Safety Sense and Self Confidence

Welcome to the September 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Staying Safe
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and tips about protecting our families. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
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Are you the kind of parent that sets back in what Charlotte Mason refers to as  "masterly inactivity"? Here's what Charlotte said on the topic: " (Parents) try to dominate them too much, even when we fail to govern, and we are unable to perceive that wise and purposeful letting alone is the best part of education” (Vol. 3, p. 27). I love that! "Wise and purposeful letting alone is the best part of education." It can be easy to feel we need to jump in to protect our child from any discomfort, but is that wise?
 We live in a different time, we may look back at our childhood and remember long days outside playing with our friends in the neighborhood. We didn't come home until we heard the call for dinner, maybe we climbed trees and played in the river all without a care in the world. Our parents did not follow us around and watch our every move. My husband told a story of him running around the streets of Paris as a young boy. That isn't something that would happen in our day and age.
 It's all about balance. Kids need time to explore on their own. Of course it wouldn't be safe to let our child run free in the streets,but we need to allow them time to find their own sense of security. If we are overprotective and help our child with every hurdle they face, we are actually undermining their development. Take the playground for example, would it be best to hold onto our child's body every step they take, or would it be best to allow them to find a way to hold on and balance themselves; maybe offering a reminder to hold on if we feel necessary. If we give our little ones the chance to take small risks and chances, they'll learn self confidence. This helps them develop a sense of safety and manage their fears.
 Show them a safe way to take risks. Worrying, hovering and being overprotective does not help our children. It doesn't solve any problems or make our children any safer, it just sucks the joy out of everything.
This idea can even be applied to infants. In her new book, "Peaceful Parent, HAPPY KIDS" Dr. Laura Markham explains "Help your baby develop his emerging safety sense. For instance, as babies become mobile, most will scoot to a stairway or the edge of a bed to look over but won't crawl off. Instead of scooping her up to prevent her going near the edge, we can spot her so she can't actually hurt herself and observe her as she explores. Babies who feel "in charge" of their own safety learn more quickly how to keep themselves safe. "- Page 211 So by following this advice, from an early age our child will learn to take safe risks and develop self confidence. We all want our children to be safe, none of us want our children to be hurt. But how do you find that fine line between keeping your child safe and giving them space to explore? Balance. We can not remove every germ and obstacle from the way of our children. But we can be there to help them lay the foundation in developing their own safety sense and safe risk taking.
How do you help your child develop their own safety sense?
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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by afternoon September 10 with all the carnival links.)
  • Stranger Danger — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares her approach to the topic of "strangers" and why she prefers to avoid that word, instead opting to help her 4-year-old understand what sorts of contact with adults is appropriate and whom to seek help from should she ever need it.
  • We are the FDA — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger makes the case that when it comes to food and drugs, parents are necessarily both their kids' best proponent of healthy eating and defense against unsafe products.
  • You Can't Baby Proof Mother Nature — Nicole Lauren at Mama Mermaid shares how she tackles the challenges of safety when teaching her toddler about the outdoors.
  • Bike Safety With Kids — Christy at Eco Journey In the Burbs shares her tips for safe cycling with children in a guest post at Natural Parents Network.
  • Spidey Sense — Maud at Awfully Chipper used a playground visit gone awry to teach her children about trusting their instincts.
  • Watersustainablemum explains how she has used her love of canoeing to enable her children to be confident around water
  • Safety without baby proofing — Hannabert at Hannahandhorn talks about teaching safety rather than babyproofing.
  • Coming of Age: The Safety Net of Secure AttatchmentGentle Mama Moon reflects on her own experiences of entering young adulthood and in particular the risks that many young women/girls take as turbulent hormones coincide with insecurities and for some, loneliness — a deep longing for connection.
  • Mistakes You Might Be Makings With Car Seats — Car seats are complex, and Brittany at The Pistachio Project shares ways we might be using them improperly.
  • Could your child strangle on your window blinds? — One U.S. child a month strangles to death on a window blind cord — and it's not always the obvious cords that are the danger. Lauren at Hobo Mama sends a strong message to get rid of corded blinds, and take steps to keep your children safe.
  • Tips to Help Parents Quit Smoking (and Stay Quit) — Creating a safe, smoke-free home not only gives children a healthier childhood, it also helps them make healthier choices later in life, too. Dionna at Code Name: Mama (an ex-smoker herself) offers tips to parents struggling to quit smoking, and she'll be happy to be a source of support for anyone who needs it.
  • Gradually Expanding Range — Becca at The Earthling's Handbook explains how she is increasing the area in which her child can walk alone, a little bit at a time.
  • Safety Sense and Self Confidence — Do you hover? Are you overprotective? Erica at ChildOrganics discusses trusting your child's safety sense and how this helps your child develop self-confidence.
  • Staying Safe With Food Allergies and Intolerances — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is sharing how she taught her son about staying safe when it came to his food allergies.
  • Don't Touch That Baby!Crunchy Con Mom offers her 3 best tips for preventing unwanted touching of your baby.
  • Playground Wrangling: Handling Two Toddlers Heading in Opposite Directions — Megan at the Boho Mama shares her experience with keeping two busy toddlers safe on the playground (AKA, the Zone of Death) while also keeping her sanity.
  • Letting Go of "No" and Taking Chances — Mommy at Playing for Peace tries to accept the bumps, bruises and tears that come from letting her active and curious one-year-old explore the world and take chances.
  • Preventing Choking in Babies and Toddlers with Older Siblings — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now gives tips on preventing choking in babies and toddlers along with Montessori-inspired tips for preventing choking in babies and toddlers who have older siblings working with small objects.
  • Keeping Our Children Safe: A Community and National Priority — September has many days and weeks dedicated to issues of safety; however, none stir the emotions as does Patriot Day which honors those slain the terrorist attacks. Along with honoring the victims, safety officals want parents to be ready in the event of another disaster whether caused by terrorists or nature. Here are their top tips from Mary at Mary-andering Creatively.
  • A Complete Family: Merging Pets and Offspring — Ana at Panda & Ananaso shares the ground rules that she laid out for herself, her big brown dog, and later her baby to ensure a happy, safe, and complete family.
  • Be Brave — Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about helping her kids learn to be brave so that they can stay safe, even when she's not around.
  • Catchy PhrasingMomma Jorje just shares one quick tip for helping kids learn about safety. She assures there are examples provided.
  • Know Your Kid — Alisha at Cinnamon&Sassfras refutes the idea that children are unpredictable.
  • Surprising car seat myths — Choosing a car seat is a big, important decision with lots of variables. But there are some ways to simplify it and make sure you have made the safest choice for your family. Megan at Mama Seeds shares how, plus some surprising myths that changed her approach to cars eats completely!
  • I Never Tell My Kids To Be Careful — Kim is Raising Babes, Naturally, by staying present and avoiding the phrase "be careful!"

7 comments

"Wise and purposeful letting alone" — I need to write that on a wall! I totally agree with you. My childhood was so much more free-form than my kids' experience today. I try to give them as much time and scope (as is now legally allowed, sigh) for exploration and play.

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My natural inclination is to hover, but having another baby has helped a lot! Lol. He naturally gets a lot more freedom now because I'm busy taking care of baby and I know it's been good for him (my sons are 4 years old and 7 months old).

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One of our favorite memories is when Sofi was a baby and everyone was so worried about her falling all of the time. Sofi WAS especially accident prone, and did fall fairly often - but not from places that generally could cause her any harm. She was particularly small, and we had foot stools in the living room which she used to climb onto the couch, etc. Developmentally, it was appropriate for her to be climbing on to the couches and things that level, but because she was so small, people perceived this as dangerous. People were always taking the foot stools away from her, holding the footstools so that she couldn't move them, etc. One day, she was climbing on one of the stools and Grandma was holding Sofi's arm as she did. Grandma turned to me and said, "I'm just so scared she is going to fall and get hurt!" I replied, completely nonchalantly, "Well, if she falls from the stool, she will possibly hit her head and get a goose egg. It would be uncomfortable and she would be sad. But, if she fell right now, the way that you are holding her arm, it could be dislocated and some tendon and muscle damage could be done - so we would have to go to the hospital." Grandma was quite offended and moved across the room, but Daddy and I still chuckle over it to this day. Sofi knew how to use those stools, and the people around her actually made it more dangerous for her, in trying to protect her.

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I could not agree more about trusting a baby's inborn safety skills and just "spotting" to prevent mishaps! My son (now 8) has always had a great sense of what he can't do. When he first learned to climb the stairs at 10 months old, I followed him up, and I could see that he was about to turn around and try to go down the same way (crawling, head first). I was ready to catch him. But when he had leaned forward enough to feel that he was about to fall, he just sat back and cried--he was sad that he could not do it, but he accepted that fact. Over the next month we saw him studying the problem by climbing on and off of a cushion in different ways. One day he crawled up the 2 steps to the landing and then came down crawling backward. He actually said something like, "AHA!" and then he went up the entire staircase and came back down carefully, no problems. If we had gated off the stairs and forbidden him to try, he would not have been able to learn this.
---'Becca

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I've definitely gotten more laid back as time has passed. I've always tried to refrain from hovering, allowing both kids to have their freedom and space to explore. But with Ailia, I've gone even further - probably because I know she has Kieran there to keep her safe, too :)

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This is an aspect of parenting that I find most difficult to watch, hovering parents. I believe they have been described as helicopter parents. I love the expression wise and purposeful letting alone if only more parents would!

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This is an area of conflict between my husband and myself. I want to give my daughters more freedom to learn on their own and make mistakes. He often follows them around saying, "Careful!" which may have something to do with the way he was raised (his mother does the same thing). I know that other mothers on the playground think I'm not watching my kids enough because I'm not hovering. They will even say to me, "Do you see what your daughter is doing?" Um, yes, I do, thank you very much.

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