Please Don’t Help My Kids
The blog post called “Please Don’t Help My Kids” came to mind the other day when at the park with my kids, 21 month old Katelyn was climbing up a chain ladder and I instinctively walked over to stand behind her ready for her to put her hand out to get down and instead my little girl let go of the chain with one hand to put it up to signal for me to stop and very firmly told me “No”. So I stepped back – and whipped out my phone for a quick snapshot as I’m inclined to do – and captured my confident toddler achieve her goal and go on her merry way.
There’s a couple of things I really get about this post. I get why it rubs people up the wrong way, because it’s not for everyone, or every child, every child has different abilities and needs and every parent has different processes for assessing risk and danger, also for interpreting behavior. I don’t necessarily agree that it’s “manipulating” for a child to ask for help, but she’s talking about her own daughter and not mine, so she would know better than I would about her child.
The other thing I really get though is how unwanted and uncomfortable it is having another parent step in and rescue or alert you to a danger that your child isn’t in. I can relate, especially with my eldest, Jasper, sitting back and in my head screaming “No no no! Don’t! Stop! Oh gosh! No!” but still I’d watched him, from an easy sprinting distance, ready to run if he falls or calls for help. But countless times I’ve had other parents rush to him to help him up or take him off play equipment he was perfectly capable of climbing, effectively putting down his ability, doubting him, assuming he wasn’t as awesome as he was. He was a “climber” – I’d take him to the park so he could climb things other than the furniture and then he was being told he couldn’t by other people and it made me feel judged as not being able to watch my own child. But I’m happy with my decision to take my kids to a child-friendly environment and stand back.
And sometimes they do fall – I don’t hesitate, my partner even says I rush in too soon, I scoop them up, I kiss the hurts, I’m there for them.We talk about what happened, where, how and why they fell, then when they’re ready, they try again. If they call for help they have two choices. I can help them DOWN, I’ll lift them off, set them back on solid ground, if that’s what they want. If they want to go up though I’ll talk them through what they need to do.” Put your foot here, hand here, Push off, lift, pull, there you go! I’m right here for you.”
I’m here for you. But I won’t do it for you.
I also don’t want my child UP on play equipment that’s clearly too high for them to be up on. If they can get up themselves then they’re ready to be up that high.
So a month ago when Katelyn met her first chain ladder I talked her through it, but when she reached for me I lifted her off.
And now she tells me “no”, that “no” says “I’ve got this mum, I don’t need your help, because I can do it myself.”
…. And then this happened.