How involved is too involved?
When they were born, there was very little they didn’t depend on their parents for. Since then, they may have tripled in size, but they are 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 their physical skills and desire for independence grow, it’s important for them 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 their toddlerhood is, of course, them . Baby doesn’t just have a better ability to do things for themself , like take off their own socks, and start to feed themself . They also have a growing desire to do those things – and so much more! – all on their own. In fact, Baby ’s desire to be independent, and to do things without your help, may very well grow a lot faster than their 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 them the chance to try things out, even if they 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 their motor skills, though. It could also be good for your relationship with them , and their state of mind as they grow. 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 them a little while longer, or worrying about their 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 themself , you’re getting ready for the future. It might just be holding their own spoon by themself today, but it’ll be a new skill that they gain 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.