September 2008-Parent Tip
September 2008: Are you a "Helicopter Parent?"
The first time I heard the phrase "Helicopter Parent" was in a parent education training class called "Parenting with Love and Logic." If you are not sure if this is your parenting style here are some questions to ask yourself. Do you find yourself:
1) Doing your child's homework as a joint activity?
2) Rushing in to solve your child's problems before letting him/her figure out how to solve them first?
3) Feeling that your self-worth is closely tied to your child's success or failures?
4) Worry that your child will not perform well without your vigilance?
5) Calling, texting, checking messages several times a day to reach your child ?
6) Monitoring your child's academic and extracurricular pursuits?
If you said yes to many of these, it might be indicative of helicopter parenting and it would behoove you to start allowing your child to start solving their own problems and facing the consequences of making mistakes. For some parents, this evokes a feeling of anxiety and panic. Questions or comments such as "What if they fail miserably?" or "They will never get homework done without me telling them and hounding them." My answer is, isn't it better that they fail in fourth grade rather than in college? They will then learn resiliency skills that could carry over to the next failure or mistake and they will in turn have better coping skills for bouncing back. "When children aren't given the space to struggle through things on their own, they don't learn how to solve problems" stated Steven Kurtz, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the NYU Child Study Center. In other words, children become quite reliant and dependent on us to solve their problems because they don't have an opportunity to experience trial and error. Do you really want your child asking you solve their problem when they are 22, or 37 or even 45?
Some strategies to start putting into place now to guide your child in problem solving are:
1) Empathize with your child's feelings. For example, "Wow, that really is upseting."
2) Place the problem back on the rightful owner. "Now what do you think you will do?"
3) Offer to help think of solutions and choices and have your child list the pros and cons of each one.
4) Give your child permission to solve the problem or not.
It may be difficult to let go at first but in the end you are really showing your love by helping your child feel their own feelings and learn from their mistakes. You are teaching your child that you believe they have the ability to solve their own problems and can handle the consequences. They will then receive the full credit for their mistakes and best of all, their successes.