3 Ways Parents Hinder Child Development

Control freak-Type A Personality-Perfectionist- Anal- Worry Wart-Anxious…all words that admittedly deserve a place in my bio.  I like to tell people that I am a recovering perfectionist but that is really just a big lie…I’m still a full-fledged perfectionist.

I like things neat and tidy.  I like control. I worry.  Why am I airing my dirty laundry? I am learning that these are 3 ways parents may hinder their child’s development and I sure as heck don’t want to do that if I can help it.

I have to overcome my “things” because my “things” can be detrimental to child development especially if my “things” keep my children from doing their job…PLAYING.

Our kids need to be kids

Play is essential to healthy childhood development.  According to the Childhood Development Institute, play influences the development of fine and gross motor skills, language, socialization, personal awareness, emotional well-being, creativity, problem-solving and learning ability.

They need to get their hands dirty.

They need to come home with grass and mud stains on their clothes to show how hard they played.

They need to climb trees and learn how to become sure-footed.

They need to spin in circles til they make themselves dizzy.

They need to walk backwards up the slide to see how it feels to move in a different way than normal.

They need to wear mismatched clothes and learn their own sense of style.

They need to make messes and learn how to clean up.

They need to wear tank tops and shorts in the winter to realize that being cold isn’t much fun.

They need to scream so they can learn how to be quiet.

They need to move so they can learn how to be still.

They need to make bad choices from time to time so they can learn through natural consequences how to make good choices.

They need to challenge our boundaries so we have the opportunity to stand firm in the boundaries set and give them a sense of safety and security.

They need to fight with their siblings so they learn the art of compromise and how to say “I’m sorry.”

Our kids need opportunities because that is how they learn about themselves, relationships, and the world around them.

What can happen is that our grown-up “things” can get in the way and we can hinder healthy neurological development and growth.

It was crazy hard for me at first, but I’m getting better at letting my kids be creative even though their creativity may throw my sensory system in to overdrive, make me tense up, and create extra work for me.

3 ways parents hinder child development

Jump to the worst case scenario

Have you ever read the book If You Give a Cat a Cupcake? My husband says I am soooo that cat.  What happens in the book is someone speculating what will happen if you were to give a cat a cupcake.

If you give him a cupcake, he may want sprinkles. When he gets the sprinkles, he’s going to accidentally dump them all over the floor.  Then, the sprinkles on the floor will feel like sand at the beach, so he will want to go to the beach.  At the beach, he will put a bunch of stuff in his pail and realize it is too heavy to carry, so he will want to go to the gym. When he goes to the gym, he will feel strong and want to go mountain climbing.  While mountain climbing, he will….  It goes on and on and on with one mishap or crazy idea after another.

I tend to be just like the cat and can easily get sucked into this trap of worry.  “Well, if I let him ride his bike to his friend’s house, he may get hit by a car. Then, we will have to go to the hospital, where he will get some kind of crazy infection in his leg. Then, we will have to amputate his leg and he will never walk again. Because of that, he will suffer from depression and drop out of school.  Once he drops out of school, yada, yada, yada.”

Catch my drift?  I think many of us can jump to the worse case scenario and, because of that, hinder our children from doing something that may be an amazing experience for them.

What I’m learning to do to help with this is notice when I am going down that rabbit hole and then stop and consider the best-case scenario vs. the worst.

What if my child has an amazing time?

What if my child develops deeper friendships?

What if my child does get their feelings hurt but they learn and grow and become a better person because of it?

What if my child makes the most amazing memory?

What if this opportunity is an opportunity for growth?

I certainly don’t want to keep my kids from any of that!!!

 

Mess-tastrophie

 

mess-tastrophie

 

 

I’ve already admitted I am a bit of a perfectionist and definitely type A.  I do not like messes and do not like things out of place.

That is my nature and that will probably never change.  What I have had to do, though, is realize that my kids need to make messes and that a little mess does not equal a catastrophe.

They need to express themselves by drawing all over their faces with sharpies (I hope that is not just my kids!)

They need to bake and make the kitchen look like a bomb went off.

They need to play with their food (up to a certain age 😊).

They need to bring in slugs and put them in a Tupperware container to keep as a pet only to have the slug get loose in your house and leave a “slug trail”.

They need to bring home the class pet mouse (Ok.  So that one was really hard for me.)

They need to rake up piles of leaves only to jump in and roll in them.

They need to get sand in their bathing suit.

They need to use every ingredient in the house to make slime.

They need to put frosting all over their faces.

They need to put peanut butter on their toes so the dogs can lick it off.

They need to bathe in a mud puddle (That picture above was my daughter and her friends a few weeks ago.)

So, in case you can’t tell, this all happens in my house and more often then I’d like to admit. Don’t think for a second this doesn’t make my blood pressure rise. But if I really think about it, not one of those things has lasting negative effects but can have a lot of positive ones.

If we can overcome our “things”, realizing that the beauty in making a mess is neurological growth and development, then we can actually help our children develop skills for emotional and behavioral regulation, motor skill, and academic skills.

child development

Fear

This is a BIG one for me.  I already mentioned that I am a If You Give a Cat a Cupcake person but fear can get the best of me.

I worry my kids will get hurt.

I worry my kids will get sick.

I worry my kids will get their feelings hurt.

I worry my kids will get abducted.

I worry my kids will get in the wrong crowd.

I worry my kids will face rejection.

I worry my kids will make bad choices that will lead them into trouble.

I worry I have this mothering thing all wrong.

That’s just the beginning of my worries (Hold on while I wipe my tears.)

What I have had to learn, however, is that our kids sense our fear and anxiety and feed off of it.

I’ve also learned how much my fear of the “What ifs” can keep me in a place where I hold them back from being kids.

I don’t want to do that!

I don’t want to hold my kids back because of my “things”.  I don’t want them to grow up with fear and anxiety.  Caution? Yes.  Fear and anxiety? No.

If you’re anything like me and have some “things” you battle with, just remember that you are doing the best you can and that is good enough. But, also keep in mind that it is through playing and interacting with the world we live in, through touch and movement, that kids grow their foundation needed to grow in to confident and successful young adults.  And, that it is through exercise, that kids grow a better brain.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not telling you to throw all caution and judgement to the wind.  What I am gently suggesting is that you dig deep within and see if any of your “things” are keeping your child from his or her job (PLAY!).  When we let them play, we facilitate helping them to grow in to confident, well-adjusted, successful young adults.

Cindy Utzinger

Cindy Utzinger is an Occupational Therapist and author of “Why is My Kid Doing That?” A Sensory Approach to Understanding Your Child’s Behavior. She equips parents with the tools to help see their child’s behavior through a sensory lens.
what is proprioception

What Proprioception Is and Why Kids Crave It

8 dice and card games your kids will love

10 Dice and Card Games Your Whole Family Will Love

Everything You Wanted to Know About Your Child's Tactile System

Everything You Need to Know About Your Child’s Tactile System