I have the joy of having some amazing mommy friends in my life. Some have kids the same age as my own, some that are older and some that are younger, which means they are a treasure trove of great advice and they always help me to not make the same mistakes they did. I love watching them interact with their kids, hearing the many different approaches to discipline and the many different ways you can show each individual child love. Watching them really helps me to see how I interact and treat my own son and I couldn’t be more grateful for them all in my life.
However over he past couple of weeks I noticed something I do that is not helping the development of my son at all but I know no one has ever mentioned it to me or pulled me up on it.
I’m a hover mom! Yip that’s right I hover wherever we go and even at home, my poor child can never learn something new or try something on his own without me being there watching, so called helping and even doing it for him.
Mr B has been an introvert from the day he was born and he has been my velcro child from day dot. So I’m not really talking about how he interacts with others or how long it takes him to meet new people or feel comfortable in the places we go and the playgroups we attend. I’m so very happy to facilitate that side of him and slowly help him to learn how to make his introverted personality fit the situations we find ourselves in, the other more dominant personalities we encounter or especially the larger groups we attend.
What I mean is that he just has to look at me while he is trying to figure something out or learn something new and I am at his side in a flash telling/showing him how to do it and very often it’s resulted in me doing it for him and him no longer wanting to play with the item or try on his own.
Argh how annoying would that be?
I never wanted to be a lazy mom and I was so careful to not be neglectful and I do try really hard to treat my son like I would any other person I come into contact with. I think its valuable and important to make sure I don’t dismiss children or the way they feel, even if I think he is being petty or silly. I’ve always wanted to be really supportive of him and everything he wants to do. We practices attachment parenting and neither my husband or I believe in letting a child cry and we don’t think it’s a good thing for them to do.
But what I’ve done instead is go in a complete other direction and not let him grow and learn on his own. I notice it more and more as he is getting older and as he is able to do more things and it’s really making me step back a bit and let him be.
Thankfully I’m not to late to change my hovering ways. Instead of rushing to his side when he can’t climb off something or can’t figure out how to complete a task I have a few techniques I have had to use that I’ve had to teach myself:
- I tell him I’m coming, count to 5 and take a breath
- I walk over and I ask him if he needs help (although if he is on something high I move close to him straight away to prevent any accidents)
- (depending on his level of stress) I talk him through the task and support what he needs to do.
- (once he achieves his goal) I celebrate with him
For example the technique play out something like this:
He climbs onto the bed and can’t get down so he usually starts to call me or express frustration (which in his case comes in the form of throwing something he has in his hand or lying face down):
- I count to 5 and ask him if he needs me.
- I sit on the floor below where he is trying to get off the bed and I ask him if he needs help getting off. (I try and be really specific with my question so I know what he is trying to do), I usually try and do this until he responds to me in some form. He is old enough now (16 months) to say yes or no to a question I’m asking him and I find expecting and answer from him tends to stop the outbursts of frustration and bring him back to the task at hand. This may be different for your child so just try a few different things until you find what works for you.
- I explain to him that he needs to lie on his belly and slide off or just keep sliding off on his bottom if he wants to get off the bed. I also usually say something supportive like ‘it’s okay mommy will catch you if you fall’. I try not to sound rushed, judgmental, frustrated or change my tone of voice too much and most of the time manage to keep a soothing tone if I can. Pick your moments to teach though, sometimes we are rushing out the door and it’s easier to just pick him up, there will always be another time to teach him with patience.
- Once he has managed to get down (sometimes this can mean holding my hand or jumping into my arms in this example) I give him a cuddle, high five or clap hands for him and say something along the lines of “you did a great job trying to get off the bed, I’m so proud of you for not giving up”. I try not to use general terms like ‘good boy’ or ‘well done’ because I don’t want him to look to me for praise at every turn but I want him to feel proud of his achievements and his ability to try instead of searching for acclaim from others.
It’s been a hard pill to swallow, I hate looking at what I do and realising I’ve been messing up. But I guess that’s all part of being a parent and it’s not like I can’t change my behavior and or that I’ve done irreparable damage.
In fact, for me, that’s exactly what being a mom to this little man is all about. Evolving, changing, growing as he grows and making sure I check myself all the time. I don’t want to ever be the kind of mom that ignores her kid or neglects his needs and growth but I also think its really important to not over do and hover over everything he does and every interaction he has with other children. He needs me but he doesn’t always need my help, and that’s ok too