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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well, my DD turned 3!

We had a rugher road than i'd expected, with a break-up, early loss of the BFing relationship and numerous health problems in there to boot, but here we are, 3 years later and still snuggling


But i'm beginning to worry about my own reactions as a parent. DD is a fairly normal 3 year old but more at the crazy end of the scale than not (like in those situations where you imagine the worst case scenario if you leave them alone/let go of their hand/etc. DD almost ALWAYS does that worst case thing) but not naughty or willful, just very smart, very curious, very unafraid.

I don't have a sense of her. With DP i can shut my eyes and "find" him with whatever part of one it is that connects to others, but with DD i have never had this. It's so acute with DP i used to be able to tell when he was putting the car in the garage, when he was in the shower, before we lived together when he'd gone home after spending time with me. With DD i can be in the same ROOM and if i can't see her it's as if she's gone. We only stopped using the baby monitor (audio only) when she turned 3 because even at night i seem to only wake once she's upset and loud and never before (wasn't like that when she was tiny, but she sleeps in her own much-loved bedroom now, her choice, rather than with me) and i never knew if i would know if she is alright. (i have to admit, thinking about it, that times when she is ACTUALLY ill or in distress i do have a powerful "check on her" instinct which wakes me if i'm sleeping and needles me into action if i'm not)

I think i need to learn somehow how to "feel" her better, or maybe i need to be this way because she really COULD get into dangerous trouble? There was one occasion, i was with my dad, she was about 19 months and we went to the park. She climbed a short flight of stone steps. I went to help her down again, my dad stopped me "it's ok" he said "don't smother, she's fine, let her do it". I stopped, held my breath, and watched her fall down the steps. She was essentially fine (needed dusting down and cuddlng, but no band-aids) but my dad afterwards apologised and said he should have known better than to second guess my instinct but now we are another 18 months on and i am feeling like i need to question it. Maybe i don't?

I think for me the fact that i wore her pretty much constantly for the first year, and then frequently from when she could walk (14 months) and right up until now (though i have cut down considerably becuase she is as tall and heavy as an average 4.5 year old and have ongoing shoulder problems from carrying her in the meitai) i am so used to being that close to her that as soon as there's any distance between us it's like i can't handle it and go onto red alert. It's not that i think she'll be kidnapped or anything it's things like - when we go to the museum there's a kids library and XP will leave her there and pop back to see her every few moments, but every time he comes to talk to me (i generally have a coffee and unwind while he takes over some parenting) i feel twitchy like "what is she doing? is she ok? go back to her!" though i don't say it. And yes he has on occasion found her half way up a bookcase or taking every hardback off the shelves to build a tower, but so what? SHe's never done any damage, never done whatever mysterious hing am worried about (which i can't even put my finger on!).

So how do i form a connection so i can do without visual contact? How can i learn to relax and stop relying on physical and visual contact to guide my instincts? How do i learn to P without constant A?

I do acknowledge that part of the problem is that she is still my "baby" (youngest, only in fact) but we're hoping to ttc this summer. Meanwhile i still need to learn how to let go. Up until now i think it's been fine but i'm worried she's going to miss out on some of the joyous private moments of childhood (which i can remember having) due to my hovering and checking all the time as she gets bigger.

Any ideas or thoughts welcome!
Thanks
 

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Are you familiar with the ideas articulated in the Continuum Concept? Some of the theory is that until they're mobile babies should be in arms the entire time but once they're walking you need to let them explore their world and trust their natural ability to only do what they can handle--no hovering or constantly telling them 'careful, careful' since this implies that you DON'T trust them to navigate the world on their own. Obviously this has some issues being applied to modern life instead of the Amazonian tribal community where Jean Liedloff observed it originally, but it sounds like you're instinctively sensing the unnatural disconnect between this style of parenting and where you are now. There's a long thread on MDC about it here which might be a jumping-off point and give you some stuff to consider. And it has nothing to do with not being 'attached' to your child, since that's a bond of love and trust that runs both ways that you've worked hard to create!
:
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks!

I am familiar with the CC, yes, and some of what is in there (like involving kids in normal tasks and not having them as the focus of activities but rather as equal members of the general group) i am quite good at (my 3 year old is a proficient veg chopper and dish washer for example) but the whole trust and safety thing is where i really fall down.

I have tried (and clearly need to try harder). BUt i'll look at her doing something and think "if i don't step in she's going to fall and smash her face up" and then i force myself to hold back and then she falls and smashes her face up. Without exception EVERY time i have forced myself to ignore the hover instinct whatever i thought would happen happened, and so i'm too darn scared to risk it half the time now. She really doesn't seem to know her limitatons (i just went to the kitchen to her yells for help to find her clinging to the top of a high pile of just-washed dishes she had climbed onto from a chair - why!? HOw!?) - we took her to the beach at the weekend and the first thing she did was sprint straight out against the tide into the deep water - she can't swim! She seems to have no fears of the world or instincts of safety, she once lifted a glowing red coal out of the fire and dropped it on the rug - it melted right through and burnt the floor (thankfully didn't start a fire) - this after a week of avoiding the fire so reliably we hadn't put a guard up yet (now have a guard that is bolted into place). Luckily her hands were so dry she didn't burn much. She seriously does such crazy things, how do i learn to let them happen and trust she's going to be ok? *sigh* this is hard! lol.
 

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You know, to me if your instincts are telling you you need to watch her/put the guards on earlier/make sure she's not setting things on fire, then maybe your instincts are actually right.

Not to attack CC, but it bothers me to hear the idea that you should ignore your instincts in service of an external timeline that says "at 3 kids should be fine alone" or whatever.

At 3 I don't think you are smothering her if you're supervising her because she needs supervision. I predict that in a year or two you'll feel differently. Your particular daughter may just be the kids with the "genius ideas" who needs a bit more shepherding a bit longer.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by GuildJenn View Post
You know, to me if your instincts are telling you you need to watch her/put the guards on earlier/make sure she's not setting things on fire, then maybe your instincts are actually right.
:

I'm a fan of much of the CC, but there are many ways in which my experience of mothering failed those standards. For a while this troubled me, but I'm more confident now. It's not like we can just shake off the culture which has been handed down through generations that have been removed from a nature-based lifestyle.

Anyway, I tend to hover with my 2 yr old. I remember reading about a study which showed that babies had a strong sense of self protection and would avoid crawling over what appeared to be a precipice (but was covered by thick glass). So the first time DS crawled toward the edge of the bed I held back and wanted to express confidence and trust in him, CC-style, and then I watched him plunge himself right over!
So when the stakes were higher and he was exploring the playground, yeah, I hovered. It doesn't help that he's a tip-toe walker (runner--he usually prefers to go fast) and somewhat lacking in physical finesse (much like his mama), so he falls all the time. It's tough to find the balance between being confident in him and not holding on to the notion that he is clumsy and being there to provide protection and support as needed. Just this week he demonstrated greater competency with stairs so I've relaxed some with that--before then he would flail his legs playfully sometimes, not getting that his feet needed a solid connection with the step to keep him from tumbling down...

My point is that you know your child better than anyone, and that takes precedence over any book or ideology of parenting. Keep listening to your gut.
 

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I think it's really hard to apply CC in the modern world. Way too many things around us that have disrupted the child's continuum. So it's better to trust your instincts.

I think 3 is way too young for the sort of independence you're thinking she should have. You have the right idea about trusting her, but you need to model self-trust by trusting your instincts! When she's just a bit older you'll find yourself letting go naturally and without second-guessing yourself.
 

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gosh - I'm new to the theory of 'gentle discipline', but I think I naturally practice it with my children...so if I'm suggesting something that disagrees, please, just take it with a grain of salt.

I think a mother's instinct is nearly always right. The balance I try to find is that within our own home - I make it AS SAFE AS POSSIBLE and create boundaries that when followed (not always) they can explore seamlessly without me hovering. Like - we sit on chairs, we NEVER climb on them. Every outlet is covered, every cord is wrangled, etc etc etc. She jumps on the couch in the playroom, and I tell her about the consequences of falling OFF the couch. But in reality, I know that it's not going to kill her if she falls off, and my children HONESTLY learn best by natural consequences (don't we all?) So - by NOT hovering, she may have a few bruises and scrapes, but she is LEARNING her limits.

In my opinion, you just have to weigh the risks - what's the worst thing that can happen? If the worst thing that happens is she falls and scrapes her face - or maybe gets a bloody lip, I may hold back. If the worst thing that can happen is she gets a broken bone, a 3rd degree burn, gets hit by a car, etc. I HOVER, yk?

I also think that it IS a learned skill to back off - especially with your first - especially when you don't have a 'younger' - but it will get easier, I promise.
 

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As long as you are able to follow her in a relaxed manner (not causing her to be anxious) I would bet that you are doing what is right. My dd is very different from yours but if I had an active child like yours, you bet I would be right there most of the time.
 

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I have a 3 yr old and now an 8wk old. I got larger when I was pg and it got more awkward to be physically attached to my ds and do for him. This led to him having to learn to be more independent physically and emotionally as well. I was still his homebase but he had to explore without me a lot of the time. He and I had to adapt. Also now that I have the baby as well I find that my instinct for what he is doing when I can't see and can't check i.e. nursing has advanced tremendously. I think that nature has a way of advancing those instincts when they are needed. Also my son is more timid and has needed me close by to explore his surroundings. He wouldn't without me. Now that he is coming out of his shell and becoming more bold I am learning to hang back until he calls for me or looks like he's doing something dangerous. I think it's a process. I don't think you need to stop APing. I think you just need to learn to be that homebase yk? AP in the younger years is more about the physical contact and as they grow this lessens and becomes more about the emotional IMO.
 
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