Friday, June 20, 2008

Are You a Helicopter Parent?

Helicopters, Drill Sergeants, and Consultants. (Day 1)

Love and Logic talks about 3 parenting styles. Helicopter parents "hover." They don't just walk their PK students to the door of the Early Childhood classroom and kiss them good-bye. They walk them inside. They hang up their child's back pack for them. They straighten their cubby. The helicopter parent may apologize to their own child and for their child to the teacher if something has been forgotten.

So what's the problem? A 3 year old CAN do those things for themselves. The hovering parent begins to accidently communicate to their child at an early age, "You are not capable. I have to do things for you." When kids get older, helicopter parents race to the rescue. When their child gets a low grade, forgets a lunch, or feels like another child in the class doesn't like them, the helicopter flies in to solve the problem. They supervise homework every night and have been known to complete a project or two themselves when a teacher was just being too tough!

In their desire to love and protect their child they may actually handicap and burden their offspring with a lifetime of low self esteem. Self esteem comes from learning how to be independent, solving problems, and feeling a sense of accomplishment after completing a task or meeting a challenge. Failure and struggle can be a much more valuable life learning tool then getting an A with help. Sometimes parents do need to rescue children but most of the time they need to stand by and wait to see if help is really needed.

As kids grow older, they can push the boundaries to see how far their parents will go to rescue them. Rescuing robs children of the opprtunity to learn from natural consequences while the cost to their long term well being is small.

The Forgotten Lunch
Child: (calls) "I forgot my lunch."

Helicopter Parent: "Oh sweety. Are you okay? I'll use my lunch hour to stop at subway and bring you something. What do you want?"

Child: "A 6 inch turkey on wheat. Lettuce but no peppers or onions. Oh and get one of those cookies for me and a coke. Don't be late. The other kids will tease me if they see you."

Helicopter Parent: "Okay. What time do you get to lunch? I don't want to be late. I'll meet you in the hall outside the lunchroom. Do you want me to get a message to your teacher so she lets you wait out there."

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