I totally passed a parenting milestone at the weekend.
My son is still quite young at 2 1/2 years old, so I still help him at the playground, but I realised at the weekend that if I don’t just let him play, I am in danger of becoming a playground helicopter parent.
We were on holiday in the Yorkshire Dales; it would seem there they have a liking for exceedingly high slides.
I had already seen this one which is so tall; it looked like it might make your nose bleed from the altitude. Fortunately for me, at that point my son wasn’t worried about riding it. Since from my reaction, I clearly wasn’t ready for him too.
Later the next day, however, he was willing to climb the one below. Though slightly shorter I still knew I would have trouble catching him should he fall either forwards or backwards.
So after initially having said no, it is too high and pulled him off. I checked in with myself and realised it was my fear holding him back and not his. I understood if he felt confident it was better to let him go and do my best to catch him if he fell.
So I did it, I put my parenting helicopter hands away and let him ride the high slide. But believe me, every single time he climbed, my heart was in my throat. For me, it was a parenting triumph.
Of course, the next day he did choose to go on the nose bleeder, and I did climb the stairs behind him. And someone was below to catch him if he fell but seriously I have never seen a slide quite that big. It happened to be fortunate I did because he became distracted at the top by a spider. But that is a whole different story.
So my four tips are:
- Check in with your emotions and thoughts – notice what happens when they try to do something for which you think they are too young.
- Trust your child – if they believe that they can, they probably can.
- Become comfortable with worry – allowing it just to be without reaction.
- Check out the age of other kids using the playground.