How involved is too involved?
When he was born, there was very little he didn’t depend on his parents for. Since then, he may have tripled in size, but he is still pretty little. That can mean it’s harder for parents to recognize when to step back a little, and let their children grow into a little more independence. Baby ’s body isn’t the only thing that’s growing every day, though, and as his physical skills and desire for independence grow, it’s important for him to have the chance to try those new skills, and that new attitude, out.
The toddler factor
One of the biggest differences between Baby ’s infancy and his toddlerhood is, of course, him . Baby doesn’t just have a better ability to do things for himself , like take off his own socks, and start to feed himself . He also has a growing desire to do those things – and so much more! – all on his own. In fact, Baby ’s desire to be independent, and to do things without your help, may very well grow a lot faster than his ability to do those things.
The difference in speed between ability and how much your little one just wants to can make for some messy mealtimes, some splashy bathtimes, and some wacky outfits – and probably a few tantrums along the way, too. These less-than-picture-perfect experiences are how Baby learns, though, and giving him the chance to try things out, even if he might not have the coordination to master them quite yet, is a valuable experience.
The helicopter effect
Giving Baby a little extra freedom now isn’t just good for his motor skills, though. It could also be good for your relationship with him , and his state of mind as he grows. Studies examining the effect of so-called “helicopter parenting” suggest that over-involvement in children’s lives, to the point of getting in the way of their independence, can get in the way of their confidence and the development of problem-solving skills they might need later in life.
That doesn’t mean tying Baby ’s shoes for him a little while longer, or worrying about his safety on the playground are bad things to do – they’re definitely still part of a parent’s job. But by getting started recognizing which skills Baby might be ready to start taking over for himself , you’re getting ready for the future. It might just be holding his own spoon by himself today, but it’ll be a new skill that he gains tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that too. By getting into the habit of adapting to change as Baby grows able to be more independent, you’re setting both of you up for the healthy growth of your parent-child relationship through the coming months and years.