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Bubble Wrap Generation

post #1 of 80
Thread Starter 
This is what I keep calling it in my head.

I find this phenomenon so interesting, and saddening. I'm curious to hear others' thoughts about it. What have you seen, and what are your boundaries for your own kids. Maybe I'm completely off base here and I'm the one who's out of line (which may totally be the case since I seem to be in the minority everywhere I go!)

We were at a fun, new playground this weekend and every parent there was completely micromanaging their kids' play and following them around with a steady patter of "be careful! watch out! don't run! don't touch the mulch, it's dirty! oh, you want to climb, no, that's too high! don't push the swings with no one on it, it's only for kids to swing on! OMG DON'T GO NEAR THAT WATER! (one inch deep stream in the middle of the park) no, no, no no, and no" and on and on and on. Seriously, I couldn't figure out what would be ok to do.

One little boy came up and patted my baby's head in a totally normal way and the parents FREAKED out, yelling at him that he was NOT GENTLE, we never TOUCH PEOPLE- I played dumb and was like, what's the problem here? and they went on about him being a boy and not knowing how to play nice. I felt so bad for the little boy getting yelled at when he was being friendly and I didn't mind him coming to see my baby at all. I mean, wouldn't one rather have them stand there and be sure he is being gentle and show him how to touch nicely rather just just drag him away and act like he's bad One dad was following a little girl around, I'd guess ~2 1/2 yrs old, nonstop telling her to slow down, be careful, every single thing she did he was giving directions, and "helping". She wasn't allowed to run outside because she might fall (then when CAN kids run???)

These were kids of all ages, and I run into this at parks and in playgroups and at kids' classes and just about everywhere with all types of people. So it's not like it's an isolated occurance or certain "type" of people. I left feeling exhausted by listening to it, and frustrated on behalf of the kids, and wondering what are the long term effects of kids not getting to direct their play, or play freely without constant adult interference.

I totally get that I may not know the whole story- some kids may have special needs, or parents know what kind of help their kids need, or that they perhaps have gotten really hurt in the past doing certain activities so may need an extra warning. I get it. people may see me at times cautioning my kids or getting upset about something they may not understand, because I know their past history and others looking in may not.

But I let my kids play, freely, running, jumping, climbing, getting dirty, testing their limits, trying new things, and let them be creative and lead the play and am there to help if they need it. Sometimes in the process of that, if they get a bump or bruise or cut or muddy clothes or wet shoes in the course of playing or learning, that's fine, and it's part of life. Obviously if they are going to do something truly dangerous or harm someone else I redirect them. I'm a huge safety stickler, even to the point of serious anxiety- as far as things that could truly injure them or be deadly, like carseats, staying within eyesight, crossing streets, water safety, etc. But I teach them how to use knives, scissors, tools, at an early age, I don't prevent them from using those things because they're "dangerous".

So I'm just wondering if you know of any articles or other online discussions on this, or what are the long term consequences as this generation of kids becomes teens and adults. Or maybe I'm just nuts and that is normal parenting and my kids are just wild and dirty.
post #2 of 80
Check out http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/

Me, I'm too lazy to do all that micromanaging. Even my 18 month old doesn't get managed that much. I do tend to move him, since everything at the playground is too big for him to get on by himself.
post #3 of 80
I haven't read anything about this but I have to agree to an extent. I also let my children use knives/scissors etc. and in fact I'm pretty exhausted at other parents anxiety over my children climbing things like jungle gyms (isn't that what playgrounds are for?)

The only place I don't see so much of this sort of thing is at our home school play groups

I *am* one of these parents when my younger daughter (not quite three) wants to play in the shallow part of the river without a flotation device, but she can't swim yet and I think that's a pretty good time to trail your kid!
post #4 of 80
I see this all the time lately. It bugs me too.

I have an in home daycare. In my playroom, I have a jungle gym/slide thing that is about 4 1/2 feet tall. A three year old who had been climbing it for almost two years stood up on it (it has side rails) And her dad FREAKED out. He lunged for her to stop her from falling.

I looked at him like he was insane I think. I said, She can do backflips off of that thing, and has been scaling it in every possible way for two years. She's fine. I promise. But, he stood there with his hands behind her waiting for her body to hurl it'self off the side.

I have my weird fears though. Mine is stairs. I was always positive that my daughter would fall down the stairs. It was almost an obsession.

On the other hand, some parents use absolutely no common sense. I saw a girl (three-ish) standing on the wall of Glen Canyon dam. NO protection, NO adults holding her, and it's over 700 feet to the bottom. An elderly man pulled her down and yelled at her for making him old. LOL Her parents were shocked that anybody would be upset by that.

I encourage climbing, jumping, and other things that COULD hurt, but I stop behaviors that could cause actual injury.
post #5 of 80
I hear about this A LOT, but I can't say I've ever witnessed it. If anything, i wish people would pay more attention to their kids at the playground, instead of nonchalantly chatting with their friends while standing right nextto their 6ish looking year old throwing woodchips at my 18mo and taunting him (as happened today). Overall, I see a lot more kids who could use a bit more supervision.
post #6 of 80
Well, you only saw one part of it. Could be the parents had a really bad day or something traumatizing happened to make that trip stressful. Like, people probably think I'm an overbearing nut when we're near water. But seeing how I had a near drowning experience while holding my firstborn and pg with #2, drowning is the leading cause of death in males in my family, my two oldest almost drowned last year at a birthday party, I feel justified in being a total neurotic mess near bodies of water and insisting on safe play, holding hands, and no messing around.

Other than that, I'm usually laid back.
post #7 of 80

My toddler still doesn't have the best balance, and can easily climb up but not down. More than once I've literally caught him as he started to tumble backwards or fall headfirst off a four-foot-high ledge on the playground.

It might look like micromanaging to some parents, but I know his limits and how to keep him safe during play. I do encourage him to run, explore, get dirty, etc. but other parents might have different boundaries for their children, and that's okay too. They're not my kids, so I try not to worry about it.
post #8 of 80
I tend to see extremes here depending on the park. The park in the nice neighborhoods tend to have a lot of parents shadowing their kids and some neurotic parents blended in with the rest of us. That isn't to say that it isn't something that happens at all parks, but it seems like it is more likely to happen in the parks with nicer houses around. My dd invites kids to play with her and says hit to them at the park and she has been asked by several parents at our usual park if she knows their kid. It is frustrating to take my dd to a park where it is suppossed to be safe enough for kids to play with friends without interference only to have her quizzed like a possible child abuser. We tend to hang out more at the parks that aren't in the higher end neighborhoods lately because it is a problem that is getting worse rather than better.
post #9 of 80
I work in an ER and ICU. I see what can and does happen. My urge is to micro manage my 8 yo, I do my best not to do it. When he was three and had NO sense of fear or danger, I'm sure I appeared like one of those parents. But, once he developed age appropriate caution, I backed off.

Recently, I've had people with same age children (7 to 8 yo) question the following;

allowing DS to use a single stall bathroom alone in a public place
to play in the stream (knee deep) without life jacket
play outside in the yard with his friend in a safe and nosy neighborhood
jump feet first into deep water (he can swim well and not head first) with adequate supervision
go down slides at the water park
go on roller coasters
to play out of my line of sight with his cousin in the woods near my dad's house within ear shot

post #10 of 80
i am not up with all the terms but isnt this what helicopter parents are all about.

i see these parents around too. it makes me smile because i see for most of them its their first child. i see it mostly with dads than moms. with us too i am the laid back mom and ex is the OMG father.

however on the other hand the other side bugs me too. those who completely ignore their kids.
post #11 of 80
It also totally depends on the kid. My DD has always been veeeery cautious. You know that mom that everyone makes fun of because she's saying "Good sliding honey! Yay! You did great on the slide! Ooh the slide is so fun!!!"? That was me, for about a year. Because I wanted to encourage her to actually go down it... or, at least go down it not inching down on her tummy holding onto the sides for dear life! And this was the little toddler slide that came up to about my shoulder. On the other hand, this extreme caution means that I've never worried about her. She climbs very high structures and other parents are like "Um, you know your DD is all the way up there?" and I get to be neglectomommy and say "Oh, yeah. She's fine." Because she is.

My son only just started walking, so I don't really know how much of a daredevil he is. However, he's still a pretty new walker, and he falls a lot. So even though he looks old enough to do a fair amount on his own, yes I do shadow him closely when he's climbing or up high. Especially since he just wants to follow his sister and she's wiggling up the tallest structure. I already know that he's not as extremely cautious as his sister, but I don't know how much I can trust him yet not to jump off the 10' climbing structure if he gets up there. If it turns out that he is a little stuntman, then I'm not going to keep him from exploring and climbing... but I will be shadowing him closely until I know that I can trust him.
post #12 of 80
It takes me time to get comfy with a new feat my kid can do, so at first I followed her around a lot, but she wasn't great at climbing and was timid so I worried she'd back off of a structure if another kid got in her face. But we're talking baby/toddler time, and I think that's reasonable. Then when she recently got great at ladders, I stayed close while she was learning (at first she needed help), and now I mostly let her at it, unless she's doing the endless curvy one, because sometimes she still needs help coming back down if she goes up the curve (she's 3 and still a tad timid). It takes time I think for new parents to get used to the idea of wilder play-- but the AP playgroup with kids exploring the muddy creek, climbing trees and jumping down with ropes and whizzing about on bikes helped me

I agree, there are parents who just immediately shut down their kids, from types of playing or interacting. I guess some days you might have already changed clothes and really not want kiddo going in the stream, that's okay. But I get a lot of parents grabbing their kids away instead of ever letting them interact (unless... that's just me? I don't think I look scary, ). Then there are the parents who never stop their kids from throwing sand on mine over and over. But I think I've seen a nice majority in the middle. It would be exhausting and disheartening to see the bubble wrap type all the time!
post #13 of 80
I was probably one of these parents for about a year. DS is tall and big and strong for his age, and a bit of a daredevil, so when he was one, he had the strength and speed of a two-year-old but the judgment of a one-year-old. I aged 10 years that year. So it would have looked as though I was ridiculously shadowing a two-year-old, but I was actually trying to keep a giant one-year-old from leaping to his doom.
post #14 of 80
oh i have to add this. i just remembered.

with my dd you HAD to stay at least 2 feet away from her. she could not stand hovering. so when she was first crawling up the stairs at 10 months i would be at least 4 or 5 steps below all ready to catch her. if i got any closer she would turn and look and frown at me. and trip. she has never, ever fallen or even tripped on the stairs when i was around, as long as i maintained the distance. but her dad just ignored her looks and was always one step behind her. she always tripped or fell when he was around.

i noticed that about my friend too. she who was laid back her son was completely different with her. confidently strutting around the playground. but on the days when her dad brougth him for the playdate he was just barely inches from him stopping him and he was a completely different child with him. nervous, shy tripping scared child. the very thing he could do confidently with his mom, he was tripping over.
post #15 of 80
If you mean was I tripping DS up, no, I mean I was staying a couple of feet away from him instead of sitting and chatting on a bench. I wasn't any closer to him than most people stay to their one-year-olds, it just would have looked too close for a two-year-old, and he appeared to be two.
post #16 of 80
I personally think there is a happy medium to helicoptering them and letting them try new things out and yet all I ever see are the extremes. Sat we spent the day at the park and it was a major bubble wrap experience to the point where my 3.5 yr old DS cried three times because there was no one to play with. The park was packed but none of the parents would let their kids play with anyone. The last 20 mins out of a three hour trip he played with a sweet little boy though, so it wasnt all a bust.

I also witnessed something that is still bothering me. Under the structure there is a little play area with counters and seats, like a diner, where you can use the mulch to make stuff. DS and I went under there to make a 7 layer cake and some pizza. A 2 yr old sweet girl was under there putting mulch on the counter and her mother was screaming at her that it WASNT HAMBURGER IT WAS MULCH and to put it back on the ground and it was so sad I could cry. To squash creativity like that.
post #17 of 80
My kid won't play unless I'm right there with her and encouraging her. In fact, if I don't remind her to be cautious she also won't do anything. She seriously will just look at me like 'uh... what do I do?' When I'm right there with her and gently reminding her to watch her step or go feet first down the slide, she WILL climb the ladder and go down the slide.

I've had people I micromanage and that i'm a helicopter parent. These are the same people who let their two year old play in the pool alone with no one watching... and often don't have a clue where he is because they trust their 8 year old to take care of him just fine. I AM cautious with my daughter and certainly moreso than many of the people I know around here... but its exactly what she needs right now. If I don't follow her somewhat closely, she will just turn around and cling to my leg. She IS my first child so I can't say this bothers me that much. I happily let her do all sorts of things that some would probably not allow... but with me right there next to her. She doesn't play on playground equipment alone.

I do let her run though... in fact, I encourage it!
post #18 of 80
I hover by mine until after age 2 and after I've seen them climb whatever without a single slip a few times. Most of the parents I see at the park do the same but until like 3.5 I guess, but my boys are both rather strong and careful though adventurous. We mostly play in public at the zoo playground and the park the yuppie/hippie area of town. Any play with sticks is (oddly IMO) forbidden a lot of times though.
post #19 of 80
Oh, this drives me crazy. But DS is a pretty cautious, laid back kid so I don't really worry about him getting ahead of himself (or me!) by being a daredevil.

What really gets me is my mom- she's always saying "Be careful! Be careful! Be careful!" every 20 seconds when she's with him. That is just a spectacularly unhelpful thing to say IMO. Most of the time *I* can't even tell what she's cautioning him against.... how is a 2-year old supposed to figure it out?

I wish she would at least be specific in what she tells him. "Keep your fingers away from the door!" or something similar. But, of course, the vast majority of the time there is nothing specific to worry about, which is the point.

post #20 of 80
Originally Posted by 2cutiekitties View Post
Under the structure there is a little play area with counters and seats, like a diner, where you can use the mulch to make stuff. DS and I went under there to make a 7 layer cake and some pizza. A 2 yr old sweet girl was under there putting mulch on the counter and her mother was screaming at her that it WASNT HAMBURGER IT WAS MULCH and to put it back on the ground and it was so sad I could cry. To squash creativity like that.
This reminds me of something that bothered me at a couple of public pools we went to this summer. The RULES they had were unbelievable! At one, you couldn't sit on the gutter at the side of the pool. No idea why. You could sit on the side, but not a half step down in the gutter. You couldn't block the water flow while there... it was just weird.

But what really got me was in the kiddie pool (you know, 1 ft deep max) they had a slide structure thing, and underneath the slide was a tunnel. And they didn't allow any kids (or grownups *me* ahem) to crawl through the tunnel.

Ummm.... WHY do you have a tunnel if no one is allowed to go through it? I mean, really!
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