Am I a Helicopter?

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“The insanity crept up on us slowly; we just wanted what was best for our kids. We bought macrobiotic cupcakes and hypoallergenic socks, hired tutors to correct a 5-year-old’s “pencil-holding deficiency,” hooked up broadband connections in the treehouse but took down the swing set after the second skinned knee. We hovered over every school, playground and practice field - “helicopter parents,” teachers christened us, a phenomenon that spread to parents of all ages, races and regions.” Time Magazine, Fri., Nov 29. 2009

Does this sound familiar? You are not alone!

This fascinating article on the dark side of the helicopter phenomena speaks to the importance of allowing children to develop independence. Sometimes the hardest part of loving your children is trusting them enough to make mistakes. In a time where children have never been safer, it is unusual to see children walking or playing outside unchaperoned. Even when we try to send our kids outside to play, all the other children are inside so they just want to come back in. Don’t get us wrong, we are not saying your 3 year old should be outside on their own, but can they play in the park without you an arms length away? Can you be that parent who is there and available if necessary, but otherwise silently observing from a distance (maybe even taking some time to leisurely read)?

The irony is that by hovering over our children, protecting them from everything, we make them more vulnerable. They learn to look for the adult to teach them, give them approval, make the decision for the and ultimately they then don’t look inside themselves for moral and cultural lessons. Look at it this way; we best protect our children from the dangers of water by teaching them how to swim. It would be shallow minded and more dangerous to instead keep them away from water. (Not to mention the loss of the joys of swimming.)

Montessori education has, at its, core a faith in the child. This is what most clearly separates it from other forms of education. We are not advocating letting the child run free from dawn to dusk. Freedom within clearly defined limits allows for a child to grow. The limits are equally as important as the freedom.

Please read the Time magazine article and step back and observe your own unique family so you can find the ways to slowly but surely encourage meaningful freedom in your own children, ultimately instilling in them confidence. By doing this you allow for independence and engagement in children and let them learn lessons on their own - we all know from our own lives that these are the most meaningful lessons.

As Montessori said 100 years ago - “Help me to help myself”.

To read the Time magazine article click here, http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1940395,00.html.

Some contents of this post are courtesy of Tony Evans, Director of Dundas Valley Montessori School.

January 18, 2010. Articles. No Comments.