Parenting Tips: Four Simple Tips To Help You Stop Policing Your Child And Start Parenting
By Dr. Charles Sophy
In today's political climate, it's easy to fall into the pattern of
over-protecting our children. Day in and day out, we are bombarded
with stories of terrorism and senseless violence in the media. It's
natural to want to cling to our children and not let them out of our
sights, policing their every action. But there is a difference
between policing your children and parenting.
Parents often find themselves in a situation where, out of love and
a deep concern for the child's safety, they are controlling the
child's every move. So how does one get from the point of
controlling their child's every action to feeling secure that the
child is responsible enough and sensible enough to choose safe
activities and sensible friends.
We all want what is best for our children and the act of policing is
born of that feeling. But sometimes, what's best for our child is to
loosen the apron strings and allow the child to experience life and
the empowering feeling of holding our trust. When we police our
children, we react to the situation as we have experienced it. When
we ask our sullen teenager about school or a new friend and receive
no response, our initial reaction may be that the child is hiding
something because that was our reason decades ago when asked the
same question. Recollections of our own experiences are not the same
as judging the reality of the current situation and can often lead
to conflicts with our children.
You are your child's FIRST teacher. As your child grows and
experiences life, it is important to navigate them through their
experiences, always keeping in mind the foundation that is being
laid for a healthy adult life.
Christopher is 13 years old and loves to play hockey, snowboard and
snowmobile – or he would if he were ever permitted the chance.
Christopher's father was 13 when he crashed his uncle's dirt bike,
breaking a collarbone and shattering his ankle. Christopher's mother
has never participated in group sports or outdoor activities and
doesn't see the benefit of her child doing so. As a teenager, she
played baseball for half a season until a stray pitch broke her
nose. Both have determined that Christopher is too irresponsible to
drive a motorized vehicle and too reckless to play hockey or
Christopher's Aunt and Uncle are natural athletes and avid outdoor
enthusiasts. On a recent family gathering at the cottage, Aunt and
Uncle cleared an ice rink for all the kids and started a rousing
game of hockey. Rules where established – no checking, keep your
stick low, keep an eye on the little ones and let them slap the puck
every once in a while – and all the kids were soon laughing and
playing safely under the watchful eye of Aunt and Uncle.
Christopher was anxious to join but mom feared that he would get
injured and was told he could not participate. "I don't want you
getting a puck in the face" and "You'll run over your little cousin
and hurt him because you don't pay attention" were her replies to
each request. Christopher shouted "It's not fair, I never get to do
anything fun!" and stormed off to sit by the rink and watch the
game. Mom finally conceded when Dad laced up his skates and promised
to shadow Christopher on the ice.
The game proceeded without incident until lunch time. After lunch,
the kids asked to ride the snowmobile. Aunt and Uncle suited up all
the children in their safety gear and chauffeured each of them
around the bay. The older children were given the opportunity to
drive the snowmobile provided that they kept the speed at less than
25 MPH and as long as an adult rode with them on the same snowmobile
or right beside them on another snowmobile.
Again Christopher asked to participate. And again he was told he
would get injured and was too irresponsible to be trusted.
Christopher had never ridden a snowmobile and had vowed to ride with
his Aunt as a passenger – knowing he would never be granted parental
permission to drive the snowmobile. But both his parents held firm
to their decision to not let him participate.
Christopher was angry! "It's not fair," he shouted, "all my cousins
get to ride! I never get to do anything fun. Why can't you just let
me live a little? I've never been on a snowmobile. It's not fair
that you think I'm not responsible enough to ride. I ride with dad
on his motorcycle all the time. Auntie's going to be right there.
It's not fair. I haven't done anything to deserve this!" Clearly
frustrated, he shuts himself in one of the bedrooms and does not
emerge until dinner when he was coaxed out of his room by his Aunt.
It is clear that Christopher needs to be trusted and his parents
need to stop projecting their previous experiences upon him.
Christopher should be allowed the opportunity to experiment safely
and learn his own boundaries and limits. Here are four simple tips
you can use to help stop policing your child and allow them to enjoy
some of the experiences that will shape their adult lives and
provide lasting memories of a happy childhood:
1. Model - Your behavior from infancy will set the stage.
Your child will learn safety and responsibility through your
2. Trust - Be clear within yourself and allow your child the
space to play and be exposed to limited risk. Do not project your
experiences onto your child. Allow them to fill their own life
3. Communicate - Tell your children about your childhood
experiences. If there are stories about injuries, be open and honest
about the situation and show the child what contributed to the
4. Follow Through - Trust your child to play safely. Remind
your child of the limits. When someone breaks the rules, there
should be reasonable and logical consequences that are agreed upon
ahead of time.
More Details about
here. Dr. Charles Sophy currently serves as Medical Director for the
Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS),
which is responsible for the health, safety and welfare of nearly
40,000 foster children. He also has a private psychiatry practice in
Beverly Hills, California. Dr. Sophy has lectured extensively and is
an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of
California Los Angeles Neuro-Psychiatric Institute. His lectures and
teachings are consistently ranked as among the best by those in
attendance. Dr. Charles Sophy, author of the "Keep 'Em Off My Couch"
blog, provides real simple answers for solving life's biggest
problems. He specializes in improving the mental health of children.
To contact Dr. Sophy, visit his blog at http://drsophy.com.