Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Am I a HyperParent?

Last week on CBC's DocZone, they aired Hyper Parents, Coddled Kids. If you missed it, the link is, http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/Shows/Doc_Zone/ID=1405930535.

"Kids today are the most overprotected, overindulged, and overscheduled in history. Is all of this attention giving the next generation a competitive edge, or creating new problems that will last a lifetime?"

I would like to be able to answer no to my question, but I think I may have hyperparenting tendencies.

For instance, Scarlett is in a toddler class-she loves it, we sing, make crafts, have story time, dress up, and play with other kids. But when we started this class at one year of age, she was the only one taking her paint brush and eating the paint, and painting her hands and face. Mommy made all the art projects the first couple months. And yes, I stressed a little and finally bought her some paintbrushes and paint so that we could paint at home. And at home, with fewer distractions, and more time, Scarlett connected the brush to the paint and put it on the paper. Wow! She painted! By 14 months she was painting-but does it really matter at what age it happened? So I recognize my parental anxieties.

I do try to limit her activities to one scheduled activity per week. We have done more & when she has "baby class" and then swim lessons and play dates, that makes for a stressed mom and baby. One day not so long ago, I had carried her from the car into the house as she was sleeping, put her into the bed asleep, and had to wake her up two hours later so that I could change her and we could make our next appointment. Oops. So at the moment, we have her in one toddler class and I am cautiously deciding what else we can do.

It is easy to justify. With an only child, you want your babe to be able to experience everything and still play with other kids her age. Have you tried to schedule a play date lately? I'm all for impromptu ones these days, as I laugh at my inbox when I look at attempts to make plans with other parents. Between mom's work, baby activities, family obligations, etc. there is no time except for the playdate scheduled a month in advance. Assuming good health on both ends when the month is up, of course. I do have a few options for drop-in play groups, but many times the easiest options are the scheduled ones.

With work, we do have a vague schedule that we have to keep Scarlett on depending on the days she needs to leave the house with us. That can influence her sleep & play schedule, but the fact that we take her to the office does not automatically make us hyper parents.

And the advantages of NOT being a hyperparent? Kids need free time and they need impromtpu, unsupervised/ unstructured play. On the documentary, they use the example of rough and tumble play versus organized sport. Rough and tumble play helps kids develop subtle social cues that organized play doesn't allow. Different areas of the brain are activated when kids figure out things on their own. That alone is enough to convince me to keep Scarlett unscheduled as much as possible. And creativity? I believe that is born out of boredom and free time. (sorry I'd have to dig hard for the references on that one).

I think the documentary is well presented. Personally, I will keep it in mind when I am looking at how we parent and when deciding what are the best options for our daughter. We will probably still do the classes that she loves and I hope to try out different ones over time. I also do want to give her the opportunity to discover the world for herself. And time to do so.

1 comment:

  1. Just discovered your blog. Yee-haw! I totally agree about the value or boredom, BTW, and its connection to creativity. I think a lot of the problems for today's kids come not so much from Mom and Dad being very involved, or having lots of activities--it's that many parents are deeply, DEEPLY uncomfortable with their children being bored. As are many adults themselves, who keep so busy that they never pause to reflect on life. JMHO! :-)