the New York subway alone.

She is in favour of children building independence by going out alone and undertaking “dangerous” activities, such as climbing trees.

Melbourne-based parenting educator and author Michael Grose recently wrote about free-range parenting and agrees that “allowing children to develop real independence is one of the biggest challenges modern parents face”.

“Our basic job is to keep kids safe and secure, [but] that doesn’t mean we eliminate risk altogether by overprotecting them,” he wrote.

“When to allow a child to walk to the park on their own, babysit younger siblings, make their own way to school, catch a train to the city and go to the cinema without adult supervision, are the sorts of dilemmas that many parents sweat over.”

Mr Grose said independence built confidence and recommended “scaffolding” — granting children small degrees of independence to give them more freedom.

He said primary school age was a good time to start.

“Dropping young children off a few hundred metres from the school gate and allowing them to walk the rest of the way on their own is an example of scaffolding to independence,” he said.

COMMENT

So am I a free-range or helicopter parent?

While some parents might argue they are a bit of both, my parenting style is definitely the latter.

No one will ever use the words ‘‘easygoing’’ or ‘‘relaxed’’ in the same sentence as ‘‘parent’’ when describing me.

Not that I am proud of this. Being a helicopter parent has its downsides. For starters, you are constantly doing risk assessments and imagining worst-case scenarios that await you.

While a free-range parent might see a cute dog in a park, I see a potential Cujo. Your climbing frame is my broken arm, your carefree day at the beach is my sunstroke, your relaxed day around a friend’s pool is my drowning hazard. You get the drift.

You also spend quite a lot of time and energy worrying that your child is too hot/cold, is hungry/has eaten too much, hasn’t played outside enough/hasn’t done their homework.

It is exhausting.

Then there are the physical demands. I am the mother jogging beside her son/daughter as they hurtle down a road/footpath/track on their bike/scooter/skateboard at breakneck speed while I plead with them to slow down/beware or driveways/cars/stray dogs/etc.

Can I see myself letting my son or daughter catch a train to the city alone when they are nine? Not on your Nellie! But I may let my eight-year-old ride his bike to the corner shop — while I watch from a safe distance, of course.

What type of parent are you?

INDEPENDENCE TIPS

1) Reduce risks for children through skilling up and scaffolding.

2) Start building self-sufficiency earlier rather than later.

3) Reward responsible behaviour with greater freedom.

Source parentingideas南京夜网.au


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