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Helicopter Parent or Just Observant? by Jill Krause

28 September 2010 9 Comments

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.

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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?

One person who comments on Jill’s post will be entered to win a Twin Pack of CoolFlow Pacifiers!

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Jill Krause is a blogger and member of the BornFree Mom Panel

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  • Jill said:

    Okay, first off, if I win, please draw another name, because we’ve ditched the bink around here! All in all, I think you only have to intervene at the younger stages, to stop inappropriate behavior (ie eating dirt for instance) and then once you have a kid that is fairly good to go, you intervene for serious infractions. Then again, my kid doesn’t get playdates because there are either zero SAHMs who want to take their kid to library time, or they are too stuck up to say hello. We live in the boonies and no one around us has small kids. All playdates and etc. are – are learning opportunities. Socialization. You can bet your sweet booty if another kid whalloped mine and made her cry, if that mother wasn’t out of her seat already taking action before I moved, I’d end it right then and there. After demanding an apology. The casual playdate we had with a friend’s kid ended up with him crying and my daughter looking at him like he was a space alien. You see, she was touching his stuff, while he was still on it. She doesn’t get ‘sharing’ you see. She didn’t push him, or saying anything, just kind of got really close to him, as if to say, hey its my turn, let me play too. I made her apologize, even though she didn’t do anything other than hurt his feelings and tried to tell her about sharing. I’m not sure she got it, but it was when she was about.. oh 19 months old or so. So far we’ve gotten no negative reports out of the church nursery and she’s been there about 4 times, but she isn’t quite 2 yet. I suspect things will get worse. that’s usually how it happens, right?

  • Carol said:

    I go through this everytime Will plays with his cousins. They play too rough! I do intervene when it gets too close to someone getting hurt.

  • Paula Caudill said:

    I have to intervene when my must older children get to rough with their little sister. You would think that they wouldn’t pick on her, but they do, I don’t understand it, but I don’t like it. :)

  • Molly said:

    Hi, Paula Caudill shared this post with me! YAY! I have a chance to win some of your great products! Ok, I have to step in when I see the neighbors kids trying to get my child to do something that will hurt her. They all come over to play on her swing set and they start climbing on it, hanging upside down, trying to pull one of the kids off of the swing etc. Kinda odd, that their parents could care less about what they are doing or where they are? Thanks for letting me share some of my life. Molly Bussler

  • Katie said:

    I do intervene when my child is not being very nice to other children or if other children are not being very nice to mine! I figure if no one ever intervened and showed them how to play nice then they would never learn! :)

  • wendy said:

    I step in quite a bit. My daughter is just 10 months old and has cousins that are all at least 2 years older…and boys. They tend to be rough with her and need to be reminded to be soft. They are too young to realize she’s just a baby. My sister and relatives are vigilant as well to make sure she doesn’t get hurt so I don’t feel guilty reminding one of the boys to be gentle. They just love her so much its impossible to keep them away from her! :)

  • Adrienne G. said:

    I’d step in only if I thought there might be harm done to one of the children. Otherwise, boys will be boys and rough play is part of that boyness.

  • Yesica Bravo said:

    My oldest is a girl so I don’t have to intervene because girls are not rough. My boy is only 8 months so we haven’t gotten to that stage yet. I think I would allow them to play as long as there was no hitting involved. Tackling and wrestling is normal. Also if one of them seem not comfortable playing that way I would intervene too.

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