Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Teach don't protect

I was having an interesting conversation at work about moving, and the conversation changed to parenting. An odd twist for my friend and I, since he brought it up and doesn't have any kids. John started telling me all of his fears while watching his nephew, and how he was going crazy trying to keep him out of everything. Flashes of Finding Nemo came to my mind.

Marlin: I promised I'd never let anything happen to him.
Dory: Hmm. That's a funny thing to promise.
Marlin: What?
Dory: Well you can't never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo.

Then it struck me how often I've seen this. Kids at the park with parents who look at me like I'm crazy letting my little 1.5 year old climb the steps to the tall slide, and slide down it. Kids cutting with scissors at an early age. Climbing up and down steps before they can walk. I realized, that I have a parenting philosophy that I hadn't put my finger on before.

Teach, don't protect.

Yes scissors can be dangerous, teach the children to use them properly and they won't be hurt. Keep the children away from scissors completely, and if they are found by mistake, then an accident is more likely to occur.

Teach kids to climb stairs as soon a they can crawl. Stairs can be dangerous, it's better that they know how to handle them safely, then not know how to handle them at all. As soon as my kids could crawl I put them on the 2nd stair and showed them over and over how to crawl down the stairs. It was great for them. The stairs become a large muscle activity instead of something to be avoided.

Teach kids about soap and using it, toothpaste and brushing without swallowing. Eating these things can be awful for kids, but teaching them the right way can prevent the damage when they find something even at someone else's house.