Helicopter Parent or Just Observant? by Jill Krause
We’ve come to an exciting time in toddlerhood, a time I used to fantasize about when my son was an infant. I would think, “One day you’ll actually play with other kids. You won’t just lay here and look at me. I won’t have to be your only source of entertainment.” And that day is here.
My nearly 2 and a half year old son loves… idolizes other kids, older kids, especially older boys. He chases them up and down our sidewalk, shouting “fwiends!” He’s desperate for them to take notice of him, not aware of why these older boys might not want to play with a “baby.”
Every now and then, one will stop and interact with him, like last week when a neighbor handed him a toy gun while we were playing in the front yard. My son was positively thrilled to get the attention from the boy, while I silently freaked out on the inside about my 2 year old playing with “guns.” Of course, he had no idea what it was and proceeded to play it like a trumpet, thus causing the older boy to look at him like he’s from another planet.
The neighbor took it back and ran off, leaving me a little happy my son would live another day without learning how to “shoot” things, and a little sad to see him standing there alone. Ultimately, I was just glad I didn’t step in at the first sight of the toy gun. I had less to worry about than I thought.
This morning he had the pleasure of running and chasing two very willing
playmates at the Chick Fil A play area after breakfast. It was so exciting to see him
truly interacting with these two boys, but again, I was faced with another parenting
predicament. The boys were pretty rough with each other, tackling and climbing
over one another. None of them cried, though, they all seemed to be having a good
time, and they weren’t hurting anyone else since they were the only ones in the area.
It was this weird dance of politeness and caution between me and the other 2 moms.
Honestly, I was happy to just let the boys play. I didn’t think we needed to intervene,
but then I didn’t want them to be uncomfortable. I didn’t know if they thought
my son was being too aggressive. I could tell they were battling the same internal
struggle. Nobody wants their kid to be the bully, but at the same time, who wants to
orchestrate every social interaction for their child? Doesn’t that take away the fun
and learning of the play process?
It has me wondering how much other parents intervene in their child’s play. What
does it take to make you step in and correct your child or remove/distract them
from the situation?
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