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To think we've caused this?

(44 Posts)
BobbysBeardOfWonder Wed 24-Oct-12 13:03:45

DD is 2.3. She has always been a little shy in new surroundings, waits her turn for toys at playgroup etc, but once at home/with people she knows is very boisterous, carefree and confident.
DH and his side of the family have always been the type to say 'be careful' or 'that's dangerous' over the smallest of things. Eg running hmm, jumping, in fact most toddler-typical activities. I get very exasperated with it but now mostly let it wash over me.

However, I'm started to wonder whether all this 'being careful' is actually affecting DD's normal personality. For the past few weeks she has been increasingly clingy, refusing to do normally-loved activities like swimming & jumping in the pool (she just wants to cling to me), climbing on soft blocks at playgroup (wants me to hold her hand, whereas she has previously climbed all over them on her own), and starts crying when any other child plays with something she wants to play with.

This could well be standard 2-year old behaviour, but it's the clingyness and restraint that I'm worrying we have caused, due to excessive 'be careful's all the feckin time

I mentioned it to DH yesterday after an unhappy swimming lesson; he seemed blissfully unaware that a) she is becoming this way and b) he says 'be careful' or 'dangerous' far too much.

It's making me sad to think that we're inadvertently numbing our DD's wonderful playful self. sad I'm also hoping it's just a phase, but would love to have some clear reason why DH should stop his alarmist parenting.

shewhowines Wed 24-Oct-12 13:07:04

No advice but you are right. Even if it's not the reason for her clinginess now, it will have far reaching consequences later on.

What about books on raising confident children. They would probably address the issue.

BobbysBeardOfWonder Wed 24-Oct-12 13:14:10

Book is a good idea, thanks. Trouble is DH doesn't read books apart from his kindle and certainly not of the parenting type book. sad
I don't know where to start by addressing this, it's so badly entrenched in him & his family's way of life.

shewhowines Wed 24-Oct-12 13:23:19

You could highllght relevant sections and read them out to him.

Make him listen to you. By not thinking about it, he is damaging his DD.

Why not start with an opener "would you let DD cross the road on her own?". When he says no, ask him why. Then lead into the conversation about him deliberately (though ignorance rather than malice) harming her in this way.

midseasonsale Wed 24-Oct-12 14:59:48

lead by example - run and climb etc in a carefree way.

if they say be careful to DD - respond with 'DD runs/climbs so well'

SoniaGluck Wed 24-Oct-12 15:03:32

My mother was a very anxious parent. It was always Be careful, Don't climb up, You'll fall. All the time. I became an anxious child, lacking in confidence especially physically ( scared when doing gym, rubbish at games, frightened in the swimming pool, etc.)

I can't be sure that my mother's attitude caused my lack of confidence in my ability to do things but I suspect it was part of the reason. I tried never to do this with my own DCs and they all do seem to be more generally and physically more confident than I was.

I hope that you can convince your DH and his family that there is, at least, a possibility that this over anxious attitude could affect your DD's confidence long term. I am convinced that my mother's anxiety affected mine.

fuckadoodlepoopoo Wed 24-Oct-12 15:06:18

I agree op. Its not healthy.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Wed 24-Oct-12 15:07:14

As part of nursery education, children are encouraged to take controlled risks. Maybe you could do some research on that and chat about it to your DH.

BobbysBeardOfWonder Wed 24-Oct-12 19:03:00

Thanks for the replies. I have been encouraging her to take small risks and up to now she's embraced it...but suddenly she seems scared of it all sad
I will chat to DH. And find more things for DD to jump off smile

Jenny70 Wed 24-Oct-12 19:31:25

It may be some of both.

My children all were more fearless as young toddlers than children, as if they suddenly realised the concept of danger.. not through us hovering/saying things or them having any incident.

But certainly allowing them to take risks helps them develop life skills in assessing big and little risks, so tell the family to butt out and if they get the odd scrape, bump etc that's life.

DorsetKnob Wed 24-Oct-12 19:36:23

Absolutely with you OP, some children are naturally more careful but if not given the opportunity they can become worse.

diddl Wed 24-Oct-12 19:38:36

I think that they go through stages tbh.

I probably said "be careful" too much.

And I suppose what I meant was-go ahead & do it-just carefully.

But I wouldn´t hover, keep saying it or sound anxious.

So I guess it was a habit & largely ignored!

CailinDana Wed 24-Oct-12 19:43:46

Commenting in any way on a lot of a child's behaviour, even positively, is harmful. It makes them think twice about everything and makes them doubt their own ideas on things which makes them anxious or confused. Your DD is about the age where she is developing an opinion on things and is starting to understand concepts like "scary" and "dangerous." She'll have learned herself what fits those categories but constant commenting from other people will make her start doubting herself - it'll be headwrecking for her. How about you start commenting on everything your DH does - "Ooh that cup is full, ooh be careful with that pot, wow you cooked that really well," and when he expresses annoyance ask him why he thinks it would be any less annoying for your DD. Sometimes parents need to learn to STFU and just give their children some peace.

MrsTerryPratchett Wed 24-Oct-12 19:47:08

I'm the opposite of your DH. DD is a climber faller jump and runner. I just let her. She goes through stages when she is a little more cautious (after a bump or a barky dog incident) but she recovers. They have to learn their own levels. It is very hard to let them. I have to say, and it might be worth talking to DH about this, I see it massively more with girls. People are always encouraging their boys to follow my DD onto the bouncy castle or up the ladder but not their girls.

Laquitar Wed 24-Oct-12 19:47:27

I think it is difficult for an anxious parent to let go. But what he could do instead is to minimise risk without showing this to dd. For example if dd climbs a wall he goes next to her because 'he wants to join the fun' and so he can catch her if she falls. This should make him more comfortable?
Or 'join the fun' = check the souroundings when dd goes to the garden etc.

You are right OP. 'Be careful' all the time is not good.

Have another child, then he will chill out wink

BobbysBeardOfWonder Wed 24-Oct-12 21:06:47

Oh we have another child grin DS is 5.5 months smile

Iamnotamindreader Wed 24-Oct-12 21:16:16

Yup it will definately have consquences when she's older.

My mother was very risk averse when I was young (I put it down to PND and being suddenly cut off from max dose valium to nothing in the 70's).

Anyway whether she came out of it a bit later or deemed the activities now age appropriate, I wasn't interested.
No screaming or drama just a straight nope not doing it.

She was very dissapointed and could see I was now missing out on a lot of great experiences she had had as a child.

Have a word it will bite him in the bum.

NotAnOstrich Wed 24-Oct-12 22:28:25


It could be your daughter's age and just a phase. My DD age 2.2 has always been very physical and "climby" - polar opposite of her shy brother 2 years older than her. Ladders and climbing frames are her favourites - we have to say "no" to keep her reasonably safe!!

But in the last month she has turned clingy at swimming etc. As if because she is older she is noticing the other adults + kids more, what they are doing, wanting to be closer to Mummy. Her teacher has helped me encourage her through these "wobbles". She is liking lessons more again now.

legoballoon Wed 24-Oct-12 22:33:52

IMHO at 2.3 years she is still a baby, honestly. In a few years you will look back and realise this.

It's normal for kids at that age to have period of more or less clingy-ness. Be glad she has bonded well with you, and being with you makes her feel safe and comforted.

If you have a new baby (which I'd say you do, at 6mths), it could also be a reaction to the change in dynamic at home. Not necessarily a bad thing, just a normal readjustment, especially now that the dust has settled and the novelty of a new baby is wearing off.

Don't stress it, just give her the extra cuddles if you can when she comes for them - it's not going to hurt a 2 year old to be 'babied'. And with regard to saying 'be careful' etc., that's normal parenting behaviour, nothing precious or silly about it. Your child is the centre of your universe and you want to warn them not to fall down the stairs/ run off the pavement / go near the hot drink etc. Keep warning her when there is a potential hazard, IMHO it would be remiss not to. As she gets older, she'll be more dare devil, and she can always build up physical and social confidence as she goes along, e.g. swimming lessons, soft play centres, riding a bike (when she is 4 or 5), climbing frames in parks, going to nursery (when she's 3 or 4, no rush), playdates etc.


BobbysBeardOfWonder Wed 24-Oct-12 22:38:40

NotanOstrich - how did your swimming teacher help, if you don't mind me asking?

GoldenAutumn Wed 24-Oct-12 22:42:12

This morning I almost did an aibu about how we should all parent a bit more like this but couldn't be arsed. This thread has made me think it again though, so I'll probably do that aibu now. grin

YANBU about not wanting your DD to be risk-averse. It might just be a phase though. I'd have a chat with your DH about what words are appropriate to use when she is 'exploring' something new.

BobbysBeardOfWonder Wed 24-Oct-12 22:42:33

Thanks lego I hope it's just a phase too, I just hope DH's risk-aversiveness (is that a word?!) hasn't undone all my benign neglect easy-going approach wink

legoballoon Wed 24-Oct-12 22:44:44

It's probably helping form a well balanced personality. Someone who is not risk-averse, but who is also aware of potential dangers and will factor them in. Sounds like a perfect child.

Lilylightfoot Wed 24-Oct-12 22:55:54

I was hopless at running as a kid because Icould alway hear my Mum's voise saying 'mind - you'll fall!'.

BobbysBeardOfWonder Wed 24-Oct-12 22:58:54

Oh god yes, I hear DH & his family saying 'you'll hurt yourself and then you'll have to go to hospital won't you' hmm angry

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