We have all been exposed to the wonderful summer weather on the weekends. Camping seems to be an option. Despite hearing reports of eating more outdoors, barbecue seems to be the only way to cook our food! The days on the beach beckon. The hammock is dusted and thrown down. Summer gives us the opportunity to move away from our tougher routines centered around the grade.
I’m struggling with this, but there will be some parents here. Bright nights, for example, mean changes in circadian rhythms that many of us, including small children, rely on for our sleep habits. As a result, children may have difficulty falling asleep as prolonged sunlight keeps them more alert.
Similarly, traveling abroad, even traveling within Ireland, may have confused months of hard work to calm your child’s sleep routine. In the heat of the weekend, you may also have seen your child struggling to be comfortable, and so struggling to calm down for sleep.
I wasn’t a big fan of strict nap and sleep routines for babies. I think parents are often too restrictive to flexibly adapt to the needs and busy lives of their babies and other children. If the nap and sleep routine seems to be normative, parents say that babies and small children can fail in some way because they don’t fit into this ideal child who appears to be sleeping on command. Anxiety also tends to increase.
But it’s not just about sleep rigidity in children. Anxiety about pandemics affects so many families, and more generally, more and more parents are concerned about the safety of their children, limiting their freedom. There are many more “helicopter” parents who have fine control over all aspects and are overly involved in their children’s lives.
This is not healthy for children. Parents are responsible for it long after they are needed, so they are so restricted that they never learn to take responsibility for every aspect of their lives.
So perhaps summer is an opportunity to try a little more “free-range” parenting. Free-range parenting is a term coined by the American writer Lenoir Sknazy. He advocated increasing children’s responsibilities at a young age, such as using public transport and going to and from school without a teacher.
Free-range parenting isn’t about staying away from your child or not worrying about what your child is doing. It’s not laissez-faire, it lets children do what they want to do. There are still many rules and structures for children and parents to remain involved in their lives, but the essence of it is to help children develop their independence and resilience, so they get faster. You need to give responsibility.
Her approach (for example, having her 9-year-old boy travel alone on the New York subway system) may be a bit too extreme for me, but it’s worth moving away from the “helicopter” parenting approach.
For example, how many families will please their children to play with their friends in the greens, parks, riversides and fields? Many of our generation are confident that we can remember the long summer days when we left early with our friends and came back when we were hungry and couldn’t get out. I spent hours building fortresses and burrows in fields and woodlands miles away from my home to fight fictitious enemies.
This summer may be your chance to try to let go of some of your restrictions with your kids. Maybe you don’t have to play until later. Maybe they don’t need to arrange a play date, but you and they can go a little further along the flow so that you can take advantage of the sunny days to pack your car and go on a day trip. increase.
Think of fun and opportunities as a driving force for what they can do, rather than worrying about limiting what they can do. Of course, they may make mistakes when they have more freedom, but that reflects those mistakes that can help them learn. Think about how much of your own childhood was spent learning from the mistakes you were allowed to make.
Maybe don’t send your 9 year old kid to Dublin by bus, but maybe like walking them to a friend’s house and knocking them on, even if you and your friend’s mother don’t arrange it all in advance It’s okay to let it. And what harm would they do if their newly discovered freedoms would disrupt their normal routines? We have enough time to go back to autumn and winter and solve things again before we know it.