During their childhood, the Adventure Playground in Berkeley, California was one of my sons’ favorite places to visit. Based on the ideas of Danish architect Carl Theodor Sørensen, who had made use of scrap junkyards for playgrounds when Copenhagen was under occupation during World War II, the playground was a place to explore, hammer, saw, paint and create. By being able to go on the zipline and land in the haybales or use real tools to make something out of wood scraps, it gave them the opportunity to try something that is somewhat risky in a safe environment.
As parents, we can find ourselves saying “No” many times a day. “No, don’t throw that rock.” “No, you cannot climb that high in the tree.” “No, don’t do that!” By preventing our child from participating in risky play, we may also be preventing them from learning how to navigate risk, a skill that they will need as teenagers and young adults when we aren’t around to monitor them.
I recently heard a new parenting term, “Hummingbird Parent.” Instead of hovering and micro-managing like the helicopter parent, the hummingbird parent sits nearby, zooms in when necessary and zooms out again. As children grow in age, the parents can step back further to allow more freedom while still being available when needed. I really like this as a parenting model.
In reality, this model was challenging for me to practice. I wanted my active boys to be safe and make it to adulthood! But I realized that I had to let them explore, climb trees, throw rocks into fast-flowing rivers and try things that made me nervous. Sometimes, I had to bite my tongue and even look away for a moment to overcome my instinct to jump in and overprotect them.
Excerpt from my book 7 Gifts to Give Your Child--Parenting That Will Touch Their Future, Chapter 6, The Gift of Experiences, available here: www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09L7KS5VH
The most important component in raising your child is your connection to them. Your relationship with them is the building block for their future relationships. Children learn how to interact with others by watching and relating with us.
Taking time to talk and listen, really listen, to your child is essential. The best approach is being intentional about making opportunities for connection. Experts recommend scheduling family time: conversations over device-free dinners, one-on-one time with each child even if it is while running errands or walking the dog, family meetings once a week, and establishing family traditions and weekend outings.
Parenting is an inside job. Regardless of all the technological advances in our society today, parents will always be the most important source of information and values for their child. As you and your partner guide your child through your relationship with them, you support them in learning to make good choices, taking responsibility and learning from their mistakes.
Through this connection and support, they develop a moral compass—an inner voice—that can guide them throughout their whole life. In fact, I believe that the parent-child connection is the core relationship that rules the world. If it is strong and solid, we have healthy men and women. If it is broken and fragmented, we have a wounded world.
Excerpt from my book, 7 Gifts to Give Your Child--Parenting That Will Touch Their Future, available here: www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09L7KS5VH