There are plenty of parenting advice books and one of them comes from a former Seattle-area daycare provider that suggests you use a little duct tape.
Of course, Vicki Hoefle means figurative duct tape. As a mom of five, she’s honed her skills into a method she thinks every parent can use.
“I’ve raised five kids and I know better than to say there’s one way. Because there isn’t just one way,” Hoefle said.
Hoefle spent time in Seattle as a daycare provider and noticed a pattern with her clients’ children.
“Kids would come in on Monday disorganized and crying and weepy and fighting with their parents and by Friday they were more organized and saying goodbye and getting on with the day. And on Monday this cycle would start again,” Hoefle said.
She’s now in Vermont where her methods in rearing children have again gotten her attention from observing parents. She wrote a book to share her secrets: “Duct Tape Parenting.”
“It’s really all about the parents putting the duct tape over their mouths, strapping themselves down into the seats and allowing their children to take a more active roll in navigating their own lives from the earliest possible ages,” Hoefle said.
Hoefle’s methods are about getting out of the way of your children. She explains that if you take one step to the right and a half step back from your kid, you’re allowing them to navigate the world.
“What happens is once they get up on two feet and they now have two hands, as parents we kind of step in front of them and say, ‘Listen, I’m going to take it from here, I’m going to tell you what to wear and when to get dressed and whether you’re going to take baths or showers and how you’re going to wear your hair and what time you’re going to go to bed, what you’re going to eat and when you’re going to eat it and how you’re going to eat it.’ And the kids are kind of pushed to the sidelines of their own lives,” Hoefle said.
Breakfast can be used as an example to understand Duct Tape Parenting. Hoefle said if your kids want to eat the same thing every day – let them. If they want to wear shorts on a cold day let them. That way they’ll learn.
“The idea is to have our kids thinking, if no one is asking the questions they don’t have to think. Someone else is doing it for them. But then we put them in an environment where they’re expected to think and they have very little opportunities at home for what I call mental muscle. So, it’s finding that balance. I think in every area in our life it’s where is that balance and that’s different for every parent,” said Hoefle.
There are exceptions. Hoefle doesn’t want you step aside if your child is about to cross the street into traffic. But for every day tasks and encounters, she thinks sticking some duct tape across our mouths could do everyone some good.
“My biggest challenge was really recognizing that I could be the dictator in my own life but not my kids’ lives,” Hoefle said. “That really helped solidify a really respectful environment throughout their childhood.”