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The Secrets to Raising a Smarter Child
- By Inderbir Sandhu, Ph.D


Parenting Tips: Four Simple Tips To Help You Stop Policing Your Child And Start Parenting

By Dr. Charles Sophy

In today's political climate, it's easy to fall into the pattern of over-protecting our children. Day in and day out, we are bombarded with stories of terrorism and senseless violence in the media. It's natural to want to cling to our children and not let them out of our sights, policing their every action. But there is a difference between policing your children and parenting.

Parents often find themselves in a situation where, out of love and a deep concern for the child's safety, they are controlling the child's every move. So how does one get from the point of controlling their child's every action to feeling secure that the child is responsible enough and sensible enough to choose safe activities and sensible friends.

We all want what is best for our children and the act of policing is born of that feeling. But sometimes, what's best for our child is to loosen the apron strings and allow the child to experience life and the empowering feeling of holding our trust. When we police our children, we react to the situation as we have experienced it. When we ask our sullen teenager about school or a new friend and receive no response, our initial reaction may be that the child is hiding something because that was our reason decades ago when asked the same question. Recollections of our own experiences are not the same as judging the reality of the current situation and can often lead to conflicts with our children.

You are your child's FIRST teacher. As your child grows and experiences life, it is important to navigate them through their experiences, always keeping in mind the foundation that is being laid for a healthy adult life.

Meet Christopher

Christopher is 13 years old and loves to play hockey, snowboard and snowmobile or he would if he were ever permitted the chance.

Christopher's father was 13 when he crashed his uncle's dirt bike, breaking a collarbone and shattering his ankle. Christopher's mother has never participated in group sports or outdoor activities and doesn't see the benefit of her child doing so. As a teenager, she played baseball for half a season until a stray pitch broke her nose. Both have determined that Christopher is too irresponsible to drive a motorized vehicle and too reckless to play hockey or snowboard.

Christopher's Aunt and Uncle are natural athletes and avid outdoor enthusiasts. On a recent family gathering at the cottage, Aunt and Uncle cleared an ice rink for all the kids and started a rousing game of hockey. Rules where established no checking, keep your stick low, keep an eye on the little ones and let them slap the puck every once in a while and all the kids were soon laughing and playing safely under the watchful eye of Aunt and Uncle.

Christopher was anxious to join but mom feared that he would get injured and was told he could not participate. "I don't want you getting a puck in the face" and "You'll run over your little cousin and hurt him because you don't pay attention" were her replies to each request. Christopher shouted "It's not fair, I never get to do anything fun!" and stormed off to sit by the rink and watch the game. Mom finally conceded when Dad laced up his skates and promised to shadow Christopher on the ice.

The game proceeded without incident until lunch time. After lunch, the kids asked to ride the snowmobile. Aunt and Uncle suited up all the children in their safety gear and chauffeured each of them around the bay. The older children were given the opportunity to drive the snowmobile provided that they kept the speed at less than 25 MPH and as long as an adult rode with them on the same snowmobile or right beside them on another snowmobile.

Again Christopher asked to participate. And again he was told he would get injured and was too irresponsible to be trusted. Christopher had never ridden a snowmobile and had vowed to ride with his Aunt as a passenger knowing he would never be granted parental permission to drive the snowmobile. But both his parents held firm to their decision to not let him participate.

Christopher was angry! "It's not fair," he shouted, "all my cousins get to ride! I never get to do anything fun. Why can't you just let me live a little? I've never been on a snowmobile. It's not fair that you think I'm not responsible enough to ride. I ride with dad on his motorcycle all the time. Auntie's going to be right there. It's not fair. I haven't done anything to deserve this!" Clearly frustrated, he shuts himself in one of the bedrooms and does not emerge until dinner when he was coaxed out of his room by his Aunt.

It is clear that Christopher needs to be trusted and his parents need to stop projecting their previous experiences upon him. Christopher should be allowed the opportunity to experiment safely and learn his own boundaries and limits. Here are four simple tips you can use to help stop policing your child and allow them to enjoy some of the experiences that will shape their adult lives and provide lasting memories of a happy childhood:

1. Model - Your behavior from infancy will set the stage. Your child will learn safety and responsibility through your actions.

2. Trust - Be clear within yourself and allow your child the space to play and be exposed to limited risk. Do not project your experiences onto your child. Allow them to fill their own life plate.

3. Communicate - Tell your children about your childhood experiences. If there are stories about injuries, be open and honest about the situation and show the child what contributed to the incident.

4. Follow Through - Trust your child to play safely. Remind your child of the limits. When someone breaks the rules, there should be reasonable and logical consequences that are agreed upon ahead of time.


More Details about Parenting Coach here. Dr. Charles Sophy currently serves as Medical Director for the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), which is responsible for the health, safety and welfare of nearly 40,000 foster children. He also has a private psychiatry practice in Beverly Hills, California. Dr. Sophy has lectured extensively and is an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California Los Angeles Neuro-Psychiatric Institute. His lectures and teachings are consistently ranked as among the best by those in attendance. Dr. Charles Sophy, author of the "Keep 'Em Off My Couch" blog, provides real simple answers for solving life's biggest problems. He specializes in improving the mental health of children. To contact Dr. Sophy, visit his blog at

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