Can I just take a sec to rant and rave over here?
I have several large pet peeves related to parenting. After all, parenting is a skill I have spent my life researching and I have several strong opinions on many aspects.
But one of the BIGGEST pet peeves is the ridiculous American notion of entertaining children.
It can be so frustrating for me to go the park. I see parent after parent directing their child(ren) on the equipment. "Let's go play over here, Johnny." "Why don't you go down the slide?" "Look, there's a scavenger hunt, where's the rocket ship?"
What is wrong with our culture that we don't trust our children to be responsible for their own entertainment? Why do we constantly feel the need to push them, to tell them how to play and what to play? Why do we put small children on our laps and take them down the slide because they aren't ready to do it by themselves - which, if they aren't ready to do it on their own, they should not be doing it! Parents are setting their kids up for failure - and even injury - when they take control of their kids' playtime.
Cole and I spend time outside almost every single day - and we are often at a park. I have never "showed" or told Cole what to play or how to play at the park. I stand and observe; Cole plays. I am present and watching, but not telling him what to do or encouraging him to anything. And guess what? Cole is FINE. He is perfectly happy and capable to play without me ruining it.
What's more important is that by trusting Cole to play completely on his own, I am trusting him to know and create his own boundaries. He doesn't get "stuck" at the top of the tall slide, because he is completely in charge of when he feels safe to go up there and come down independently. He learns problem solving, without an adult to do it for him. He learns that he alone is responsible for his own entertainment.
So, so often as a parent, I find myself saying to people, "Please, just stand back and observe. Please DON'T play with my son until he invites you to, on his terms. Please allow him to own and direct his play, because that's the most important job he'll ever do and your "help" is actually a huge hindrance. Please, just let him discover instead of showing him."
If there was one thing I would change about the way Americans parent, it would be this: Trust your child. Trust your child to know just what they need to do, when they need to do it, without forcing, directing, or showing them how. Just step back and let the kids play.