Are You a Helicopter Parent?

As parents, we all want to protect our children and keep them safe and healthy. But it can become problematic when parents continuously remove obstacles to ensure that their kids never experience disappointment discomfort, heartbreak, or pain. What typically causes parents to “hover” over their kids? What are the pros and the cons? And what traits and characteristics typically develop in your child as a result?

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Episode Transcript

Parent Savers
Are You A Helicopter Parent?


Please be advised, this transcription was performed from a company independent of New Mommy Media, LLC. As such, translation was required which may alter the accuracy of the transcription.

[Theme Music]

ALICIA GONZALEZ: As parents, we all want to protect our children and keep them safe and healthy. But can it become problematic when parents continuously remove obstacles to ensure that their kids never experience disappointment, discomfort, heartbreak or pain. Today, we are talking about helicopter parenting. This is Parent Savers.

[Intro/Theme Music]

ALICIA GONZALEZ: Welcome to Parent Savers. Parent Savers is your online, on-the-go support group for parents with infants and toddlers. I am your host – Alicia Gonzalez. Thanks so much to our loyal listeners who join us every time a new episode is released and for those of you who continue these conversations with us on Facebook and Twitter. Make sure to check our Parent Savers app so you can listen to all of the episodes wherever you go. Here is Sunny with the details on how you can get involved with Parent Savers.

SUNNY GAULT: Alright. Hi, everyone. So we do want to continue the conversation with you guys so after the episode is over and you have heard what our experts have to say and what our parents have to say on our show, it doesn’t just stop there. We really do hope that you continue the conversation with us so real quickly I just want to promote some of our popular social media sites. So most people are on Facebook so if you have it yet please like the Parent Savers’ Facebook page and we post all of our episodes there.

We also share different articles that we think would be at interest to parents of toddlers so that is a great resource for you. We are on Twitter as well and most of our new episodes are posted there and we do try to chat a little bit with some of the people that listen to the show so that is another good place to check us out. New Mommy Media has a YouTube channel which is kind of interesting because we have done some various videos and stuff that you guys might find of interest.

All of our Google Hangouts and stuff that we do with experts are posted to our YouTube page so that is kind of fun as well. Yeah, so just check us out online pretty much anywhere it is either … it is /ParentSavers is our handle … those are different handles and we hope to connect with you soon.

ALICIA GONZALEZ: Okay, let’s get started on our conversation. We are going to meet everyone joining us today and I will start by introducing myself. Again, my name is Alicia Gonzalez. I have four children, ages 10, 8, 6 and 3. I work full-time and although I don’t think I consider myself a helicopter parent, I do believe that those around me would definitely describe me as a helicopter parent. So hopefully this conversation today gives me some clarity on whether or not this is accurate. And now we are going to start with our expert today – Dr. Joanie Connell. If you could tell us a little bit about yourself, your family and your experience with today’s topic?

JOANIE CONNELL: Hi! I’m from San Diego and I have one daughter, she is 14 now and I have tried my best not to helicopter but you know, we all have these tendencies at one time or another. My husband always says things jokingly like we all think we are not but yeah, sometimes it happens.

ALICIA GONZALEZ: Thanks, Joanie. And now let’s meet Corinne – the parent joining our conversation today.

CORINNE: Hi, I am Corinne; I am calling in from Montreal, Canada. I have two children – my daughter is three and my son is seven. Do I feel that I am a helicopter parent? I certainly have tendencies to be a helicopter parent but I don’t want to label myself as a total helicopter parent.

SUNNY GAULT: I feel like I am totally different than most people on the call. You guys are going to get really good, I think, the conversation today because there are so many different perspectives but I am Sunny and I am producing today’s show and I have 4 kids and they range from … my oldest is 5 but about to turn 6 this summer, and then I have a 3-year-old who is about to turn 4 and I also have twin girls who are about 2 and a half. So a busy house but I don’t know what it is; I don’t know if it is because I have four kids although I don’t know … Alicia you think you may still fall into the helicopter parent category.

I think I could be more assertive. I think I am almost the exact opposite of helicopter parent; it is not because I don’t care, it is because my mind is filled with so many other things but it is really hard. I would be like exhausted if I were “helicopter parent” for all four of my kids. I mean I would just be running around constantly, you know what I mean. I think I should actually be a little bit more assertive.

The only time that I really find myself being truly more assertive is if I think my kids are messing with other kids or something like that and then I start to hover a little bit because I don’t want to be disrespectful of another family or something; I don’t want my kid to do something bad to another kid. Other than that, I am kind of like … where they are, I don’t even know … I mean seriously, it is kind of bad.

ALICIA GONZALEZ: Okay, well thank you all for joining us today.

[Theme Music]

SUNNY: Okay, so before we kick off our conversation today about helicopter parenting, we are going to talk about news’ headline. So from time to time on the show we do talk about headlines and I found this interesting one and I thought it kind of tied in the helicopter parenting because you know what are some of the main reasons we become helicopter parents. We obviously don’t want anything bad to happen to our kids, we don’t want our kids to do anything bad to other people and so I thought this headline kind of tied in to that. So it is kind of a long headline, it says – “Another reason for stressed parents to fear the terrible twos. A screaming toddler could be on their way to a life of crime.” When I saw this I was like – oh gosh, one more thing on my plate; I got to worry about my son becoming a serial killer. So anyways, it is kind of this little debate that is going on and some studies have been done but it kind of asks the question when you have kids that are kind of screaming and having just a tantrum in their 2s and I don’t know if you experience this into the 3s.

My 3-year-old I feel like is worse than he was in his 2s; you kind of question – okay, are they going to be like this forever? Is it going to have some sort of major bearing on them as an adult? And so there again, there was a study done and it says here, this guy by the name of Luke Hyde – he is an assistant professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan, he says these are signs so these crying spells in this “bad behavior”. He says it is things for parents and doctors to watch out for; he says they may be a signal that something else is going on there more than just the terrible 2s. The research discovered that harsh parenting is linked to the development of anti-social behavior and that really parents’ reaction to it was really important too so if this behavior wasn’t somehow corrected or dressed, I guess I should say, that it really could have some long term effects.

I think deep down as parents we kind of can put two and two together, right? If you never correct your child for doing something wrong or whatever, they are not going to know right from wrong. It is our job as parents to kind of guide that a little bit but I just kind of wanted to kind of throw this out to everyone and be like – when your child was that age – the 2 to 3 mark – and they were behaving in that “terrible” or terrific 2s – I know some people refer to it as terrific 2s. Did it ever cross your mind that “oh my gosh, is this going to lead to bad behavior for the rest of their life”? Alicia, did that ever cross your mind?

ALICIA GONZALEZ: You know I have to say, this article just gets me because what two-year-old does not have screaming tantrums? Even 3-year-olds, I am with you Sunny, my kids were worse than they were at 2 so as it says in the article – another reason to stress parents out like we don’t have enough going on and enough to stress about … I am just … I am not on board with that.

SUNNY GAULT: That is a lot of pressure for parents. Corinne, what experience do you have with screaming toddlers, probably none, right, your kids were fabulous?

CORINNE: Completely, completely. I do have experience with this, you know, because I work in HR and seeing this later on and it is funny that you guys bring up this topic because thinking about it when I have in place who have third temper tantrum and I am like did their parents stop them when they were going through that 2 to 3 phase, like, did somebody say like this is not appropriate or did they just let them latch on and now this is why I have to deal with this. So I always wonder about that but yeah, at home most definitely like my daughter, she is three, she is going on thirty, she will articulate herself so great that I do feel like I need a time out from time to time. So yeah, it is something else.

SUNNY GAULT: Yeah it is interesting. Joanie any thoughts on this?

JOANIE CONNELL: Well yeah, I can just say first of all as a psychologist we have to remind people that when you read something like this, all of the sudden you start worrying if you are in these outline positions of having anti-social children and career criminals. But very rarely there are very few of those people, when we get down to it. Most of us are in the normal range, right? So, within the normal range, of course kids cry and have tantrums but I mean if it gets out to an anti-social area, that’s something really different. So I wouldn’t worry about this, I mean, yeah, I have had experience with my own and other kids screaming and having tantrums and being removed from the supermarket crying because they don’t get to have the treat they wanted and yeah, that’s normal. So I would say – let’s not worry too much – I also think there is so much pressure on parents now to have perfect kids and to be perfect mothers, particularly that we can’t worry that our kids are having some kind of outcries during their childhood.

SUNNY GAULT: I blame everything on Pinterest, honestly. And maybe Facebook a little bit where everyone just posts pictures of their life being perfect and no one really shown the craziness. But definitely yeah. I am not a Pinterest parent so … Alright, so we will go ahead and post a link to this article on our Facebook page and you guys can check it out.

[Theme Music]

ALICIA GONZALEZ: As the name implies, helicopter parents are those who like helicopters hover over head trying to manage their child’s entire life. Why do some parents feel the need to hover and what are the effects and consequences of helicopter parenting? Today, we are talking about helicopter parenting with Dr. Joanie Connell. Dr. Connell is author of the book “Flying without a Helicopter – How to Prepare Young People for Work and Life”. Welcome, Joanie.


ALICIA GONZALEZ: So let’s start the conversation. According to you, what exactly is helicopter parenting?

JOANIE CONNELL: Well, you know, helicopter parenting starts with the best of intentions usually. Most of us, we all want the best for our kids and we want to protect them and make sure that they
stay safe and healthy. But sometimes when we get to helicopter parenting, it is just doing a lot of that; maybe some that can end up having consequences that we will talk about later.
But the idea of helicopter parenting is hovering over the kid, sort of, if you think of it in a figurative way, but protecting them for safety reasons largely, clearing obstacles out of the way for them, making decisions for the kids and also structuring their lives usually making it a very … everything is an educational moment kind of thing. So that is what we think about in terms of helicopter parenting.

ALICIA GONZALEZ: So is that different from supporting your kid?

JOANIE CONNELL: Well, supporting I think is sort of being in the background helping the kid whereas helicopter-ing is hovering over constantly being in there to swoop down and take care of things if there is a problem or getting things out of the way if there is not and maneuvering the environment around the kid so that it is exactly the way you want it to be.

ALICIA GONZALEZ: Got it. And Corinne, what do you think? Does that provide some clarity as to the question of whether you are a helicopter parent?

CORINNE: As I am listening Joanie speak, I am like – oh my goodness, I do that. It is like … I think my whole take on it is that you want the best for your children not matter what; you want them to be safe no matter what. So will we do everything possible? Yes! Now, does that take us as the helicopter parent? Like, I won’t go into their school and stop their education process or their day or the foundation of their day just to keep them safe, you know, I will let it go but at home – most definitely. I am speechless, I just don’t want …

ALICIA GONZALEZ: I agree. I tend to stay involved because I want to be able to help them through situations but I don’t think that I interrupt anything that is going on. I don’t know but I definitely want to be the one they come to when they have issues and I don’t consider that a helicopter parent but maybe it is, maybe letting them work it out themselves is better. I don’t know. What do you think Sunny?

SUNNY GAULT: Well … I mean … you know, I am thinking about this and I am like if I sense danger, then I am on it. So I mean that and those circumstances or like I said earlier, if I think my kid could be mean to somebody else or something like that, then I do start to fly, you know, I am like – okay, I have to be in this situation and really manage it. If we are in a situation where I do not see danger and especially if it is like an enclosed environment where my kids can’t get to a street or again, it just applies to danger; if they can’t get out, if I know that they are contained and safe, I really just go with the flow.

ALICIA GONZALEZ: It is a good attitude to have. So Joanie why do you think some parents feel the need to hover like this?

JOANIE CONNELL: When you talk about the extreme cases, we have so many fears that are built in and helicopter parenting has been around for a long time. I mean, it was first actually mentioned in a book in 1969 but yeah. It is not something that is necessarily new, it has just become much more prevalent in our society. So, what changes have happened in our society of late that have caused this to happen and you think about the media. For example, since 9/11 we have all been a lot more scared; we have had bad things happening, terrorists and the media come out and they give a report of an abduction and suddenly we are all terrified that our kids are going to be taken by a stranger and we build up fences and keep them out of the playgrounds, things like that.

So there is a lot of fear out there that is being caused by people who want to spread the news, make money off of it, things like that. The other reason is the competition has gotten a lot stronger and the biggest complaint I hear when I talk about … being a little hands off is like – well, wait a minute, if I am more hands off then my kids might be left behind, right. I want them to have great opportunities in their lives, I want them to get into a good college and get a good job and if I don’t structure the lives and make sure that they are in all of these afterschool collective activities and doing all these things and making sure that their homework is turned in on time, then my kids are going to get left behind.

We are in a global world right now and we have just more people in the world. And so there is a lot of the competition that is driving it. And another factor I think that something that comes more from ourselves and this is something we can really think about individually is how much of a need for control do we have. Some people have more than others; even on this call, some people have more of a need to control the situation other people do and sometimes that just comes from ourselves and what is driving it and we can look at ourselves and ask ourselves – is it really just about me wanting to control something or having this need than it is about the danger involved for the kid.

ALICIA GONZALEZ: Yeah and I think it can be situational too. I know in my case I don’t necessarily have that sense of control however I have so little time with my kids, I have that guilty aspect of it, of wanting to be as involved as possible in the couple of hours I have with them a day. I spend so much time at work while they are at school and then I get home and I try to make up for all of that time just in a short period of time.

CORINNE: I cannot agree with you more about that. It is the guilt factor. You know, being a working mom and then you hear about little bits and pieces of your children’s day and you are like – okay, I wasn’t a part of that. And it is like – tomorrow, I am going to try better and I am going to plan and organize and I am going to attend every PTA meeting and I am going to join the governing board and I am going to be there cheering at the front line when you guys cross. And then for some, they perceive that as hovering and helicopter parenting whereas for us that is the reality of our lives for working moms now; that we have no choice and it is like okay, I want to be a part of it because I miss out on every little aspect, I can’t volunteer at the library like all the other parents.

JOANIE CONNELL: Yeah and I would like to add that times have changed a lot too and we are spending a lot more time with our children than ever before. Sometimes we think that we are not because we are working but the statistics show that people are spending a lot more time with their kids. And I would also question something that is shifted in our society over time too. And not to say it is good or bad but just to question it and raise that for you to think about and that is kids used to be raised kind of in the back seat like seen and not heard.

A lot of times we look at that now and say “oh, that’s terrible” but now they are front and centre and kids used to have to grow and adapt and be a part of the family and do work to help out in the family and now it is more like the family is circling around them. And they are getting all of the attention and we worry that we are not giving them front and centre attention. So when we look at the consequences of that it is when they grow up thinking they are front and centre all the time, we see some more entitlement going on and things like that. So, there are pluses and minuses to that and not getting all the attention all the time teaches them humility and independence and how to live life on their own and not necessarily having people cheering them all the time but doing it for themselves. So I would like to raise that, it is just things to think about and also to relieve the guilt too because if your kids are doing it for you and your cheers all the time, that is not going to lead them into a life where they are going to have a lot of satisfaction later.

ALICIA GONZALEZ: So that you feel like there are any positives to helicopter parenting?

JOANIE CONNELL: Yes, absolutely. I mean as you have already mentioned that kids are more protected now, we are not having as many childhood deaths as we used to and people are healthier and more protected in the environments and they are also achieving enormous things. I mean, we see what kids are doing these days in terms of sports, music, academics; they have these amazing achievements. So if that is what you want for your kids - that is a real positive. It is just that there are other … the other side of the coin to that too. So absolutely, there are positives in it and it is really a matter of priority what you want for your kids.

ALICIA GONZALEZ: What do you think Corinne? Have you seen positives come of your helicopter parenting?

CORINNE: I do, you know what, I do see positives and I really value the fact that Joanie brought up that we are spending more time with our children because that whole guilt factor, yeah, I feel as though that I don’t spend enough time with them or I will say enough quality time. Put away all the gadgets, put away the Nintendo’s, put away everything and that is just one on one, let’s pull out an old-fashioned board game – that type of quality time I would much rather have with my kids. But yeah I feel it is positive because if anything happens to them, I only have two of them and I am not going to replace them so I feel that it is a positive thing. I want to know what is going on and I want to be able to guide and support them as much as I could.

ALICIA GONZALEZ: Sunny, I know that you don’t feel that you are a helicopter parent but what do you think about these ideas of there being positives in that?

SUNNY GAULT: Well I mean … you know, I thought it was so interesting when you guys were talking earlier about why you think you hover a little bit more and it made a lot of sense in my life too because I work from home and I am with my kids constantly except the ones that have already entered the school system. So it was really kind of eye-opening when you guys were talking about that because I am like – well, maybe that is why I don’t hover as much is because I am so involved in every element. I think it is kind of like that – hold, I just need a break kind of thing, so if you are okay and you are not hurting anybody else. But yeah, I definitely think that there are benefits to helicopter parenting and just for our kids to know that we are there, that they can lean on us and obviously it will get to a point where maybe you are doing that a little too much but I would rather be a helicopter parent than a parent that didn’t spend time with their kid. So I think it is important that our kids know that we are there for them and we are rooting for them and we are there to support them and we just kind of have to figure out the line there.

ALICIA GONZALEZ: Yeah, I agree, the quality time really stands out to me because it is not just a matter of being with them but it is a matter of being there for them. I know when I was a kid and when I was growing up the whole … how Joanie mentioned the whole backseat parenting. We didn’t go to our parents with things and we tried to figure out on our own and didn’t do so well which I know it gave us those life lessons but there are a lot of mistakes I could have done without. So I want that time with my kids to create that bond and to make it so that they do come to me when things come up so that I don’t necessarily have to hover but I am involved.

JOANIE CONNELL: Yeah, absolutely. And you know, the consequences might show up sooner or later, in fact the book that I wrote is more about when they become adults and go into their workplace and as you had talked about HR and think about this. When the kids are very protected and they don’t have a chance to fall down and scrape their knees, experience the pain of having a kid reject them and not invite them to a birthday party or when they are not able to have the failure at school because you are always checking their homework to make sure it is done or you are going in talking to the teacher and saying “oh no, no, my kid needs special attention in this way” and making it the teacher’s fault, not the kid’s fault for maybe not studying things like that.

But when you are getting that level of protection, then the kids grow up not being resilient and so they don’t know how to experience disappointment and pain and failure. And they get to work and they are risk-averse, they are not willing to try new things and managers try to get them feedback that perhaps their project didn’t turn out as well as they expected and literally people burst into tears, they quit, they move back home. We have heard about the boomerang kids, the kids who are in their 20s moving back home because they are not being able to stand it in the workplace. So that is one; that is the resilience, the independence, you know, you mentioned that a little bit but the kid is not leaving home to begin with because they don’t learn how to make the decisions on their own and that is a big one for independence and safety too.

If you are there protecting them and catching them when they fall rather than teaching them “hey, look, don’t run off the end of the play structure because you will fall and hurt yourself” and ask yourself at this point is this the safe thing to do or when they are teenagers making these decisions – is it safe to go out in this neighborhood at this time at night without any friends and those kind of things. Then are they being able to make those decisions on their own? Last one is communication skills too; if we are going in there and solving the problems and not letting them deal with things on their own, from a young age to growing up and dealing with teachers if they have a miscommunication with a teacher or they don’t get the grade they want; how do they go and talk to them or a coach at school, then they are not learning those kinds of skills either. They get out there as adults and they are not able to talk to adults and they are not able to give feedback or negotiate or deal with things and ask for help. So we have this other issue too of parents are doing it for them, then the kids don’t learn these skills. So those are the downsides and the consequences that you would have to evaluate when you are deciding whether to go in and step in for the kid or be more in the background to help, coach or guide the kid for them to learn how to do it on their own.

ALICIA GONZALEZ: That is interesting. It is hard to try and figure out what is too much or what is not enough but that is what parenting is all about. When we come back, we will talk even more about helicopter parenting.

[Theme Music]

ALICIA GONZALEZ: Welcome back. Today we are talking about helicopter parents. Let’s talk a little bit more about protective parenting. How can a parent find balance between safety and being overbearing?

JOANIE CONNELL: This is a time to assess the risks, determine what the child can really can do and what the danger really is. Because when you are looking at safety, is the child – a two-year-old is going to run out on the street if you don’t hold their hand? Well, that is just something you don’t want to happen and get run over by a car but is it something that they might skin their knee when they are out in the backyard playing running too fast? Yeah, that is probably okay. So figuring out what the danger is, what the kid can do on their own and perhaps they can do more than you realize and checking that out and empowering them to do more and teaching them how to be safe rather than doing it for them all the time. So that is helping them make some of those decisions on their own without you having to do it for them.

ALICIA GONZALEZ: So do you feel that helicopter parents need to so to speak, give up their pilot license?

JOANIE CONNELL: Well, you know, it depends. I mean, what I always tell parents is that when every decision you make I mean this is not even just for parents, this is for everything in life, but there are always benefits and downsides or pros and cons to what you do and so when you are piloting them and helicoptering over them, you might be protecting them in a way you think is really important but you might be also disempowering them to learn how to be independent. So it really depends on what you want for your kids and every situation is different and every child is different. Some kids need more that than others. Some are much more able to be independent and make their own decisions. It is a matter of checking it out for each situation and each person. Frankly, it is never too late to make a change; if that is what you want to do, if you want to make a change and empower your kids to be more independent, it is never too late. I deal with this in the workplace, I deal with this when parents have their kids go off to college and I deal with this when the kids are even 3-years-olds.

So it is a matter of figuring out what kind of change you want to make and they can be hard, you know, if your kid is used to being able to do one thing and all of the sudden they are not able to do it anymore, they might have a tantrum for a while but they will get through it. It can be a little bit harder for a period of time to make a change but it is never too late.

ALICIA GONZALEZ: How are you feeling Corinne? I know in the beginning you had the realization that you are a helicopter parent so after all these conversations, what are your thoughts?

CORINNE: You know, I am thinking about it. I explain … my son is older, my son is 7 and I explain to him all the time like what I do for a job and you know that mommy gives people jobs and some days aren’t always good and you know, he will see that some days if I have to do a termination that I come home and I am upset because this is hard on us too. I explain to him about the proper work ethic and that no matter what happens, you have to give it your all and you have to keep on trying. That you have to be the best in whatever you decide to do. So he brings up sometimes … if we are doing a game or whatever the case might be and he is like “oh well, you know what, it is too hard, I don’t want to do it and I am going away” and I am like “well buddy, if when you get older and you get into work, you can’t do that and you need to keep on trying; let’s sit down, let’s come back to the table”. So you come to wonder like did these parents of the millennial stopped doing that and decided – well, you know what, do what you want and that is just it and that is just fine, I am done because I have other things to do. It is just so interesting to see the long-term effects later on and how we can change it so being that helicopter parent or being that parent who is in their child’s business or trying to do the best for them, are we actually doing good later on?

ALICIA GONZALEZ: Thanks so much to all of you for the conversation and to everyone listening for joining us today. For more information or if you want to learn more about our expert, visit our website at This conversation continues for members of our Parent Savers Club. For more information about the Parent Savers Club visit the Members portion of our website.

[Theme Music]

SUNNY GAULT: Alright. So before we wrap up our episode today, we have the second featured segment that we are going to chat about. So we like to get our listeners involved in the show and this is one segment that you guys can participate in. It is one of my favorites, it is a fairly new segment and it is called “What up with that” and it is where we share some of the crazy stuff that our toddlers do that we just kind of look at them and we are like “what up with that. I don’t know what you are doing, I don’t understand that, it is crazy town, whatever”. So we are going to commiserate a little bit in this segment. And so this segment we are doing this in connection with the SmartMom app so if you haven’t downloaded the SmartMom app, you may want to check it out. I have it on my iPhone, I really appreciate it, it is basically an online forum and not just for moms so if dads want to participate, you can certainly do so too. It is a free app available on an iOS as well as Android and it is basically an online forum where moms and dads can post questions and then other moms and dads answer the questions based on their own personal experience.

Not only it is just a forum but there are some great prizes and stuff that you can win so they always have giveaways and stuff like that and it is all based on how much you try to help out other parents so you can get points and stuff. It is almost like a little game, it is kind of fun. And obviously, the added benefit is that you are just helping other parents too, right? So what a great application. So be sure to check that out. So we posted something on the SmartMom app for our “What up with that” segment and this comes from Nicole W. and I think it is something probably all of us moms can relate to at some level and she said: “My son thinks he is a dog. He will eat like a dog, bark at the door or people like a dog and even go up to people and lick them”.
And I understand, the people at the SmartMom app also told me that we had a bunch of submissions for this and a lot of people said that their kids actually acted as some form of an animal so I guess dog was the most common. So Nicole, you are not alone but I also wanted to kind of check the pulse of everybody here in the conversation. If your kids ever acted as animals, can you kind of understand what Nicole is going through? Alicia, what do you think?

ALICIA GONZALEZ: You know, it is not something that I have experienced with my kids, I haven’t had any of them acting as animals. However, one of my favorite stories came from my cousin who when her daughter was two or three years old she was in the process of buying a house and her and her husband were sitting signing all the paperwork and everything to do that and the person that they are sitting with jumped slightly and when my cousin looked up trying to figure out what is going on, the lady says “I think your daughter just licked me” and she said “oh yeah, yeah, she thinks she is a cat” because she had been spending time going around meowing and licking things and the fact that it was completely normal to them and that they didn’t respond to her in some crazy way and kind of just said “oh yeah, she is a cat” just always cracked me up.

SUNNY GAULT: Oh gosh, my son … we just acquired … a friend just gave us a bunch of like hand-me-down stuff and we just acquired this stuffed animal but it is a long snake-like really long snake, like this thing can be a boa constrictor in real life. So he probably got it at a zoo or something like that. Anyway, my son now will go around acting like he is a snake, I mean he loves this animal and he sleeps with it, he wears it around his neck like a pet snake like you would, I guess, if you had a pet snake, who has a pet snake. But anyway so it kind of makes this sound so I have been taking advantage of it, I am like – what other words start with S – I am like trying to turn this into some weird learning opportunity, I don’t know. But the dog thing, we haven’t gone through the dog thing, we are going through the snake thing. But Corinne, any experience with this at all.

CORINNE: Oh my goodness, yes. I am just trying to think because both of them have done it at one point or another. My daughter, she thinks that she is a cat so she will go around like meow. But then my son plays into it and I am like “don’t play into this, stop it”. The day that she does that with the dog, that is it. Luckily, she would only do it at home and she will do it say we go to our relatives’ house but not at a restaurant. But I have seen people do this at a restaurant, oh those poor parents. But yeah, it happens. It is a phase.

SUNNY GAULT: Right. That is a positive thing, right? Is that it doesn’t last forever and hopefully they will find another animal and they will be onto the next animal soon. I am sure there are some learning benefits to this, right, I mean they are using their imagination, there are some positive stuff. When they start licking the guests, I guess, you might want to be a little bit more cautious. I may want to have a little talk with them. So thanks so much again for Nicole for sending this in. Be sure to check the SmartMom app, it is a lot of fun and if you would like to participate in this “What up with that” segment or we have a bunch that we do, we share funny parenting stories in a bunch of different ways so check out our website at and you can either send us your thoughts or your stories via email through the website and also through our voicemail and again that is done through the website.

ALICIA GONZALEZ: Well, that wraps up our show for today. We appreciate you listening to Parent Savers.
Don’t forget to check out our sister shows:
∞ Preggie Pals for expecting parents
∞ The Boob Group for moms who breastfeed
∞ This is Twin Talks for parents of multiples and
∞ Newbies for those going through it for the first time.
Thanks again for joining us. This is Parent Savers- empowering new parents.

This has been a New Mommy Media production. Information and material contained in this episode are presented for educational purposes only. Statements and opinions expressed in this episode are not necessarily those of New Mommy Media and should not be considered facts. Though information in which areas are related to be accurate, it is not intended to replace or substitute for professional, medical or advisor care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating health care problem or disease or prescribing any medications. If you have questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health or the health of your baby, please seek assistance from a qualified health care provider.

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