Little girls play examine a tree with magnifying glass


I Don’t Constantly Supervise My Children, and I Think It’s Made Them More Resilient

Jan 25, 2021

When I gave birth to my first child, nearly nine years ago, the attachment parenting philosophy was gaining traction. As a 22-year-old mom, I wasn’t ready to forge my own path into motherhood. I bought a Baby Bullet and attempted to make baby food, I breastfed on demand and I co-slept with my wriggly infant. When one friend recommended that I purchase a popular cotton wrap to carry my baby everywhere, I relented.

I spent a precious $80 on this long piece of cloth, and watched a YouTube instruction video that seemed far too complicated. I tried, desperately, to wrap my tiny newborn up into the confusing cotton contraption, but we both ended up red-faced and crying in the end.

Natalie Romero's kids are allowed to pack their own lunches, use sharp knives and even make dinner —  in fact, she encourages it. Read her POV here.

A few weeks later I remembered that I’d been given a baby swing, a huge apparatus that sat obtrusively in the middle of the living room. I wrapped my daughter up in a muslin blanket and laid her in the swing, setting it to a moderate swing speed. It didn’t take long for both of us to fall in love with the swing. While other mothers carried their babies around like kangaroos, I embraced the independence of the baby swing, or the jolly jumper, or a blanket on the floor covered in toys — which I had in rotation throughout the day.

"Playing independently has encouraged confidence in my kids, and it’s helped them to get through the long days of lockdown."

By the time my kids were toddlers they were able to play independently. I still got down on the floor and built Duplo, or sang songs with them in the kitchen or pushed them in the swing at the local park. But I also encouraged my children to play on their own, and I watched as their creativity blossomed on their own.

Now my kids are three, six and eight, and they’re all relatively independent kids. They find fun crafts to make in our craft bin, and my older kids sometimes retreat to their bedrooms to read a book, but mostly they all play together — sometimes putting on fashion shows, or dressing up and performing a play.

Since we went into lockdown, our children’s independence has definitely been appreciated, as well as necessary. They still fight, get bored or want adult interaction — they are kids after all. But they also enjoy finding new ways to play on their own. As a 22-year-old new mom I had no idea that encouraging independence in my infants would be impacting our entire family in such a positive way. I also had no idea that researchers believe that independent play contributes to resilience.

Dr. Robin Alter from the Psychology Foundation of Canada shares effective strategies to help your child navigate stress and anxiety. Read that article here.

The Canadian Mental Health Association says this about children and resilience: “Resilient children tend to be empathic; that is, they can understand and sympathize with the feelings of others. They tend to be good communicators who are able to solve problems. They have a strong interest in school, and are dedicated to learning. They're driven to achieve goals. They're involved in meaningful activities. They're hopeful about the future. They have a solid relationship with one or more adults. And they live in safe and well-functioning families and communities.”

Playing independently has encouraged confidence in my kids, and it’s helped them to get through the long days of lockdown. I hope it helps them to bounce back once we return to our new normal, too. I think we should all be proud of our kids, I’d say that living through a pandemic is perhaps the greatest resilience builder of all.

Article Author Brianna Bell
Brianna Bell

Read more from Brianna here.

Brianna Bell is a writer and journalist based in Guelph, Ontario. She has written for many online and print publications, including Scary Mommy, The Penny Hoarder, and The Globe and Mail.

Brianna's budget-savvy ways have attracted media attention and led to newspaper coverage in The Globe and Mail and The Guelph Mercury.

Add New Comment

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Submission Policy

Note: The CBC does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that comments are moderated and published according to our submission guidelines.