Talk About Overprotective Parents!

I was reading an interview with Lenore Skenazy on Salon the other day. With her new book out (Free-Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry), I’m seeing a lot of stuff about her.

It just amazes me how overprotective parents can be.

The first product mentioned as an example of things overprotective parents buy was a helmet called a Thudguard. It’s intended for toddlers, so that they can learn to walk without bumping their heads.

I can tell you those are a really bad idea. Yes, toddlers bump their heads and get bruises. But if they don’t hurt themselves in small ways when they’re little they’re going to get quite a shock when they’re bigger.

I know.

My son wore a helmet for a few months as an infant. Not because I was trying to protect his head but because he had craniosynostosis and the helmets were to reshape his skull. But I would expect one effect would be the same as putting an unnecessary helmet on a toddler – my son was completely shocked when he learned that he could hurt his head.

The first day his helmet was off, he bumped his head in a way he had many times before. He was crawling by this point, and used to being able to go straight into a wall if he felt like it, or just drop his head down when he was tired.

It took him a few days to get used to the fact that bumping his head hurt. Now why would you want a slightly older child to not understand this? Better when they’re small and the bumps (and yes, the bruises) will be more minor than when the child is older!

Then there are the baby knee pads. Yes, you too can protect your poor baby’s knees from the horror of carpet burn!

Sorry, my eyes just rolled when I found out about these. Once again, where’s the need? Baby knees are made for crawling on. I think they can cope with the little bit rug burn or scrapes they might get in the process. It’s not something that’s going to really hurt them.

I’m all for protecting kids when they need it, but most children do not need to be protected from such minor injuries. If there’s a specific reason they need extra protection, fine, but not for most kids.

Better they figure out now what doesn’t feel good than they develop the notion that they can’t get hurt.

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4 Responses

  1. Expat Mom says:

    Here in Guatemala, they don`t let babies crawl or even try to stand up on their own because they might get hurt. My niece didn`t start to walk until she was nearly TWO! They just tie them on their backs or lay them on the bed and get mad if the kid tries to do anything. I`m considered a TERRIBLE parent because my kids were on the floor from very small and fell out the door a couple of times each. Healthy as horses though! 🙂 Unlike my niece who gets sick if a breeze touches her.

  2. Stephanie says:

    Just amazing, Expat Mom! Sounds kind of like how my inlaws apparently were with their first baby. My husband tells me his sister never learned to crawl because they never gave her the space to do so. Not carrying her around all the time or anything, just keeping her strictly limited in small areas.

    Sounds like you’re a pretty great kind of “terrible” parent, though.

  3. Mrs. Micah says:

    It reminds me of a parenting technique which I’ve heard people used in times and places when open fires in a house were the norm. To prevent the toddler from going into the fire, they’d hold their hand near it until the toddler connected fire + pain. Sounds barbaric, but I don’t think they let them burn. Anyway, this was supposed to teach them to be afraid of the fire so that they didn’t walk into it and experience serious burning.

    I can’t imagine doing it to my own child, but I know I wouldn’t want to protect them so much that they didn’t realize that things had consequences–whether walking into stuff at 1 or misbehaving at 16. Learning about consequences on a small scale can prevent more pain later on.

  4. Stephanie says:

    Mrs. Micah, I can see where that would work. My oldest still remembers the time she touched the side of the oven when it was on. It hurt, and she knows very well now to stay well away when it’s on.