Thursday, August 9, 2007

Letting Kids Be Kids

My son came home from football yesterday black and blue. Numerous bruises and scrapes. Now he has always been a great child to keep himself safe and out of harms way. He has always had enough self preservation instincts that I never worried about him playing sports. He has wrestled and played soccer and the like. However, suddenly I think he has lost that. It could be something about the pads he wears and the helmet that make him feel safe. However he is not nearly as safe as he seems to think he is.

However, I am learning a valuable lesson. As he is my first and oldest child, this is not something I have experienced before. But learning to let him go and make the mistakes and get hurt is one of the hardest lessons a parent will ever have to learn. I have found that I make a few of the same mistakes over and over when my parenting instincts kick in.

Mistake #1: Too much protection. I don't let him experience things that he might like because I am afraid he might get hurt. In this case he misses out on a lot of great experiences because he is being over mothered.
Mistake #2: Panic. When he becomes hurt or struggles, I panic and try to fix it. In this case he learns that A) Mommy will always fix things when he makes a mistake and there will be no consequences and B) He never learns how to fix things himself.
Mistake #3 Criticize. When he plays through pain or stress and complains about it I get cynical. Making comments like "well you chose to play" or "well then, you can just not play anymore" This causes him to feel ashamed for hurting and for playing through and being tough and it will also cause him not to feel comfortable coming to me with future problems, big or small.

While I worry about him significantly as he plays these rough sports, I do not want to stifle any interest or talent he might have. So I need to learn to sit back and relax and enjoy my child's ability and the fact that he is growing into a fine young man.

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